Book: The Eye Of God (A Sigma Force Novel)
Author: James Rollin
Publisher: Hachette India
Price: Rs 699
I've always found thriller novels with their roots in historical events quite intriguing. I appreciate it when the author goes the extra mile to research scenes that can give his/her story authenticity, the feeling of having fallen through the pages of history. The Eye Of God is one of those novels.
Based primarily in the countries of the Far East, the story follows members of Sigma Force, a special science research and spy division of the US, in a race against time to save humanity. As is wont in such stories, it is fortunate that it doesn’t assume the worst clichés but instead traverses centuries of eastern Eurasian history, involving characters right from Attila the Hun to Genghis Khan. A Sigma team of scientists are researching the passage of comet IKON with satellites called IoG, or referred to as the "Eye of God", when they a major setback with the unprecedented crash of one of the satellites in the regions of Mongolia. More importantly though, due to quantum fluctuations the last image transmitted by the satellite provides a glimpse into the future, four days to be precise, showing the end of the world. A team sets out to retrieve the wrecked hardware to find clues that might shed some light on the predictions.
Simultaneously, a Vatican priest and his niece receive a package from a friend they assumed to be long dead; a package that contains the relics of Genghis Khan, his skull and a Bible bound with his skin, that mark the date for apocalypse four days in the future. It doesn't take too long for both the teams to figure out that there is a connection between the two events, and to assimilate at Ulan Bator in Mongolia, along with a third team of Sigma crew. Together they set out to hunt for one of the world's largest treasures, hoarded by Genghis Khan himself, that might also hold a key to saving the future of the planet.
The story unfolds gently and there is the right amount of suspense. The actions scene are painfully slow and the author takes pleasure is giving out intricate and completely unnecessary details extending the fight sequences far beyond what a person can take. It felt like he was writing a movie script rather than a novel.
Many twists in the plot are credited to "being lucky" rather than provide an actual context to the storyline. But to give Rollins credit, he makes up for it in a powerful climax.
The mark of a good story teller is if he/she can involve the reader in the story so much that they go back and read more on the subject. Rollins did that with this book. It has not only aroused my interest in Far Eastern and Eurasian history, but I have put Ulan Bator on my "places to visit to before I die" list. The Eye Of God is for those who enjoy history-based thrillers, for the rest it makes for a decent airport/train/bus/motel read.