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83 of 86 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sigma's going to the dogs
After a brief prologue, James Rollins' latest Sigma Force thriller picks up shortly after where last year's superlative The Devil Colony left off. Commander Gray Pierce is dealing with the fallout of his mother's murder, and the team is ready to exact vengeance against the Guild. (Now, those first two sentences should tell readers something. While I certainly think that...
Published on June 22, 2012 by Susan Tunis

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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good premise, good ending, but takes far too long to get there
One thing I want to make absolutely clear with this review is that if you're looking for the Sigma of the earlier books, the quest for forgotten treasures and past mysteries, you won't find that here. Not really, anyway. This book made it very clear to me that like Steve Berry's books, the plot focus here has officially shifted to a political strategies and power plays...
Published on October 28, 2012 by ChibiNeko


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83 of 86 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sigma's going to the dogs, June 22, 2012
By 
This review is from: Bloodline: A Sigma Force Novel (Hardcover)
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After a brief prologue, James Rollins' latest Sigma Force thriller picks up shortly after where last year's superlative The Devil Colony left off. Commander Gray Pierce is dealing with the fallout of his mother's murder, and the team is ready to exact vengeance against the Guild. (Now, those first two sentences should tell readers something. While I certainly think that there is enjoyment to be had reading Bloodline as a stand-alone, this installment of the series is very much built upon what's come before, both in terms of plot and character arcs. In a perfect world, I'd recommend reading this after reading the other books in the series, or at the very least The Devil Colony.) Early in the book, the enigmatic double-agent Seichan shows up unexpectedly:

"`There's been a kidnapping off the Seychelles by Somali pirates. A high-value American target. Painter wanted to know if you were up for a mission.' Gray frowned. Why was Sigma involved with a simple kidnapping? There were plenty of policing and maritime agencies that could attend to such a crime. Sigma Force--made up of Special Forces soldiers who had been retrained in various scientific disciplines--was a covert wing for DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Sigma teams were sent out into the world to protect against global threats, not to address the kidnapping of a single American."

Well, there's high-value, and then there's HIGH-VALUE. And this kidnapping victim is the latter. And wouldn't you know, this crime eventually leads back to the Guild. This is the book Mr. Rollins has been promising readers. It is the ultimate showdown between these two organizations. And, yes, Sigma is called upon to fulfill the mission stated above. The Guild's plot goes well beyond kidnapping, but I shall decline to elucidate further. What I will do, instead, is highlight some of the strengths and weaknesses of the book.

STRENGTHS:
* Seichan tells Gray, "We've been ordered to pick up another two teammates, local assets already in the region, with unique skills to help us on this mission." Those who read Rollins' recently published e-short, Tracker: A Short Story Exclusive, have already guessed that I'm referring to retired Army war dog, Kane, and his handler, Tucker. These two are the freshest thing to hit Sigma in quite some time! First, they're just great characters. Former-veterinarian Rollins does a bang-up job writing from a dogs-eye view. These war dogs are unbelievably skilled. What they can do, and how they work with their human, is flat-out fascinating. Are you a fan of Dean Koontz's Watchers? You are going to LOVE Kane!
* I think Rollins' greatest strength is the integration of really smart, completely fascinating, and scarily plausible science into his plots. I have never failed to learn something within his pages. This novel deals with genetics, robotics, and the quest for immortality. At one point, the mad scientist is giving an epic lecture on how men can live indefinitely, and I'm thinking of a huge scientific impediment to that idea. I'm about to proclaim it all BOGUS. Well, almost as if he had read my mind, Rollins addressed my objection. Is it plausible? I don't know. But it sure sounds legit. I proclaim it NOT BOGUS.
* Rollins lets some recently underutilized characters shine in this novel, none more so than Kat Bryant, Sigma's second in command. She's out in the field for the first time in a long time, and this lady knows how to kick some ass. I'll never look at her the same way again. Bloodline is very much an ensemble piece, with everyone getting some face time, and it is stronger for it.
* Which reminds me... Way to write those strong female protagonists, Mr. Rollins! This has always been a strength, and it continues to impress.
* Kowalski. Kowalski is so awesome in his Kowalskiness. Who else, after watching Kane's amazing, life-saving performance under fire, would sum everything up with, "I got to get me one of those dogs"? He's always good for comic relief, but Mr. Rollins shows great restraint in not making this character too over the top, or of over-utilizing him.
* As always, Rollins leaves readers with a fascinating author's note about fact versus fiction. This time around he even includes links to video.

Now, die-hard fan that I am, it makes sense that I see more strengths than weaknesses, but as always, I do have some quibbles.

WEAKNESSES:
* For the last few books, Rollins has been trying (successfully) to humanize Seichan, and to reveal more of her background. That is very much the case here, but for me, personally, things were getting a little too... sentimental. You may judge for yourself.
* Also, I don't need to hear any more about the "inexplicable bond between dog and handler, tying them together by something deeper than just hand signals and spoken commands." I LOVED seeing the two in action, and Rollins didn't belabor the point, but any time their "bond" was referenced, I just wanted to roll my eyes. Clearly, I am a horrible person.
* Maybe it's because I'm a Washingtonian, or because I was obsessed with The West Wing, but I found certain elements of the Presidential/White House subplot of the novel strained even my generous suspension of disbelief.

Okay, sorry to prattle on, but there's always so much to talk about with these books! Despite my penchant for criticism, when you get right down to it, James Rollins is at the top of my favorite authors list. As always, he leaves me anxiously awaiting his next installment.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good premise, good ending, but takes far too long to get there, October 28, 2012
This review is from: Bloodline: A Sigma Force Novel (Hardcover)
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One thing I want to make absolutely clear with this review is that if you're looking for the Sigma of the earlier books, the quest for forgotten treasures and past mysteries, you won't find that here. Not really, anyway. This book made it very clear to me that like Steve Berry's books, the plot focus here has officially shifted to a political strategies and power plays. This won't bother some, as many will be readers of military intrigue where such plots are common, but for those who are in this more for the Indiana Jones thrill will find themselves slightly left out.

That aside, there were elements in here I really enjoyed. I still loved the characters for the most part. Kowalski is still a hoot and remains one of my favorite characters. He's not an idiot, but his buffoonery provides a much needed lightness to the book because otherwise it'd be uninterrupted action and seriousness. (Others will probably see him as the Jar Jar of the Sigma team, though.) I also can't help but continue to like the women of the series, especially since they are usually some of the toughest characters. It's nice to have women that can hold their own for the most part. The guys? They're good, but Grey just continues to sail into Gary Stu territory. This doesn't mean that I dislike him, just that at times he's a little too perfect for my tastes.

Plot-wise, the book could have used about a good 50-100 pages shaved off. The idea of genetic engineering and DNA manipulation is an interesting one. It brings up a lot of questions as well as opens up the doors for future plot points in the series. I also rather liked the reveals in this book. Some of them you might have expected, some you might not have. The ending of this was particularly tight. This book took me a long time to get through because I just kept losing interest, but the ending makes me somewhat want to pick up the next book eventually. It's just that it takes so freaking long to get to where it wants to be that I couldn't help but get distracted by various different things. I know that it won't be like this for everyone and that the shift to power struggles did contribute to this, but I feel like this will be my last Sigma book for a while.

The bottom line is that this is good and if you've loved the series so far, you'll definitely want to pick this one up. If you're like me and have slowly started to pull away from the series, this book probably won't be the whiz-bang book that draws you back in.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Inventive and Exciting Thriller, June 26, 2012
By 
This review is from: Bloodline: A Sigma Force Novel (Hardcover)
First time mothers are supposed to spend the nine months before birth in a blissful state of anticipatory preparation. With only a few weeks before the arrival of her newborn, Amanda is feeling anything but bliss. After discovering her husband's infertility, Amanda undergoes the grueling process of in vitro fertilization. A couple miscarriages later, she finally carries a healthy child. Despite all of this, she and her husband are fleeing for their lives. A few weeks ago, she received anonymous notification, indicating that the life of her child was threatened. Now, off the coast of Africa, the couple is aboard a yacht, fleeing for the safety of their child. Under the cover of darkness, a group of Somali pirates hijacks the ship, killing the crew, her husband, and kidnapping the pregnant Amanda. This story alone would be enough to capture American headlines, but there is one more detail that makes this an even bigger story. Amanda is the daughter of the President of the United States!

In "Bloodline", the latest installment in the popular Sigma Force series by author James Rollins, Sigma, a secretive US military group, is tasked with finding the kidnapped Amanda. Gray Pierce, field leader of the covert team, is dealing with problems of his own. His mother was caught in the crossfire of his previous mission, in which his pursuit of the elusive organization, The Guild, led to her murder, leaving his father, who is slowly declining into dementia, to live alone. By straddling his protagonist with the guilt of his mother's death, Rollins turns what could have been a mindless super-human warrior into an everyman with genuine emotions.

Sigma enlists the help of a highly trained, army dog, Kane, and trainer, Tucker, to assist with the search. The sequences featuring the dog allow Rollins to flex his creative muscles, as he narrates entire passages from the perspective of the dog. Through this inventive method, Rollins successfully portrays the authentic relationship of trust between man and animal where the lives of both completely rests in the hands of the other.

As the investigation continues, the team uncovers a shocking connection between the kidnapping and the elusive Guild. Coming closer to discovering the motivation behind the abduction, Gray is fueled by both a desire to return the missing woman and unborn child safely to their family and by an urge to seek revenge for the brutal killing of his mother.

Despite being the eighth novel in the series, "Bloodline" has enough back-story to stand on its own. Writing with an authoritative confidence, Rollins provides the perfect combination of thrills, emotion, and fact. With an abundance of characters and story lines, he keeps the story sailing in the right direction, never allowing the focus to shift from the impending conclusion. His accessible language allows for a quick pace and an easy read that packs action, science, and intrigue into a smart and entertaining novel.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, July 5, 2012
This review is from: Bloodline: A Sigma Force Novel (Hardcover)
In my opinion this is the best SIGMA Force book to date. The pace is breakneck and the plot is nail biting. It really moves some dangling plot threads forward and introduces new ones. James Rollins continues to be a master of the craft.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My first James Rollins, Sigma Force novel and I could not put it down. Now I am hunting for more!, June 28, 2012
By 
Pirate2240 "Kat" (Southern California) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Bloodline: A Sigma Force Novel (Hardcover)
Just finished almost an all-nighter because I simply could not put this book down. Sometimes sleep is over-rated anyway and when you find an amazing, edge of your seat, suspense thriller, you have to finish it.

In Bloodline by James Rollins, you are in for an action-packed roller coaster ride from the beginning. Trying not to give away too much, this novel blends a little DaVinci Code, National Treasure, Indiana Jones, Mission Impossible and a twisted bit of Science Fiction into this one, so if you have an interest in any of those, you will just LOVE this one.

The basis for this novel begins with the Knights Templar and ancient history involving a priceless icon that holds a mysterious and terrifying power that promises to change humankind forever. Here's just a sample of what is going on:

"On February 21, 2011, the cover of Time magazine declared: 2045, The Year Man Becomes Immortal. At face value, that might seem a wild claim, but other scientists have made similar statements.

We are living in an exciting time when advances in medicine, genetics, technology, and a myriad of other disciplines are opening the newest frontier for mankind: eternity.

How will that manifest, what form will it take? Within these pages, you'll discover that answer. The concepts raised in this novel are based on facts, on exhaustive research, going back to studies done by the Soviet scientists during the Cold War. But before you turn to that first page, I must make one correction concerning the startling statements made above. They are, in fact, far too conservative in their estimates.

For not only is immortality within our reach - it is already here." (preface excerpt).

Now with the presidents daughter kidnapped, it's only a matter of time before they discover who she really is, and what she is carrying within her that will make her one of the most valuable people in the entire world. If only SIGMA, a unique special operative groups, can locate her before her secret is uncovered, and she becomes a pawn in a shattering act of terrorism with dark repercussions and one that SIGMA may not even be prepared to deal with.

I received Bloodline by James Rollins compliments of William Morrow, a division of Harper Collins Publishers for my honest review and like I stated earlier, this was one I could not put down. Just when you think the good guys might be gaining an upper hand, a darker force will pull them down once again. A true roller coaster ride of great suspense and literal edge of your seat action. It had me surfing the internet while reading this one to see if the places described really exist and how much of this is really fiction! It's that great! For me, I rate this one a 5 out of 5 stars and I already have my husbands interest peaked just telling him what this one contains. This is my first James Rollings novel but definitely will not be my last.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sigma Force order..., July 30, 2012
This review is from: Bloodline: A Sigma Force Novel (Hardcover)
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This is the order of the SIGMA Force series:

Sandstorm (2004)
Map of Bones (2005)
Black Order (2006)
The Judas Strain (2007)
The Last Oracle (2008)
The Doomsday Key (2009)
The Devil Colony (2011)
Bloodline (2012)

I would recommend reading the series in order, if you think you're interested in a paramilitary, sci-fi, fantasy, spy genre (!!). There are some really far-fetched scenarios in many of these books, but Rollins is a first-class writer that writes some addicting stories, and "Bloodline" is not an exception. I recommend the entire series, including this latest in the series.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Totally on "track", July 4, 2012
By 
P. T. Hill (Northern California) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Bloodline: A Sigma Force Novel (Hardcover)
Bloodline was everything I wanted it to be - loads of science, thrills, a bit of history, and a lot of great characters. In this book, the women of Sigma are front and center (and partners), and I utterly enjoyed seeing Lisa and Kat show their strengths. Gray continues to deal with the emotional repercussions of events in past books, Seichan begins to [spoiler!], and Monk does a lot of babysitting until [spoiler!]. I really liked the involvement of war dog Kane and his handler Tucker, and liked learning about how these recon teams work. I also liked scenes in Kane's point of view because they were so sensory and intense. If Rollins ever does a standalone with Tucker and Kane, I'm buying it sight unseen. Yes, they're that richly written.

As always, Rollins takes me to places I've never thought about much, and gives me the opportunity to "see" and learn about these different locales. The speculative-science aspect of the story was pretty out there, but ... that's what we all like, right? The principal characters had more depth than in past books, more conflicts, too - something that pulls me into a story. Overall, for me, it's probably a 4.5-star book, but Amazon doesn't let us rate with halfs.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Daily Deal - You Can Start Here, April 13, 2014
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This is not the first book in the series - do not be put off from grabbing this $1.99 daily deal, because it will be worth every penny, even if you have not read any of the previous books. Of course, once you finish, you will quickly go read them to catch up with the characters, which is what I did after starting with book 3. If you like fast paced adventure books with a touch of the "not real" and very likeable characters, you will love this book!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars James Rollins has done it again!, June 27, 2012
By 
Breezy (surrounded by books) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bloodline: A Sigma Force Novel (Hardcover)
James Rollins has done it again!

I've enjoyed James Rollins books since first discovering Deep Fathom, over a decade ago. He's quickly become a "must buy" for me. I really enjoy the bonds between the members of Sigma, and I've looked forward to this book with bated breath for months now.

Mr. Rollins left some interesting questions at the end of his last book (Last year's excellent The Devil Colony), and he doesn't shirk the emotional fallout in Bloodline.

A mysterious Templar Knight rescues a staff from a man much older than he ought to be. But this knight is not all she appears--and she leaves no witnesses.

Then we jump to modern day. A young pregnant American woman is kidnapped, her husband brutally murdered by Somali prates. But this woman isn't your average tourist, though she's traveling on a fake passport. She's the president's daughter and she and her baby could be used to leverage all sorts of unspeakable things. What do the kidnappers want with her? Is it money? Are political machinations afoot?

Sigma is brought in to find the woman and extract her. And the story is off to an explosive start. As Gray, Kowalski, and Seichan search for answers, Painter is unraveling a mystery of the Guild, Sigma's greatest enemy. When he finds a tie to the US government, he decides to keep it quiet--for the time being.

As Kat and Lisa work Stateside and the rest of the team, aided by former Army Rangers Tucker and Kane, his military dog, circumstances quickly mushroom out of control. The president's daughter is dead--or is she? And is the true target her or her baby? What can one woman's tie to eternal life be? Is the president's daughter expendable? What about his grandchild?

Mr. Rollins weaves science and adventure seamlessly, presenting high-concept DNA and PNA in a manner that is accessible to everyone, not just those with a scientific bent. The action flows from Somalia, to the excesses of Dubai, and to South Carolina. Throughout, the action never wanes.

There were some excellent--and some very unexpected--twists and turns in the book. Though I figured out the true power behind the kidnapping, there was a subplot featuring one of the characters that came as an absolute shock to me. I can't wait to see how Mr. Rollins addresses that in the next book.

The addition of new characters Tucker and Kane was seamless. I loved seeing the action unfold through Kane's point of view, and the bond between them was almost a tangible thing! I loved that both Kat and Lisa were in the field at the same location, yet they had such vastly different experiences. I loved seeing Painter having to deal with the upper echelons of government and justifying Sigma's role in the rescue op.

And I loved that Mr. Rollins dropped a few Easter Eggs in for readers--the mention, or appearance, of characters who starred in past books.

The resolution brought up even more questions, and I'm very eager to learn more.

At times, Bloodline reminded me a bit (in theme) of Steve Berry's Jefferson Key. There were some interesting parallels, including parts of the action occurring in the Carolinas. The books are completely different in feel and execution, but it was something that was definitely noticeable.

Mix science and action, add a sprinkle of exciting locales, and mix well with fantastic characterization, and you have the perfect summer novel. James Rollins has another winner here!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another fantastic addition to the Sigma Series, June 27, 2012
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Bloodline is another great novel by Mr. James Rollins. Bloodline follows a group of soldier/scientists working for a black ops agency designated Sigma. His Sigma series of novels incorporates everything I love in a novel: a hero/heroine, great science, cool and new technology, excellent action sequences, and above all it keeps you on the edge of your seat. Bloodline is (IMO) the tensest of the Sigma series. I never knew what was going to happen and that's what kept me reading to point I didn't want to sleep! The addition of Captain Tucker and his dog Kane was fantastic. Kanes chapters especially prove how talented a writer Mr. Rollins is. I truly believed I was reading the point of view of a dog. I can only hope we will se more of Captian Tucker and Major Kane in the years to come.

Bloodline is another worthy title in the Sigma Series. Mr. Rollins has again proved how great of storyteller and writer he is. Highly recommended!

Can't wait for the next novel Mr. Rollins!
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Bloodline: A Sigma Force Novel
Bloodline: A Sigma Force Novel by James Rollins (Hardcover - June 26, 2012)
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