James Rollins Lets Loose the Dog of War in Blood Line

Categories: Books

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Thrillers are a tough sale these days. Commando adventures into hostile territory exposing vast conspiracies are more common than vampires and zombies combined, to judge by the bargain bin at your local Barnes & Noble. Nonetheless, James Rollins does something that I never would've given anyone short odds on: He keeps it fresh and interesting.

His new book, Blood Line, is the latest in his Sigma Force series. Sigma Force is the go-out-and-shoot-people wing of DARPA, which you may know as the mad scientists the United States employs to look at the laws of science, piss themselves laughing, then do the opposite in the name of national security. This time around, Commander Gray Pierce leaves his Alzheimer's-ridden father to take a rag-tag team into the mountains of Afghanistan and beyond in an effort to find the President's kidnapped and pregnant daughter.

Sounds simple, right? John McClain could take care of this in time to open Christmas presents. However, what is really going on is an age-old plot by a worldwide conspiracy called the Guild to secure the secret of immortality. The secret was taken by one of the nine founders of the Knights Templar in 1022 from a 500-year-old Arab man.

You might have started a round of uncontrollable eye rolling when I mentioned the Templars. Don't feel bad; so did I. The historical order is one of the go-to groups that hacks use when they need a cabal with built-in paper cred. Dan Brown used them in the Da Vinci Code, and that alone is proof that they should never be mentioned again.

Rollins adds something damned compelling to the tired cliché, though. Did you know the Templars were founded by nine members, all related through blood or marriage? We know the names of eight of them, but the ninth is lost. Rollins opens up that tiny quirk of record into a blockbuster of feminine power, ancient science, and Earth-shattering prophecy. Within the first pages he has you locked in.

"We are genetically wired to search for patterns," said Rollins via e-mail. "So when it comes to the complexity of the world, we look to make sense of it all, to search for the hidden hand behind actions and events. This gives birth to conspiracy theories and the belief in shadowy forces manipulating events. Couple that with the opaque and esoteric nature of politics, banking and religious organizations, it's not hard to believe that such a hidden hand exists. And for that matter, who is to say they're not right?"

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