The Last Oracle (Sigma Force)

by James Rollins

Hardcover, 2008




William Morrow (2008), Edition: 1, 434 pages


An ancient relic, a murdered man, an international think tank of scientists known as the Jasons who have discovered a way to bioengineer autistic children, and a plot to wipe out a quarter of the world's population have two men racing against time to solve a mystery that dates back to the first famous oracle of history--the Greek Oracle of Delphi.

User reviews

LibraryThing member swkoenig
Received this as part of the March Early Reviewers. Was hesitant at first to dive right into this book without reading first the earlier works in the SIGMA series. However, I threw caution to the wind and got right into it. I'd only ready one other James Rollings work an that was Subterranean. James Rollins has come a long way since that first work. The characters, dialog, and plot have all gotten much better.

I liked this book but, would not say it is one of my favorite books. The plot involving Chernobyl was very interesting. One the strengths of this work is the description of Chernobyl and surrounding Ural Mountain area 20+ years after the meltdown. I found Rolins treatment of this and his descriptions very compelling. Not many authors have tackled this subject and I came away with a better understanding of Chernobyl and the problems associated with the meltdown.

As stated above the character development is better in this work but, still not deep. I can't say that as a reader I identified with any of the characters.

Overall this was a worthwhile read and it was paced pretty well. I recommend it.
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LibraryThing member virginiahomeschooler
The Last Oracle, by James Rollins, is the latest in a series that follows the men and women of Sigma Force, a scientific-minded group of former Special Forces soldiers. Set against a backdrop of the nuclear devastated area of Chernobyl, it shows just how far some are willing to go to achieve their goals.
As an intellectual thriller, The Last Oracle works. It's smart enough to be enjoyable without being too cerebral. Some of the action sequences were a bit over the top - lots and lots of shooting with very few injuries on the part of the Sigma Force team (think Bruce Willis in Die Hard , who's constantly being shot at, yet never really getting hit). However, the plot was well-planned and executed, with enough suspense to keep you turning the pages, and with an ultimately satisfying conclusion.
I found the afterword in which Rollins gives insight into his inspiration to be particularly fascinating.
This was my first experience with James Rollins' Sigma Force, and it can certainly be read as a stand-alone novel. However, I think following the characters from the beginning would add another level of enjoyment to an already fun read.
This review is based on an Advanced Release Copy of the book.
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LibraryThing member ruggins
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.
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LibraryThing member JonathanSpates
The Last Oracle, is about a commander for a military group called sigma. Gary works in investigating possible psych weapons that might be used against the U.S. Government. The alliance was meant to ensure that both countries would share their knowelege on the Psych history and methods. The organization seems to be a hoax, however, it is the head of an alliance between the Russia and the U.S. When Command Gary Pierce has a homeless man die in his arms, it leads to an even bigger mystery than anything he has ever come across.

When Gray finds out that the Homeless man turned out to be an esteemed scientist who was part of the government think tank, Gary begins to worry that there might be a much larger scheme at work than just than just a murder. After Gary discovers the true identity of Dr. Polk, Gary accidentally gets his daughter, Elizabeth Polk, roped into the situation.Gary must now follow the clues the lead him around the world and eventually to the Taj Mahal where Dr. Polk was last known to have visited with his partner.

The plot begins to unfold as Command Pierce finds out more and more and threatens to reveal the whole program, agents within the U.S. Government, are doing everything they can to bring him down. The Russians have been breeding many psych children who are able to do anything from read minds to predict the future. Over the course of the story, Gary uncover a shocking secret that threatens to break the fragile alliance between the 2 countries, and will possibly change the course of human history. As time begins to run out, Gary discovers an ancient prophecy, one dating back to the days of the Roman. A prophecy that may save Gary and his friends or destroy them all.

The main Character in this story is Gary Pierce. He was a Navy Seal before entering Sigma. He is a hardened shell of the man he used to be after he lost his best friend searching in the jungles of the Venezuela. He is hardened and shows little emotion through. Gary is supported by a scientist named Elizabeth Polk. Elizabeth never had a good relationship with her father and has a sort of blank attitude toward him. He got her a nice job at a museum in Delphi only so he could have access to the artifacts. Her voice throughout the story is one of question.
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LibraryThing member B5dragon
I've been a James Rollins fan for a while, and I think he has outdone himself with this novel. Being a member on his fansite, I've had a terrible time figuring how I could review this without giving anything away, and it comes down to saying -all your questions will be answered (if, as Suetu says, you've read The Judas Strain) he ties everything together perfectly, takes you on a tour around the world and back into time itself.
I would recommend this to anyone that enjoys adventure stories, or just wants a good read that will take them away for a time, but not long enough.
Loved it, Loved it .
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LibraryThing member NovelBookworm
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!
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LibraryThing member jrr731
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.
LibraryThing member caseylondon
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.
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LibraryThing member eviltammy
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.… (more)
LibraryThing member daddygoth
The Last Oracle, the fifth book in Rollins' SIGMA series, continues the storyline from The Judas Strain. While all the elements of Rollins' previous works are here -- non-stop action, scientific background/theme, religious history -- this one seemed to lack something that earlier SIGMA novels had. While Map of Bones is the only SIGMA book I didn't really enjoy, this one was just average, along the lines of The Judas Strain.

Rollins seems to want to have some minor shakeups within the team, but only teases serious or long-lasting effects. He should either leave the team as-is or actually follow though on these teases. Also, the new, developing romance could be seen a mile away as soon as a new character was introduced early in the novel. I'd still recommend the book to fans of Rollins, but if you're new to Rollins, I'd definitely suggest reading the SIGMA books in order as they are all part of a continuing storyline and reading them out of sequence could spoil some events in prior books in the series.
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LibraryThing member drneutron
The Last Oracle is a typical Rollins adventure - part science, part ideas just beyond the boundary pf science, lots of action, and Sigma Force saving the world. If you like the series, you'll love this one. If you haven't tried 'em yet, start with the first and have some fun!
LibraryThing member bcquinnsmom
The first thing any reader needs to know about this book is that it is a work of 'escape fiction,' meaning that you have to be prepared for anything and everything, and you have to be ready to enter into a state of suspension of disbelief. That is, you have to tell yourself that you're willing to accept anything and everything, knowing that it's probably a bit far-fetched or over the top -- and in return, you get a few hours of sheer entertainment to take you away from the mundane. So having made that statement, I can say that within that particular context, this was a pretty decent book, well worth the time that it took to read. I have the other Sigma Force series novels, but haven't yet read them all, but you can bet I'll be going back to them as soon as I have a chance. I want to see what I missed in the meantime, which leads to my second bit of advice: I feel like I missed something having not read the complete series up to the time of The Last Oracle and I might have felt a bit better about the action in this novel had I been more up to date on the exploits of Sigma Force.

“The Last Oracle" refers to the Oracle of Delphi, beginning with the destruction of the temple by the Romans. If you want to know more about the Oracle, take a peek here: Fast forward to the 20th century in the Carpathian mountains, where a group of children are being sought after by some not-so-nice KGB-ish type people; then we finally land in the present, where a scientist's death sparks an incredible adventure story that doesn't let up once it starts. Without trying to summarize the plot (it will give away the whole shebang if I do), I will say that Rollins has an ingenious mind ... there are layers within layers of action between the covers of this novel, some very unexpected twists and turns and some very nasty villains.

I would recommend this one to readers who are into escape fiction, to readers who have acquainted themselves with Sigma Force (or other James Rollins novels), and to anyone just wanting something very different to read. It's nonstop action all the way -- never a dull moment.

Thanks to LT for the opportunity to read this one as an early reviewer!
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LibraryThing member TheAlternativeOne
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 Series
1. 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 they ever made a movie of one of his stories I’d shell out the $8.00 to see that too (even though I know how it’d end.)

The Alternative
April 12th, 2008
Southeast Wisconsin
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LibraryThing member amacmillen
This is a fiction book based on the Oracle Delphi and the use of modified Savant Children to control the world. The Sigma team travel the world trying to solve a mystery that leads to Russia and a group trying to control the world by releasing nuclear waste to pollute and cause world wide havoc.
LibraryThing member hyunjoo
Gray Pierce needs a steady girlfriend or a wife. Good grief! This guy should be approaching 40 at least. I really loved reading about Monk coming to his senses about Kat and Penelope. That was so sweet it made me weep, a little.
LibraryThing member Talbin
The Last Oracle, is the fifth in James Rollins' Sigma Force series. As we start, Gray Pierce is walking along the Mall in Washington DC when a seemingly homeless man spots him. As they meet, the man offers Pierce a coin and then is shot by a sniper. At almost the same time, a little girl disappears from the National Zoo. Sasha is no ordinary little girl - she is the centerpiece of a long-standing Russian experiment into the world of autistic savant children. As the novel progresses, we learn about the connections between some select autistic savant children, the Oracle of Delphi, and the radioactive wasteland around Chernobyl in the Ukraine.

As per usual, James Rollins has combined some fantastical ideas into a story that takes the reader on a roller coaster ride. This is true escape fiction - part history, part espionage and part shoot-em-up - The Last Oracle is the perfect book to read when you need to live in a completely different world for awhile. Each time I finish a Rollins novel, I'm surprised by two things: Rollins is able to create a fictional world in which the reader will believe just about anything; and Rollins' characters are pretty darn three-dimensional. I believe this is the second book by this author that has brought tears to my eyes near the end. Over the years, when reading spy/thriller/mystery books, I have come to expect that the characters will usually be pretty one-dimensional. Given the genre, the reader expects a lot of emphasis on plot with a lot less emphasis on characterization. However, Rollins has a knack of keeping the plot moving along quite quickly while also drawing the reader into the emotional lives of some of his characters.

If you like escapist reading, give this one a try.
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LibraryThing member memasmb
The Last Oracle
By James Rollins

This book was received from LibraryThing in their Early Reviewers program.

My first introduction to James Rollins Sigma Force series was a fast paced, unbelievable story line that keeps you reading all night. With a bit of history, romance, science fiction and secret government agencies of several countries, you are draw into a tale of super heroes, evil villains and ethical questions.

Are we really the good people…sometimes I wonder about the higher powers that float above us ordinary people?

Rollins even solves the mystery of the fate of his friend Monk from The Judas Strain.

I will definitely pick up the first four books in this series to read.

If you want to read a story that holds your attention, makes you yell as well as cry, then by all means read this book.
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LibraryThing member MSWallack
While somewhat more enjoyable than The Judas Strain, The Last Oracle suffers from the same "off-the-rails" pseudo-science problems of the last few Sigma Force novels. If you don't buy in to the nearly science fiction elements of the story, then you are, unfortunately, left wanting, as the thriller elements of the story are a bit too straightforward and repetitive. And, for the record, I'm getting a bit tired of Rollins' need to refer to some of his characters by their titles rather than by their names. I'm not sure if I have the interest to read another Sigma Force novel.… (more)
LibraryThing member jusme2
My first James Rollins read...and all I can say is: Good job and Thank you! I look forward to reading more of Rollins books.
LibraryThing member johncstark
My first exposure to the author James Rollins in "The Last Oracle" was not a disappointment. The fictional novel built upon historical and factual information made the novel both enjoyable and educational.
LibraryThing member suetu
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.
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LibraryThing member maureen61
The latest of Rollins' mysteries is again well research and filled with intrigue and excitement. Thetruthful elements of the story are both startling and unnerving. A great read.
LibraryThing member January_F
Another great novel in this series, which I really enjoy! I have fallen behind in my reading of the Sigma Force novels, but now I'm glad I did! I have one more to read to be caught up, and it saddens me a bit.
LibraryThing member Deankut
Loved it! As all of his work!
LibraryThing member JoClare
I really love James Rollin's books. I love how he takes a historical tidbit of information and connects it to a slice of science, mixes it all together with a lot of adventure and a dash of romance and voilà!; I'm ready for an enjoyable read~

I also love how he points out the facts and the fiction at the end of his stories; more than once I have gotten lost on the internet satisfying my curiosity regarding the history/science he calls to attention there.

I think he does a great job with his protagonists, I find most to be really interesting and fleshed out. Sigma Force is a recurring theme in many of his stories and it adds another layer of interest for me, taking the adventure to the next level.

Rollin's novels are every bit as enjoyable to me as a big screen summer blockbuster; think I'll go get some popcorn~
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