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Destiny: Rogue Angel    by Alex Archer order for
by Alex Archer
Order:  USA  Can
Gold Eagle, 2006 (2006)
* *   Reviewed by Belle Dessler

Archeologist Annja Creed knows that the search for answers to ancient mysteries comes with a certain amount of risk. She's used to being followed - stalked, actually - so it comes as no surprise when her latest adventure also leads her into danger. She's following a lead that may be the key to learning the truth behind La Bete, a creature popularized by French legends over a period of three hundred years. As far as archeological work goes, this is a relatively simple task, one she's undertaken for the Chasing History's Monsters cable show. It may not be glamorous, but it allows Annja to earn a legitimate paycheck.

Things get complicated when it becomes clear that someone desperately wants Annja to stop asking questions about the legendary monster. When she discovers an ancient artifact hidden deep in a cavern, she knows her simple task has just become a lot more complicated. In her ongoing attempt to learn the truth behind the myth of La Bete and the artifact, Annja is almost kidnapped, threatened by poisonous snakes, and chased by a local drug dealer and a clandestine group of monks intent on possessing the artifact for themselves. And that's only the beginning of Annja's adventure.

History's ancient mysteries have fascinated people for as long as anyone can remember, but the success of such novels as The DaVinci Code has breathed new life into literary works dealing with this subject. Set in the beautiful locale of France, Rogue Angel: Destiny offers a suspenseful, spine-tingling adventure. In this tense thriller, past and present blend together to form a kaleidoscope of enigmas. Secrecy abounds, and it's up to Annja to do what she does best and get to the bottom of a complex mystery that spans the ages.

Although the writing feels stilted at times and the dialogue doesn't quite ring true, the continual excitement expertly weaved in through the plot makes such issues bearable. As the story progresses, the novel feels more like an adaptation of a screenplay, with its continuous, non-stop action and abundance of dialogue. Annja herself is a wonderful heroine - the perfect guide through this kind of adventure. Resembling both Indiana Jones and Lara Croft, Annja is independent, courageous, and can certainly hold her own against the myriad threats she must face. Overall, Rogue Angel: Destiny is a fun, easy read guaranteed to keep you entertained.

2nd Review by Martina Bexte:

Archeologist, explorer, and TV reporter Annja Creed couldn't be happier with her life, thank you very much. Okay, it's probably time she quit filing stories for the popular cable TV show Chasing History's Monsters - the producers are getting too high-handed about twisting her meticulously researched facts into something more lurid and sensational. But the show pays well and Annja isn't about to back out of her latest assignment: digging up the truth about the legendary Beast of Gevaudan. According to research unearthed from dusty bookshops and libraries around the small French town of Lozere, Le Bete killed over one hundred souls between 1764 and 1767.

Annja knows the truth lies deep within the Cevennes Mountains, where Le Bete's lair is supposedly located, and arranges for a local guide to take her there. Within minutes, an earthquake tumbles Annja into a large cave and onto grotesquely misshapen yet vaguely human remains. She is immediately convinced that she's found the proof of Le Bete's existence. Beside its skeleton, she finds another mummified corpse whose various accoutrements identify him as a knight and around whose neck rests a charm with odd markings. Annja finds this glittering artifact compelling and as she fights her way back aboveground, she has no idea what her discovery is about to set in motion.

Black market occultist Corvin Lesauvage is desperate to locate Le Bete's lair, certain that a great treasure rests within the creature's stone tomb. Equally desperate to guard the secret of The Beast of Gevaudan's true origins are the monks of the Brotherhood of the Silent Rain. Still another enigmatic man named Roux helps Annja escape both Lesauvage and the monks, and shows a keen interest in the artifact. Through charm and guile, he steals it from Annja and retreats to his country estate, but she manages to track him down with the help of Garin, who also has personal business with Roux.

Impressed by Annja's resourcefulness, Roux lets her in on a little secret; the charm is the last piece of Joan of Arc's sword, said to have shattered into dozens of pieces the moment she died. He and Garin had been Joan's close allies, but were unable to save her from death at the stake. Roux believes that God cursed both men with immortality for that failure and that Joan's legacy, including her now intact sword, has now passed on to Annja. What she chooses to do with it is up to her. But will Corvin Lesauvage, the monks, or Garin allow Annja to embrace her new destiny?

Rogue Angel: Destiny is a rip-roaring, kick butt adventure story that had me hooked from page one. Annja Creed is a very appealing modern heroine who in some ways brings to mind Lara Croft, of Tomb Raider fame. Annja however, is a more multi-layered and conflicted character whose exciting and fulfilling life as a globe-trotting archeologist is turned on its proverbial ear once the power and responsibility of Joan of Arc's legacy is handed to her. The enigmatic immortals - Roux and Garin - are equally compelling. Every time they walk on stage it's fun to listen to their combative exchanges and to attempt to figure out if they have Annja's best interests at heart, or would as soon destroy her and Joan's sword to assure their continued immortality (which, over the course of two centuries has been very lucrative for both men).

Multi-layered plotting, great action sequences, a nifty historical mystery and a touch of the fantastic all add to the appeal of this well-written and marvelously rich debut novel. The good news is that Annja will be back in a couple of sequels: watch for Rogue Angel: Solomon's Jar and Rogue Angel: The Spider Stone later this year.

Audiobook Review by Martina Bexte:

Generally, I've never given audio books much more than a second glance: as a confirmed booklover, I much prefer reading a book rather than having a story read to me. However, after listening to the audio version of Rogue Angel: Destiny, book one of an action-adventure series that I've become quite fond of, I've changed my tune. The company that produced this story is GraphicAudio. They claim to have 'redefined the audio book experience with intense sounds - music, sound effects and a full cast of professional actors and narrators that create "A Movie In Your Mind".'

Do they live up to their press claims? Indeed they do. I enjoyed the story all over again, in an entirely new and unique way as archeologist and TV reporter Annja Creed travels to France to discover the truth about the long-buried legend of the Beast of Gevaudan - and while doing so discovers her true destiny. The narrations are well performed by various actors portraying the main, secondary and even minor characters, and the myriad sound effects - from roaring car engines to crashing motorcycles to clashing swords to brawls and fistfights - add an even higher degree of realism and enjoyment to the story.

If you're a regular reader of adult action adventure stories and want to ride along with your favorite heroes on their next high octane adventure, then check out GraphicAudio and see what they have to offer.

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