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Saturday, July 01, 2006

Liz Steps in for an AWOL Eloisa

Our Eloisa seems to have gone missing with the Saturday book blog, so with MASSIVE apologies to Mr. Rollins, I'm taking it upon myself to post a substitute until she turns up. (I swear. She goes to Italy, and suddenly all bets are off. I mean, If *I* went to Italy, I'd be TOTALLY responsible and stay in touch with my friends and coworkers at all times and never, ever, ever do anything like take off for Elba and sun and sand and crystal waters and-- What? Oh, right. The Saturday book blog.)

Unfortunately, I haven't read BLACK ORDER, Mr. Rollins's new book that Eloisa was going to blog about today. I did, however, recently finish SANDSTORM, so I'm going to chat a bit about that.

I'm not much of an adventure reader, I confess, but hearing Eloisa rave about this guy so much I had to go out and pick something up. Thanks to my near-miss with a career in archaeology (my third choice after novelist and interior decorator), I picked up SANDSTORM first. To condense an amazingly full plot and cast of characters into one sentence, the book opens with a mysterious explosion at the British Museum that unearths a mysterious and until-then-unknown artifact, moves to the Arabian peninsula with a group of scientists, explorers and secret agent types who are racing to uncover what could be a globally devastating (and mysterious; did I mention mysterious?) power. Throw in treachery, danger, deception, kidnapping and covert government operations, and you've got a book that takes you on a real rollercoaster ride. I couldn't put it down.

What I also loved about this book were the strong female characters and the inclusion of romantic elements. So many adventure writers only include women to pump up the testosterone of the hero, and there's absolutely nothing resembling romance between the characters. Rollins not only has two strong women in the exploration party, but includes a strong female villain as well. Women are, in fact, a huge driving force in the story instead of being incidental.

Summer is the absolute perfect time for a book like this. It's big and brassy and full of danger and daring-doings. I'm in awe of how Mr. Rollins is able to keep so many characters interesting and distinct, and how he's able to juggle so many plot points in the air at one time, never dropping a single one. They all come together in an incredible ending that will leave you with sunburn if you're not using SPF 30, 'cause you won't want to put the book down and move your beach towel into the shade 'til you're done. Happy reading!
Elizabeth Bevarly, 2:10 PM