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Jake Ransom and the Howling Sphinx Hardcover – May 3, 2011

61 customer reviews
Book 2 of 2 in the Jake Ransom Series

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Editorial Reviews Review

Amazon Exclusive: James Rollins on Writing Jake Ransom and the Howling Sphinx

Over the years, I’ve always included a note at the end of my thrillers, where I address what’s true and what’s not in my novels—so I thought I’d do the same here.

But before I get started, a bit about myself. Though I earned my degree in veterinary medicine, I’ve always been an armchair archaeologist. I’ve loved all things buried and lost to time. In fact, I maintain a Cabinet of Curiosities at home, where I display all manner of the weird and strange—from giant fossilized specimens to tiny, pinned insects. And gracing the top of the cabinet is a massive 100,000-year-old mammoth tusk from China.

So as you might guess, the young adventurer Jake Ransom is close to my heart—and for Jake, I saved my wildest and best adventure of all.

The series is chocked full of the fantastic, but it’s also grounded in reality. Each novel centers on a different lost culture from Earth’s past. First up are the ancient Maya. Throughout the book appear various Mayan glyphs, the symbolic writing of these Mesoamerican people. The glyphs in the book are real, and each plays an important role in the adventure. Likewise, details of the Mayan culture—from the clothing they wear to their astounding skill at astronomy—are all factual and integral to the story. Additionally, there are several fun facts for kids, too… like how the ancient Maya invented chocolate and chewing gum.

Lastly, for this series I’ve also created my own cryptic language, snatches of which appear in this novel. The alphabet breaks down to English equivalents, so for the more industrious readers, they can translate these bits of language to reveal secret messages.

So that’s just a hint of the truth behind the fantastic world of Jake Ransom. I hope you grab a backpack and come join me—the adventure is just beginning!


"Rollins' second Jake Ransom adventure is tighter, more magical and more thrilling than the series opener. Likely to win Jake more fans, this will have adventure seekers of both genders clamoring for volume three." -- Kirkus Reviews

"A wild ride with some quick-thinking teens fighting for survival." -- Library Journal

"Last, but certainly not least, James Rollins has decided to dominate more than just the adult thriller field...Rollins has taken his love of Indiana Jones and made it fresh and fun for the younger set." --Jeff Ayers, Author Magazine

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 700L (What's this?)
  • Series: Jake Ransom (Book 2)
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; First Edition edition (May 3, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061473820
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061473821
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #421,316 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

James Rollins is the New York Times bestselling author of the Sigma Force series and other novels. Blending science and history, his action adventure novels have been praised as "enormously engrossing" (NPR) and "smart, entertaining adventure fiction" (New York Journal of Books). Before pursuing a writing career, Jim obtained a degree in veterinary medicine and established a successful veterinary practice in Sacramento, CA. He currently resides in the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Susan Tunis on May 3, 2011
Format: Hardcover
James Rollins is a natural-born storyteller, of that there can be no doubt. As a long-time fan of his adult novels, I have absolutely no problem embracing a whiz-bang of a YA page-turner, and this one's a doozy! The story began in Rollins' YA debut, Jake Ransom and the Skull King's Shadow. Mr. Rollins helpfully recaps the highlights of the first book, but I really think you're going to want to read these books in order. As you may have gathered, Jake Ransom and his sister Kady are back. This book picks up their story just three months after the events of the first. The VVV (Vaguely Voldemortian Villain) that they defeated in the first novel is still gunning for them. In fact, a brief prologue set in Egypt's Valley of the Kings involves the discovery of an ancient artifact and ends with these ominous words: "With this, I will make Jake Ransom suffer."

Meanwhile, after barely escaping the lost world of Calypsos with their lives, both Jake and Kady have taken a sudden interest in self-defense. Jake studies tae kwon do, and when not cheerleading, Kady fences. The last book ended with a small clue to the fate of their missing archeologist parents. But suddenly others want to get their hands on the clue that Jake and Kady found. Something is definitely up. And the two have a strong suspicion that it has to do with an Egyptian exhibit that's about to open in New York. They're correct; as an artifact in the exhibit turns out to be the lock that fits their key--and abruptly they're transported... Not back to Calypsos. They've landed in a scorching hot desert, in a land very much like Egypt--if Egypt had velociraptors!

I don't want to tell much more.
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Format: Hardcover
For months, Jake Ransom has experienced frightening nightmares and has gone through the motions of middle-grade life in his Connecticut home. With a heart heavy from grief brought on by not knowing the fate of his mother and father, Jake has taken up Tae Kwon Do. His older sister Kady fills her high school days with friends and cheerleading, as well as taking up a sword and learning how to fence.

Months earlier, after Jake and Kady returned from Pangaea, they made a pact not to tell anyone about the discovery of their father's pocket watch.

Determined to find out if their parents are dead or lost somewhere in time, Jake and Kady hope to use their father's watch to return to the prehistoric world of Calypsos, where Jake has stared down Kalverum Rex, the evil Skull King. Jake is certain his father's gold anniversary pocket watch is the key to unlocking the mystery of his parents' disappearance, and is convinced that his mother's inscription inside the watch gives a significant clue.

At Tae Kwon Do practice one day, Jake survives a fiery accident. But was it an accident? When he returns home, he interrupts a burglary and is almost kidnapped. Was the kidnapping a ruse to trick Jake into revealing the location of the watch? The following day, while viewing a special exhibit of an Egyptian mummy during a visit to a museum, Jake is transported to a strange desert land, where he is joined by Kady as well as Pindor, Marika and Bach'uuk --- all friends from his previous visit to Calypsos. In the hostile desert land, they are attacked by a pack of blood-thirsty velociraptors, taken captive by a tribe of hunters led by Princess Nefertiti and pursued once again by the Skull King.
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Format: Hardcover
Like many, I discovered James Rollins by reading his Action/Adventure thrillers which began I believe with 'Subterranean'. I took what I thought at the time was a gamble and jumped in head first. Thankfully--as is Mr. Rollins fantastic style--you never have long to wait before the rubber hits the pavement. His stories have an interesting twist in that they seem to take on a life of their own rather quickly...and such is the case with Jake Ransom's second outing with the Howling Sphinx.

While James has quite an uphill battle to de-throne JK Rowling in the world of YA novels--and lets face it, ANYONE who tries has a nearly impossible task before them, however I DO believe it IS possible...and if anyone can do it, James Rollins can. This fantastic addition to the series is just wonderful from literally the first page on. No dull moments (at least none that I remember), but then again, you can't afford to have a stall when writing an adventure where you are targeting the youth of America (and beyond). I think the best way to describe this series is a virtually perfect melding of Young Indiana Jones with one of Mr. Rollins earlier novels, 'Sandstorm'. Let me also say that you do NOT have to be 12 years old to become fully invested into this story and enjoy it thoroughly. I cite the Harry Potter series as an example if you want one.

Young Jake Ransom has a knack for getting himself--and others--into very interesting situations, many of which have serious consequences. Jakes return to Calypsos is a journey frought with danger, excitement and a healthy dose of sheer, cliff-hanging thrills. Back with Jake are his sister Kady, Marika, Pindor as well as of course, the Skull King and his followers.
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