The Sigma adventures by James Rollins are, without doubt, among the most pulse-raising, heart-thumping, blood-pumping thrillers on the shelves today. I usually know they’re coming well in advance and I spend the ensuing days, weeks, months refreshing my wishlist, urging the newest to be in stock somewhere in the world. Fortunately, the UK edition of The Eye of God was released very and unusually close in date to its American counterpart meaning that I didn’t have to ship this one in. As it is, I grabbed it a few days early from a bookshop and the phone went off the hook.
The Eye of God presents the seemingly unlikely combination of the search for the secrets of Attila the Hun and Genghis Khan in Mongolia with the battle against the threat that dark matter brings to the entire planet. Annihilation comes, carried in the tail of a comet. The solution to disaster lies in the very bones of one of the saintliest of individuals and also one of the most dangerous of warriors. With the clock ticking, Painter Crowe, the Director of Sigma, assembles his teams to search for clues in some of the most remote regions of the world. Unfortunately, Commander Pierce and agent Seichan are in a whole lot of trouble of their own, in a story that continues a thread from previous novels.
Each of the novels follows the members of Sigma, a secret military US government agency, in their efforts to foil a catastrophe of human or natural design. Instead of being static, the books present a constant flow of new and old characters, some of which may be then absent from the series for a while before they return. Even the Director, Painter Crowe, varies in the extent of his role and presence in the novels. The Eye of God is just the same. Apart from the core members of the group, we see the return of a couple of past figures as well as the introduction of two new agents, Jada and Duncan. The strength of the series, and James Rollins’ writing, is that any and all of these characters can carry the weight of the pageturning and original adventures.
As always, James Rollins delivers a well-written and brilliantly plotted adventure story that, in my opinion, is in another class altogether from the work of Dan Brown (the inevitable and constant comparison). The mix of continued stories from previous novels with imaginative and thrilling mysteries works brilliantly. Each novel stands alone very well but if you want to enjoy each of the books in turn as I do then it is a very rewarding series, full of likeable characters with interesting histories and relationships, not all of whom, you sense, might make it. The Eye of God blends some very different worlds together, bringing astronomy and science into a universe touched by superstition, mysticism and legend. This combination in themes is mirrored by the variety of characters, both good and bad.
While The Eye of God is not my favourite in the series – the superb The Devil Colony and Bloodline are, after all, extremely difficult to surpass – it is still a joy to read; its characters a pleasure to spend more time with. While the world might face renewed peril there is a strong sense that it is in safe hands with this unlikely but likeable mix of men and women. Have no fear, though. Expect a great deal of angst, suspense and late night reading along the way.
With Rebecca Cantrell – The Blood Gospel