The Sapphire Sea
John B. Robinson
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The Sapphire Sea

John B. Robinson
William Morrow
272 pages
November 2003
rated 4 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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On the surface, The Sapphire Sea is reminiscent of any given Indiana Jones movie (albeit in written form), but that is where the similarities end. There is no quest for that one illusive antiquated object– the object in question, the rarest sapphire known to man, practically falls into the hands of Lonny while cruising on his motorcycle throughout the rough roads of Madagascar.

For a number of years, Lonny has been living in Madagascar, making a living as a gem trader. It is the one place where he can escape the past - namely his calculating ex-wife and his overbearing rich father. Upon discovering the biggest sapphire of his lifetime, Lonny is inescapably headed home. But first he must find a way out of the country, not an easy feat for a lone white man toting an immensely valuable gem.

What starts out as an exhilarating adventure quickly becomes a life-or-death scenario. A dignitary is murdered before Lonny’s eyes, and the murder is pinned on him by those after the sapphire. With the help of an eclectic cast of supporting characters – a rugged nightclub owner, a devout priest, a faithful butler, a sexy CIA Agent, and nubile tribal women, to name a few – Lonny is headed on his way back to safety and to all those he has spent so long running from. Will he live through the ordeal, and just as importantly, will he manage to keep possession of the sapphire?

The gargantuan sapphire itself has a long history, and in fact had been discovered before, only to get lost while in the hands of one unworthy owner. It is said to have mystical powers, but not in the roll-your-eyes, yeah-right kind of way. The powers are more spiritual than magical, and they lend themselves nicely to the overall tone of the novel.

"Perhaps ‘feel’ the future is a better description," responded Lonny, his emotions finally put into words. How had he known that Jaoravo would sell him the stone? The First Rooster was going to die? That Alexis was Basque? Was it coincidence? Luck? Destiny? Or had the stone helped him discern the near future through a fog of possibilities?
This novel is rich with description, which easily transports the reader into a whole new world. I did have a hard time with the amount of description in the first chapter or so, as it moved a bit slower than I would have like. That said, I am glad that I continued reading, for this is a not-to-be-missed adventure tale par excellence. The pacing is right-on, making constant page-turning a must.

A Harvard grad, John Robinson used his own time spent as a gem trader to thicken his book with interesting insights into the gem-trading world, and one must wonder if he, too, felt the compulsion to find the "rarest of the rare" that drives his character Lonny along his fated quest.

This novel is the type of book that you read and think, "I could see this becoming a movie." I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see The Sapphire Sea converted into an action-packed blockbuster film – it is just that type of book.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Karen Pruitt Fowler, 2004

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