Posts Tagged ‘James Rollins’

Book Review – James Rollins’ “The Judas Strain”

Today we’re taking a look at The Judas Strain, the fourth book in James Rollins‘ thrilling SIGMA Series novels.

Released in 2007, The Judas Strain takes readers on an adventure as a team of specialized scientists and warriors tracks the origins of a deadly plague.  It’s a quest that circles around the world and dates back to the travels of one of Europe’s most celebrated explorers — Marco Polo.

James Rollins --- The Judas Strain

James Rollins — The Judas Strain

The Judas Strain begins with a brief prologue in the year 1293.  On the island of Sumatra in southeastern Asia, a terrifying disease wipes out most of Marco Polo‘s crew and companions.  It’s a disease so horrifying that its discussion was carefully removed from Marco Polo’s journal after he returned to Italy two years later.

Fast forward to today.

SIGMA Commander Gray Pierce is spending some time in Maryland with his parents when he’s suddenly paid a visit by a dangerous advisory from his past —- Seichan, a member of The Guild, a dangerous international terrorist organization.  She’s been shot, her pursuers are still in the area, and Seichan is carrying a very important artifact, an artifact that has already cost a person his life back in the Vatican.

Gray is forced to allow his parents to join him as he tries to drive Seichan to a safe area.  Their car is pursued by Seichan’s attackers, but Gray is able to lose them in a forest.  He takes them to a SIGMA safe house in the nearby area.  Things aren’t what they seem as The Guild (disguised as an ambulance crew) tries to ambush the gang.  Gray, Seichen, and SIGMA operator Joe Kowalski are forced to flee as Gray’s parents are captured and taken prisoner. Read more…

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1 comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - August 3, 2015 at 12:12 pm

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Book Review – James Rollins’s “Deep Fathom”

Today I finished reading Deep Fathom, a seafaring story by author James Rollins that takes readers to the bottom of the ocean and the brink of a global apocalypse.

James Rollins --- Deep Fathom

James Rollins — Deep Fathom

First published in 2001, Deep Fathom begins on a day of a total solar eclipse.  A businesswoman in San Francisco witnesses the eclipse while in the city, a hiker escorting tourists up a glacier experiences the eclipse on an island just off the coast of Alaska, and the President of the United States of America witnesses the eclipse on the island of Guam while trying to negotiate a new trade deal with the Chinese.

And then disaster strikes.

During the moment of the total eclipse of the sun, a tremendous series of earthquakes and volcano eruptions occurs all along the Pacific Ocean’s “Ring of Fire.”  San Francisco is completely destroyed in an earthquake, the Aleutian Islands off the coast of Alaska are sunk back into the Pacific Ocean, and Guam experiences a violent earthquake.  President Bishop is quickly ordered onto Air Force One for an immediate take-off and evacuation from the island.  However, a short while later into the flight, Air Force One crashes into the Pacific Ocean, killing everybody on board.

Meanwhile, ex-Navy SEAL Jack Kirkland is in the Nautilus 2000, a brand new one-man submersible capable of diving to incredible depths in the world’s oceans.  His objective on this diving mission is the Kochi Maru, a Japanese freighter that was lost during World War 2.  Specifically, it’s a Japanese freighter that’s rumored to be packed with gold bars.  Jack is a salvage expert and he’s hunting for a way to continue to finance his operation.

During his later years in the Navy, Jack Kirkland was temporarily transferred to NASA for a joint military-civilian crew for an upcoming Space Shuttle mission.  While training at NASA, Jack met Jennifer Spangler, and the two of them quickly fell in love.  They were both members of the crew for the flight with Space Shuttle Atlantis, and while in space he proposed to her.  The mission was botched when the crew tried to launch a satellite out of the shuttle’s cargo bay.  There was a malfunction with the satellite and it went off course, damaging part of the shuttle.  When Atlantis re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere, the damaged ship caught on fire and crashed to the ground.  Jack was blown out of an opening and his parachute activated, but everybody else on board the shuttle was killed, including his fiancée, Jennifer. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - August 24, 2014 at 10:34 pm

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Book Review – James Rollins’s “Excavation”

If adventure had a name . . . it would be James Rollins.

In Excavation, adventure novelist James Rollins takes us on a thrilling journey involving ancient an ancient Incan temple, a massive treasure of gold, a trek through underground caves, a secret society within the Catholic Church, and just for the fun of it, hideous beasts that easily kill human beings.

Excavation beings in Peru in the Andean Mountains.

James Rollins - ExcavationThe year is 1538 and Dominican friar Francisco de Almagro is on the run for his life.  He knows that he’s a dead man.  The Incan Indian tribe had already started the execution procedure when he made a daring escape.  What Francisco is trying to do is send out a word of warning to future friars from the church.

Francisco de Almagro successfully reaches a sacred spot for the Incan tribe.  He then uses a dagger to kill himself, spilling his blood on the sacred area.  Since he was killed in this location, the Incans perform a mummification ritual for his remains, something that would not have otherwise happened.  The question is, what was so terrifying that the friar of years past had to resort to killing himself to send a message for future explorers?

Fast forward to today (the book was published in 2000).

Archaeology professor Henry Conklin has a team of graduate students working at a Peruvian dig site in the Andes Mountains.  They’ve uncovered a lost Incan city nicknamed Sun Plaza.  While the graduate students are continuing with their research, Dr. Conklin has flown back to the U.S. to further examine a mummy that the team discovered in the city.

One of the first surprising discoveries concerning the mummy is that it was not the body of an Incan Indian.  The body belonged to that of a religious person, most likely a Spaniard spreading the message of Christianity.  But when the scientists try to perform a CT scan, they’re in for the shock of a lifetime as the mummy’s skull explodes.  The room is covered in a gold-like substance.

Down in Peru, the team of graduate students is led by Sam Conklin, the nephew of Dr. Henry Conklin.  While he’s technically not the senior grad student (that honor belongs to Philip Stykes, a person that the fellow students greatly detest), Sam’s leadership has helped him take charge of his fellow students. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - December 8, 2013 at 1:54 pm

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Book Review – James Rollins’s “Map of Bones”

Map of Bones, the second book in the SIGMA Force series of novels written by ace novelist James Rollins, takes readers into a mystery of biblical proportions as two teams race between ancient sites and solve riddles and clues.

One of the teams is focused on the grand prize of total world domination while the opposite team does everything in its power to stop them, even solving the riddles and jumping ahead of the other team in a race to the finish.

James Rollins - Map of BonesMap of Bones begins at a Catholic Church in Cologne, Germany.  What begins as an innocent midnight mass quickly turns to horror as a band of hooded monks seizes control of the service.  Most of the worshippers are electrocuted in an obscure method and the monks gun down the rest of the survivors, leaving no witnesses.  Except for one young man who crawls to safety and reports the horrors he witnessed.  Unfortunately for him, that young man is later killed as the evil doers attempt to wipe their path clean.

It’s the method of execution, not the mass murder itself, that draws the attention of SIGMA Force, a secret organization within the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).  How can a hundred or so people sit in wooden pews and suddenly become electrocuted?  How could some of the people not be electrocuted and have to be shot and killed by the killers disguised as monks?

Continuing from the events in Sandstorm, Painter Crowe is the new director of SIGMA Force.  This assignment is going to keep him mainly behind a desk and commanding the squad from his office in Washington, D.C., a position that Crowe despises greatly.  He wants to be out in the field where he feels like he’s more of an asset, and not stuck behind a desk.

As Director Crowe commands the squad from his desk, Grayson “Gray” Pierce leads fellow SIGMA Force members Monk Kokkalis and Kathryn “Kay” Bryant out to Cologne, Germany to investigate what happened at the church.  Out in Cologne they meet their contacts from the Vatican, Vigor Verona and his niece, Rachel Verona.  Rachel is an officer with the Carabinieri, serves under General Rende, and already had an attempt on her life by unknown forces in Rome, Italy.

Part of what makes the massacre in Cologne so unusual is that the culprits seemed to use the killings to cover up their true motive – a simple robbery.  Gold was not taken from the church.  Instead, it was the altar’s relic, some bones from the Magi (as in the Three Wise Men who visited Jesus Christ shortly after his birth) were stolen.  So why were innocent worshippers electrocuted and brutally killed? Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - April 13, 2013 at 11:46 pm

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Book Review – James Rollins’s “Sandstorm”

Last night I finished reading James Rollins’s novel, Sandstorm, the first book of his SIGMA Force series.

Sandstorm beings at a British Museum in London, England.

A security guard is making his rounds one night when he spots what looks to be an intruder in the prestigious Kensington Gallery, a section of the museum that deals with Arabian artifacts.  He follows a mysterious blue light towards one of the museum pieces when suddenly there’s a tremendous explosion.  The guard is instantly killed by some sort of unknown blast that originated inside the Kensington Gallery.

James Rollins - SandstormDr. Safia al-Maaz, curator of the Arabian artifacts in the British Museum, is awakened by the explosion.  She heads over there and tries to understand what happened and why most of the priceless artifacts were destroyed.  Lady Kara Kensington, billionaire and sponsor of the gallery in her late father’s name, arrives at the museum and is equally devastated by the sudden destruction.  Safia and Kara are childhood friends, both of them growing up in Oman on the Arabian Peninsula.

Both of the women study the surveillance tapes from the security cameras.  What in the world was that blue light, and how could it have caused such an explosion?  Did it have anything to do with the thunderstorm that was over the city at that time?

Over in the U.S., Painter Crowe of the elite SIGMA Force, a division of DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency – part of the Department of Defense), is working a case with his partner, Cassandra Sanchez.  Crowe is posing as a security guard in a hotel casino while trying to capture a Chinese hacker who recently stole classified information.  The operation goes sour and Crowe is forced to leap into action, using his firepower and help of the police force to stop the hacker from escaping.  After stopping the hacker, Painter Crowe learns a sickening secret — his partner and trusted friend, Cassandra, was a traitor and tried to help the hacker.  She’s hauled away in handcuffs though we later learn that she escaped from police custody.

Painter Crowe is called back to SIGMA for an emergency meeting with his boss.  Word had already spread about the explosion in the British Museum, and Painter Crowe was being assigned to research it.  It doesn’t make much sense until it’s explained that the source of the explosion may have been antimatter.  What little evidence of the explosion at the British Museum is quickly lining up with the mysterious Tunguska explosion that occurred in Siberia back in 1908.  One of the theories about the Tunguska explosion is that the comet fragment was actually composed of a small amount of antimatter which caused the tremendous explosion over northern Russia.

If the explosion at the British Museum was caused by antimatter, then there may be more of the extremely powerful material elsewhere in the world.  More importantly, it must also be in a stable form as antimatter normally explodes when it comes in contact with matter.  If the U.S. could acquire the antimatter, the energy potential from such a material would be virtually unlimited.  If antimatter of any size were to fall into the wrong hands, the effects could be catastrophic. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - November 12, 2012 at 11:35 pm

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Book Review – James Rollins’s “Subterranean”

Late last night I finished reading James Rollins‘s action-adventure book, Subterranean.

This is a standalone book and NOT part of his later SIGMA Force stories.

Published back in 1999, Subterranean is a modern day story that takes a team of explorers and researchers deep beneath the surface of the Earth.  No, they don’t try to reach the Earth’s core or anything far-fetched.  This is a more realistic look at cave exploration along with some fictitious (and quite terrifying) creatures thrown in for fun.

James Rollins --- SubterraneanSubterranean beings in a New Mexico desert as anthropologist Dr. Ashley Carter is returning home from an excavation.  She’s a leading researcher in her field.  Upon arriving at home, Ashley Carter is greeted by a few armed Marines escorting Dr. Andrew Blakely, the head researcher of a secret research site in Antarctica.

At first Ashley is furious about armed men being in her home and around her son, Jason.  But when Dr. Blakely explains his visit and shows Ashley an extremely rare artifact, something pointing to an ancient human civilization living beneath the ground, she considers joining his research team.

Across the world and in the southern hemisphere we’re introduced to Ben Brust, a bit of a troublemaker who’s very experienced in leading teams of people through caves and unauthorized areas.  He has an Aboriginal ancestor in his family tree, though Ben doesn’t consider it important.  While sitting in jail, Ben’s former commander in the military pays him a visit and offers him a job of escorting scientists deep underground in Antarctica.  Ben accepts the mission.

It doesn’t take long for the team of scientists and escorts to gather.  Dr. Blakely gathers the team at a hotel in South America where he holds a briefing.  The new team members get to know each other before making the long voyage down to a military base in Antarctica.  Once there, they board vehicles and make the trek into a mountain and down to Alpha Base.

At Alpha Base, the team members prepare for their underground expedition, complete with a Marine and couple of Navy SEALs providing an armed escort.  Are armed forces really necessary for exploring caves deep under the Antarctic ice?  Ashley Carter and her fellow teammates learn that their team is not the first to explore the caves extending out from Alpha Base.  The previous expedition sent a few weeks earlier has yet to return to base. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - June 22, 2012 at 11:18 pm

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Book Review — James Rollins’s “Black Order”

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?

Certainly not.

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.

James Rollins --- Black Order:  A Sigma Force 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…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - February 10, 2012 at 5:39 pm

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