Review by Ann McDonald
At the Vatican, a package arrives containing two strange artifacts: a skull scrawled with ancient Aramaic and a tome bound in human skin. DNA evidence reveals that both came from the same body: the long dead Mongol king Genghis Khan. Commander Gray Pierce and Sigma Force set out to discover a truth tied to the fall of the Roman Empire, to a mystery going back to the birth of Christianity, and to a weapon hidden for centuries that holds the fate of humanity.
I have to hand it to James Rollins for keeping his novel “The Eye of God” interesting in many diverse ways. He has a great knowledge of science, antiquated cartography, ancient history (with a little artistic license here and there) and of course, geography, as he takes us all over the world. You have to wonder if he can actually pull off a story of this magnitude and make it coherent. Thankfully, he succeeds. For the most part anyway. This is my first foray into Rollins territory and I hope I can survive! The story opens in A.D. 453. A fourteen year-old bride waits beside her husband as he succumbs to the poison she just gave him. He just happens to be Attila the Hun. The mysterious box given to him as a wedding present cannot be opened until he has passed on. He dies and she opens the box and finds the ancient cross that could have stopped the end of the world, missing.
Present Day – Rome. Monsignor Vigor Verona Prefect of the Vatican Secret Archives crosses the Palazzo Della Pilotta toward his office carrying a package, a brilliant comet with its tail dazzling across the night sky behind him. He reaches his office and finds his niece Rachel waiting for him. She is a lieutenant in the Cultural Heritage Police who oversees the trafficking of stolen art and relics. She asks him what the rush is and he tells her that the package in his hands, is from Father Josip Tarasco, an old friend and colleague of his, who has been dead for the past ten years. He tells her that he went missing in Hungary where he was studying the witch burnings of the 18th century. He opens the box and removes a skull and a book. The skull has writing on it and the book is The Gospel of Thomas, bound in human skin and the message on the skull tells of the end of the world in four days. He has worked with Sigma Force before so he reaches out to them for help.
In a military base in California, a young Astrophysicist, Jada, is observing a military satellite which happens to pass through the tail end of the comet. She is watching and observing. Her specialty? Dark energy. Her analysis shows a disturbance in the tail and it appears that the satellite has caused a ripple effect on the comet and displaced the dark energy. In a brief forward glimpse, we see the eastern seaboard in ruins. From here, the ancient and the new take over the story. We travel to Macau, Hungary, Mongolia, Russia, North Korea and the U.S. This is no beach read where you can put it down and take a nap, it’s a page-turner that keeps your attention. You have to keep on top of it or you might end up lost forever in your own mind. Rollins brings his Sigma team to life and you get to know them and their women. There is some physical interaction but no passion, an inference of past encounters and what might have been, that aspect of the story is very cold. Overall, I enjoyed the book. Rollins gives a very good overview of the science and history he employs in a supplemental chapter at the back of the book. Maybe I should have read that first! A good read.
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