At the request of a friend, I was asked to review The Last Map to the Throne of God by Trularin – it turned out to be a flawed, yet enjoyable book.
Dr. Paul Bracken and his coworkers are sent to Montana where an anomaly is discovered in an archaeological dig. While digging up a dinosaur, they discover a stone artifact with unique properties. At the same time, archaeologists in Chile discover an identical stone.
Together, the two stones form a compass that leads them on a trek across the globe and to the discovery of another stone in South Africa. There are chilling traps and treacherous hidden rooms in South Africa that the team must conquer to gather this third stone. Now, with three stones in their possession, they follow the new compass to Azerbaijan. It is there that the team gains entry into the oldest known human habitat and discovers yet another stone. Once all four stones are gathered together in one place, they appear to be inert, but then, one of their team members dies mysteriously.
On a return trip to South Africa, the team unearths unique tablets with unusual markings. After deciphering some of the text, they realize they must return to Azerbaijan. As their quest continues and they gather additional artifacts, they begin to piece together a map leading to a vital tablet that could provide the key to a path to the throne of God.
Dr. Paul Bracken is a fairly boring guy – government employee, has an apartment he rarely spends time in and likes looking at old bones. As a FBI anthropologist, he spends most of his time traveling and examining dig sites. Fortunately for us his boring life is shaken up a bit when a strange artifact and a human hand are found in the belly of a dinosaur’s petrified remains.
One thing leads to another, which means Paul and his newly formed team of scientists and military liaisons go globe trotting, following the clues from the artifact. Stop after stop they begin to assemble a puzzle, eventually leading them to the garden of eden. Inside are more questions than answers, and an unknown enemy isn’t far behind them.
It’s not too far after this point that I run into my first issue with the book. The Last Map to the Throne of God feels like it was two books crammed together. It’s around the “and then ten years passed and this character didn’t come back and everyone has new jobs” point that it gets disjointed. I’m not sure if this was an editor or agent’s decision to smoosh them together without at least signifying they were separate but related stories, but it wasn’t a good one. There’s a definite feel of “before” and “after”.
The second half of the book covers the search for the rest of the artifacts. Characters are more fully developed, and there are a couple of truly humorous moments. The book took a couple of twists and turns were I honestly couldn’t guess what was going to happen next (I hate predictable books). Sadly, I was reading this on an ebook reader (more on this later) and didn’t see the ending coming until literally the last paragraph. It ended on an infuriatingly high cliffhanger that was intentional, yet didn’t leave room for a sequel. I could tell it was a good book because I was so annoyed by this fact.
As good as the story was, there were a couple of places where the editing is uneven. Take for example the following quote – to set it up, Nigel a “Charlie, of Charlie’s Angels”-type character was captured and his friend/employee/partner Rolex is storming the complex to save him. Up until this point, you haven’t really heard Nigel speak, he’s mainly only referred to as some type of international kingpin.
“You sons of bitches are in deep shit now!” Nigel yelled. “Rolex is the quintessential predator and you haven’t got a chance.”
I don’t have a problem with the first sentence, nor the second. I DO have a problem with them back to back – an editor should have caught that. It sounds like two different people speaking. I could see the story arch of a character starting the book with one and ending the book with the other, but back to back? Say it out loud – it just sounds awkward.
As far as a nitpicky thing goes, the beginning of the book introduces a handful of character (a student, a professor, and a bodyguard), most of which last 2 chapters then disappear for the rest of the book. It’s disappointing to keep waiting for a character to return.
Despite it’s flaws, I honestly liked the concept. The story arc, while disjointed a bit in the middle, is enjoyable when taken as two stories. If you’re into an indiana jones/tomb raider with minor religious overtones, you’ll probably enjoy this book.
Side note to the publisher/author/editor – This really goes to any publisher or author – I’d really like to see this book make it to a format that was easy to read on my ereader than PDF. PDFs are nice for printing or large screen viewing, but converting it to a format I can read (like mobi or epub) leads to poorly formatted books with misplaced chapter boundaries which make reading far less enjoyable. I’d really like to see a more friendly format.