Synopsis: Jack Howard, an archaeologist and deep sea diver, discovers amazing history below the water and on land. He is sort of a modern-day Indiana Jones. This is the third book following Jack Howard and in this adventure he discovers an ancient elephant graveyard below the ocean, which leads him to Egypt, India, and Afghanistan following an ancient legend about Roman soldiers sold as slaves and working their way down the Silk Road to become mercenaries. Along the way, Jack is looking for his great great grandfather, who got caught up in pursuit of legendary gems that could grant immortality and disappeared in the early 1900's. Come to find out both of these ancient stories have a common root. On the trail of discovery, they find themselves unknowingly pitted against an evil baddie intent on becoming immortal and taking over the world.
David Gibbons is a trained archaeologist. There is so much fact (or at least, supposition based on evidence throughout history) in this book that it is really thrilling to read. His details of the Koya people of India, and the Pashtun people of Afghanistan, were fascinating to read. The basis of the adventure, the possibility of Roman soldiers being captured as slaves, and moving into Asia along the Silk road and then becoming mercenaries; is very realistic and the way that he paints the possible events is beautiful and elegant. This is the kind of fiction I really love, where you learn as you read. Where the lessons are so seamlessly and elegantly woven into the story as to make you feel as if you are a part of it.
I have always been fascinated by books like this! Indiana Jones, Dirk Pitt, Robert Langdon. Each is a wonderful opportunity to learn new and exciting things in the frame of a good story. I am excited to add Jack Howard to my list of awesome characters to follow!
The evil baddie sort of felt like a prop piece. One scene we see into his warped reality, then the rest of the time his henchmen are there to add unnecessary pressure to the search and discovery. For me, Howard's family allure, not to mention the amazing finds he was uncovering, were enough to keep me drawn in. Even the ancient Chinese group sworn to protect the jewels was enough. I'm a bit tired of an overarching villian trying to take over the world.
There were a surprising number of grammatical errors in this book, considering it was published by Bantam books, one of the "Big Six" publishing houses. I loved the author's note at the end, showing what was real, what was supposition based on historical findings, and what was pure fiction for entertainment. But there was no author's biography. I had to search the web to determine his credentials and learn more about him as a writer.
Overall, I love the character. I love the fascinating details that the author is able to contribute, and the way the author excites in me my life long passion of learning about other cultures and history. I am definitely looking forward to reading more Jack Howard novels.
Don't forget to vote on the cover you like best for Angel's Dance, and write your thoughts in the comments section below that post. I'll be configuring all the input this weekend and coming up with the final cover! Check out Charlene Wilson's covers that she created and tell me if you like one of these better. Thanks for the input!