Tuesday, November 15, 2016

James Rollins - Map of Bones

The bones lead to ancient mysteries and present-day terror . . . To follow them means death.
During a crowded service at a cathedral in Germany, armed intruders in monks' robes unleash a nightmare of blood and destruction. But the killers have not come for gold; they seek a more valuable prize: the bones of the Magi who once paid homage to a newborn savior . . . a treasure that could reshape the world.
With the Vatican in turmoil, Sigma Force under the command of Grayson Pierce leaps into action, pursuing a deadly mystery that weaves through sites of the Seven Wonders of the World and ends at the doorstep of an ancient, mystical, and terrifying secret order. For there are those with dark plans for the stolen sacred remains that will alter the future of humankind . . . when science and religion unite to unleash a horror not seen since the beginning of time.

Comment: This is another book that I borrowed because the person who recommended it to me said I'd like it a lot, considering all the adventure and historical information included. I guess this is a genre that got more and more fans after the success of DaVinci Code, which certainly made many people interested in history and historical facts.

Map of Bones is the second installment in the Sigma series by this author, where, apparently - as I haven't read the first book - a team of specialists from several areas manages to pursue clues to stop some calamity or to retrieve some special artifact and, often, a combination of the two if I am to judge by this book. In this installment, the idea of to solve some mysterious deaths at a Catholic Church in Germany and why the Magi relics from there were stolen.
In a run against time - isn't it always? - the heroes need to stop a secret cult of sorts from killing more innocents and from getting the power to change the way humanity looks at religion...

I confess that reading this book years ago, when the attentions were all around historical adventures, I'd have loved this. It's fast paced, it has characters that can do almost impossible things and survive unlikely odds and even a little bit of a romance. Nowadays, my tastes are different and while I recognize this for the entertaining it offered it's definitely not the best in terms of plot or development.
Something that also really annoyed me was how many notes the book had in the footer of the pages. I read a Portuguese translation, so the notes aren't from the author, they are adds the translator included to explain some wrong information the original text had. I mean...if the information is wrong or given in a wrong way, could an editor not seen this before it was published?

Apart from this, the plot itself is so unlikely. The heroes often get out of situations that no human being could manage no matter how much James Bond alike they are. But well, considering those types of heroes and characters, part of the fun is precisely that, which adds some fantasy to all this but it's not very easy to believe it could happen in real life.
Some people have said this ruins the story but I suppose most readers know what they'll get when they read the book but I find some more balance could help the books overall.

To me, the best thing about this story were the factual informations about historical, chemical, scientific things that aren't as accessible to most readers in our daily lives. How those things were inserted within the story was interesting too and I guess I'd have enjoyed this more without all the notes discouraging me from believing in the veracity of those information details.

The characters are very one dimensional, they follow the patterns we expect from them, they do the things we expect of them but the background is very poor, the personal information about their lives isn't enough to let us glimpse who they are apart from the stereotypes presented when we meet them or when others speak of them. I think there is only one character that surprised me in the whole story because I definitely didn't expect that to happen. Apart from that one, which I assume most readers would recognize when it happens, all the others follow the checklist usually given for these type of books, the hero, the nerd, the heroine, the innocent helper, the wrongdoer dude, etc. It would have been interesting to see them better developed.

All in all, this is a good adventure, perfect to spend the time but it's not as correct or realistic as it could. I know these books require some fantasy scenes but at the same time it's difficult to accept this as a possibility if so many things are too unlikely to happen outside a movie screen.
Still, because it was a fast read, I had some fun...
Grade: 6/10

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