Sandstorm (2004) – James Rollins

Craving a bit of arm chair adventure and travel I figured I would dig into the Sigma Force series by James Rollins and see what happens. I dug into the first big adventure, Sandstorm, and uses science fact, archaeology, and the action film template to deliver a rip-roaring adventure that takes us from North America to England to the Saudi Arabian peninsula.

In a tale that boasts epic action sequences, the reader is taken on and adventure with an archaeological team who is joined on their expedition by two members of DARPA’s (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) Sigma Force, Painter and Coral. The pair join Kara Kensington, her friend Safia, and the adventurerer Omaha Dunn (as a blatant nod to Indiana Jones), his brother, and a few others.

They are headed to the lost city of Ubar (discovered in the late 90s), led their by strange iron forged objects and the promise and threat of meteorite fragments containing antimatter that could be used by those who are competing with them as a weapon of unprecedented destruction.

Rollins attempts to ground as much of his story in historical and science fact as he can so it makes the more fanciful elements he introduces all the more believable and it works, combining mythology, history and science to give us a literary riff on the adventure films that Indiana Jones made so popular.

It’s a big read, but damned enjoyable, racing from action beat to action beat, and Rollins keeps his diverse and fascinating characters moving all the time, and the discoveries unearthed work wonderfully within the context of his story, and hopefully the broader canvas he creates with the rest of the novels (I guess I’ll be finding out).

I like the variety of characters, how they interact, and even the emotional payoffs that happen for a pair of them as the story winds down. I don’t want to give to much away as the journey is best undertaken with next to no knowledge, but Rollins interweaves some actual historical sites with a wonderful sense of mystery, imbuing them with a life that marries their actuality with the mythology that has sprung up around them over the centuries.

I love how he worked his reveals, and revel in the fact that he lets his characters have their beats, their moments, their issues, and some, their sense of humour.

I greatly enjoyed this book and will be digging into the next book in the series in short order I think, but it seems all the books I have on hold at the library pop up at the same time, so there are some other tales to come before then, as well as some checking in with the Enterprise, Christie, Bond, cylons, and a galaxy far, far away…

But man, check out Rollins work- a rip-roaring action ride!

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