Black Order (2006) – James Rollins

Sigma Force is back in their bext adventure from author James Rollins, who once again combines high adventure, with science, technology, and little known corners of history to deliver another rollicking adventure.

This time out, both Painter and Gray find themselves out in the field and caught up in the action in a tale that sweeps the reader from the heights of Everest to Europe and Africa in a race to save lives, stop a blossoming international threat, and the most recognisable threat to walk the earth, Nazis.

Tying into the work of the Nazis, especially the more marrying of science and the occult that Himmler was interested in. This time there are mentions of a Bell and Xerum-525, both of which actually seemed to have been developed and used by Nazi scientists in the late stages of the war, and that serves as a launching point into a tale that explores hints of quantum theory and presents the idea of quantum evolution.

Painter finds himself infected with a strange radiation that may kill him before the pages of the novel run out, and secret Nazi bases and scientists still at work in the modern world are putting plans into action, even as Grayson Pierce hunts down a collection of Victorian-era papers, including a bible that belonged to Charles Darwin.

All of it culminates in a climax in a sealed estate in the heart of South Africa, where a new breed of villain is being created, and Sigma Force may be the only people able to stop it before a terrible fate befalls the entire planet.

Not only does Rollins know how to write an action sequence, he also knows how to dole out the science involved behind his tales, and make it understandable to the lay person while not talking down to them. He researches his subject matter, and then wraps it up in a fun adventure that almost strains credulity, but also has its basis in actual established fact.

This is the third book that I’ve read in this series so far, and I love the connective tissue running through them all, brief callbacks to other adventures, the characters growing and changing through the course of the novels. I also like that these aren’t short little tales, most of them push the 700 page mark, and allow each of the characters involved ot have their moment, have reveals, twists, turns, and lots of action beats.

And while this hasn’t been my favourite of the bunch, I like the ancient mystery angle, though Nazis are always an easy bad guy to hate, it’s still a great adventure, and keeps you turning pages until the last line of the epilogue.

Over the course of these books, he’s introduced a very cool team, and I can’t wait to see what happens next when they confront The Judas Strain!

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