REVIEW SUMMARY: Golemon can write action sequences with the best of them, and he lands a solid uppercut with this book. The depth of the science fiction lies under the surface for the most of the work, but is surprising and ingenious none the less.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Following in the footsteps of Gonzalo Pizarro, the Event Group finds itself searching for El Dorado in the hopes of saving the lives of innocent college students caught up in a secret plot involving nefarious agents out to capture the surprisingly more modern wealth to be found there.
PROS: Enjoyable plot, science elements surprisingly deep, excellent action scenes
CONS: Strains believability at times, characters mostly wooden and static
BOTTOM LINE: Legend is a fun, action-filled romp through the jungle with just the right mix of combat and science. If you’re a fan of the science fiction written by Clive Cussler or Michael Crichton you will have a blast reading Legend.
Professor Helen Zachary has become obsessed with finding El Dorado, convinced that it is real despite most of the world deciding it is myth. But behind every myth is some basis in fact, and she finally achieves the breakthrough she needs to follow in the footsteps of Spanish conquistadors on their quest to find the gold mine used by the Incas to fuel their massive appetite for precious metal. She’s not interested in the gold itself, but in the promises of finding a forgotten species that has eluded man by hiding in the darkness of the Amazon jungle. Tricking her mysterious sponsor and making off with his money, she soon ends up well over her head when faced with not only his wrath, but a plot involving secrets the US military insist stay that way and a deadly threat from the very mine itself – not to mention a brewing international incident between the US and Brazil.
Golemon has done his homework on this one and manages to reel the reader in with plausible sketches of the truth. Much like The Da Vinci Code it is easy to begin to believe the fiction here might be based on substantial truth, however historical accuracy isn’t his goal. He chronicles the Pizarro expeditions encounter with the lost lagoon and mine and how the artifacts of that failed group managed to survive for 500 years to be rediscovered today. He also does a good job describing how the secret area of the jungle has managed to stay lost and the safeguards put into it by its creators. It is highly plausible and and works well.
Most of Golemon’s science ideas are fascinating and worth some reflection. The idea that a unique species hasn’t yet been found is undeniable – scientist find new species in the remote corners of the globe regularly, with the jungle being a prime hiding spot. Golemon even alludes to the coelacanth, undoubtedly a source of inspiration. He also describes the engineering ability of the Incas in terms that are fantastic but not out of realm of reality. He feels they might have understood how to use water (being intimately familiar with the river) well enough to create floodgates and channels to move ore around in the mine. He fabricates a fantastic tale to be sure, but one that mostly isn’t too removed from the science facts that occasionally surface.
Where Golemon fails for me is when he goes well beyond believability in order to imbue ancient man with abilities that are simply too good. In the early chapters he describes the ancient Chinese as being capable of creating and weaponizing Anthrax. His rational was fine and reasonable, but instead of describing the Anthrax as crude but workable and capable of more than easily handling the 2nd century Japanese (who were the intended target) he has a character in the modern era describe it as the “deadliest form of weapons-grade Anthrax the world has ever known.” That was a throw-away line in the book, but it irked me. There are other examples that I won’t list to avoid spoiling the book and I’m all for acknowledging that ancient builders did wondrous things (the pyramids in Egypt and South America come to mind) but I’m not sure how it helps to give them near supernatural powers. Luckily these things aren’t central to the plot and can be ignored. It just makes it harder to suspend disbelief.
Just as in the prior book, the characters in this effort are thin and static. There simply isn’t much depth here nor do we see any growth in their characters. Strangely, the only character that isn’t a stereotype is the villain. I’ll also give Golemon some credit for creating a non-traditional character in the villain’s wife. But sadly that is it. This is a plot-driven story and it doesn’t deviate from that except for some rather predictable interactions between the various archetypes. The ‘loud and vulgar’ Master Chief who chews out everybody but softens for the lady that falls for him. The Major and his protege that love each other like brothers, and Major’s love interest that the protege protects at all costs. You get my point.
I was seriously looking forward to this book after reading Golemon’s first effort, Event, and this one didn’t disappoint me. Event delivers a fun romp through the jungle that should provide you with a cool summer-time diversion.
Note: This books was provided by the publisher for review.