Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Last Oracle

The Last Oracle by James Rollins
HarperCollins Publishers, June 2008
hardcover, 448 pages
thriller/adventure; Sigma Force Series, #5
ISBN-13: 9780061230943
Highly Recommended - Very for fans

From the Publisher
New York Times bestselling author James Rollins brings back SIGMA Force to battle a group of rogue scientists who've unleashed a bioengineering project that could bring about the extinction of humankind.

In Washington D.C., a homeless man dies in Commander Gray Pierce's arms, shot by an assassin's bullet. But the death leaves behind a greater mystery: a bloody coin found clutched in the dead man's hand, an ancient relic that traces back to the Greek Oracle of Delphi. As ruthless hunters search for the stolen artifact, Pierce discovers the coin is the key to unlocking a plot that threatens the very foundation of humanity. For an international think-tank of scientists has discovered a way to bioengineer autistic child who show savant talents into something far greater and far more frightening—all in hopes of creating a world prophet for the new millennium, one to be manipulated to create a new era of global peace...a peace on their own terms.

From ancient Greek temples to glittering mausoleums, from the slums of India to the radioactive ruins of Russia, two men must race against time to solve a mystery that dates back to the first famous oracle of history—the Greek Oracle of Delphi. But one question remains: will the past be enough to save the future?
My Thoughts:

Fans of Rollins will take note that this is a continuation of the SIGMA force books so you've met many of the characters before. This is good for fans because Rollins can get on with the mystery and the action, but new readers who don't realize this is the 5th book featuring the SIGMA force might feel the character development is lacking. It isn't. It has just been developed over several books. Although you can casually start reading Rollins right in the middle of this series, if you enjoy The Last Oracle, go back and read some of Rollins' earlier books. (Fans also need to know that Rollins has cleared up one cliff hanger only to leave us with another.)

Although I like the SIGMA series, I'm going to step out on a limb and say that I actually liked the non-SIGMA series books a bit better. This isn't just in terms of Rollins. I'd also like to see Preston and Child maybe push Pendergast and D'Agosta into the background or set them aside for a few books. If you could all just introduce us to some new characters, it might be a nice change of pace. Sometimes I feel like relying on the presence of familiar characters doesn't challenge the actual writing and plot development in the later books of a series.

I like Rollins, though. I like his action driven plots. I appreciated the fact that he didn't feel the need to add gratuitous sex or language to this book.
Highly Recommended - Very for fans


They had come to slay her.
The woman stood at the temple's portico. She shivered in her thin garment, a simple shift of white linen belted at the waist, but it was not the cold of predawn that iced her bones. opening

Maybe it was her manner. So strange, so distant, as if she stood with one leg in this world and the other beyond this realm.
The child glanced up with those clear blue eyes, so full of innocence, so in contrast with what spilled next from her lips.
"You are old. You will die soon." pg. 6

The centurion had his orders under the seal of Emperor Theodosius, handed to him personally by the emperor's son Arcadius. The old gods were to be silenced, their old temples torn down. All across the empire, including Delphi. pg. 10

A wash of fear swept through Yuri. Uncle Pepe. The pet name for Josef Mengele. It had been used by all the Gypsy children. But these children were too young to have ever seen the insides of a concentration camp. pg. 15

It wasn't every day a man dropped dead in your arms.
Commander Gray Pierce had been crossing the national Mall when the homeless man accosted him. Gray was already in a bad mood, having finished one fight and was headed toward another. pg. 19

Painter nodded to the dead body. "I know this man."
Shock rang through him.
"His name is Archibald Polk. Professor of neurology at M.I.T." pg. 25

"From the preliminary physical exam, I was already suspicious. I discovered patches of hair loss, eroded teeth enamel, and burns on his skin. If this man hadn't been shot, I wager he would have been dead in a matter of days.....This body is radioactive." pg. 35

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