Review of REDOUBT OF GHOSTS by J. E. Bruce
BooksForABuck.com, January 2008
Wars and terrorism relying not on explosives but on viruses and on man-made mutations in the human genetic code have resulted in a widespread mutation and a dramatic reduction in population. Unless some solution can be found, mankind is doomed. Future scientists have come up with a plan that just might work. Traveling into the past, they attempt to gather uninfected human DNA, as well as potential viruses that can be used for delivering genetic material. If they're successful, they just might be able to piece back a survivable human genome.
The future humans are so mutated that they cannot pass as ordinary people, but their agent, Jes, is one of the past people, rescued during a battle. Now Jes hides himself on battle scenes, gathering DNA samples from war's victims--especially from those warriors who showed exceptional capabilities. Unfortunately for Jes, battlefields are inherently dangerous locations. Blending in is not enough when grave-robbers loot corpses or when overanxious fellow soldiers suspect him of deserting. Surviving is tough--getting back with the samples and all of his future equipment, equipment that just might change the entire future if it fell into the wrong hands, is even harder.
The story follows Jes's attempts to collect genetic materials from the battle of Thermopylae and from the Roman siege of Carthage during the Third Punic War. On a parallel, but related track, it also follows young archeologist, Marcel-Jerome Chauvet as he explores the ruins of ancient Carthage, discovering artifacts of incredible historical value--but also artifacts that just might change the future itself.
Author J. E. Bruce creates a powerful view of the future--and the past in this compelling time travel suspense. Jes is a truly tortured character, haunted by the almost forgotten ghosts of his past, used as a tool by a dying and desperate civilization, and compelled to throw himself into some of the most dangerous situations in history. Chauvet, too, is sympathetically drawn and interesting. Bruce makes the world of early twentieth century archeology--with science still richly mixed with treasure-finding, come alive.
Beautifully researched and strongly written, REDOUBT OF GHOSTS is a compelling novel of a near-future world that seems frighteningly possible--and a fascinating look into the past as well.
REDOUBT OF GHOSTS is no longer in print.
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