Jake Ransom and the Skull King's Shadow (Jake Ransom Series #1)by James Rollins
When a mysterious envelope arrives for Jake Ransom, he and his older sister, Kady are plunged into a gripping chain of events. An artifact found by their parents—on the expedition from which they never returned—leads Jake and Kady to a strange world inhabited by a peculiar mix of long-lost civilizations, a world that may hold the key to their parents'… See more details below
When a mysterious envelope arrives for Jake Ransom, he and his older sister, Kady are plunged into a gripping chain of events. An artifact found by their parents—on the expedition from which they never returned—leads Jake and Kady to a strange world inhabited by a peculiar mix of long-lost civilizations, a world that may hold the key to their parents' disappearance.
But even as they enter the gate to this extraordinary place, savage grackyls soar across the sky, diving to attack. Jake's new friends, the pretty Mayan girl Marika and the Roman Pindor, say the grackyls were created by an evil alchemist—the Skull King. And as Jake stuggles to find a way home, it becomes obvious that what the Skull King wants most is Jake and Kady—dead or alive.
Blockbuster author of THE JUDAS STRAIN and THE LAST ORACLE, James Rollins brings all the twists and chills he's famous for to this breathlessly paced adventure—his first book about Jake Ransom. Fans of Indiana Jones, Alex Rider, and Maximum Ride will flock to this explosively entertaining adventure.
This exciting time-travel adventure opens three years after Jake Ransom's archeologist parents have disappeared in the Yucatán, leaving him and his sister, Kady, nothing but their journals and a Mayan coin, broken in half. The siblings receive an invitation to attend an exhibition of Mayan antiquities at the British Museum, and are soon after catapulted into the prehistoric past where ancient Mayans, Romans, Egyptians, Vikings and even Neanderthals have joined together to do battle with the Skull King, a creature so evil that he only appears wrapped in shadows, "as if the darkness were scared of what lay hidden at its heart and attempted to hide the horror from the world." Jake, an Indiana Jones in the making, and Kady, a cheerleader who learns to channel her inner Viking, fight the Skull King to a draw, discovering clues about their missing parents. In this series opener, Rollins (The Last Oracle) presents a wide range of interesting historical information while telling a rollicking good story that should please a wide range of readers-and maybe even some of his adult fans. Ages 10-up. (May)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Jake Ransom and the Skull King's Shadow
From his school desk, Jake Ransom willed the second hand on the wall clock to sweep away the final minutes of his sixth-period history class.
Only another twenty-four minutes and he would be free.
Away from Middleton Prep for a whole week!
Then he could finally get some real work done. He had already mapped out his plans for each day of the weeklong vacation break: to explore the rich vein of shellfish fossils he had discovered in the rock quarry behind his house, to attend a signing by one of his favorite physicists, who had a new book out called Strange Quarks and Deeper Quantum Mysteries, to listen to the fourth lecture by a famed anthropologist on the cannibal tribes of Borneo (who knew sautéed eyeballs tasted sweet?)and he had so much more planned.
All he needed now was the school's last bell to ring to free him from the prison that was eighth grade.
But escape would not come that easy.
The history teacher, Professor Agnes Trout, clapped her bony hands together and drew back his sullen attention. She stood to one side of her desk. As gaunt as a stick of chalk, and just as dry and dusty, the teacher peered over her fingertips at the class.
"We have time for one more report," she announced.
Jake rolled his eyes. Oh, great...
The class was no happier. Groans spread around the room, which only hardened her lips into a firmer line.
"We could make it two more reports and stay after the last bell," she warned.
The class quickly quieted.
ProfessorTrout nodded and turned to her desk. One finger traced a list of names and moved to the next victim in line to present an oral report. Jake found it amusing to watch her thin shoulders pull up closer to her ears. He knew whose name was next in line alphabetically, but it had somehow caught the teacher by surprise.
She straightened with a soured twist to her lips. "It seems we will hear next from Jacob Ransom."
A new round of groans rose. The teacher did not even bother quieting them down. She plainly regretted her decision to squeeze in one more report before the holiday break. But after almost a year in her class, Jake knew Professor Agnes Trout was a stickler for order and rules. She cared more about the memorization of dates and names than any real understanding of the flow of history. So once committed to her course of action, she had no choice but to wave him to the front of the class.
Jake left his books and notes behind. He had his oral report set to memory. Empty-handed, crossing toward the blackboard, he felt the class's eyes on him. Even though he had skipped a grade last year, he was still the second tallest boy in his class. Unfortunately it wasn't always a good thing to stand out in a crowd, especially in middle school, especially after skipping a grade. Still, Jake kept his shoulders straight as he crossed to the board. He ignored the eyes staring at him. Not one to set fashion trends, Jake wore what he found first that morning (clean or not). He ended up with scuffed jeans, a tattered pair of high-top sneakers, a faded green polo shirt, and of course the mandatory navy school jacket with the school's insignia embroidered in gold on the breast pocket. Even his sandy blond hair failed to match the current razored trend. Instead it hung lanky over his forehead.
Like his father's had been.
Or at least it matched the last picture Jake had of the senior Ransom, now gone three years, vanished into the Central American jungle. Jake still carried that photograph, taped to the inside of his notebook. It showed his parents, Richard and Penelope Ransom, smiling with goofy happiness, dressed in khaki safari outfits, holding up a Mayan glyph stone. The photo's edges were still blackened and curled from the fire that burned through their hilltop camp.
Taped below it was a scrap of parcel paper. On it, written in his father's handwriting, was Jake's name along with the family address for their estate here in North Hampshire, Connecticut. The package had arrived six weeks after the bandits had attacked his parents' camp.
That had been three years ago.
It was the last and only contact from his folks.
Jake fingered the thin cord around his neck as he reached the front of the class. Through his cotton shirt, he felt the small object that hung from the cord and rested flat against his chest. A last gift from his parents. Its reassuring touch helped center him.
To the side, the teacher cleared her throat. "Class, Mr. Ransom will be teaching us... well... I mean to say his oral report will be on..."
"My report," he said, cutting her off, "is on Mayan astronomical techniques in relation to the precession of the equinoxes."
"Yes, yes, of course. Equinoxes. Very interesting, Mr. Ransom." The teacher nodded, perhaps a bit too vigorously.
Jake suspected Professor Agnes Trout didn't fully understand what the report was about. She backed toward her desk, as if fearful he might ask her a question. Like everyone else, she must have had heard the story of Mr. Rushbein, the geometry teacher. How after Jake had disproved one of the teacher's theorems in front of his whole class, he had suffered a nervous breakdown. Now all the teachers at Middleton Prep looked at Jake with a glint of worry. Who would be next?
Jake picked up a piece of chalk and wrote some calculations on the board. "Today I'll be showing how the Maya were able to predict such events as the solar eclipses, like the one that will occur next Tuesday"
A balled-up piece of paper struck the board near his hand and caused the piece of chalk in his fingers to snap with a loud squeak on the board...Jake Ransom and the Skull King's Shadow. Copyright © by James Rollins. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Meet the Author
James Rollins is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of international thrillers that have been translated into more than forty languages. His Sigma series has been lauded as one of the “top crowd pleasers” (New York Times) and one of the “hottest summer reads” (People magazine). In each acclaimed novel, Rollins unveils unseen worlds, scientific breakthroughs, and historical secrets—and he does it all at breakneck speed and with stunning insight.
- Sacramento, California
- Date of Birth:
- August 20, 1961
- Place of Birth:
- Chicago, Illinois
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