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Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull    by James Rollins order for
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
by James Rollins
Order:  USA  Can
Del Rey, 2008 (2008)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book

Read an Excerpt

* *   Reviewed by Theresa Ichino

He's baaaack. Fans of the fedora-hatted,sardonic adventurer will be pleased that Indy finds himself once more embroiled in a perilous quest for a fabulous and mystical treasure. This time Indy must search for fabled El Dorado and a crystal skull more valuable than any golden treasure.

The year is 1957. Considerably older, more experienced, but certainly not more prudent, Indy is nonetheless reasonably content with his life as part-time college instructor, part-time globe-trotting archaeologist. A true seeker of knowledge, Professor Jones focusses more on true ancient legacies and less on myths and fairy tales. His attitude clashes with the fanatic conviction of Colonel Doctor Irina Spalko, seeking the power she is certain that the crystal skull will give her.

Spalko is backed by a squad of elite Soviet soldiers (she has convinced her superiors that the mystic power she seeks will prove of military value). They invade Hangar 51 to steal a valuable clue, dragging along Indy, who she believes can help her find the crystal skull. Spalko scoops up anyone who can help her to her goal - Indy's colleague who discovered the skull, as well as a friend of that colleague. Kidnapping Mary Williams nets young Mutt, Mary's son, as well. His rebellious nature and stubbornness will be useful in the trials to come.

Spalko's machinations bring Indy under suspicion in this cold war era; he is in danger of losing his position at the college, and his life and his friends come under scrutiny. The hero's breathless adventures are fun, but the witch-hunt for communist sypathizers is a chilling reminder of how paranoia can destroy innocent lives.

George Lucas also contributed to this tale (original story by Lucas and Jeff Nathanson, screenplay by David Koepp) that incorporates fantasy and science-fiction elements in rollicking abandon. Serious concerns, like nuclear testing and McCarthyism are not allowed to impede the action. Best of all - to this long-time fan - the story neatly picks up the strands of Indy's life. The ending is truly satisfying.

It is interesting to be able to compare the novelization with the film. More background and information are given in the book; but the film is stunning in its fast pace and visuals, no surprise given the combination of talents that produced it.

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