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There are certain books that I HAVE to read as soon as they come out. They are few and far between but James Rollins Sigma series is one such series that when the new one comes out I need to buy it straight away to see what it happening with my favourite bunch of military Scientists.
~~~~~~~~~~ The story so far ~~~~~~~~~~
Bloodline is the new Sigma book and if I am remembering correctly this is book number eight in the series so a lot has gone before it.
The books concern a covert group of military scientists who are trying to protect the world from a sinister group known as the Guild. The Guild are a shadowy organisation who have been infiltrating the top levels of governments and society for hundreds of years trying to obtain both scientific and esoteric knowledge to further their own agenda and aren't above using and killing innocent people to get their own way.
Although this is book eight you could conceivably read it as a standalone novel without too much trouble as all the books contain standalone stories which also piece together more of the overall arc. The backstory of the Guild act is explained well so new readers could just jump straight in but personally I would recommend that you start at the beginning as you will get so much more enjoyment from the book this way.
~~~~~~~~~~ Bloodline ~~~~~~~~~~
The plot of Bloodline concerns a young woman who is taken hostage by Somali pirates off the coast of Arfica. This is no ordinary kidnapping though and it's not the woman that the kidnappers are interested in but rather her unborn child.
To make matters more complicated this woman is no ordinary kidnap victim but is the daughter of the world's most powerful man the President of the United States of America.
Sigma is tasked in finding the President's daughter before it is too late and getting to the bottom of why the Guild wants her and finding out who exactly they are and destroying them once and for all. Of course nothing ever goes smoothly and the leaders of the Guild may be closer to home than anyone ever imagined.
~~~~~~~~~~ My opinion of the book ~~~~~~~~~~
As mentioned James Rollins is one of my favourite authors. He manages to skilfully blend mindless action with interesting stories and characters that actually come to life on the page. It's pulp fiction but very very good pulp fiction.
Bloodline isn't one of the strongest Sigma books for me personally but that isn't to say it isn't good as it was still better than 99% of these types of books which flood the market place every year.
The reason as to why I didn't enjoy this one as much as I have some of the other had nothing to do with the writing which was excellent as always but more to do with the plot. It is the usual fast paced and fly by the seat of your pants storyline that I have come to expect from Rollins but this one was a little heavy on the science for me. The best Sigma books contain a mix of both the scientific and the esoteric and for me this was missing a little bit more of the mysticism that make the other books so unusual. The main theme of the book was to do with DNA and cryogenics and to be honest a lot of it went over my head this time. It is not a subject that I am very interested in and I found myself being a little bored by the descriptions of the science when normally these are my favourite parts of the books.
There were also a few descriptions of experiments which really turned my stomach at points and these parts of the book are most definitely not for the squeamish out there.
As always the action jumps all over the world and I always think this is where James Rollins excels in writing set pieces in exotic locales that you can vividly picture in your head. You never get a sense that he hasn't actually visited the places he writes about he always evokes a real feeling for the places he writes about.
There are some fantastic set pieces and one in particular set in Dubai wouldn't be out of place in a Hollywood blockbuster movie. It is obviously quite fantastical but the way he write it really draws you in and I had no trouble suspending belief and going along for the ride.
Character development is another strong area in all the Sigma books. This one pretty much has the whole gang in it and it was good to reacquaint myself with some of the characters who have been neglected a little in the previous books. The characters of Grey and Seichan the former guild spy turned unofficial Sigma operative are front and centre but a lot of the other characters get a chance to shine including the two female Sigma operatives who we haven't seen a lot of in the last few books.
Rollins does a great job of writing from a female perspective and its nice to see a male writer who can write strong female characters without turning them into teen boy sexual fantasies.
He also introduces two new characters in this book and they were a breath of fresh air and exactly what the series needed to stop it becoming stale. The characters are former army ranger Tucker and his war dog Kane. There are a few parts of the book which are from the perspective of Kane and to begin with I thought that this was just a gimmick and would become old really fast but Rollins managed to really make Kane an integral part of the book and feel and seem like a real character and not just something that was put in the book for the sake of it. I really hope that these two stick around and are part of the next Sigma adventure.
There was also a nice surprise for fans of Rollins with a character from another book of his popping up half way through to help out.
Initially about half way through the book I thought this might be the endgame as far as the guild was concerned as they seemed to know who was now behind it and were closing in on making sure it was destroyed but at the end there was a twist in the tale which ensured that the shadowy group can still play a part in further novels which is good as I think there is so much more potential in this group which has been manipulating events for their own purpose for centuries.
At the end of the book Rollins always has a section telling the reader what is fact and fiction and although I didn't really enjoy the science in the book as much as others in the series I did find this part fascinating and it is terrifying to know what exactly is happening in the scientific field concerning DNA and cryogenics.
Bloodline is a great book. It isn't the best in the Sigma series but because Sigma is such a fantastic series this is still better than most of the other books in this genre. James Rollins writes these types of books so well and although it isn't classic literature it is brilliant beach reading and you won't fail to have a good time reading it.
I bought this in hardback but it is available to download for kindle on 02/08/2012