The Last Odyssey by James Rollins

WIlliam Morrow | 2020 (16 April) | 464p | Review copy | Buy the book

The Last Odyssey by James RollinsA Greenland glacier shifts and, when a large piece of it detaches, an astonishing discovery is made. Buried within the glacier for centuries is a medieval ship, perfectly preserved. When researchers examine it they find an incredible treasure, an elaborate mechanical map that, if made to work, will trace the ancient path of Odysseus from Troy to the gates of Tartarus, the Greek name for Hell. The ship contains other wonders, too, but these are terrifying remnants of that Hell, which, once awoken, will unleash a fiery catastrophe. The scientists have no time to explore. Other agents want control of the map and the demons that Tartarus hides.

Nautical archaeologist Dr Elena Cargill is one of the scientists investigating the ship. When the attack comes, she is captured. Her role now is to help the enemy make the map work and lead them to the goal. But they made a mistake when they took Elena because she is the close friend of Maria, the partner of Joe Kowalski, and when they go in search of her they bring with them the might of Joe’s organisation, Sigma, an elite covert group whose exploits are the stuff of legend. The adventure will take them across the Mediterranean and beyond as they follow the voyage of Odysseus into the jaws of Hell. It will be one of their most deadly missions.

I am a huge fan of James Rollins and have read every one of his thrillers over more years than I care to count. Arguably, his most popular novels are his Sigma thrillers and in 2020 we have the fifteenth, The Last Odyssey. I was so excited to receive a review copy and read it the moment it arrived. I never hang around with these books. I can’t resist them. The winning formula returns – we have a global adventure in which Painter Crowe’s force of men and women must face overwhelming odds, and the deadliest of traps in the most striking locations, to avert the evil designs of sinister forces, all written by the master of tension and thrills. Although this is the fifteenth novel, they can all be read as standalones but if you’ve read them all then you’ll be as deeply invested in our group of heroes as I am.

As is often the case, there is a historical element to the plot, with Leonardo de Vinci making an appearance as well as other medieval figures. One of the reasons why I enjoy this series so much is that there is also often a scientific aspect and we have that here. It all adds up to an entertaining adventure which is backed up with ideas and research which makes it all seem just that little bit possible.

The main draw of this series though is the group of characters. I’ve grown attached to them all over the years. In this novel, we have most of the members of Sigma taking part but the focus is on Kowalski and his relationship with Maria, and on Seichan, perhaps the most intriguing of all of Sigma, who is now having to adapt to motherhood. I love the way in which James Rollins writes these characters. The action is hung on to them but there is also time for reflection.

I really enjoyed The Last Odyssey. The locations are great! I loved the historical background to the novel as we embark on a modern Odyssey across the Mediterranean, with some twists and shocks along the way. The action set pieces are fantastic and the baddies are satisfyingly evil. Excellent! I look forward to a new Sigma thriller every year. Long may they continue!

Other reviews
The Devil Colony
The Eye of God
The Bone Labyrinth
The Seventh Plague
The Demon Crown
With Grant Blackwood: War Hawk
With Rebecca Cantrell:
The Blood Gospel (The Order of the Sanguines 1)
Innocent Blood (The Order of the Sanguines 2)
Blood Infernal (The Order of the Sanguines 3)

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