James Rollins has been writing fast-paced speculative fiction
since his first novel, SUBTERRANEAN, was published in 1999. Nine
other releases followed, including the novelization of the latest
Indiana Jones movie, INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL
SKULL. With THE LAST ORACLE, Rollins may have penned the perfect
beach book for the summer of 2008.
The novel opens in A.D. 398 with a flashback scene involving the
Greek Oracle at Delphi, which legend states may have possessed the
greatest power of any oracle in history. An international think
tank of rogue scientists known as the Jasons becomes aware of and
joins with a Russian group that has been trying since the start of
the Cold War to produce their own “oracle” by
experimenting with autistic children who have shown savant talents.
They have been bioengineered over many years into a great force
capable of producing a future prophet who could bring about world
peace. The U.S. Defense organization known as SIGMA Force soon
learns that this misguided goal will only come about after millions
of lives are lost in a global cleansing, the magnitude of which the
world has never seen.
Commander Gray Pierce and his team are thrust into this latest
mission after Professor Archibald Polk of MIT is assassinated and
dies in the arms of Pierce on the great mall in Washington, D.C.
They quickly learn that Polk was a founder and member of the
Jasons. What’s worse is their discovery of the reasons behind
Polk’s alleged assassination --- to hide the secrets behind
the Uranus and Saturn projects that involve the creation of a new
oracle somewhere in Russia.
Simultaneous to this plot line is another story involving an
American man who awakes in a subterranean Russian research facility
with complete amnesia. He escapes with the assistance of three
special children and a brilliant chimpanzee. They set off on their
own adventure, which has them pursued by the Russian military and a
group of savage wild animals as they head towards the radioactive
underground mines located in the shadow of Chernobyl.
Pierce and company race against time not only to reveal the secrets
behind the Uranus and Saturn projects but also to uncover clues
left at the site of the original Greek Oracle that might foretell
the events to follow. While translating the Sanskrit secrets found
at the Oracle site, the SIGMA team is shaken by the discovery of
the translated warning: “The world will burn…unless the
many become one.” What does this mean, and how do they stop
the world from burning?
James Rollins has written a fast-paced, exciting page-turner that
should please fans of adventure and speculative fiction everywhere.
THE LAST ORACLE is well-researched and includes an Author’s
Note that defines many of the fiction and nonfiction elements of
the book. Most eye-opening is the time he spends examining the many
famous autistic savants throughout history (Thomas Jefferson,
Albert Einstein, Beethoven, etc.). The seed of the novel comes from
a quote by Dr. Temple Grandin: “If by some magic, autism had
been eradicated from the face of the earth, then men would still be
socializing in front of a wood fire at the entrance to a
cave.” Very thought-provoking for a beach book!
Reviewed by Ray Palen on December 30, 2010