Map of Bones is a historical conspiracy action-adventure novel written by James Rollins.
I am just going to quote the synopsis from off the back of the book as it is easier.
During a service at Cologne cathedral, a band of armed intruders dressed in monks’ robes unleash a nightmare of blood and terror, gunning down worshipers and clergy alike. The killers haven’t come for the church’s riches, but for a priceless treasure within: the bones of the Three Magi who once came to pay homage to a newborn saviour.
The Vatican is in turmoil, and Lieutenant Rachel Verona of Rome’s Carabinieri is assigned to investigate. But no ordinary police organization can deal with this case, and SIGMA Force – an elite covert arm of the U.S. Defense Department – is called in, under the command of Grayson Pierce. He must lead his team through a labyrinth of clues and dark revelations that carry them via the Seven Wonders of the World, right to the doorstep of the mysterious Dragon Court.
An ancient fraternity of alchemists and assassins, the Dragon Court has plans for the relics that will alter civilisation in devastating ways that only the maddest of zealots could desire – and they will let nothing stand in their way. Suddenly Pierce, Verona, and the SIGMA team are the hunted as well as the hunters, forced to use all their skills to survive as they track the bones to a cataclysmic confrontation – in a lost place of history where science and religion will unite to unleash a horror not seen since the beginning of time.
Rollins once again blows my mind with his superb stories. Seriously, he is one of my top two favourite authors, most probably THE favourite. There is something about his novels that just captivates me and I can picture perfectly what he writes as his descriptions are excellent. He takes historical and Biblical stuff that may be totally unrelated and unconnected and connects and intertwines them in a believable way that makes you think it is only logical for them to be connected.
And he certainly does that in Map of Bones. He combines stuff in the Bible with details of Alexander the Great’s life as well as combining some elements from pseudo-Biblical stuff and turns it into a great novel that actually seems almost realistic the way he writes it.
I love how it is non-stop action and I really like his sense of humour. Another thing I like about the story is how even though the budding romance between Gray and Rachel is integrated with most of the story, it’s not a lovey-dovey thing. The romance isn’t the main attention and he doesn’t go overboard with it. I also really like the character development and the side story of the strained relationship with Gray and his father who is developing amnesia, which isn’t helping their already strained relationship. At the beginning of the story, Gray resents his father, but by going through the adventure, he starts to repair their relationship at the end. Rollins handled it very nicely.
Rollins also takes you through the characters thoughts and emotions extremely well.
Another thing I liked about this story is the mystery. Rollins keeps the cards close to his chest so to speak. He doesn’t reveal anything unless it is necessary to reveal it and he makes sure that the reader only knows as much as the characters do. So when some shocking things are unveiled, the reader is left just as shocked (and sometimes very disturbed) as the characters are. Also, trying to piece the clues together is very hard to do. There is always layers to it and not just one interpretation to it, which I really wish I could do as well as he does.
I liked the implied supernatural element in the climax. Although, there was a death that I didn’t really like. The story was a bit gory and violent at times, and sometimes I wished that the author had toned it down and there was some other things in the story that I didn’t like, but it does add an interesting element to the story. But still.
An extremely excellent – and entertaining – novel. If you haven’t read it, please read it if you’re interested.