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Kingdom of Bones


Kingdom of Bones

After reading a James Rollins book, you come away not only exhilarated but having learned some valuable information in the process. Some have called him a successor to the late  great Michael Crichton, and nowhere is this more evident than in KINGDOM OF BONES. In this new Sigma Force thriller, the team is fighting a potential pandemic --- yes, right on the heels of COVID-19 --- that will make Crichton fans fondly recall THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN, and Rollins’ extensive knowledge as a former veterinarian is fully on display here.

Like all Sigma Force novels, KINGDOM OF BONES begins in the annals of history. In this case, it’s the 1894 expedition of Reverend William Sheppard to the Congo. He’s there attempting to convert cannibal tribes to the Word of the Lord. However, Sheppard will find something different altogether. One of the tribesmen tells him of a mine they refer to as Mfupa Ufalme, which he learns literally translates to Kingdom of Bones. He will never have the opportunity to share with the rest of the world the discovery that he makes there, but it will have a lasting effect on him. It also will change the entire world one day, but possibly not for the better.

"This could be Rollins’ most important work as it is extremely frightening. Yet, in his expert hands, he has transformed the subject matter into high-octane fiction that is impossible to put down or forget."

This brings us to the present day. A United Nations relief team that is serving villagers in the very same region is beginning to come up against some bizarre situations. Individuals they are caring for, regardless of age, are turning up in a weirdly catatonic state that the medical staff has never seen before. In addition, the surrounding territory in which they are physically operating has become more dangerous, but not in ways they had expected or planned for. The various creatures, from insects to wild animals, seem larger, more predatory.

The assistance of Sigma Force is needed once again. They are typically working as a government entity but well below the radar and dealing with global threats that most people never hear about. In this case, they will find out about the flora and fauna issues soon enough. Commander Gray Pierce, on orders from his longtime boss, Painter Crowe, is descending upon this region of Africa with his team because of the rumor of a potential new virus with the strength to make COVID-19 seem like a mere head cold.

It's all tied together, and to tackle everything that’s going on, Sigma Force must separate --- with some working on the virus specifically and others stepping deep into the jungles of the Congo and other African regions that have never been explored before. They start out on the campus of the University of Kisangani. Monk and Frank have a test tube containing a monstrous ant hybrid that grew out of the pupal state almost immediately after being placed there; it has grown wings and an impressive stinger that drips an ominous green liquid. Very scary stuff.

Gray and his team have joined up with the United Nations relief workers who were rescued from the area where they were working and are diving into its history with help from some of the locals. They find pictures of now-extinct animals --- one in particular dating back to October 17, 1894 --- that shows what appears to be an overly large okapi entering an area known as the Kingdom of Bones. This eventually puts them on the same path that Sheppard had been on during that same time period.

Full of scientific adventure, KINGDOM OF BONES also calls to mind Crichton’s JURASSIC PARK. The finale is so mind-blowing that I can barely describe it, nor do I wish to spoil it. This could be Rollins’ most important work as it is extremely frightening. Yet, in his expert hands, he has transformed the subject matter into high-octane fiction that is impossible to put down or forget. At the beginning of the novel, he includes a passage called “Notes from the Scientific Record,” where he leaves us with the most frightening thought of all: “Viruses --- both out in nature and inside our bodies --- are not done changing us, of evolving us. And it’s continuing right now as you read this.” Thank you for the nightmares, Mr. Rollins!

Reviewed by Ray Palen on April 22, 2022

Kingdom of Bones
by James Rollins

  • Publication Date: November 8, 2022
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Mass Market Paperback: 624 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow
  • ISBN-10: 0062892991
  • ISBN-13: 9780062892997