Today I finished reading James Rollins’s thriller, Black Order, A Sigma Force Novel.
Before anybody questions that it’s been less than two weeks since the previous book review and Black Order is a 600-page book, let me say that I started reading Black Order almost two months ago. I started the book, stopped reading it to read a few other titles, and then finally finished Black Order.
Does this mean that Black Order is so bad that I had to take a break?
I just ran into a few different scenarios and ended up starting and finishing a few books while reading this one. It happens at times. Surprisingly, I still remembered quite a few details from the first part of the novel.
Black Order is part of a series of novels written by James Rollins called Sigma Force.
Not knowing anything about the Sigma Force or any other of James Rollins’ works, I took the gamble and jumped right into Black Order. The premise on the back of the novel sounded interesting, so I gave it a shot.
The novel was well worth the gamble.
Black Order begins at the tail end of World War 2 as a group of Nazi scientists are conducting secret experiments on people. The scientists and Nazi SS officers are on the run, desperate to escape from Eastern Europe before the Allied forces capture them.
Fast forward to today.
The brunt of Black Order begins in both the Himalayas in Nepal as well as Copenhagen, Denmark.
The action in Nepal involves monks in a monastery who have gone insane and turned to cannibalism. The story in Copenhagen begins as a high-profile book auction in an old book store, but assassins have a different objective in mind. Both locations ultimately send the heroes of Sigma Force into a dark and sinister plot into the world of genetic mutation and the quest for the “perfect” human being. Read more…
Today I finished reading the first book in Tom Clancy’s thrilling series, Op-Center.
Written and set in the mid 1990s, Op-Center is a brand new and experimental government agency that has the skilled operatives to handle those jobs deemed too risky or too controversial for other agencies. If there’s an imminent crisis involving the United States or its allies, then the Op-Center crew will be there to monitor and solve it.
This first Op-Center book begins with an outdoor speech and rally for reunification between North and South Korea. The event itself gathers a large crowd and even a former U.S. ambassador. And just when things seem to be running smoothly, a car bomb is detonated, killing scores and injuring hundreds more. It’s complete carnage. Amongst the dead is the ex-ambassador’s Korean wife.
Initial evidence places the blame on North Korean terrorists, but as the evidence grows, it becomes clearer that the real enemy behind the attack may be a lot closer to home. But the attack at the reunification rally was just the start. Another target is in sight, and if the terrorists aren’t stopped, then the whole Korean Peninsula may explode in all-out war. Read more…
The other day I finished reading Raymond Khoury’s mystery / adventure story, The Last Templar.
Set in both modern and ancient times, The Last Templar readers follow along as a daring art museum robbery turns into a quest to seek a religious artifact important enough to literally change the world overnight.
The story begins in 1291 after the Ninth Crusade as the Holy Land is falling to the Muslims. A couple of Knights Templar are fleeing the besieged city, carrying with them a mysterious chest. Their ship sails into a terrible storm and vanishes.
Jumping ahead to today, the main part of The Last Templar begins in New York City at the Metropolitian Museum of Art. It’s the night of the big unveiling of an exhibition full of Vatican artifacts. It’s also the night where four people dressed as Knights Templar storm the event while on horseback, using broadswords and Uzi light machine guns to kill and terrorize the crowds. The attacks make off with an ancient encryption device, leaving a trail of death and casualties in their wake. Read more…
Today I had the pleasure of finishing what has been deemed by many as one of the greatest war books ever written, Erich Maria Remarque’s classic tale, All Quiet on the Western Front. Specifically, mine is the English translation of the German novel.
Primarily taking place in the French countryside and trenches used by opposing armies, All Quiet on the Western Front follows the story of Paul Baumer from enlisting in the German army near the start of the war to his tour of duty ultimately ending several years later in October of 1918.
In All Quiet on the Western Front, the readers are given a detailed look at the horrors of what faced the infantry soldiers during the first World War. From machine guns to snipers to artillery to rats to starvation to the incredibly high death rates in the hospitals, life for the average soldiers was close to being a living hell. Throw in the countless number of attacks and counterattacks across No Man’s Land, accomplishing little apart from killing enemy soldiers, and you get a better understanding of how little the average soldier’s life was appreciated.
The war zones of World War One were massive killing fields, slaughtering soldiers by the hundreds of thousands. It was a blend of the classic style of warfare with million-man armies supported by artillery mixed with modern weapons such as the machine gun, poison gas, flame throwers, and airplane attacks. Many generals and commanders learned the hard way that horseback cavalry and infantry assaults could easily be defended with a few crews manning machine guns. Those soldiers who weren’t killed instantly by artillery shells or enemy attacks faced even more horrors from amputation-happy surgeons and deadly infections in their wounds. Read more…
Today I finished reading one of Michael Crichton’s earlier works, The Great Train Robbery.
The Great Train Robbery takes readers back to the 1855 during the Victoria-era in London, England. As you’ll experience in the novel, from child labor to the treatment of women, times were quite a bit different during that age of steam power and the Second Industrial Revolution.
The Great Train Robbery revolves around a simple concept: a professional burglar wants to pull off a big heist (known as a “pull”).
The motive: Greed.
The target: A shipment of gold being transported on the South Eastern Railway.
Set in 1855, The Great Train Robbery is a fictionalized though mostly true telling of the infamous Great Gold Robbery of 1855. The novel takes place in London, and the majority of the story deals with the planning of the heist, specifically, gaining copies of keys for the safes’ locks. Key characters have to be recruited, though at least one of them ultimately finds himself as being expendable and disposed of in a brutal method. Read more…
The other week I finished reading Mario Puzo’s novel, The Sicilian.
As you can probably guess, The Sicilian continues with Puzo’s fascination and brilliant ability to write about the Italian mafia and criminal underworld. Specifically, this involves Sicilians and is set almost entirely on the island of Sicily between 1943 and 1950.
The Sicilian begins in 1950 as Michael Corleone is nearing his temporary exile on the island of Sicily. Remember that in The Godfather, Michael assassinated drug kingpin Virgil Sollozzo and corrupt NYPD Captain McCluskey in an Italian restaurant in New York City. Michael had to flee to Sicily and live with distant relatives for a few years before cool heads would once again prevail in America. In Sicily, Michael Corleone learns of his father’s wishes to bring local Sicilian hero, Salvatore “Turi” Guiliano, back to America with him.
The only catch was that Guiliano was being hunted not only by the local law enforcement and government of Italy, but Don Malo, leader of the mafia in Sicily, was a very real threat to Turi as well. And of course, there may be a traitor or two within Turi’s own band of rebels. As we learn in the novel, gaining the trust of not only a Sicilian, but an “anti-hero” legend to the Sicilians is not an easy task to accomplish. Read more…
Today I finished reading Douglas Preston’s dinosaur-themed novel, Tyrannosaur Canyon.
The last time I read a dinosaur book was Michael Crichton’s masterpiece, Jurassic Park. That is one of my favorite books of all time, and I know that when it comes to that subject material, it’s going to be hard to top Crichton’s work.
Instead of bringing dinosaurs back to life or creating a unique theme park on a remote island, Preston’s Tyrannosaur Canyon goes into the world of paleontology and the world of fossils. Specifically, the world of black market fossil excavations and trading.
I’ll be honest here and say that some parts of the story and characters were a bit simplistic, but other parts, especially in the basement laboratory and everything dealing with the fossils themselves, were quite interesting.
Tyrannosaur Canyon starts out with an innocent bystander (Tom Broadbent) finding a mortally wounded man out in a remote canyon area in New Mexico. The wounded man was ambushed and shot a few times, but he survived long enough to pass along his notebook and last words to the innocent bystander. The bystander is able to escape with the notebook before the unknown assassin is able to reach the now-killed man and claim his prize. Read more…
In continuation of the warfare theme of the past few articles, the other day I finished reading Ian Slater’s book, WW III.
Set in 1990 and in the classic days of the United States versus the Soviet Union, NATO versus Warsaw Pact, Slater’s WW III takes us readers into a hypothetical world war. And unlike many “thrillers” that bring forces to the brink of war before tensions are lowered, this book takes that next step and actually goes to war. And unlike many of those other books, WW III has an extremely short title.
The action in WW III starts in the Korean Peninsula. North Korean forces launch a devastating aerial attack on airbases and military targets in the south before North Korean tanks and forces steamroll down from north of the 38th Parallel. Thanks to North Korean special forces sabotaging everything possible to aid their comrades, the North Koreans have the U.S. and South Korean forces on the run, taking prisoners left and right and nearly pushing the rest of them into the Sea of Japan.
Not long after open war breaks out in Korea, Soviet forces launch a massive attack into West Germany through the strategic Fulda Gap. The inferior but numerous Soviet tanks take a massive beating from the American M-1 tanks and American artillery shield, but as we read, the Soviets are able to keep pushing the U.S. and NATO forces further and further back into West Germany. Read more…
About two weeks ago I finished reading J.K. Rowling’s fourth installment in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. It wasn’t until just the other day that I finally saw the movie again and felt prepared to write another book review and movie comparison.
Like the previous novels, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire starts out with Harry Potter suffering at the Muggle home of his aunt and uncle while waiting for the start of the next year of school at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Harry is rescued by the Weasleys and allowed to temporarily live with them, including attending the final match of the prestigious Quidditch World Cup.
The Quidditch World Cup is what really starts the main plot line of the novel. The story goes into detail about the guests sitting in the Top Box with Harry, Hermione, and the Weasleys, and of course, the main Quidditch match itself involving Ireland versus Bulgaria. It’s here in the Top Box where Harry is involved with several key characters including Ludo Bagman, Barty Crouch, Sr. (also known as Mr. Crouch), and Winky, the house-elf for the Crouch family.
The Ireland and Bulgaria teams battle for the Quidditch World Cup title, and even their mascots get involved at times. The game comes to an epic conclusion with Ireland claiming victory and Ludo Bagman, head of the Department of Magical Games and Sports and a bit of a gambling man himself, owing quite a bit of money to Fred and George Weasley from a bet they made before the final match.
Chaos erupts that night after the Quidditch World Cup as Death Eaters arrive, destroying parts of the camping area and torturing innocent Muggles caught before them. People flee from the danger and during the confusion Harry Potter loses his wand. Moments later somebody unknown uses Harry’s wand to cast the Dark Mark into the sky, letting all the witches and wizards know that Lord Voldemort is returning to power.
Uh oh! All those good wizards and witches are in serious trouble now! Oh no!
And so begins the main plot line in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Read more…
Recently I finished reading the third installment in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
This latest adventure begins with Harry on his summer break (a.k.a holiday) and suffering from the usual torment from the Dursleys. When Uncle Vernon’s sister, Marge, comes to visit, her nasty attitude towards Harry’s murdered parents pushes Harry past the breaking point, causing him to cast a charm and make her swell to an incredible size, making her float away into the night sky. Not wanting anything else to do with the Dursleys, Harry grabs his suitcase and leaves their residence.
A Knight Bus soon arrives and gives Harry a lift to the Leaky Cauldron, a pub and inn for witches and wizards, in London. There, Cornelius Fudge, the Minister of Magic, cuts Harry some slack for using magic outside of Hogwarts and also warns him about Sirius Black, a convicted murderer, escaping from the legendary Azkaban Prison. While staying at the Leaky Cauldron, Harry meets up with Hermione, Ron, and the rest of the Weasleys. Read more…