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Group Reads > Group Read #2: EXCAVATION, by James Rollins

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message 1: by Zak (new)

Zak | 18 comments Mod
Starting May 15, we will be reading and discussing an early work of another of the genre’s marquee names. Excavation has it all! Ancient secrets, the exploration of exotic locales, wild danger, and hairsbreadth escapes! Dig it!

message 2: by L.D. (new)

L.D. Whitney (ldwhitney) | 27 comments Mod
So I know that this genre is full of it, but the second we were introduced to the modern characters I was slapped with some dubious archeology. Machu Picchu was definitely constructed by the Inca. Although I suppose Rollins covers himself by saying the Professors theory is controversial. An even bigger slap was that the Professor was not in the slightest excited about the mummy being a Spaniard. That's a major discovery, and entirely unique! Who cares about your bunk theory after this?? That's decades of funding!

message 3: by Zak (new)

Zak | 18 comments Mod
This book is excellently written. Of course it contains familiar tropes and structural strategies, but it clips along very quickly, and the pacing is very well done, as well as he uses pretty decent language in the prose, adding some nice sizzle and flash. This is by no means as utilitarian as our last read. There are a few issues I had though, such as the primary adventuring party seeming like the cast of a b grade slasher movie. Ralph is just a jock, Norman, while we are not hit over the head with it, is still textually coded gay. Maggie just seems like a drop in Irish person, though the ira hard streets of Belfast stuff does give her that edge and a layer of experience the others don’t have, so it works. If she wasn’t struggling with PTSD, she wouldn’t be nearly as likable. Sam is just a guy? At least he doesn’t suffer from fearless leader syndrome. Rollins allows him to be fallible enough to feel like he’s not protected by plot armor even if he is. I could do without the blatant Homophobia from Ralph, which just makes him seem like even more of a sketchy stereotype. If you make him homopbic, at least fine him an arc, where he sees Norman as a person not just a sexual orientation. There’s a bunch of other stuff, because I’m almost done, and don’t want to spoil anything.

message 4: by Zak (new)

Zak | 18 comments Mod
Is anyone else reading this book?

message 5: by P.J. (new)

P.J. Skinner | 6 comments I bought it but havent started yet. Will do so this afternoon and post some comments soon

message 6: by L.D. (new)

L.D. Whitney (ldwhitney) | 27 comments Mod
I'm about halfway done. Was trying to avoid spoilers for other people.

message 7: by L.D. (new)

L.D. Whitney (ldwhitney) | 27 comments Mod
I guess I can say that I don't mind Catholic Conspiracies at all. The Catholic church is in of the most powerful and influential organizations in the world. Their libraries are vast, containing uncountable volumes of Conquistador journals, Missionary accounts, and historical documents. I don't think their is a vault of knowledge o Earth that has more potential to hold secrets. Plus, the average lay person, even a Catholic, is not privy to the inner workings of the Papacy. Coupled with the sordid, and sometimes bloody, history of Catholicism, filled with actual secret societies, religious schism, and clandestine plotting, the organization is ripe for the picking.

Sure, you could create your own, like David Wood did with The Dominion, but as a reader and historian, I prefer grounding in reality. But that's a personal preference.

message 8: by P.J. (new)

P.J. Skinner | 6 comments About half way through. I am finding it very cliched and a bit tedious although there are some hilarious references to women's breasts which cheered me up. (see men writing about women on twitter). Finding it hard to plough on through the cartoon violence and well worn tropes but will try.

message 9: by Zak (new)

Zak | 18 comments Mod
PJ, please don’t feel like you are obligated to finish the book if you don’t like it. No pressure in this group. I too found that particular description grody and rolled my eyes immediately thinking of the meme you mentioned. Now, this was written 20 years ago, when voices hadn’t called that sort of thing out as much, and I haven’t read his most recent stuff to know if he addressed that sort of thing and has changed that particular bit of his writing. It’s also interesting to think about that that description may be a very (even if it isn’t) deliberate narrative choice to further highlight the difference between when the dig was just an archaeological expedition, and Sam could indulge in such thoughts, to when he can’t when they are in desperate danger. Even if that description is gross, it does denote a shift in character perspective. Maybe. Probably not. (Someone tells me I read too much into these books)
Rollins sites one of the major inspirations to his adventure books as Indiana Jones, and I think the genre, (at least the trad pub stuff) largely falls in the realm of the schlocky action movie, as large action set pieces and imminent danger of violent death are major keystones of the genre. However, I would in reading an adventure novel without fighting and explosions and “cartoon violence “ and seeing if that story maintains the same level of excitement and quick pacing. nove adventure novel in which

message 10: by L.D. (new)

L.D. Whitney (ldwhitney) | 27 comments Mod
I have to say I read these books for the cartoon violence. Literary equivalent of a good action movie. And (ashamedly) a part of me enjoys the lurid descriptions of anatomy as well, but that's the prepubescent teen in me. XD

message 11: by P.J. (new)

P.J. Skinner | 6 comments Absolutely. I just find the battery life of the torches unbelievable, and people sitting in the pitch dark being able to see each others expressions annoying. I'm trying to suspend belief but its an uphill battle.

message 12: by Zak (new)

Zak | 18 comments Mod
Geez, I just realized how incomprehensible my comment was at the end. After so long the text field for comments on my phone cuts off, and doesn’t allow scrolling, so I have to guess what I’m writing... but! I would be very interested in reading an adventure novel that doesn’t have “cartoon violence” or large action set pieces simply to see how the writer can maintain a quick pace and excitement, as I enjoy many different kinds of stories and looking at the craft involved in making such a thing happen.

message 13: by P.J. (new)

P.J. Skinner | 6 comments You could try one of mine. :-) The boxset is free until Monday. Sam Harris Adventures books 1-3. Read the reveiws on individual books to see if you fancy a read. All are standalone so pick one you fancy and off you go.

message 14: by P.J. (new)

P.J. Skinner | 6 comments So I finished the book, I'll wait till everyone has also finished before I comment.

message 15: by L.D. (new)

L.D. Whitney (ldwhitney) | 27 comments Mod
I also just finished. Not sure who else is reading.

message 16: by Zak (new)

Zak | 18 comments Mod
I finished it way too long ago, and have read two books since then. Largely because I’m a psycho.

message 17: by L.D. (new)

L.D. Whitney (ldwhitney) | 27 comments Mod
What did everyone think about the "gold"? Good twist? Cliche? Thoughts?

message 18: by Zak (new)

Zak | 18 comments Mod
I really liked it, I just thought it was a bit convenient that it blew up when exposed to fire, though that lent to the really cool escape at the monastery. Revealing the metal as alien nano tech would have been better as revealed by a main character rather than just a tacked on bit at the end. I wonder if he ever uses the creatures the gold makes again in another book? There’s probably a heck of a story there.... the whole idea that the inquisition was trying to make a gold Jesus that would, in all actuality end up being their weird robot drone was pretty cool.

message 19: by L.D. (new)

L.D. Whitney (ldwhitney) | 27 comments Mod
Yeah, it was a cool idea. I mean I used it in one of my published short stories, so I obviously think highly of it. As far as I know, the Gold never returns. The Devil Colony uses nanotech in it, again the reaction to heat comes into play. It makes sense though, it overheats the tiny robots. That's based on legit science. Nanotech scientists are struggling with a way to keep these kinds of microscopic machines cool as the self replicate. In real life the technology reacts poorly to heat.

I kind of liked how it was all revealed at the very end. I don't see any logical way the main characters could have figured that out on their own. I think it would be really convenient for a bunch of archeologists to figure out it was alien technology, personally.

The Catholic Conspirators never resurface to my knowledge, either. Although the bad guy in Amazonia is very similar to the bad guy mercenary in this one. I think the Amazonia guy is better though. Hell, I think that while book is better. It's my favorite one.

Sigma Force works alongside the Catholic Church a ton and none of this is ever mentioned again. Unless it happens in Demon Crown or Crucible, I haven't read those, so that's possible since they both deal with the Catholic church. I know they all take place in the same universe though. The main lady from Deep Fathom married Painter Crow, the main dude from there appears in Bloodline, Kowalski (a member of Sigma) is from Ice Hunt, and 6th Extinction has the little kid from Subterranean as a member of Sigma, his mom and step-father (the two main characters) show upbeat the end. So that leaves Excavation and Altar of Eden without references. Unfortunately I feel like Last Odyssey might be the last Sigma book for a long while.

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