ARC Review: The Last Odyssey by James Rollins



For eons, the city of Troy—whose legendary fall was detailed in Homer’s Iliad—was believed to be myth, until archaeologists in the nineteenth century uncovered its ancient walls buried beneath the sands. If Troy was real, how much of Homer’s twin tales of gods and monsters, curses and miracles—The Iliad and The Odyssey—could also be true and awaiting discovery?
In the frozen tundra of Greenland, a group of modern-day researchers stumble on a shocking find: a medieval ship buried a half-mile below the ice. The ship’s hold contains a collection of even older artifacts—tools of war—dating back to the Bronze Age. Inside the captain’s cabin is a magnificent treasure that is as priceless as it is miraculous: a clockwork gold map imbedded with an intricate silver astrolabe. The mechanism was crafted by a group of Muslim inventors—the Banū Mūsā brothers—considered by many to be the Da Vincis of the Arab world—brilliant scientists who inspired Leonardo’s own work.
Once activated, the moving map traces the path of Odysseus’s famous ship as it sailed away from Troy. But the route detours as the map opens to reveal a fiery river leading to a hidden realm underneath the Mediterranean Sea. It is the subterranean world of Tartarus, the Greek name for Hell. In mythology, Tartarus was where the wicked were punished and the monstrous Titans of old, imprisoned.
When word of Tartarus spreads—and of the cache of miraculous weapons said to be hidden there—tensions explode in this volatile region where Turks battle Kurds, terrorists wage war, and civilians suffer untold horrors. The phantasmagoric horrors found in Homer’s tales are all too real—and could be unleashed upon the world. Whoever possesses them can use their awesome power to control the future of humanity.
Now, Sigma Force must go where humans fear to tread. To prevent a tyrant from igniting a global war, they must cross the very gates of Hell.


James Rollins has always been the author I turn to when I need some escape from reality, and I’ve never needed more escape than right now in the middle of the pandemic. And I got so much more from it than I expected.


There’s usually an equal amount of historical and scientific themes that play out in a Sigma Force novel but this was slightly different and I found that refreshing. This book takes the mythological route, concentrating on Homer’s The Odyssey and various other Greek myths and reimagining if they were all actual historical events that took place. We also get to know about some of the most acclaimed scientists and inventors of the Arab world and their creations were definitely very eye opening. I found the idea that innovations that happen in one kingdom/civilization are then used by others to build up on and that’s how more innovation propagates across the world fascinating to read about. When we are talking mechanical inventions, Leonardo da Vinci can’t be far behind, so his addition was fun. There is also a theme about the different versions of the coming apocalypse across religions and the zealots among them who want to do everything they can to bring it on sooner. I loved the way the author weaved all these threads together to create such an entertaining adventure tale. And as usual, all the locations that the characters are jet setting to are wonderfully described and I always wish I could jump into the pages to visit them myself.


It’s always very comforting meeting these characters because I’ve known them for almost a decade and they feel like my friends now. And after all this time, seeing Gray and Seichan as parents felt surreal. They are still struggling with their new found parenthood which actually made them feel more human than the usual badass persona they always project. Kowalski also gets a great arc to shine in this book and he always comes across as gruff and grumpy but we get to see how much of a heart of gold he has and what lengths he will go to protect his team. There are also many other new side characters and I was amazed by how I could never guess who among them was trustworthy and who was a villain. The author kept hitting me with betrayal after betrayal and I was happy to be shocked.


To conclude, this was a lot of fun and just the bit of relief I needed at this tense time. If you have followed this series since the beginning and have ever thought the storylines had become repetitive, then I promise you that you’ll find this book to be refreshing and a lot more adventurous. I don’t know if I can recommend it as a stand-alone but if you wouldn’t mind taking on a huge series that is a mix of great action, lots of history, and some very cool advanced science and tech stuff, you should totally start from Sandstorm.

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PS: Thank you to William Morrow and Edelweiss for providing me with this advance copy. All opinions expressed here are unbiased and solely mine.

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