Another Sigma Force thriller amidst the chills

Book review by Sebastian Lim

Title: The Last Odyssey

Author: James Rollins

Publisher: William Morrow

ISBN: 9780062892928

Deep beneath the ice of Greenland’s Helheim Glacier, in a meltwater cavern in the Sermilik Fjord, nautical archaeologist Dr Elena Cargill has been asked to consult with a scientific team on an astounding discovery.

Half-encased in the ice is a mysterious ninth century dhow, an ocean-going vessel that originated somewhere in the Arab world. How did it sail all the way north to Greenland, and why is it here, stranded beneath tons of glacial ice?

Boarding the boat to examine its collection of fascinating artefacts, Elena and the other scientists are suddenly attacked by unknown invaders who want the artefacts and other treasures onboard.

Running for their lives, they inadvertently unleash destructive forces from the ancient past that threaten to obliterate everything around them.

Once again, Sigma Force, the secret and highly lethal special-ops division of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, is called upon to help save the world from such a holocaust.

And to prevent a tyrant from setting off a campaign of global destruction, the team must retrace the winding homeward journey of Odysseus, assembling clues along the way from a strange, priceless artefact found in the dhow.

At the end of their odyssey, they’ll find the answer to the mystery and encounter a showdown of mythical proportions.

To enjoy a James Rollins novel, readers will need to suspend their sense of disbelief. Otherwise, they will be left with a lingering suspicion and doubt about the story plot.

The Last Odyssey is the latest Sigma Force tale from Rollins, and it pulls out all the stops.

The Sigma Force characters are familiar to readers following the series, and the story is written to be read at break-neck speed. The underpinning of legend, history, and treasure captures our interest and holds it throughout the story.

The book also generates interest by drawing its basic shape from a key work of classical literature, The Odyssey by Homer.

For readers who may have avoided the original epic poem because of its dryness and daunting length, Rollins’ thriller makes the ancient tale not only accessible but fascinating.

He bolsters the story with plenty of learning aids. The book is prefaced with maps, “Notes from the Historical Records,” and “Notes from the Scientific Records” so that we have a reasonable understanding of the basics that underpin the storyline.

Also included are photographs of the priceless object guiding the Sigma Force team on their journey, more maps, illustrations of key clues, and a concluding “Author’s Note to Readers:Truth or Fiction”.

As we join Grayson Pierce, Seichan, Kowalski, Maria, and the other Sigma Force team members when they set sail across the Mediterranean on a mission to rescue Elena Cargill, search for the Gates of Hell, and uncover the answers to a mystery that has persisted for centuries, we are also entertain with the suspense and action all along the way.

Verdict? The Last Odyssey is a fast, fun, and thoroughly entertaining read.

Sebastian Lim is an experienced journalist and editor who now runs his own book review blog — The views expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent that of The Weekly-Echo.