Ever since i discovered the “historical genre”, i have been trolling the bookshops for any author who might fit the category. I discovered James Rollins at the airport and within a few months, i had read all the books in the “Sigma” series. They are entertaining, lots of fighting and always a historical mystery to save the world. Reading James Rollins books without wikipedia can often be frustrating (at least for me) since the more involved you get into the history, the more you want to find out and read about it.
Sandstorm is the first book in the Sigma series – and at the onset itself, the team is betrayed by the boss. Post a mysterious bomb blast at British Museum, Painter is assigned to discover the cause and contain any discoveries / materials that could lead to the destruction of the world. At the museum, while escaping the villainous group, who is always one step ahead, he saves the life of Safia (historian) and hence on they embark on the earth saving journey. First half of the book deals with the travel arrangements, lay out of complicated relationships and past and identification of the antagonist.
The story revolves around the discovery of keys to the lost city of Ubar (which i googled and read about, obviously) and why the city was sealed by Queen Sheeba long time ago. The story is set in the desert sands of Oman and the historical places referred to in the book do exist in the modern times. We also encounter a group of Parthenogenesis females – who are genetically capable of giving birth without any contribution from the male species and are the descendants or part of Queen Sheeba herself. The book comes to head with the confrontation of the good and the bad guys. It ends with the death of the treacherous Sigma head.
The main plot is predictable, however what makes it super interesting are the historical details and much trivia thrown in. The authors effort shines through the book and apart from weaving the history into the story line, most of the discovered facts remain as close to the truth as possible. The lineage of various words, beliefs and events are described as are common and yet different from tribes, regions, religions etc.
If you are a historical fiction fan and have the patience to go through a regular thriller for the joy of reading about unusual history (since the author has already done all the hard work for you) this series will definitely resonate with you.