Book review: Jake Ransom and the Howling Sphinx by James Rollins

High-flying author of the Sigma Force thrillers, James Rollins is currently spreading his wings in the world of children’s books and his gripping Jake Ransom series is certainly taking off.

Tuesday, 13th September 2011, 1:20 pm

Daredevil Jake and his cool sister Kady are a time-travelling duo whose adventures take them to exciting ancient worlds and into the power zone of the evil Skull King.

From palace torture chambers and shifting sands to an encounter with the legendary princess Nefertiti and an awesome balloon flight, these two intrepid siblings are on a non-stop mission to find their missing parents.

In their second outing, a watch belonging to Jake and Kady’s archaeologist father transports them back to a savage prehistoric world called Pangaea where people and creatures have been whisked from other eras.

There dwells Kalverum Rex, the Skull King who has been defeated once before by Jake and is determined this time around to ‘make him suffer’ for it.

Jake and Kady have landed in the Egyptian sector of Pangaea where they must battle under a burning sun and through a vast sea of sand which rises and falls like endless, threatening waves.

Meanwhile an ancient and priceless ruby – the Eye of Ra – has been found in a tunnel beneath the Valley of the Kings. Legend has it the jewel holds immense power, but it has fallen into the wrong hands.

And that means trouble for Jake and Kady who have now been joined by old friend Marika Balam, a girl of Mayan descent whose people were stranded in this savage land fifteen generations ago.

With velociraptors on the prowl, architects of black magic and a host of other terrifying enemies to face, Jake and Kady will need all the help they can get...

Rollins uses his years of thriller writing to both enlighten and entertain a younger generation of readers. Ancient cultures come alive in his capable hands while the story skips along at a terrific pace.

Jake and Kady are the perfect foil for each other – Jake’s scholarly approach cracks cryptic codes and languages while fun, fashionable, down-to-earth Kady has her own special and sometimes surprising armoury of weapons.

Intriguing, imaginative, action-packed and with a delicate sprinkling of humour and romance, Jake Ransom and the Howling Sphinx is ideal reading for adventurous youngsters.

(Orion, paperback, £6.99)