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48 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best thriller of the year!
I've been reading James Rollins since his very first novel. I look forward to each one with anticipation months ahead of its publication. (Thank God he's prolific!) Truthfully, I like some of them better than others. This latest, The Black Order, is an unequivocal slam dunk. I loved everything about it from start to finish.

One thing Rollins has done right...
Published on July 26, 2006 by Susan Tunis

versus
20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Creativity vs. Writing Ability
James Rollins is a conundrum. He's incredibly creative, writes fast-paced thrillers, and generally has intriguing science, history, and ideas forming the backbone of his stories. His actual story-telling, though, doesn't live up to the backbone.

Black Order has an excellent pace although POV switches occur too often for my personal taste (once every 2-4...
Published on June 28, 2007 by spirestar


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48 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best thriller of the year!, July 26, 2006
By 
I've been reading James Rollins since his very first novel. I look forward to each one with anticipation months ahead of its publication. (Thank God he's prolific!) Truthfully, I like some of them better than others. This latest, The Black Order, is an unequivocal slam dunk. I loved everything about it from start to finish.

One thing Rollins has done right is bring back Painter Crowe in a more significant roll. I've had a warm spot for him since Sandstorm. And in his second outing, I feel that I know Gray Pierce better than I did. How wonderful that these individuals have become like friends and I see their characters deepen and grow from book to book. He introduces a new character in this book that has become a favorite. I really hope we get to see her again!

But the best thing about The Black Order is the plot. I couldn't turn pages fast enough! I plowed through the book in two days and was then sad it was over. What a thrill ride! The novel is complex enough that I can't do it justice trying to sum it up in a paragraph. There were several different intertwined stories spanning the globe, from Asia to Europe to Africa to America. Rollins ties in Nazi science projects dating back to WWII to South African mythological beasts. And even though there were Nazi bad guys, this book has a lot of shades of gray and things aren't necessarily what they seem at first glance.

As always, there was fascinating, cutting-edge science. Each book has some bit of factual science that literally makes my jaw drop, and I think: I have to learn more about that! This one was no exception, but there were also major philosophical aspects to the story. Really, it's a book that has everything--non-stop action, terrific characters, a little romance, a little humor, some good scares, and a lot to make you think. I can't recommend it highly enough!
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36 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Children of the Bell, October 4, 2006
James Rollins novels are generally readable, but several of his most recent, in particular Map of Bones and this new release, Black Order show greatly improved structure and narration. While SIGMA Force stories have appeared before, Rollins has greatly developed the basis of this series, and the result is characters that have some claim for personality and glimmers of original plotting. In a genre that isn't particularly noted for novelty and depth of plot, this is a welcome change. If you have enjoyed Rollin's stories before you will like this new work even better.

Several related subplots make up the story. Commander Gray Pierce is in Copenhagen following an auction of rare books that involves some surprise bidders. Attempted murder and arson make what he thought was an easy assignment that he could use as an excuse to have a lover's tryst into a frantic chase that comes very close to nipping him in the bud. Meanwhile, a continent or so away, an isolated Tibetan monastery goes insane, trapping Lisa Cummings, a young doctor studying survival in the severe heights of Mt. Everest. Also hidden in the monastery is Painter Crowe, Director of SIGMA Force. The two join in their own flight from merciless hunters.

Deep in the mountains is hidden the castle Granitschloss, the ultimate retreat of Heinrich Himmler. Nazi experiments interrupted by the end of the war are still carried on there. An arcane technology is being used to create the super race of which Hitler dreamed. But the current residents may be heirs of the Nazi's but they are no longer the monsters of the Third Reich. Gray Pierce and Painter Crowe piece together the truth, that there is an even more secret organization that intends to use the deadly technology hidden at the castle to forward their own goals of world conquest.

Rollins keeps up a good pace, and the suspense builds as Crowe struggles against a deadly condition that is dissolving his body from within even as he tried to put an end to the threats. The story mixes neo-Nazis with not quite Nazi's, secret rays and genetic manipulation, and occult runes with Darwin's bible. Some of the plot is standard thriller fare, but there are just the right number of twists to keep the story fresh. I hope Rollins can keep this up in future volumes, because I'll be buying them.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Suspense at it's best!, July 11, 2006
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"Black Order" is, by far, the most exciting, fascinating, heart-wrenching, suspenseful book I've read in years. The premise is believable, the pace is fast, and the characters are all well developed and interesting.

I cheered for the hero's, bled with them, worried for them, held my breath waiting to find out what happened to them, and I cried for them. The 2 anti-heroes were worthy of my contempt, suspicions, limited admiration, encouraging cheers and my tears. The evil ones are pure evil--evil that is believable and caused the hairs to stand up on the back of my neck.

James Rollins has done his research--and it shows. He carefully explains several scientific theories, without talking down to the reader, and I was able to follow along without being lost in the mechanics of it all.

The highlight of the book for me was near the end when Gray and Lisa figured out the puzzle and stated the simple answer--I cried. It's something I discovered long ago in my life, and to read this in a book touched my heart.

Jim stated in his "Author's Note":

"Rather than focusing so intently on where we have come from, a larger question deserves even more fervent attention: Where are we headed?"

What a great summation--to encourage the reader to think: to think about their life and it's purpose, to think about their life and their future.

In "Black Order" Jim incorporates history, science, and religion as effortlessly as a chef moves about the kitchen. Put together, it's an exciting blend of story telling that draws the reader along on a grand adventure. I highly recommend this adventure.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome, July 27, 2006
The newest of James Rollins lovels leaves no disappointment. His tradition of exciting plots, believable and likeable characters, and twists that keep you guessing all the way through continue in Black Order. The way he combines real science with fiction is amazing! I can't get enough.
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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Creativity vs. Writing Ability, June 28, 2007
James Rollins is a conundrum. He's incredibly creative, writes fast-paced thrillers, and generally has intriguing science, history, and ideas forming the backbone of his stories. His actual story-telling, though, doesn't live up to the backbone.

Black Order has an excellent pace although POV switches occur too often for my personal taste (once every 2-4 pages). My biggest beef with this book (and Rollins' writing in general) is that he often tells and rarely shows. There are numerous violations of this unwritten writers rule in Black Order and Map of Bones, and that disappoints me greatly because Rollins is an otherwise solid writer.

Rollins is a good writer, but not a great one. If you want a cheap thrill, Black Order will suffice. I'm actually a big fan of Rollins because of one thing: he's consistent. You'll never be bored to tears, and that's more than you can say for other authors. Just don't expect good metaphors, internal dialogue, or subtle nuances.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yet ANOTHER winner from Rollins!, July 11, 2006
While 'Map of Bones' remains my #1 favorite by Mr. Rollins, he has done a fantastic job of crafting a complex follow-up to that stunning entry into the techno-thriller genre that generates just as much information as it does thrills. The Sigma Force is back with a tale that takes us to two completely different geographical locations that couldn't be more different from one another.

Originally, as Rollins has been doing lately, the novel begins with a fictional re-telling of an actual event that occurred at the end of World War II. What exactly were the Nazi's on the verge of discovering that could quite turn the world on it's collective religious rear-end? For us, thankfully Rollins has a VERY creative answer that could very well spell doom.

From Mt. Everest to Europe and eventually to South Africa, Black Order is laced with a heavy dose of science, and no matter HOW silly it may seem when describing to someone else, Rollins has a keen knack for making it all seem just probable enough to give you chills. Whether or not the Nazi's were doing experiments using captive human guinea pigs is beyond debate...but what if some of those experiments allowed a select few the opportunity to literally play God? This is just one of the enormous ethical dilemmas that Rollins explores. At first when I realized that the storyline would be dredging up the old debate of Intelligent Design, evolution and many others, I was skeptical to say the least. I am happy to say that the author handles BOTH sides with respect regardless of which side of the fence you may occupy.

Although the action takes a bit longer to fully mature here than it did with 'Map of Bones' that doesn't mean that the entertainment factor has been sacrificed in ANY way. On the contrary, I found myself completely drawn into the debate that sets the stage for some VERY thought-provoking conversations that seriously make you just THINK -- which I believe was one of the goals that the author had in mind when deciding to tackle a subject such as this. What REALLY counts here is not just the debate that is raised, but how captivating the plot is and how well it seamlessly connects with the controversy surrounding this sensitive topic. Once again, you can hardly ask for more than what Mr. Rollins delivers in his latest outing with Sigma Force. In short: if you have even remotely enjoyed any of his previous novels, you owe it to yourself to grab this one as soon as your pocketbook will allow -- DON'T wait for the paperback unless absolutely necessary.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE ULTIMATE ROLLINS!, July 14, 2006
By 
Sandy Rhoad "Insatiable reader" (Branchville, SC United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Sigma Force, Painter Crowe and a few new horrifying villians are back in the most powerful Rollins of them all. This book is electrifying from the first pages and by the time you are at the end your nerves are shattered, your nails chewed to a nub and you need a Xanax. If you've read the rest of Rollins you will revel in this book - if you haven't read Rollins then read this one last because it truly takes the reader to new heights of fear. A wonderful book and certainly his best to date -- and I say, more....more!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Book Has Everything, February 16, 2007
James Rollins is a pseudonym of James Clemens who was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1961. He now has a veterinary practice in Sacramento, California, where he shares his home with two Dalmations, a stray Shepherd and a love-sick parrot named Igor. He has written several books that have been highly acclaimed and I believe this one to be his latest to date.

All of James Rollins books are fast paced and exciting and this offering is no different. A fire in a Copenhagen book store ignites a hunt across four continents. Arson and murder reveal a plot to steal a bible that once belonged to the notable botanist Charles Darwin, who became the father of present day evolutionary thinking. Commander Gray Pierce dives headlong into a mystery that dates back to a Germany when the Nazi's were in power and to a now abandoned laboratory, buried deep in in a polish mountain where horrific experiments were performed . . .

Black order is a brilliantly written adventure novel that leaves books like the Da Vinci Code floundering in its wake. It is pure escapism and I was truly sorry when it ended. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes fast-paced adventure novels.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top-notch international thriller!, July 6, 2006
By 
I love these types of thrillers, where the heroes race against the clock to save the world from diabolical villains. The stakes are high, and the action breathless. What sets Rollins' books apart from other authors' is the care he has put into creating fleshed-out characters, believable action scenarios, and technology that has the ring of truth. He successfully avoids the cartoonish quality that mars other thrillers. The entire story is crafted with jewel-like precision, so that all of the disparate threads come together in a satisfying conclusion. And to top it off, his stories are just fun. If you're a fan of Clive Cussler or Michael Crichton, you'll want to be introduced to James Rollins.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely awesome, July 11, 2006
For James Rollins fans, this is everything we love about his novels. For those who haven't read his books before, you might want to check out his earlier novels, as most of the characters in this book were introduced in earlier titles - the book will make sense, but the characters won't have the same depth as they might if you're already familiar with them.

This didn't get five stars from me only because: it jumps back and forth between multiple plot lines even more than "Map of Bones" did, and spends a little too much time trying to explain quantum theory as a justification for the plot. Even with those admittedly minor flaws, this is one of the best books of the summer.
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Black Order: A Sigma Force Novel
Black Order: A Sigma Force Novel by James Rollins (Paperback - January 21, 2010)
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