Saturday, June 1, 2013

Bloodline, James Rollins

Another one from one of my regular series. The Sigma series is kind of like Di Vinci Code meets….G.I. Joe.

Sigma is the covert arm of DARPA. Already a cool idea, right? The organization is super secret, some parts of the government not even knowing they exist and even fewer knowing what they do. They recruit former military/special forces/special operations and retrain them in scientific disciplines. Most of the operatives tend to be a bit of problem children while their in the military. It's kinda that cliché about the kid who gets in trouble in class because he/she is too smart and too far ahead of the other kids.

I've actually been getting a little bored with the series, but not anymore. Sigma's nemesis is a shadowy criminal organization called "the Guild," the secret in all secret societies. Up until recently, I was totally on board, but in the last book or so, I was getting a little sick of it. I was ready to beat the Guild and move on. I would have been mightily disappointed if Rollins had tried to drag it out for more books. Luckily, I didn't have to be! 

Let me go a bit into the characters so I can explain my thoughts on the book and series.

Gray is the main character. Some books move away from him more than others, but he's usually in every book, even if his participation is less prominent. Like all the operatives, he's super smart.  It's been a long time since I was initially introduced to Gray, but if I remember correctly he has an eidetic memory. Even if he doesn't, his specialty is seeing all the pieces and figuring out how they fit together.

Seichan is a former Guild operative who changed sides in recent novels. She is seriously bad ass. Honestly, when she first changed sides it seemed a bit forced. See, Gray was looking for a new lady love as the last one didn't work out, and there was some chemistry between him and Seichan. Sigh. Yeah, it sounds about as awkward as it was. After this book, I wonder if Rollins is just an evil genius. Turns out Seichan has stronger ties to the Guild than previously thought, but not the kind that would make her turn back to them (more on that later). With those ties revealed, I wonder how long Rollins has been planning this little reveal.

Kowalski is one of my favorites. He's like a big kid…only with more C4. His joy is in blowing shit up. He's also ornery and crude and lazy. Although, he's not really lazy, he just likes to complain any time someone makes him do work.

The head of Sigma is Painter Crowe. He's the guy who makes all the hard calls and tries to make sure all his people get what they need. His girlfriend, Lisa is kind of a....pseudo-operative for Sigma, but helps out on occasion. She's a doctor and acts in that capacity.

Kat is Painter's 2nd in command. Her husband, Monk was Gray's old partner. Rollins made us all miserable when he ended The Judas Strain with us not knowing if Monk was dead or not. Well played, sir, well played. Then Monk retired! Monk is another of my favorites, so I was super excited at the end of this one when he and Kat decide he should come back. Yay!

So, this book takes place a month after the events in The Devil Colony, where Gray's mom is killed by a bomb the Guild set to kill him. At the beginning of this book, Gray is still struggling with the guilt and his father still blames him. His father also has Alzheimer's, which mean the death of his wife and his misplaced blame is a constant recurrence. It kind of makes Gray jump at the chance to go on a mission to rescue the President's daughter - though it also distracts him at well. 

Also at the end of the last book, Painter discovered the Guild is a misnomer. The real name is "the Bloodline" (hence the name of the book). The Bloodline is the last remaining family of the original 9 that founded the Templars (see the secret is all secret societies). The point in writing this is to give this little tidbit away: the Bloodline family is the family of the US President. All this was discovered at the end of Devil Colony, but Painter hasn't told anyone. He's been quietly investigating the President's family, giving assignments out piecemeal so no one knows what he's really looking at.

This book begins with the abduction of the President's daughter, Amanda, by Somali pirates….or so it seems. Really, she's kidnapped by the Bloodline for her baby. Yup, that's right, she's preggers, too. Her husband was sterile (though I question that, given the rest of the story, but it's not confirmed) so she went to a fertility clinic - owned by the Bloodline. They altered the DNA of her child and now want their test subject back from their incubator. Designating her as an incubator here isn't flippant, it's how they see her...and many other women. Some of the most disturbing scenes involved the idea as women as incubators.

The Bloodline kidnaps another pregnant woman and attempts to convince Sigma and the President that Amanda dies in Somalia. Gray's team manages to get there in time to know it's a ruse, but the President doesn't know. Painter decides to keep it that way because he still doesn't know if the whole family is involved. Cruel, yes, but it's a good thing he does. Turns out the President is not involved, but other close family members are. I'm not going to ruin the who-done-it, though it's not impossible to figure out with a little effort. 

Suffice it to say, the Bloodline's mask is ripped away and the Guild is dealt a death blow. The traitor is given just desserts as well. We may see remnants in future books, and that's fine, but I'm glad the Guild as a whole is gone.

The other surprise, goes back to Seichan's connection to the Bloodline that I referenced earlier. Rollins does some foreshadowing that pushes the reader to believe she may be a related to the Bloodline. She never knew her father and her mother was...Southeast Asian. I can't remember exactly which nationality. Anyway, she not only finds out she's part of the President's family, and who her father is, she finds out he's always known about her. That he hid her mother and her to keep her from the Bloodline. When the Bloodline took her mother and then found her as a child and twisted her into an assassin, he knew and thought it the best way to keep her safe. He thought they would just kill her if they didn't control her. But that's not all. He also reveals her mother managed to escape and is in hiding, though he doesn't know where. It's an exciting prospect for the next book. I don't know if The Eye of God will delve into that, but I hope we get more info. 

Seichan and Gray are also officially a couple. 

Over all, I really enjoyed this one more than I've enjoyed this series in a while. Previous books have been good, but, as I said, the Guild was getting a bit tired. I'm excited to see where we go moving forward.

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