And while we are at it, where’s the movie?
Any nation which puts together the seven pieces of golden capstone of the Great Pyramid at Giza at the exact moment of a celestial event will be granted world domination. So, Americans led by an influential group and European countries led by Vatican are naturally interested in finding the pieces. Of course, a group of nine countries also want a place at this table, and they make up a team of their best soldiers, led by the Australian Jack West Jr. (codename: Huntsman). The mission of the team: find at least one piece, preferably all, and perform the other version of the ceremony, granting peace.
Problem is, the seven pieces were separated and hidden in the seven ancient wonders by the last person to perform the ritual (Alexander). The second problem, left unchecked (read: no ceremony), the “Tartarus Rotation” will cause the end of the earth. So, Huntsman and his team of nine soldiers plus Prof. Max Epper (codename: Wizard) and a young girl Lily, must uncover the location of the lost wonders, and beat the traps set by the best architects of ancient age to achieve their goal.
In “6 Sacred Stones”, some time has passed since the Tartarus Event, and somebody has nullified the effect of the ceremony. Plus, Wizard realizes that Tartarus was just the start of a series of events, which will culminate in a “dark sun” radiating earth with deadly rays. To avoid this, the old team must get back together (with some new faces) and place the 6 “pillars” (uncut diamonds the size of a brick) in six different places around the world, at exact times to start a “Machine”. To achieve this, and to find the location and times necessary, they must get 6 sacred stones, which include the firestone at top of Golden Capstone, Philosopher’s Stone, Tuthmoses’ tablets etc.
The catch: whoever places the pillar at each of the places gets a reward, such as Knowledge, Heat, Sight and so on. So, once again there are formidable opponents (this time, Chinese and an enemy from Jack’s past) blocking the way for the team. Not to mention, there is a shadowy group of people who are bent on making the mission a failure. So once again, it is on to cannibal tribes, deadly traps, puzzles with excruciating death for wrong answers… you know, the usual.
The only time the story is humanized is the interaction of Lily (Jack’s ward and an integral part of the team due to her lineage) with the team members. Imagine nine soldiers, best in their fields, babysitting a small child, and you will know what I mean. (She renames “Bloody Mary” as “Princess”, and “Pooh Bear” is not exactly the best callsign for an Arabian warrior).
Otherwise, the stories are almost non-stop action, with little time given for character development or even, breathing space between two steps. The only time we are not reading about the mission is the stories of each of seven wonders in first book or a bit of Jack and Lily’s story in second book. This might discourage some people, but it is hard to notice while you are following Huntsman and Stretch up a tower leading to the Hanging Gardens, or while abroad Halicarnassus plotting to bust people out of high security prisons.
The writing style also complements this. The descriptions are so detailed, that it is very easy to visualize the chases, grand vistas and deadly but beautiful traps. In fact, in some places, I got a feeling that I was reading a step-by-step manual for PoP or Lara Croft style game than a book. Of course, with black 747s outfitted with turret guns (and other techs even Bond would be envious of), you would face those to get your hands on such a game.
All in all, may not be for you if you want solidly sketched characters and well-laid out stories. But action fans, not to mention the “ancient mysteries” fans, will find themselves returning to the books at least once.
Just one question before I leave you: how much time does it take for a person to drop through the center of earth and come back the other side? I am just hoping the sequel to “6 Sacred Stones” comes out before that.