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I've never read any of James Rollins' books before, and to be honest I'd never even heard of him. However, I saw this book, Excavation, for 50p in a charity shop and after reading the blurb on the back cover I thought I'd take a gamble.
An expedition to excavate an Incan temple in the Andean mountains discovers a link between the Spanish Inquisition, the blood of the devil and a lost Incan tribe. The team discovers more than just a temple, as it turns out that the temple holds a secret that people have killed to protect for hundreds of years.
If you like the Matthew Reilly style of adventure story with a twist of religious archeology and mystery, then you might find this book to be a pleasant distraction. I however just found it to be a distraction. For me, the story was too far fetched - it's hard to describe how and why exactly without giving away too many spoilers, but I think I can safely say that the appearance of the Spanish Inquisition and the substance found within an unearthed mummy of a Spanish priest and what the actual temple is like are, for me, what make the story too unbelievable. Think Indiana Jones meets Terry Pratchett, not the most obvious or sucessful of partenerships.
I can't completely dismiss the book entirely though, some of the characters are entertaining to read about and the pace was fast enough to hold my interest, if only to see how much more absurd the plot became. If the book wasn't classified as a thriller, but instead as a science fiction story, then perhaps my mind would have been better prepared for the details about the contents of the mummy and the temple itself. I think a fair rating would be three stars - not diabolical but not great. I would recommend it to those who like adventure / thrillers with a bit of a religious intrigue and science fiction thrown in. Thanks for reading.
Available on Amazon for £4.89 brand new or 54p second hand but in new condition.
James Rollins is a prolific author of pseudo scientific thrillers much in the vein of Dan Brown but much more readable and enjoyable. He is the author of the hugely popular series of Sigma books that follow an elite American military force consisted of scientists and soldiers that investigate and contain any threat to the United States.
He is also the author of several stand alone novels such as Excavation.
During an excavation in South America a mummy is discovered. The only problem is this mummy should not there. On examining the mummy Dr Henry Conklin discovers its skull is filled with gold. Well what he thinks at first is gold but is actually a strange substance that's unknown anywhere else on earth that can change its very makeup to change to whatever it wants.
Taking it back to America for more tests Dr Conklin leaves the dig in the hands of his students who include his Nephew Sam. The students discover an ancient site that pre dates the Incas of the region but the strange thing is the door to the site has a Spanish insignia on it meaning they are not the first people to have found it.
There is sabotage and the students end up going into the site to find it full of ancient ingenious traps that they manage to manoeuvre without being killed. Once past the traps the group find a huge Necropolis of the ancient civilisation. However it is not the dead they have to worry about as they are not the only things alive down there.
Now it's hard to explain anymore of the plot without giving away the twists in the story but there is also a band of secret society monks that have been waiting for hundreds of years to finiah what their founders started, a lost Inca village and an explanation of the gold substance which they find out was first discovered by the Spanish conquistadors and called El sangre del Diablo (the devils blood).
This book goes through multiple genres from action to horror which can be a bit jarring and it reads like a movie. The traps remind me of an Indiana Jones movie and when they find the Necropolis it's like the Descent.
It's actually really hokey and quite ridiculous at times but it's also a complete page turner and even though I was rolling my eyes at some of the ludicrous plot twists I also couldn't put the book down and was desperate to find out the truth about El Sangre del Diablo and the explanation of it was satisfying but I had already guessed by that point what it was.
The characters are complete clichés from the hero Sam who is so stereotypically American it really put me off him. There is also a red headed feisty Irish girl from Belfast who despite being a scientist because she is from Northern Ireland she knows how to handle a gun!
There is so much going on in this book and all the genres may have been jarring but at least it kept me guessing what was going to happen next and kept me as a reader from being bored.
I'm a big fan of the sigma series and this reads like it's from a completely different author so if you like them I can't say with surety you will like this but if you like a good rip roaring adventure story then I think you will enjoy Excavation.
It should only be a two star book and parts of it really annoyed me but with the way James Rollins really embraces the ridiculousness of it and the fact I raced through the story and it was just so damn enjoyable elevates it to a four star book.