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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 6 January 2012
James Rollins is one of those authors that I return to time after time; his novel Subterranean has the distinction of being the first eBook I ever read while, in those days when books would add ballast to my suitcase, I wouldn't travel abroad without a Rollins thriller for holiday company. It was a pleasure then to snap up the latest novel, The Devil Colony, when it was published during the aftermath of Christmas when there is little better to do than to recline with a good, easy read and digest calories and units of alcohol.

The Devil Colony continues the adventures of the Sigma force, an American top level military and intelligence agency that has been responsible for saving the United States and the world on more than one occasion despite the infiltration of a succession of megalomaniacs. This time, Sigma's director Painter Crowe receives a distress call from his niece Kai, who has just found herself at the centre of a storm. An anthropologist has been burned to a cinder while opening a cave full of Native American mummies and gold in front of the cameras in Utah. Kai, who has become involved with a group of extreme Native American freedom fighters and was there to create an incident, is held responsible. When she flees, she is pursued and shot at.

When Painter Crowe and his team arrive, it becomes clear that something astonishing was responsible for the incineration of the anthropologist, something that is having a devastating impact on the earth itself and spreading with an irresistible power. This threat to the world is understood by the guardians of the cave and their descendants, who would do anything to keep the secret safe, not least smother it with curses. As one would expect, where there are precious metals and mysterious deadly weapons, there are also bad guys. And so, as Crowe and the others follow the trail of clues, we enter the world of conspiracy theories surrounding the origins of America's first inhabitants and the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

I must admit to not having read all of the Sigma novels, nevertheless this did not matter at all. I might not know the back history of all of the characters or the full story behind the Sigma organisation, but this had no impact on my enjoyment of a novel that stands very well as a standalone thriller. It would be difficult for more action to be contained within the pages of The Devil Colony. While an element of suspension of disbelief is required it's no difficult task when the reward is a well-written thriller full to the brim with explosions, archaeological mysteries, geographical wonders, volcanic lava tubes, Native American legends, political conspiracy and more. A fast, exhilarating and thoroughly entertaining, escapist read, just as you would hope and expect from a writer who knows exactly what he's doing and delivers just what he promises.
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on 15 August 2017
Of course quite over the top ;) but I love his books. A good read. Lots of action. And always a good ending.
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on 19 July 2017
Fast paced.
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on 4 September 2017
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on 17 February 2013
Loved this if you love james rolling you'll enjoy this has all the right mix of fact and fiction rolled into one very enjoyable.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 10 November 2016
I read this book a couple of years ago and it's brilliant, my favorite book in this series. Btw this series is awesome! Read it!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 29 December 2011
Like the majority of Rollins novels this one is an action packed thriller that is fun from start to finish, for me this went a little to far towards the conspiracy theory, but Rollins told it in such a way and with enough explanation so that the reader can choose to be a conspiracy nut or just enjoy all the cryptic coincidences.
As usual a great story well told, the characters as alive and real as ever, and the action scenes a lot more on the believable side than your average action thriller. And the overriding story of the guild builds that bit further with this book to tease the reader into the next novel.

I always feel a little energised and relaxed after one of these books and ready to dive into something a bit heavier, for me its a nice turn your brain off an enjoy the ride type of book, dont look for depth it does not exist, but its not anywhere near the shallow end of the thriller pond.

well worth picking up and enjoying, and wouldn't surprise me to see this on the big screen one day.

recommended for those who enjoy the non thinking thrill and adventure
(Parm)
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 17 July 2011
Like the majority of Rollins novels this one is an action packed thriller that is fun from start to finish, for me this went a little to far towards the conspiracy theory, but Rollins told it in such a way and with enough explanation so that the reader can choose to be a conspiracy nut or just enjoy all the cryptic coincidences.
As usual a great story arc well told, the characters as alive and real as ever, and the action scenes a lot more on the believable side than your average action thriller. And the overriding story of the guild builds that bit further with this book to tease the reader into the next novel.

I always feel a little energised and relaxed after one of these books and ready to dive into something a bit heavier, for me its a nice turn your brain off an enjoy the ride type of book, dont look for depth it does not exist, but its not anywhere near the shallow end of the thriller pond.

well worth picking up and enjoying, and wouldn't surprise me to see this on the big screen one day.

recommended for those who enjoy the non thinking thrill and adventure
(Parm)
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 17 July 2011
Like the majority of Rollins novels this one is an action packed thriller that is fun from start to finish, for me this went a little to far towards the conspiracy theory, but Rollins told it in such a way and with enough explanation so that the reader can choose to be a conspiracy nut or just enjoy all the cryptic coincidences.
As usual a great story arc well told, the characters as alive and real as ever, and the action scenes a lot more on the believable side than your average action thriller. And the overriding story of the guild builds that bit further with this book to tease the reader into the next novel.

I always feel a little energised and relaxed after one of these books and ready to dive into something a bit heavier, for me its a nice turn your brain off an enjoy the ride type of book, dont look for depth it does not exist, but its not anywhere near the shallow end of the thriller pond.

well worth picking up and enjoying, and wouldn't surprise me to see this on the big screen one day.

recommended for those who enjoy the non thinking thrill and adventure
(Parm)
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I like James Rollins' books. Sure, they're dumb, highly implausible and mostly written to a standard template but they're also great escapist adventures that keep you hooked. Ice Hunt,Map of Bones (Sigma Force 2) and Black Order (Sigma Force 3) are particular favourites of mine.

Recently however, I've felt there's been a dip in the quality of Rollins primary 'Sigma Force' series. Maybe he's struggling to come up with new adventures for the team of scientists-cum-spies. Maybe he's spreading himself too thinly, with his Jake Ransom tween series and the odd (very good) standalone novel like Altar of Eden. Whatever the reason the previous Sigma adventure, The Doomsday Key (Sigma Force 6), was a definite drop in form and The Devil Colony continues that trends even if it doesn't worsen it.

The standard Rollins/Sigma template is on display here. An ancient mystery is uncovered, this time of Native American origin and dating back to America's struggle for independence. Said mystery threatens mankind. The mysterious Guild send henchmen to benefit from the mystery. Sigma attempt to thwart them whilst attempting to stave off disaster and uncover more about the mystery. Throw in Mormonism, nano-technology, ancient Jewish tribes and vulcanology and you have the usual Rollins hodgepodge of pseudo-science, OTT action, hair-breadth escapes, intrigue and personal drama.

Why then, like its predecessor, did The Devil Colony leave me rather cold. Well the main problem is that there's just too much going on. The Sigma books normally involve one primary plot and one parallel sub-plot, which come together at the grand finale and the same applies here. The problem is that both plots are just far too busy, bouncing around with volcanic eruptions, killer whale attacks, shoot outs, helicopter crashes and bombings and flipping from Washington DC to the South Western USA to Iceland to Fort Knox. Add in other sub-plots involving killers in Japan and more volcanic eruptions and the whole adventure feels far to rushed, with no time to pause and digest the latest 'revelation' before its off to the next set-piece.

Its almost as if Rollins didn't really trust the mystery element to be enough of a hook, and he was probably right not to. From the prologue set during the late 18th Century onwards the mystery that is revealed really didn't grab me. It was just too vague and lacked focus, pulling in too many disparate elements from Jewish mythology to nano-technology, from Mormonism to lost tribes of Indian and from vulcanology to Lewis & Clarke and Thomas Jefferson. The whole thing felt overly convoluted and less than compelling; as if Rollins had thrown in everything he could think of in the hope that something would stick but nothing really had.

After two lesser efforts I'm thinking that maybe the author needs to rethink the template for the Sigma novels. After seven adventures the formula is starting to feel a bit tired. Why is it necessary to include every recurring Sigma member in every novel; especially when, as was the case here, some end up with precious little to do and rather shoe-horned into the action? Why do we always need the big 'mystery from history' to hang the plot on? Why have multiple parallel plots rather than one single one? By trying to replicate the same basic structure every time Rollins is limiting his options and is risking becoming formulaic.

Finally, after seven novels of hints and a steady drip-drip of facts, he has to put the Guild front and centre. The peripheral Guild member fulfilling the role of lead bad guy in The Devil Colony was another weak point, with a physical infirmity being used to mask the fact that he was a one dimensional cliche straight out of central casting. Sigma need to be put up against adversaries who pose a genuine threat to them and society, not those lackeys and errand boys.

Thankfully the final few pages offer up some significant developments in Sigma's investigation into the Guild, and hint at some interesting directions that the series could go. It just a shame that it took such a comparatively insipid adventure to reach that point. As I said at the end of my review of The Doomsday Key, Rollins can do much, much better. The question is will he take the risk and shake things up sufficient to get this series back on track? As a long standing fan I'm hoping he can.
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