Book Review: Bloodline


James Rollins

Galilee, 1025: A Templar knight uncovers a holy treasure in an ancient citadel — a priceless icon that holds a mysterious and terrifying power.

A millennium later, Commander Gray Pierce of Sigma Force is dispatched to the African jungle, teaming up with former Army Ranger Captain Tucker Wayne and his military war dog, Kane, on a covert mission to rescue the US President’s pregnant daughter from Somali pirates.  But Pierce fears the kidnapping masks a far more terrible terrorist agenda — a suspicion proven true in a fiery ambush and a deadly act of betrayal… and by the firebombing of a South Carolina fertility clinic half a world away.

Suddenly Gray Pierce and Sigma Force are in a frantic race to save an innocent unborn baby whose very existence raises questions about the nature of humanity.  And behind it all is a deadly cabal that has been manipulating events from the shadows throughout history… and a devastating conspiracy rooted in human genetic code that Pierce must expose before it alters humanity forever.

It’s difficult to not get caught up in the high intensity thrill ride that Rollins always takes his readers on.  Bloodline was no different in that respect.  The plot had its usual twists and turns and science was expertly integrated with fiction to make for an intelligent read (that often leaves the reader feeling even more intelligent).  Wayne and Kane make great additions to the cast of characters and I hope that we see more of them in the future.

I had to think this one through a bit.  I had some hesitations over Bloodline and here’s what I think it boils down to — Bloodline is damn good, as a Rollins book always is.  But for a Rollins book, I felt it wasn’t quite his regular superb quality.  So, this is definitely an excellent read, but I think I was expecting just a little bit more from him.

One thing that I know is starting to get to me is all the symbols the team comes across.  We’ve got a secret society that has been around for millennia, it seems, yet they integrate their logos into all that they do.  A tent in the middle of nowhere has the bloodline logo emblazoned on it.  The Guild has an island in Dubai, that fantastic place with all those man made islands, shaped like their logo of a star and moon.  And the family that runs The Guild has bought up specific buildings on the island so that from an aerial view, their property makes a perfect Templar Cross.  It seemed a bit far-fetched.

Rollins always does a great job of seamlessly integrating his research into his fiction.  To give an opposite example, Michael Crichton was terrible at it — he’d do some research and basically copy and paste it as a page into his novel.  Rollins integrates it into the narrative so the reader picks it up without a Crichton-style infodump.  The only area where I found he veered away from that was when talking about child soldiers.  In the notes at the back, he says he read A Long Way Gone and met its author, Ishmael Beah.  I’ve also read that book and met the author and, I can tell you, it’s hard not to get caught up in that and want to share that terrifying reality with people.  In Bloodline, the passages about child soldiers, usually told as character flashback pieces, felt a little infodump-like… but that might just be me nitpicking.

Kane brought an interesting perspective to the book.  He was a viewpoint character a few times, and Rollins does an interesting job of writing from a nonhuman perspective.  I think it took me a while to appreciate the work that went into Kane’s passages — they are solid, but I think I was originally caught off guard by the sudden shift.

As for the Sigma Force novels’ overarching plot about The Guild, this volume brings some really good resolution to the saga.  In the last novel, The Devil Colony, we learned that President Gant’s family is involved with The Guild.  Bloodline picks up that thread and takes it to a very satisfying conclusion.

So, overall, Bloodline was a superb book.  Rollins never fails in enthralling me — so even though I didn’t think it was as amazing as some of his others, it was still damn good



Filed under Book Reviews, Reading

2 responses to “Book Review: Bloodline

  1. I loved the scenes from Kane’s point of view. They felt genuine rather than hokey, and when I first heard that some of the scenes were from a dog’s point of view I was definitely worried it would be hokey… though I should have known that with his veterinary background and love of animals that Rollins would do a good job with it. Great book. Despite some of the symbolism being far-fetched, this is one of my favorites in the series.

  2. Pingback: What I Read in 2013 | Cameron D James

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