The Last Oracle (Sigma Force Series)

The Last Oracle (Sigma Force Series)

by James Rollins

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Overview

The Last Oracle (Sigma Force Series) by James Rollins

In Washington, D.C., a homeless man takes an assassin's bullet and dies in Commander Gray Pierce's arms. A bloody coin clutched in the dead man's hand—an ancient relic that can be traced back to the Greek Oracle of Delphi—is the key to a conspiracy that dates back to the Cold War and threatens the very foundation of humanity. For what if it were possible to bioengineer the next great prophet—a new Buddha, Muhammad, or even Jesus? Would this Second Coming be a boon . . . or would it initiate a chain reaction that would result in the extinction of humankind?

Vital seconds are ticking rapidly away as Pierce races across the globe in search of answers, one step ahead of ruthless killers determined to reclaim the priceless artifact. Suddenly the future of all things is balanced on the brink between heaven and hell—and salvation or destruction rests in the hands of remarkable children.

Will the past be enough to save the future?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062018014
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 04/26/2011
Series: Sigma Force Series , #5
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 608
Sales rank: 63,379
Product dimensions: 4.20(w) x 7.50(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

James Rollins is the 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 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. He lives in the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Hometown:

Sacramento, California

Date of Birth:

August 20, 1961

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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Last Oracle 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 220 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!
Rambo01 More than 1 year ago
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.
ruggins on LibraryThing 1 days ago
This is my third James Rollins, but first Sigma book. I have been reading a lot of military and political thrillers and suspense books lately and this is right up in the top 10 for the last 6 months. I sat right down and ripped through it in only a couple of days.It started out with a bang, literally, and kept up the pace throughout. Characters were pretty well fleshed out and interesting, he built sympathy for them and their plight quickly and I found myself pulling for them until the conclusion.Information about Chernobyl was great, as others have said not many using this as a plot point. I liked the slight paranormal twist as well, it was nicely balanced for those who believe and those who don¿t. Not heavy handed at all.A couple of minor misspellings, but mostly a tight edit.After reading this Sigma I will go right out and get the others in the series. If they are at all comparable I know I will be happy to get them.
eviltammy on LibraryThing 1 days ago
A think tank of world scientists have been experimenting for years on ways to manipulate and enhance the abilities of autistic children with savant talents. But a rogue group within have different experiments going - with the plan of creating a world prophet for the new millennium, which will rise out of a manufactured disaster. SIGMA Force commander Gray Pierce races to stop the disaster and save the children, but to do that he must first solve a mystery that dates back centuries to the Greek Oracle of Delphi. I hadn't read any of the other SIGMA Force books, but will look them up. Reads in the manner of Clive Cussler, Matthew Reilly, and Dan Brown. Nonstop action. The afterword where Rollins points out his research is very interesting.
jrr731 on LibraryThing 1 days ago
It has been a few years since I have read a James Rollins book. Now I can't figure out why I stopped. The pace never let up. I enjoyed the mix of fact and fiction, it made me feeln like I should make the time toread about these historical events. If your enjoy thrillers, make this your next read.
caseylondon on LibraryThing 1 days ago
Weaving history, current events, and unusual tidbits of knowledge with his creative storytelling makes any James Rollins book a great read and THE LAST ORACLE continues the tradition. You'll want to get comfy because you may just want to read it in one sitting. The SIGMA Force is back in another thriller complete with savant children, Chernobyl, diabolical scientists, gypsies and lots of action. If you are a reader of Rollins¿ previous works you'll recognize the characters and see their stories brought up to date. Like a spider, Rollins weaves a complex web and the reader has a chance to follow the threads through not only the past and present, but also through India, Russia, Washington, DC and other locations as the various characters tangle themselves in a deep mystery that has the possibility of eradicating mankind.I admit to being a fan of Rollins and have read his previous SIGMA Force books, so I was happy to get an advance reader¿s copy of this book. The book¿s title THE LAST ORACLE, refers to the Oracle of Delphi and the plotline is based on a cabal of scientists who manipulate the brains and talents of autistic-savant children with the goal of world peace. But of course some of the group have other plans for the children and want to use them for evil purposes. Stopping the bad guys is where the SIGMA Force comes in and the worldwide chase begins. Chernobyl plays a key role, psychic abilities are also important to the storyline and SIGMA teams up with gypsies in a rather remarkable way --- (some great historical tidbits here). If you know the SIGMA characters you¿ll appreciate the updates to their stories. Plus you get the drawings that Rollins¿ includes with his novels ¿ always a nice addition.While I lay no claim to psychic talent I do predict that if you read this book you¿ll be fascinated with the historical and scientific information, you¿ll find the storyline thrilling and the book hard to put down.
NovelBookworm on LibraryThing 1 days ago
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. 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 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!
TheAlternativeOne on LibraryThing 1 days ago
The Last Oracle by James Rollins (Advance Reader¿s Edition)The Last Oracle is a Sigma Force adventure that combines elements of Theodore Sturgeon¿s More Than Human (the gestalt of remarkable children), Dan Brown¿s The Da Vinci Code (a mystery enveloped in adventure), autistic savants (empaths, sensitives and precognitives) and the history of the Oracle of Delphi.This book relies slightly on the story that preceded it (Judas Strain) but reading the earlier books in the series is not required to enjoy this story. A Russian agency has bred Gypsy children and manipulated their DNA for half a century in an effort to create modern day precognitives (or oracles.) They plan to murder a consortium of world leaders and destroy the earth in a ¿blaze of fire¿ and, with ten mind-controlled and -altered ¿oracle¿ pawns, rule what remains. One precognitive in particular, a little girl named Sasha with undreamed of abilities and potential, is abducted while traveling in the United States and the race to save the world begins. Enter Sigma Force¿ Commander Gray Pierce is a seasoned veteran of this ¿elite team of ex-Special Forces soldiers who had been retrained in scientific fields¿¿ Their quest to avert the apocalypse begins when Pierce witnesses a murder on the Mall in Washington, DC. In an effort to uncover the mystery surrounding the murder Pierce and a cadre of operatives move around the globe from Washington to the Punjab region of India to Chernobyl, Ukraine following clues left behind by the dead man. Sigma Force uncovers the plot and must work to prevent the annihilation of the world and destroy the Russian faction and its cohorts.Monk, a member of the Sigma Force whose memory has been erased by the Russians, helps three of the ¿special¿ children and a chimpanzee escape from the compound known as The Warren in the Ukraine. Chased by soldiers, wolves and tigers the group must survive the radioactive fields and lakes of the Ural Mountains and the pursuit of their captors to help bring a stop to Armageddon.In true Rollins fashion the many diverse characters, groups and sub-plots coalesce and combine together in an astonishing action-filled finale.Inconsistencies in the story:1.On page 330 we find the following sentence: ¿Archibald Polk had died of acute radiation poisoning, possibly exposed here.¿ but on page 21 we are told that Archibald was shot on the Mall in Washington, D.C. We later learn that the radiation levels in his body were so high that they would have killed him within weeks. But Archibald Polk died of gunshot wounds and not radiation. This is a minor inconsistency, but one that should be fixed prior to mass publication.2.On page 335 when Gray is chasing Nicolas he gets pinned down by gunfire from Elena. Then¿ ¿Gray checked his watch. Ten minutes.¿ Since Gray is not part of the conspiracy and arrived on the scene late how would he know that there were ten minutes left? And ten minutes to what? He has no knowledge at this point that any event is going to happen yet he seems to know the time frame. I found these two sentences out of place and used probably only for dramatic purpose.Note: There are also a number of typographical errors in the ARC which usually get fixed before mass publication.The Sigma Force Series1. Sandstorm (2004)2. Map of Bones (2005)3. Black Order (2006)4. Judas Strain (2007)5. The Last Oracle (2008)A word about James Rollins ¿ After reading a number of his other novels (Subterranean, Excavation and Amazonia) I¿ve come to respect Rollin¿s work because of his ability to create stories that contain multiple layers and sub-plots that keep the reader interested in the story until the last word. He has that rare talent of orchestrating three or more story lines and characters that interweave together fluidly. His novels are quick reads ¿ not because their simple but simply because you¿ll relentlessly turn pages in an excited frenzy to find out what happens next. The highest compliment I could pay him is that if
suetu on LibraryThing 1 days ago
A No-Spoilers Review Last summer, the diabolical Mr. Rollins left his fans with a cliff-hanger ending that was simply TORTUROUS. Let me start this review by telling readers that the unresolved questions are answered thoroughly and in a completely satisfying manner. And, you don¿t have to wait `til the end of the book to learn those answers. Yes, that¿s all very vague, but I don¿t want to give away a thing. Now the above paragraph may seem pretty intimidating or off-putting if you haven¿t read the novel that precedes this one, The Judas Strain. Well, here¿s the most impressive thing about The Last Oracle: It absolutely works as a stand alone novel. Yes, it¿s great if you¿re a long-time fan of the Sigma Force novels, but Rollins manages to jump-start this tale from the opening pages, and I don¿t think you¿d need any back story to dive right into this adventure. And never once did I feel like there was that awkward exposition you often see in series novels. Bravo! The hard part of reviewing any James Rollins novel is trying to summarize the plot. This novel opens in 398 A.D., with the eponymous Oracle of Delphi. The final moments of the temple are depicted. A few pages later we¿re in Romania, circa 1959. The Ruskies are rounding up a bunch of charming villagers. And a few pages after that we¿re at last in modern-day DC, with our old friend Gray Pierce of Sigma. Walking across the Mall, he¿s approached by a ¿homeless¿ man. As he pauses to give the guy a hand-out, a shot rings out. Gray is safe, but the derelict is killed. Later investigation suggests the stranger was the intended target, not Gray. This is confirmed when Gray¿s boss takes one look at the body and say¿s, ¿I know this man.¿ It turns out the man was an important part of Sigma history. Two clues from his murder lead Gray to the Smithsonian Institution¿s Museum of Natural History. There he meets Elizabeth Polk, who becomes a major player in the novel. The scenes in the museum (where I once worked in real life) are among my favorite that Rollins has ever written. The action picks up at this point, and as one clue leads to another, Gray, Elizabeth, and an assortment of Sigma and non-Sigma characters find themselves globe-trotting from India to Russia. With this author, it¿s pretty much a given that the action comes fast and furious, and the pages will fly by at lightning speed. Along the way, Rollins explores the connections of autism to the Oracle of Delphi, the history of the Romani (Gypsy) people, and the advancement of the human race. We get to visit with old favorite characters from books past (though some you¿ll expect are notably missing) and we¿ll meet some new characters too. Not all are human. As always, there was some real science entwined in the plot that absolutely floored me! Sometimes it¿s almost an aside and you just wish the entire novel was about the fact that, apparently, human beings (all of us) can see two or three seconds into the future. And again Rollins provides an afterward to clarify fact vs. fiction and cite some of his sources. He also manages to incorporate up-to-the-minute current events into the novel¿s plot. It was a little bizarre to have real life news delving very directly into the novel¿s story. Talk about timely! Okay, I¿m unable to summarize this plot in any meaningful way. It¿s simply too complex. But The Last Oracle is fantastic addition to the Sigma novels, and works shockingly well as a stand alone. You need a great airplane book or a beach read? This is the book you¿re looking for.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
SheilaDeeth More than 1 year ago
A fast-moving novel with a truly intriguing plot, The Last Oracle achieves what might seem impossible—making Greece’s oracles real and relevant to the present time, without veering into fantasy or simplistic adventure. There’s a nice blend of modern world politics, ancient world history, and world-spanning geography. There’s a growing threat that just might promise Armageddon. And there’s a pleasing collection of characters—the novel's clearly built on a series, but it's easy to read on its own. The Last Oracle is a thoroughly enjoyable adventure, a cleverly plotted mystery, a nicely intriguing commentary on the post-WWII world, and a really good read. Disclosure: I borrowed it from the book bank.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another great Sigma adventure
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Madray More than 1 year ago
Another fast pace, interesting mystery.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I didn't enjoy it as much as the other 4 I've read. It didn't hold togehter as well, but it was a good read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The three quest-takers. You must embark the underworld and retrieve Artmeis's golden bow. Underworld result one. Quick.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Armand53 More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago