Six Impossible Things

A Blog About Fiction and Reading

Black Order

Black OrderBlack Order by James Rollins

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From the looks of things, James Rollins is becoming a pretty big writer. His name is making it on the book leasing companies’ lists, and in the libraries, his titles are getting some nice, long holds queues. It probably didn’t hurt that his last book, Map of Bones, had a Da Vinci Code appeal, and rode that wave of mania to the bestseller charts.

Still, I like his books. They’re never really all that deep, but they’re entertaining, and have a mystical-adventure feel to them, akin to an Indiana Jones movie, or a Douglas Preston-Lincoln Child novel. I stumbled across him through a paperback discount bin (Subterranean), and wound up reading the book at the beach in a matter of hours. It was a perfect beach book, so the author has been on my radar since then.
Black Order is drifting a bit away from the mystical-adventure types of stories that I like to read, and edging its way toward the Clive Cussler type of story. His last three novels have featured a group called the Sigma Force, a sort of Black Ops group that works to protect the US from forces around the world. They’ve taken center stage now, and it’s OK on one level, but I think that it limits the sort of settings and stories (and characters) that made his stories enjoyable for me.

In Black Order, the Sigma Force crew is tracking down a collection of old science books that came from a single library. There’s something peculiar about the books and the people searching for them, and it ties in with a disease that has infected a group of monks with a form of madness. It’s still a novel of adventure and suspense, but instead of mixing in the mysticism that I like, the author instead chose to use some weird science for the plot device. It was intriguing and interesting, but I felt lost in some places, in part because the science was explained only enough to keep the story moving. I’m used to a more comprehensive approach when explaining science in these kinds of stories (like Crichton’s approach), and I was left wanting more.

The novel is still entertaining, and a good beach book, but I find that the author’s earlier works are constructed better, and have better stories and better characters. Excavation and Subterranean are much more exciting and entertaining, in my opinion.

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July 10, 2006 - Posted by | Adult Fiction, Reviews

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