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Sandstorm by James Rollins is the first of his books to introduce us to SIGMA an American elite Special Forces unit whose job it is to secure the newest technology for America before it falls into the hands of other countries.
The basic premise of sandstorm is there is an explosion in the British museum in a wing dedicated to the history of Arabia. It wasn't a terrorist attack but an artefact that has a piece of meteor in it from thousands of years ago that has lain dormant for all that time that caused the explosion. Dr Safia Al-maaz who is in charge of the wing and Lady Kara Kensington who is the patron of the Arabia wing discover the ancient artefact is responsible and set out to find the rest of it.
Along with them is Painter Crowe from Sigma who is wanting to find the rest of the meteor and contain whatever it is that is that powerful that a tiny amount could cause such an explosion before it falls into the wrong hands.
The answer seems to lie in Oman and concerns a mythical city called Ubar that disappeared under the sands thousands of years previously. Of course like any good adventure book there is a bad guy and in this it is a character named Cassandra who is Painters former partner who was secretly working undercover for a secret society the many years they worked together. They all converge on the city of Ubar at the same time just as a giant storm is approaching and it's a race against time to see who can reach whatever it is that is potentially powerful enough to destroy the entire planet first.
I love James Rollins books and I am a big fan of the SIGMA series but something was off for me with this book. There is the usual pseudo scientific stuff that all his books have and historic facts that he must have painstakingly researched. There is also the tinge of the paranormal like his other books that is loosely based in reality but unlike the other SIGMA books the main thing they are all looking for just seemed so normal compared to his other books like I've read it before somewhere. The story also didn't move as fast as it normally does up until they find the city of Omar when the story takes a turn for the better.
The book definitely redeems itself near the end with the fantastically weird city of Ubar. The story then becomes far from normal with brilliant set piece after set piece and the story then starts moving at the break neck pace I have come to expect from James Rollins.
It's not a bad book by any means and head and shoulders above most other books in this genre but for me this is the most disappointing James Rollins book I have read. The secret of the meteor that sounded so mundane in comparison with the secrets in his other books is described in such detail in a way I've never read before that I was hooked and couldn't wait to find out what would happen. The action pieces underground are written so well I could imagine ever detail and while reading I kept thinking what a great movie this would make.
This is definitely not my favourite James Rollins book by any stretch of the imagination, the first three quarters were really slow and I found myself almost giving up but he totally redeemed himself in the last quarter of the book with the city of Ubar and the explanation of the strange desert tribe who all look alike and just because the last quarter was so good I'm going to give the book four stars.