The Eye of God: A Sigma Force Novel
Released on 06.05.2013
In a masterwork of historical mystery and scientific exploration, New York Times bestselling author James Rollins reveals an apocalyptic vision of the day after tomorrow, of a future predicted by the distant past, of a world doomed to burn under
The Eye of God
The crash of a U.S. military research satellite in the remote wilds of Mongolia triggers an explosive search for the valuable cargo it holds: a code-black physics project connected to the study of dark energy, the energy connected to the birth of our universe. But the last blurry image from the falling satellite captures a chilling sight: a frightening look into the future, a view of a smoldering eastern seaboard of the United States in utter ruin.
At the Vatican, a mysterious package arrives for the head of Pontifical ancient studies, sent by a colleague who had vanished a decade earlier. It contains two strange artifacts: a skull scrawled with ancient Aramaic and a tome bound in human skin. DNA testing reveals both are from Genghis Khan—the long-dead Mongol king whose undiscovered tomb is rumored to hold the vast treasures and knowledge of a lost ancient empire.
Commander Gray Pierce, and Sigma—joined by a pair of Vatican historians—race to uncover a truth tied to the fall of the Roman Empire, to a mystery bound in the roots of Christianity's origins, and to a weapon hidden for centuries that holds the fate of humanity.
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"Rollins's roguish charm comes from his efforts to persuade readers the story is credible [through] real-life sources for his novel's science, history and geography." – New York Times "Adventurous and enormously engrossing..." — Alan Cheuse, NPR
"After Crichton passed away in 2008 he clearly passed the baton to James Rollins, who like Crichton, is a renaissance man." — Huffington Post
"If you're a fan of smart, entertaining adventure fiction, this is your summer beach read writ large. . . .All the science, all the history, and all the locations are masterfully intertwined. The characters are multi- dimensional. And the story is, well, a corker." — Mark Sullivan, New York Journal of Books
"Rollins has done it again. Real history and science play a key role in all of the action, which never wanes...Definitely keep an eye out for this one." — Library Journal (Starred Review)
“Rollins’s roguish charm comes from his efforts to persuade readers the story is credible [through] real-life sources for his novel’s science, history and geography.” — New York Times
“Adventurous and enormously engrossing...” — Alan Cheuse, NPR
“After Crichton passed away in 2008 he clearly passed the baton to James Rollins, who like Crichton, is a renaissance man.” — Huffington Post
“If you’re a fan of smart, entertaining adventure fiction, this is your summer beach read writ large. . . .All the science, all the history, and all the locations are masterfully intertwined. The characters are multi-dimensional. And the story is, well, a corker.” — Mark Sullivan, New York Journal of Books
“The world is ending. And even though many have written about this fact, Rollins never stoops to stereotypical plots. With this, he provides the ultimate story.…[He] describes ancient times and connects them with present day so well that it’s a truly fascinating read that will hold the attention of any mystery/thriller fan. Carefully researched, the characters both old and new literally come to life—offering an ending that is truly a surprise.” — Amy Lignor, Suspense Magazin
Q: InThe Eye of God, you take your readers to some exciting and exotic locales: Macau, Mongolia, North Korea. What drew you to set parts of the book in those locations?
A: I personally love to travel to remote corners of the world, to explore those lost edges or seldom traveled landscapes. I also love to ask locals odd questions (“Tell me something no one knows about this place.” “What mystery remains unsolved here?”). It is from such journeys and questions that many of my stories begin. During my travels to Macau, I was struck by its strange mix of European colonialism, Chinese history, and Las-Vegas glitz. And I knew I always wanted to set a story in North Korea and interviewed several people who had firsthand accounts of the strange “ghost town”-like atmosphere of its capital city. And it was the country’s rich history that drew me to Mongolia, with its ties to Genghis Khan.
Q: Speaking of Genghis Khan, you raise an interesting fact about genetics and this Mongol warlord.
A: Genghis Khan was a fascinating and bloody figure, who conquered most of the known world at the time, and his legacy lives on today. Geneticists have determined that 1 out of 200 men living in the world today are genetic descendants of the Great Khan (and this rises to 1 out of 10 in Mongolia). It seems multiple wives and conquering so many countries leaves it mark—at least genetically.
Q: And it’s not just Genghis Khan, but you also bring up the history of Attila the Hun, another great conqueror.
A: I was fascinated that both of these men died and were buried with great wealth—yet their treasure-filled tombs vanished into history. I knew there was a story to tell. I was also intrigued by a mystery that still confounds historians concerning Attila. In the middle of the fifth century, Attila was about to sack Rome. There was no way to stop his marauding horde. Then the pope rode out from the city with a small entourage and met with Attila in secret. After that meeting, Attila turned away from certain victory and left Italy. What was said at that secret meeting to turn Attila away remains unknown. Until now.
Q: You also raise another historical mystery in The Eye of God, one concerning the apostle, St. Thomas, how this apostle may have traveled to China. You also reveal a possible connection between the Chinese language and Biblical stories. How much of all that is true?
A: It’s fairly accepted that St. Thomas traveled to India, but there remains some intriguing speculation that his journeys may have taken him as far as China, maybe even Japan. In the book, I also demonstrate a strange connection between the Chinese language and its odd correlation to Biblical stories. All of this is based on real information—though I leave it to the readers to decide if such correlations are mere coincidences or in fact valid, hinting at some ancient lost knowledge of the Book of Genesis.
Q: In The Eye of God, you have a strange series of relics: incantation skulls, books bound in human skin, and models of boats made of human bones. Where do you come up with such macabre items?
A: They’re actually all real. Archeologists have uncovered more than two thousand Jewish incantation bowls, dated to the third century. But they’ve also found a few such skulls used for the same purpose, as a warding against demons or for the casting of spells. Two can be seen at the Berlin museum. And in regards to the binding of books in human skin, that was real, too. Some rare books have been found to even include nipples or people’s faces. They range from astronomy treatises to anatomic texts, even including some prayer books. But the strangeness doesn’t stop there. French prisoners during the Napoleonic wars used to craft boats out of human bones and sell them to the British. But then again, I guess everyone needs a hobby.
Q: As with all of your books, history is only half the story. You love raising interesting bits of science. In The Eye of God, you introduce the concept of “biohacking,” of people altering their bodies in strange ways. A new member of Sigma has magnets embedded under his fingertips to add to his “senses.” Is this really something that’s going on?
A: It is indeed. Over a thousand people have had rare-earth magnets implanted at the edges of their fingertips, that vibrate in the presence of electromagnetic fields. It allows them to experience electrical fields in amazing ways. Those I’ve interviewed describe these fields as having texture, shape, rhythms, and even colors. They can sense the flow of electricity through wires, or “feel” a hard drive that is malfunctioning, or even diagnose a misfiring carburetor. It opens up an entirely new way of experiencing the world. And once accustomed to them, it’s apparently hard to go back. Many say they feel blind without them. It definitely is a new world.
Q: In The Eye of God, you also deal with a comet that is set to fly past our planet this coming November. Why pick this upcoming true celestial event to base you book upon?
A: I love making my books feel real and “of the moment.” I was also fascinated to learn that the comet—designated Comet ISON—will be the brightest comet to light the night sky in over several millennia. It will be so bright that it will be seen even during the day. I also love how, throughout history, comets have often been harbingers of doom, said to predict the bubonic plague of Europe, the Battle of Hastings, even the death of Mark Twain. And it believed the appearance of Halley’s Comet in 1222 was a major inspiration for Genghis Khan’s decision to head west and conquer much of the known world. So surely the arrival of such a bright comet as ISON this year must be equally significant—and dare I say, earth-shattering.
Q: Speaking of keeping your novel timely, in The Eye of God, the threat of a life-altering barrage of meteors plays a significant role in the story. Were you writing this when the explosion of Chelyabinsk meteor over Russia took place?
A: I was—and it certainly added that timely quality to the novel. It’s a prime example of the unpredictability of near-Earth objects (or NEOs) striking the planet. NASA has currently identified over ten thousand NEOs, but that number is only the tiniest fraction of what’s out there, including what exploded over Russia. That asteroid had the potential kinetic energy of about thirty atomic bombs, but as it exploded in the upper atmosphere, it lost most of that energy before the pieces struck the ground. Still, the shockwave from that midair blast blew out windows and injured over 1,500 people. And it’s not just meteors that are a risk. Comets themselves pose a threat. In fact, sometime next year a comet is due to strike Mars.
Q: In The Eye of God, you also speculate on the state of reality, raising the question about what’s real and what’s not, specifically that we might all be living in a hologram. You also broach the possibility of there being multiple universes. Could any of that be true?
A: According to the physicists I visited with at Fermilab outside of Chicago, the answer is likely YES. I learned that the entire universe might be a hologram, a three-dimensional construct based on equations written on the inner shell of the universe. Researchers at Fermilab are currently constructing a Holometer, a device to prove this theory to be true. Likewise, theories of multiple universes already abound, with many different conjectures about how those other universes function, interact, and relate to one another. But the most common consensus by theoretical physicists is that they do exist.
Just to offer one example of how unreal reality is (to quote physicist Brian Greene): “If you remove all the space within the atoms making up the human body, every person that’s ever lived would fit inside a baseball.” That’s how little of the world is solid and tangible.
Q: Lastly, based on these multiple universes and the fact that the seat of human consciousness remains a mystery—in The Eye of God, you offer a glimpse as to what happens after you die. Do you believe it to be true?
A: I don’t know if belief is the correct word—but I hope it is. It’s an intriguing supposition that I don’t believe has ever been broached before. Yet, it seems so obvious when you look at both the science and philosophy of the world. I’ve already received word from an early reviewer who found much comfort in this new view of the afterlife offered in this book. I hope many others do, too.