James Rollins

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"Sandstorm"

(Reviewed by Jana L. Perskie DEC 19, 2004)

"The storm, while already blowing fiercely, was only beginning to rachet up. Its full might had yet to strike. And the coastal weather system was rushing up from the south, promising even wilder weather to come as the two systems collided."

Imagine Indiana Jones, (his name is Omaha Dunn here), taking-on "the perfect storm" in the great Rub al-Khali, or Empty Quarter, in central Arabia. In this desert place, beneath the burning sun, hurricane force winds blow up quickly. One can drown in an ocean of sand and remain interred forever. Add to this mix, the obsession to find a great fabled city, and a civilization lost thousands of years ago, now buried beneath the shifting dunes.

Ubar, a rich and fabulous trading center of ancient Arabia, ruled by the Queen of Sheba, once rose out of the desert and then mysteriously vanished back into the sands. References to Ubar in the Koran, the Arabian Nights, and countless Bedouin tales told around desert campfires have captivated the imaginations of explorers and archaeologists. But all searches have been fruitless and the city remained lost. The storm, the search for Ubar and for a source of energy strong enough to fuel the entire earth, are just the basics of this enthralling story. James Rollins' Sandstorm also contains various subplots, no less exciting than the primary adventure, a terrific cast of characters, fascinating historical and scientific information, a love triangle and enough action, suspense and thrills to keep you reading long into the night. This is one of the most addictive novels I have read in some time. Once I began, I just couldn't put it down.

Dr. Safia Al-Maaz, curator of the Arabian wing of the British Museum was abruptly awakened one night by the smell of smoke and the sound of sirens. She looked out her window and saw her wing of the museum in flames, and chaos in the streets. Dressing in panic she ran to the site, a short distance from her flat. The Arabian wing, priceless artifacts, and all the work she had accomplished over a 10-year period, were totally destroyed by a tremendous explosion. Clandestine organizations worldwide were alerted to this event almost before Safia reached the disaster area. And so begins a dangerous, lethal race to discover what caused the explosion, why it happened and what it means.

Lady Kara Kensington, Safia's best friend and sponsor to the Arabian gallery, is devastated also. Both women have strong roots in the deserts of Arabia. Painter Crowe, member of a secret American government organization, is tasked with finding the incredibly powerful source of the explosion before anyone else does, and if possible, to contain it. Answers to these questions and many more are to be found in the desert country of Oman and the Rub al-Khali, a forbidden land where evil spirits reign, and where, perhaps, lies the mysterious city of Ubar, the Atlantis of the Sands. Lady Kensintron organizes a small expedition, including Dr. Al-Maaz and Crowe, to travel to Oman to find these answers. However, Kara's expedition is not the only group determined to discover the desert's secrets; other shadowy groups trail the expeditions every move.

Again, I was completely riveted. The historic detail is amazing. A great read & highly recommended!

  • Amazon readers rating: from 24 reviews

Read a chapter excerpt from Sandstorm at HarperCollins.com

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"Ice Hunt"

(Reviewed by Cindy Lynn Speer JUL 08 2003)

This book begins with a newspaper clipping...the entire population of an Alaskan village has disappeared. Tables are set for dinner, laundry sits part way done...even the grave yard is nothing more that a line of gaping holes.

Read excerptThen we go to another place, where the US Polar Sentinel paces the Artic Circle. Using state of the art equipment, they examine what they think is simply an ice island...until a sonic vibration tears away part of it, to reveal a World War Two era Russian submarine, parked in the ice. Their equipment detects a base...and dead bodies long frozen in the ice. They also detect something else...a subtle movement, and they realize something is alive at the abandoned station. When they discover the Ice Station's name, Grendel, it is a creepy warning of what is to come. Ice Station Grendel was not simply abandoned, as Matthew Pike, our hero, is about to discover.

Matthew Pike is an Alaskan Fish and Game Officer. A few years ago his son died in a tragedy, and he and his wife divorced, unable to forgive each other, or themselves, for the senseless accident. So now he lives alone, doing his job, where the most excitement he gets is luring Grizzly bears...until an airplane crashes in his neck of the woods. He runs over to it, and manages to rescue reporter Craig Teague from the wreckage. He knows that the pilot, an old friend, would never have taken a plane up that wasn't in top condition, and so realizes immediately that there's more to the story than a simple accident...his conclusions are justified when another plane approaches, dropping a cargo of armed men in its wake. They barely escape, and he makes his way to his ex-wife's cabin, where Jenny, the county Sheriff, and her father John live. Together they embark on a race as they are chased across the ice to the Ice Station Grendel. There they come up against Admiral Viktor Petkov, whose father was one of those abandoned. He is determined to revenge his father's death...until he, like the others, discover the horrible truth behind the station's name, a truth that others will do anything to make sure is never revealed.

This story is relentless -- the action is pretty much nonstop. The various characters are either hunters or the hunted, as they each try and figure out what's going on. I could hardly put this book down, as there was rarely a place where you could stop and leave your characters safe while you went and did something else. The story is told through many perspectives...and each character is very well done. At first you figure that Viktor is the major bad guy (especially when you find out his rather nasty plans for revenge) but he's not. A favorite character is the half-wolf Bane...he comes along on the adventures, and is treated just like one of the team, with his own personality and important part to play. One of the things I like is that Rollins doesn't rely too much on the tension between Matthew and his ex to add drama...instead, they begin to work proficiently together.

Another aspect of this work is the setting. The ice station is marvelously realized, creepy and atmospheric. It is perfectly drawn, and with all its levels and cubby holes, seems to be a frightening place to be caught. In fact, everything is well described. I loved the descriptions of the underwater world, of the submarines and equipment. The mystery behind the station, and indeed, behind the grisly disappearance of the village mentioned on the first page, is extremely involving.

The incredible pacing of nonstop action and intriguing mystery made this novel impossible to put down...fans of Cussler and Clancy aren't the only ones who'll love this book. Ice Hunt gets 5 out of 5 ice picks.

  • Amazon readers rating: from 53 reviews

Read a chapter excerpt from Ice Hunt at MostlyFiction.com



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Bibliography: (with links to Amazon.com)

Writing as James Clemens:

The Banned and Banished Series:

 

 

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Book Marks:

 

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About the Author:

James RollinsJames Rollins (which is a pseudonym for Jim Czajkowski) was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1961. With his three brothers and three sisters, he was raised in the Midwest and rural Canada. He holds a doctorate in veternary medicine from the University of Missouri, which he earned in 1985. For ten years he ran a clinic in Sacramento, practicing 60-70 hours a week and writing three pages a day. The author is an amateur spelunker and scuba enthusiast and still lives and writes in Sacramento, California.
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