In a private preserve nestled against the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve in South Africa, a mythological beast is preying on the largest of protected wildlife. And it is this beast's first unseen appearance in the Black Order by James Rollins that is one of several unforgettable moments in the book when the author brushes his thriller against horror.
It happens as game warden Khamisi Taylor heads down a ravine with Dr. Marcia Fairfield to inspect the remains of a black rhino. Khamisi, a descendant of the proud Zulu people, makes note of the unusual silence under the canopy. Except for insects, there seems to be no noise. And the rhino, slain by an unknown predator larger than a lion, is mostly intact and untouched by carrion feeders.
There could be only one explanation. The predator must still be in the area. And their fears are confirmed with a feral scream.
It is shortly after the scream when Rollins shares a more disturbing thought. This predator, or perhaps predators, didn't kill the rhino for food. It killed for the sport of it.
Black Order Is A High-Powered Thriller Blending Science, Mythology, And Special Ops.
Never mind that the book belongs within the context of the SIGMA Force series written by James Rollins (aka James Clemens aka Jim Czajkowski), Black Order stands on its own. Most SIGMA Force books do, each offering a singular event for well-developed characters to endure.
The only backgrounder that might be helpful is understanding what SIGMA Force is: a fictional division of the U.S. DARPA program, best described as highly-skilled military operatives and expert scientists with personalities reminiscent of Indiana Jones. But even so, reviewing the finer details of the SIGMA Force only detracts from the plot of Black Order, which centers on the Die Glocke (The Bell), a top secret Nazi scientific project.
Speculation of the Die Glocke is all too real, with historic ties that link to antigravity, free energy, and (perhaps) quantum mechanics as it relates to evolution. Its primary historic reference comes from Polish researcher Igor Witkowski, who claimed the Nazis were close to inventing an anti-gravity machine. The experiment, and the scientists involved, were all erased as Russians advanced toward Berlin.
Rollins capitalizes on the mythos by conjuring up a fantastic scenario in which the Nazis do not destroy all the remnants of the project, but rather steal it away to the Himalayas. There, the descendants of the survivors live out their lives in obscurity, hiding not only to protect the power of Die Glocke but also its secondary side effects that can potentially produce a race of Aryan supermen or genetic disruptions that cause a "plague" at a nearby remote Himalayan monastery.
Quantum Mechanics Never Seemed More Applicable.
Like many authors in this genre, Rollins provides readers with several seemingly unrelated threads and then begins to meticulously tie them together. And in the vein of Dan Brown, he blends researchable fact with fiction, creating a sometimes fascinating, sometimes enlightening, and sometimes terrifying account.
In this case, Rollins deserves credit for exploring some concepts related to quantum mechanics. You don't have to have an interest in the field of study to enjoy the read. He delivers just enough to give quantum novices some understanding against the backdrop of an adventure thriller crossed with special operatives.
Of course, for those with an interest in quantum mechanics, there is no shortage of groundwork as exploration points. However, recanting it all now detracts from the much more adventurous race against the clock. Except, there is not one race. There are three mysteries, playing out concurrently and each laying groundwork for the bigger story.
Interesting enough, the book also touches on the author's background in evolutionary biology. He is also an amateur spelunker and a certified scuba diver, skills he frequently taps for his other books. Prior to becoming a successful author, he opened a veterinary practice in Sacramento, California.
Black Order By James Rollins Rings With 6.2 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.
There is no mistake that Rollins can pen an intriguingly intelligent and action-oriented thriller. If there is any weakness in the writing, it can only be found in the relationships. Those tend to be confined to the surface, as most characters are painted to be immature and brutish. It's a slight, but noticeable, distraction.
Black Order by James Rollins is available at Amazon. The audio version of Black Order is on iTunes and read by Grover Gardner. The narrative seems abrasive at first, but smooths out as you're taken in by the story.