The Last Oracle (Sigma Force Series)

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Overview

"A roller-coaster...and a first class one at that." —Publishers Weekly on the audiobook Black Order

New York Times bestselling author James Rollins brings back SIGMA Force to battle a group of rogue scientists who've unleashed a bioengineering project that could bring about the extinction of humankind.

In Washington D.C., a homeless man dies in Commander Gray Pierce's arms, shot by an assassin's bullet. But the death leaves behind a greater ...

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Overview

"A roller-coaster...and a first class one at that." —Publishers Weekly on the audiobook Black Order

New York Times bestselling author James Rollins brings back SIGMA Force to battle a group of rogue scientists who've unleashed a bioengineering project that could bring about the extinction of humankind.

In Washington D.C., a homeless man dies in Commander Gray Pierce's arms, shot by an assassin's bullet. But the death leaves behind a greater mystery: a bloody coin found clutched in the dead man's hand, an ancient relic that traces back to the Greek Oracle of Delphi. As ruthless hunters search for the stolen artifact, Pierce discovers the coin is the key to unlocking a plot that threatens the very foundation of humanity. For an international think-tank of scientists has discovered a way to bioengineer autistic child who show savant talents into something far greater and far more frightening—all in hopes of creating a world prophet for the new millennium, one to be manipulated to create a new era of global peace...a peace on their own terms.

From ancient Greek temples to glittering mausoleums, from the slums of India to the radioactive ruins of Russia, two men must race against time to solve a mystery that dates back to the first famous oracle of history—the Greek Oracle of Delphi. But one question remains: will the past be enough to save the future?

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

SIGMA force returns in Rollins's latest high-tension mystery that plays out in the slums of India, ancient temples in Greece and even the diseased remnants of Chernobyl now in Ukraine, all in search of the Greek Oracle of Delphi. There are plenty of historical references and a plethora of pulse-pounding action, and narrator Peter Jay Fernandez makes good use of it all to create a compelling and fun listening experience. He reads with a solid voice that is straightforward, honest and rich. There is a mysterious, almost foreboding element in his tone that carries the story forward into deeper and darker territory, while bringing listeners to the edge of their seats. Fernandez offers layered characters who engage his audience and ground the far-fetched plot. A Morrow hardcover (Reviews, May 12). (July)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Chicago Sun-Times
“Rollins combines real-world science with high-octane action to create rousing stories of adventure that are as exciting as any movie.”
Knoxville News-Sentinel
“The perfect escape novel, an edge of-your-seat read.”
Sacramento Bee
“Once again, the action is nonstop.”
The Barnstable Patriot
“Go out and buy James Rollins’s latest saga. He just keeps getting better and better.”
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061230950
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/26/2009
  • Series: Sigma Force Series , #5
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 496
  • Product dimensions: 4.20 (w) x 6.82 (h) x 1.06 (d)

Meet the Author

James Rollins

James Rollins is the 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 "hottest summer reads" (People magazine). In each novel, acclaimed for its originality, Rollins unveils unseen worlds, scientific breakthroughs, and historical secrets—and he does it all at breakneck speed and with stunning insight.

Biography

James Rollins is the New York Times, USA Today and Publishers Weekly bestselling author of Black Order, Map of Bones and other adventure thrillers. He was born in Chicago and grew up in Ontario, Canada, and St. Louis, Missouri. He graduated with honors from the University of Missouri with a degree in veterinary medicine. And like most veterinarians, he presently shares his home with a Golden Retriever, a Dachshund, and a sixty-five year old parrot named Igor. Rollins currently practices in Northern California, and when not writing or working in his veterinary practice, he can often be found underground or underwater as an amateur spelunker and scuba diver. These hobbies have helped in the creation of his earlier books Subterranean, Deep Fathom, Amazonia, and Sandstorm. His thriller, Black Order, skyrocketed to the top of bestseller lists across the country, winning the author countless new fans, and was proclaimed by People magazine as one of last summer's "hottest reads." Map of Bones was chosen by Publishers Weekly as one of the most likely to win over Dan Brown's faithful audience, and the New York Times rated the book as one the summer's top crowd pleasers.

Author biography courtesy of HarperCollins.

Good To Know

Some fun and fascinating outtakes from our interview with Rollins:

"I often get asked if I still practice veterinary medicine. While I don't practice full-time, I still do volunteer. I work with a group that traps stray cats, brings them to the shelter, where I spend a day spaying and neutering them. It's basically eight hours of removing genitalia. It's a hobby."

"I am a TV junkie. I have two Tivos and they are constantly full."

"My first job was to flip pizzas. I once got a pie spinning that was ten feet across. I had to spin it on my back to keep it going. Yet, I still love pizza."

"Two hobbies I love -- caving and scuba diving -- are also essential research for my novels. Case in point:

I've always been an avid cave explorer, from the vast systems in Missouri to the lava tubes of Hawaii to the tighter squeezes of the California foothills. But one of my most frightening episodes also allowed me to better describe claustrophobia in my novels. While climbing out of the fairly technical wild cavern, involving lots of rope work, I managed to jam myself midway up a narrow vertical chute. Hung up on my ascending gear midway up the chute, I found myself unable to move up or down. My chest was squeezed between two walls, my left knee turned the wrong way. I could not maneuver, and there was not enough room to get a rescue climber to me. I was trapped. I remember the team leader, leaning down from above, shining his helmet lamp at me. ‘You either find a way to un-jam yourself, or you stay there forever.'

So over the course of a long hour -- wriggling, sweating, cursing, and clawing -- I managed to creep a millimeter at a time out of the jam. After this event, I had a better understanding for panic and the determination born of pure desperation, essential ingredients for to writing thrilling fiction.

But spelunking through caves was not my only ‘research' lesson. Two decades ago, I also took up scuba diving and went on dive trips all around the world: Monterey Bay, Hawaii, South Pacific, Australia. I particularly remember one trip to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. I was informed by the dive master to beware of the many hazards found in the region. ‘On land, Australia has seven of the ten deadliest snakes. The seas are worse. Box jellyfish can kill in minutes. Local sea snakes are some of the most toxic. But worst of all is the stone fish. It looks like a stone, but its spines are loaded with paralytic poison. So be careful what you touch.'

And down we all went, buddied up in pairs, enthusiastic and excited. I dropped toward the reef and adjust my buoyancy until I'm floating just above the reef. All around spread amazing sights: giant clams, a flurry of colored fish, an astounding variety of coral. But I miscalculated my buoyancy, my weight shifted, and I planted a hand into the sand to stabilize my tumble, careful of the razor-sharp coral. Inches from my thumb, a jagged rock suddenly sprouted fins and swam away. I met the gaze of my buddy diver. His wide eyes firmed up the identification. The deadly stone fish. And I had almost slapped my hand on its back. As the fish scurried away, I understood at that exact moment how little Nature cared about the life of a scuba-diving novelist. Down here, Nature ruled. We were only visitors.

This mix of respect and terror is brought to life in my latest novel, The Judas Strain."

Read More Show Less
    1. Hometown:
      Sacramento, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      August 20, 1961
    2. Place of Birth:
      Chicago, Illinois

Read an Excerpt

The Last Oracle LP
A Novel

Chapter One

A.D. 398

Mount Parnassus

Greece

They had come to slay her. The woman stood at the temple's portico. She shivered in her thin garment, a simple shift of white linen belted at the waist, but it was not the cold of predawn that iced her bones.

Below, a torchlight procession flowed up the slopes of Mount Parnassus like a river of fire. It followed the stone-paved road of the Sacred Way, climbing in switchbacks up toward the temple of Apollo. The beat of sword on shield accompanied their progress, a full cohort of the Roman legion, five hundred strong. The road wound through broken monuments and long ransacked treasuries. Whatever could burn had been set to torch.

As the firelight danced over the ruins, the flames cast a shimmering illusion of better times, a fiery restoration of former glory: treasuries overflowing with gold and jewels, legions of statues carved by the finest artisans, milling crowds gathered to hear the prophetic words of the Oracle. But no more.

Over the past century, Delphi had been brought low by invading Gauls, by plundering Thracians, but most of all, by neglect. Few now came to seek the words of the Oracle: a goat herder questioning a wife's fidelity, or a sailor seeking good omens for a voyage across the Gulf of Corinth. It was the end of times, the end of the Oracle of Delphi. After prophesying for thirty years, she would be the last to bear the name Pythia.

The last Oracle of Delphi.

But with this burden came one final challenge.

Pythia turned toward the east, where the sky had begun to lighten.

Oh, that rosy Eos, goddess of dawn, would hurry Apollo to tether his four horses to his Sun chariot.

One of Pythia's sisters, a young acolyte, stepped out of the temple behind her. "Mistress, come away with us," the younger woman begged. "It is not too late. We can still escape with the others to the high caves." Pythia placed a reassuring hand on the woman's shoulder. Over the past night, the other women had fled to the rugged heights where the caves of Dionysus would keep them safe. But Pythia had a final duty here.

"Mistress, surely there is no time to perform this last prophecy."

"I must."

"Then do it now. Before it is too late."

Pythia turned away. "We must wait for dawn of the seventh day. That is our way."

As the sun had set last night, Pythia had begun her preparations. She had bathed in Castilia's silver spring, drank from the Kassotis spring, and burned bay leaves on an altar of black marble outside the temple. She had followed the ritual precisely, the same as the first Pythia thousands of years ago.

Only this time, the Oracle had not been alone in her purifications.

At her side had been a girl, barely past her twelfth summer.

Such a small creature and of such strange manner.

The child had simply stood naked in the spring waters while the older woman had washed and anointed her. She'd said not a word, merely stood with an arm out, opening and closing her fingers, as if grasping for something only she could see. What god so suffered the child, yet blessed her just the same? Surely not even Apollo. Yet the child's words thirty days ago could come only from the gods. Words that had plainly spread and stoked the fires that now climbed toward Delphi.

Oh, that the child had never been brought here.

Pythia had been content to allow Delphi to fade into obscurity. She remembered the words spoken by one of her predecessors, long dead for centuries, an ominous portent.

Emperor Augustus had asked of her dead sister, "Why has the Oracle grown so silent?"

Her sister had responded, "A Hebrew boy, a god who rules among the blessed, bids me leave this house . . ."

Those words proved to be a true prophecy. The cult of Christ rose to consume the empire and destroyed any hope for a return to the old ways.

Then a moon ago, the strange girl had been brought to her steps.

Pythia glanced away from the flames and toward the adytum, the inner sanctum of Apollo's temple. The girl waited inside.

She was an orphan from the distant township of Chios. Over the ages, many had hauled such children here, seeking to abandon such burdens upon the sisterhood. Most were turned away. Only the most ideal girls were allowed to stay: straight of limb, clear of eye, and unspoiled. Apollo would never accept a vessel of lesser quality for his prophetic spirit.

So when this willow branch of a girl had been presented naked to the steps of Apollo's temple, Pythia had given her hardly a glance. The child was unkempt, her dark hair knotted and tangled, her skin marked with pox scars. But deeper, Pythia had sensed something wrong with the child. The way she rocked back and forth. Even her eyes stared without truly seeing.

Her patrons had claimed the child was touched by the gods. That she could tell the number of olives in a tree with merely a glance, that she could declare when a sheep would lamb with but a touch of her hand.

Upon hearing such stories, Pythia's interest had stirred. She called the girl to join her at the entrance to the temple. The child obeyed, but she moved as if disconnected, as if the winds themselves propelled her upward. Pythia had to draw her by hand to sit on the top step.

"Can you tell me your name?" she asked the thin child.

"Her name is Anthea," one of her patrons declared from below.

Pythia kept her gaze focused on the child. "Anthea, do you know why you've been brought here?"

"Your house is empty," the child finally mumbled to the floor. So at least she can speak. Pythia glanced to the temple's interior. The hearth fire burned in the center of the main hall. It was indeed empty at the moment, but the child's words seemed to whisper at something more.

Maybe it was her manner. So strange, so distant, as if she stood with one leg in this world and the other beyond this realm.

The child glanced up with those clear blue eyes, so full of innocence, so in contrast with what spilled next from her lips.

"You are old. You will die soon."

The Last Oracle LP
A Novel
. Copyright © by James Rollins. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 209 )
Rating Distribution

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(109)

4 Star

(73)

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(22)

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(2)

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(3)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 210 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2008

    The Best James Rollins so far!

    The Last Oracle, by James Rollins is an interesting and worthwhile read. While it might be slightly helpful to read Rollins' previous Sigma Series Books, enough tidbits are dropped throughout the book to keep you up to speed without making you feel like you're re-reading his earlier books. For those past readers, all of our favorite cast of characters have returned, Monk, Kat, Gray, Painter, Lisa and crew. The main plot of the book involves a Russian agency who have kidnapped Gypsy children and altered them over the years to become a type of savant oracle. One of the scientists is planning on using their talents to help her and her son gain world dominance after they first wreak havoc on a global level. This book is action filled from beginning to ending, and yet, has a great deal of heart. I even found myself misting up on one occasion. Rollins manages the main plot and many subplots adroitly, keeping the book moving along nicely. Rollins relies upon his own research, and has discovered enough oddity in reality to build an imaginative, yet believable scenario. A book as solidly written and researched as this doesn't depend upon gimmicks and coincidence, as do so many other authors of this genre. Mr. Rollins writes a compelling novel, that causes one to read on after the book has ended. I always figure an author has been successful if I have to hit the internet to read more after I finish the book. Since completing The Last Oracle, I've already googled autism, autistic savants, Chernobyl, etc. Well done, Mr. Rollins! This one is your best so far, and I look forward to reading your future books!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 10, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Good Read

    I have read the entire series and once you have read the first few you see a pattern and predictability to the characters and plot sequence. The subject matter is always interesting and unique. I especially like the excert at the end detailing the origin of research and the history behind it. I believe it is a good jumping point for history lovers to explore the mysterious past of history.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 4, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Rollins' Best Yet!

    James Rollins has produced one of his most exciting and entertaining thrillers with The Last Oracle. The story revolves around a Russian plot to use the descendants of the Oracle of Delphi in a sinister plot to bring the world to its collective knees. The usual cast of Sigma Force players are present and used to good effect in this gripping thriller.<BR/><BR/>The story begins when a stranger bearing a mysterious coin is killed virtually at the doorstep of Sigma headquarters. The plot unfolds from there with Sigma Force members Gray Pierce following the trail and Painter Crowe dealing with threats and intrigue back at home, along with one other major plot line. Rollins intersperses just enough scenes from the "bad guy" point-of-view to create suspense without revealing too much.<BR/><BR/>The Last Oracle has all of the elements that make for a great adventure story: a historical mystery, at least one ancient ruin, action and escapes that are thrilling without being cartoonish, a complex plot that unfolds bit-by-bit, villains with absolutely no connection to the Knights Templar, and a few twists that surprise the reader without taking suspension of belief too far.<BR/><BR/>Only a few bits of the story are difficult to swallow. The pseudo-cliffhanger from Rollin's previous novel, The Judas Strain, carries over to this story, but is done in a way that is a stretch. A few of the developments are a bit hokey, but considering the tropes of the genre, are not sufficiently "out there" to jolt the reader or distract from the story. Rollins also provides a few pages of explanation at the end of the story defending the plausibility of some of the plot elements, which in itself makes for an interesting read.<BR/><BR/>What Rollins does best in this book is surprise the reader. The "sinister plot" is kept a mystery, but when it is finally revealed, we learn that there's more... much more. He also drops a small bomb at the end of the story, leading us into the next book. The Last Oracle is one of Rollin's best efforts and sure to be one of the top thrillers of the year. Don't miss it!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 25, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    The Oracle shouts out loud

    Commander Gray Pierce starts his adventure with a Scientist dying in his arms on the street. Then follows one supprise after another leading to discoveries of an amazing legacy being handed down from ancient times to children that have amazing talents. Mixed into this is dozens of Intelligence agencies all clawing for the secrets being discovered. This is a fast pace action packed thriller you will find hard to put down. This is my first Pierce book, but I will be on line today getting more of his series.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 28, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    My Favorite Thriller of the Year!

    James Rollins has produced one of his most exciting and entertaining thrillers with The Last Oracle. The story revolves around a Russian plot to use the descendants of the Oracle of Delphi in a sinister plot to bring the world to its collective knees. The usual cast of Sigma Force players are present and used to good effect in this gripping thriller.<BR/><BR/><BR/>The story begins when a stranger bearing a mysterious coin is killed virtually at the doorstep of Sigma headquarters. The plot unfolds from there with Sigma Force members Gray Pierce following the trail and Painter Crowe dealing with threats and intrigue back at home, along with one other major plot line. Rollins intersperses just enough scenes from the "bad guy" point-of-view to create suspense without revealing too much.<BR/><BR/>The Last Oracle has all of the elements that make for a great adventure story: a historical mystery, at least one ancient ruin, action and escapes that are thrilling without being cartoonish, a complex plot that unfolds bit-by-bit, villains with absolutely no connection to the Knights Templar, and a few twists that surprise the reader without taking suspension of belief too far.<BR/><BR/>Only a few bits of the story are difficult to swallow. The pseudo-cliffhanger from Rollin's previous novel, The Judas Strain, carries over to this story, but is done in a way that is a stretch. A few of the developments are a bit hokey, but considering the tropes of the genre, are not sufficiently "out there" to jolt the reader or distract from the story. Rollins also provides a few pages of explanation at the end of the story defending the plausibility of some of the plot elements, which in itself makes for an interesting read.<BR/><BR/>What Rollins does best in this book is surprise the reader. The "sinister plot" is kept a mystery, but when it is finally revealed, we learn that there's more... much more. He also drops a small bomb at the end of the story, leading us into the next book. The Last Oracle is one of Rollin's best efforts and sure to be one of the top thrillers of the year. Don't miss it!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2008

    Keep rolling them out Rollins

    I've read EVERY book by this superb author. Each novel is as much or more engrossing as the last!! I've just gotten the new one, but all his books are ALWAYS 5/5. He takes Cussler's ability for historical intrigue, mixes it with some of Brown's religious genius and throws in some Ludlum action to top it off. Never a dull moment with James Rollins at the helm.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2014

    VicMars

    Walks in

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2014

    Rage

    "Yes sir" she runs out

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2014

    D.J.

    Walks in.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2014

    The Oracle

    The three quest-takers. You must embark the underworld and retrieve Artmeis's golden bow. Underworld result one. Quick.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 4, 2014

    Wonderful

    Like all the others in this series, this book definitely keeps you on your toes. Loved the ending, even if it was a bit sad.

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  • Posted March 28, 2014

    Highly Recomment

    An excellent novel, well written and loaded with intriguing concepts. The story keeps you turning the pages as fast as you can. You want to know what happens next but you can't help but feel a little sad when the story comes to an end.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2013

    A Fun Read.

    If you like Clive Cussler novel or Lee Childs, then you will enjoy James Rollins novels. What set his novels apart from the other is that James Rollins incorporates interesting scientific facts that makes up or is the basis on his stories. Then at the end of each novel, his will separate facts from fantasy with links for further reading on the science involved.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2013

    Could have been better

    I have enjoyed the previous sigma series. This became tedious toward the end.

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  • Posted July 30, 2013

    ANOTHER GREAT READ

    ACTION ADVENTURE AT ITS VERY BEST....LOVE THIS GUYS BOOKS!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2013

    For me, the best one so far.

    Needless to say, this book in the Sigma Series is a hit with me. Founders of Sigma Force: Dr. Archibald Polk and Sean McKnight, you rock! "Pyotr and Marta", you will never be forgotten.

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  • Posted January 16, 2013

    Highly Recommended

    Another Rollins page turner. I recommend this book for those interested in special operations, science, mythology and who enjoy suspense and a good yarn.

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  • Posted October 8, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Good story

    I have thoroughly enjoyed all of the Sigma Force series books but this last one wasn't quite as good as the rest. The story didn't seem to catch my interst like the others. Still definitely worth picking up though. I think it started off a little slow and by the time it got going, I was ready for something new.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 17, 2012

    Very good read!

    Very good read!

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  • Posted September 5, 2012

    Recommend- check it out.

    the plots keep your wanting to read more.

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