Map of Bones
James Rollins
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Map of Bones
James Rollins
William Morrow
448 pages
May 2005
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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The chaos begins in Cologne, Germany, at a midnight mass in the Cathedral of the Three Magi, when armed intruders steal the preserved bones of the Wise Men and decimate the celebrants with an alchemic formula. All survivors are annihilated as the thieves depart with the first of many clues that lead from the Vatican to Milan, Germany, Switzerland, Egypt and France.

A contemporary thriller that features the machinations of a religious cabal, Map of Bones exposes the legendary Dragon Court through a network of Vatican spies, the specialized local police, Comando Carbinieri Tutelo Patrimonio Culturale (The Cultural Heritage Police) and SIGMA, a high level investigative unit from Washington, D.C.

One destination leads to another in an evolving series of clues as the Dragon Court plays a deadly game of cat and mouse with SIGMA, under the command of Grayson Pierce and the representatives of the Vatican, Monsignor Verona and his niece, Rachel Verona, a member of the Cultural Heritage Police.

All of these special interests race against time, seeking the encrypted key to universal knowledge, an ancient alchemic formula that will either unleash Armageddon or allow world domination by the sect that acquires the information. The teams attempt to outwit each other, hop-scotching from place to place, but the SIGMA group is often one step ahead only to be caught by the Dragon Court and forced to reveal what they have learned.

Grounded in the ancient rites of alchemy, the Dragon Court is determined to usurp the power and control the world; SIGMA and the Veronas seek only to stop them, appalled by the potential for destruction that may be unleashed.

At the core of all is the schism of the twelfth century when the papacy split into two factions, one embracing the Gospels of John, the other swearing allegiance to Thomas, author of the Gnostic Gospels. John represents the orthodox faith, the light of the spirit coming from God alone, while Thomas asserts that the light is in everyone, an ancient Gnostic tradition.

Brutality defines each stage of the struggle, good versus evil in an eternal battle for supremacy, the murders in Cologne only the beginning of a wide swath of destruction that follows every phase of the chase. Deception is endemic and pervasive, traitors and spies riddling the Dragon Court and its opponents. It isnít until the apocalyptic denouement that the extent of this treachery is revealed.

Romance, treachery, the secrets of the ages; all are combined in this taut thriller, a complicated and multi-layered mystery, each new clue vital to the final test and ultimate revelation. In the tradition of The DaVinci Code, Map of Bones reveals Vatican treasures, the long-hidden vaults of antiquities and historical archives and an assortment of religious cabals, all hinting at the final chapter in manís desperate struggle to reveal the source of Godís light, the key to the universe.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Luan Gaines, 2005

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