I absolutely adore reading - my love for books has had a huge impact on my life! I'm going to grad school to be a children's/YA librarian.
After successfully completing a seemingly impossible task in Iran, Blaine McCracken returns home to the United States, where a tragedy leads him right into another mission. The United States has been bombarded by mini-terrorist attacks that seem to have been staged by Islamic extremists. These acts have incited increasingly caustic remarks from the religious zealot, Revered Jeremiah Rule, who has been using his platform as an evangelist to nurture hatred towards Muslims. Most terrifying, Rule is backed by a private military in the guise of bodyguards. It's up to Blaine McCracken, who finds himself a fugitive in the midst of all the trouble, to sort everything out and protect the nation from further devastation.
I received an advance copy of this novel from NetGalley. I requested it there because the plot looked super interesting, especially when I learned that some of the key elements of the story are based in some of history's greatest mysteries. But then when I finally got around to reading it, I found out that this book is actually the eleventh installment in a series that I had never heard of. Whoops. Mental note - don't request a book that's a part of a series unless you've read the preceding installments. That being said, I was able to understand mostly everything in the book, thank goodness, so I think that I can still give it a fair review and I also think I can safely recommend it to readers who love action, mystery, and thrilling adventure.
So, first off, as a history buff, I absolutely loved how this book opened. It starts off not with Blaine McCracken, but in the midst of the tragedy/mystery at Roanoke. If you're not familiar with Roanoke, also known as the "Lost Colony," it was a colony of the first settlers in America that actually disappeared without a trace. It had a little over 100 settlers and basically they were left to fend for themselves for a few years but then when a British fleet returned, the colonists had completely vanished with absolutely no explanation or evidence of any sort of illness or attack. The reason for their disappearance is still unknown and the only thing that was found at the colony was the word "Croatoan." So Land starts off the story by showing the British fleet returning to the colony and finding it deserted and John White, whose granddaughter was the first child born in America, remarks that no soul should live in America ever again. Land then cuts to the Mary Celeste, a British merchant ship that was found in 1872 that was unmanned and abandoned. As with Roanoke, no one knows where the crew was and they were never seen again, and this is yet another historical mystery. In the book, Land ties the two events together and makes them very significant to the development of the plot of his story. I'm going to avoid going into further detail out of respect for spoilers, but this was very well done and was accomplished convincingly. It came across as very well researched and I was definitely impressed!
The characters in The Tenth Circle were well-portrayed, especially Jeremiah Rule. He was the most developed character in the book, probably because he had not appeared in any of the previous installments and thus required the most detailed development in order to fulfill his role in the story. Rule is a perfectly crafted villain. He initially appears to be no more than a religious zealot, but he reveals himself to be an evil, twisted, self-righteous monster, one who, in my opinion, probably suffers from some severe mental illness. He commits some truly atrocious acts and justifies them all as "God's will." Reading about him was disturbing and actually made me physically cringe on several different occasions and I think this a credit to Land's writing technique - this character made my stomach turn.
I found it a bit difficult to connect to McCracken and his allies such as Johnny Wareagle, the Captain, and H.J. Belgrade, but I think that this is simply because I have not read the rest of the series. If I had actually read the previous 10 books, I'm sure that I would feel like I knew them inside and out. At this point, there's not much need for a ton of character development for these characters, so Land wisely chose to simply focus on the action without talking too much about their backgrounds or personalities. This is appropriate for a book that is eleventh in a series and any confusion on my part was simply a result of me being a latecomer to the series.
This book completely engrossed my attention over the last few days. I dreaded putting it down (I did have to on a few occasions, such as my trip to New York City on Saturday and my grandpa's Christmas party yesterday), but when I did have to stop reading it I couldn't get it off of my mind. The style and plot remind me of the DaVinci Code and its companions mixed with the Jason Bourne movies - it blends history with action and sometimes violence and brutality, and even those are not usually my favorite things to read about, I thoroughly enjoyed this story. I plan to look up the rest of the books at some point (my current to-read list is HUGE though so I am not sure when this will actually happen) and I highly recommend that you go get yourself a copy, if not of this book then of the first in the series. This is definitely one that's worth reading!
Disclaimer: I received an advance review copy of this novel from NetGalley but in no way did this influence my review.