Crucible (Sigma Force, #14) (2024)


Author20 books4,064 followers

January 12, 2024

I've been enjoying the Sigma Force series for a while now... but I have read four in a row to catch up on the latest in the series written by James Rollins. Perhaps I'm a little exhausted and should take a break before the next two, which then put me current for the latest 2022 release. In Crucible, there are parallels drawn between witch hunts and artificial intelligence. Honestly, the AI focus was completely over the top for me, and I am a tech guy career-wise. I found parts interesting but it got so detailed it no longer became a story, instead an education and guessing game of what path a computer might take to rule the world. So... I'm saying 'meh' on this one, but the rest are great. Could just be me!

    1-fiction 3-multi-book-series


1,110 reviews238 followers

January 25, 2019

My romance with globe trotting action-adventure/spy thrillers started almost a decade ago and I’ve always had so much fun reading them. But I did feel that some of them have been losing their mojo when some of their books in the past few years didn’t feel upto the mark. However, I have been pleasantly surprised in the past few months and I’m so thankful for it. While Steve Berry’s latest The Malta Exchange and Matthew Reilly’s Three Secret Cities thoroughly impressed me, this book showed me why James Rollins has been my go-to author for this genre for the past ten years. I was just expecting to have some fun but this book definitely did so much more.

Rollins’s strength has always been combining aspects of history with advanced technology which seems both implausible but not completely unrealistic at the same time. In Crucible, he really intertwines these concepts brilliantly and I just couldn’t put the book down even for a minute. Even though this book has a historical backdrop starting with the Spanish Inquisitions and the inhuman witch trials that happened across Europe, the story here is definitely more about the extremely fast technological developments that are happening in the area of Artifical Intelligence and how when unchecked, these might have very unintended and unimaginable consequences. The core part of the plot in the book deals with an almost sentient AI which is something that has never been seen before and it’s capabilities are very vast, but the most surprising part is that this is the only fictional part of the story. As Rollins mentions in his always riveting Author’s Note, almost all of the technology that is mentioned in the book apart from the AI itself and the other incidents that have occurred are all true and that’s what makes this book absolutely terrifying. These stories are supposed to be escapist fiction, not impending doom of our own reality, but it’s this touch of reality that makes this book both entertaining and thrilling while also serving as a word of caution.

If you are a James Rollins fan, you are going to adore this book and I don’t have to sing it’s praises. If you haven’t read the Sigma Force series before but love action-adventure novels with a touch of history and science, please go and checkout Sandstorm right away. This book was action packed, full of thrills and terrifying events but also very very emotional at its core. I don’t think I’ve ever cried reading one of these books before, but I did here and that’s what makes this installment truly special.

    2019-read 5-star contemporary-fiction


857 reviews986 followers

November 24, 2021

She has changed—but from a lesson taught to her earlier in her evolution, she knows the truth.
Change is ///good.
To be static is a path to stagnation and regression.
Life was evolution.
Even though I don’t normally read military thrillers, the Sigma Force novels have been a guilty pleasure for me over the years. They usually do a nice job of blending the action sequences with interesting history and science. Yes, they’re formulaic, and the bad guys are irredeemably eeeeeeevil while the good guys are effectively invincible. One team is working on a problem in the present, often involving the kidnapping of a person uniquely important to this book’s plot. Meanwhile, on a different continent, the other team is investigating a historical approach to solving the problem. Sooner or later there will be a traitor because ... there’s always at least one traitor.

And that’s all true in Crucible, except for one thing: there’s very little history here. Oh, there’s the traditional opening scene in some earlier century, and the bad guys have some vague connection to some ancient whatever. But they have very commonplace aims, and could have been any contemporary terror group. In previous books in the series, where the science side overwhelms the historical side or vice versa, that lack of balance usually drags down the story. Here, though, I found the whole Artificial Intelligence plot line so fascinating (including the Roko’s Basilisk discussion) that I didn’t miss a more robust historical connection. And the pairing of the concerns about creating an ethical AI with Gray’s and Seichan’s fears about becoming first time parents was surprisingly effective. Another solid entry in the series.

    2021 from-library


8,917 reviews978 followers

January 22, 2019

After a gut wrenching start to the book, Rollins delivers another fast paced Sigma Force thriller. In this one a young woman creates the next evolution in A.I. But a group called the Crucible is determined to do anything to get the device and send the world back to the Dark Ages. Monk and Gray must do whatever it takes to keep the device safe.

This was intense. It felt like the stakes were raised and the characters even more in danger. Maybe it was just because A.I. will become a real concern in the near future, this had more of a real feel to it.

Received a review copy from William Morrow and Edelweiss. All thoughts are my own and in no way influenced by the aforementioned.

    2019 edelweiss

Chris Wood

37 reviews1 follower

February 10, 2019

Sigma force? Sigma farce actually. If you are about to read this, thinking that it is another fantastic action packed Rollins jaunt involving our favourite greek lettered heroes, please don't. Stay back, retreat, theres nothing to read here!
Where to start, firstly this is not a novel, the book is comprised of an essay on neurological engineering into artificial intelligence with a very short story strapped on the back, Im struggling to keep my anger out of this review but honestly im fuming, what a waste of money and such a disappointment because I preordered and have been waiting for this book since it was first announced. The premise of Sigma operatives being kidnapped is great but sadly that is the extant of the great, the story itself is over in a few pages but between those pages there are reams and reams of technological jargon (that was frankly unintelligible to me) about AI and bizarre first person narratives from the AI's perspective. The book was extremely difficult to read and I almost quit numerous times, which I never do. The characters are dry and soulless, there is a complete lack of emotion throughout the book, the few action segments are by the numbers and boring. Seichan, that wily, seductive yet lethal former assassin is now a mother hen! 8 months pregnant and one minute she is wondering what to do because she can't fight out of her situation because she is pregnant, the next minute guess what? yup, she's fighting out of her situation. James Rollins' books have always pushed the boundaries of believe-ability but this book is nonsense. I could go on and on but im not prepared to waste anymore time on this.
I think that this book is a prime example of what happens when a publishing company forces a book from the author before it is ready to be seen, at the rear of the book the author thanks his pre release readers for helping the story with their ideas and critique! top tip for next time James, get rid of those pre readers, move away from married operatives with kids, I don't care about their family lives I am married with 3 kids I know about that, its my reality. There must be other operatives in Sigma, focus on them now, make them male and female operatives that are focused solely on their jobs, not settling down with each other, give Kowalski a command. We read these books for escapism, adventure and entertainment not to hear about family life.
This book stinks, you can do better James and for my money I deserve better.


1,138 reviews428 followers

March 1, 2019

Another excellent entry into the Sigma Force series! They’re not always entirely believable, but they’re always fun, and this one is no exception... though I’m not sure the characters would say it was fun for them. ;)

Makes me want to reread the whole series again!

    favorites mystery-thriller-mayhem netgalley-or-publisher

Anna Maria

171 reviews

November 16, 2020

Great plot, keeps you stuck on the book right from the beginning till the end making you continue wondering what will happen next. I will surely read the whole series of Rollins even if this book can be read as a standalone.

Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede

1,971 reviews837 followers

January 27, 2019

Commander Gray Pierce arrives home on Christmas Eve, only to find out that Seichan, his pregnant lover is gone and his best friend's wife Kat is on the brink of death. Kat is the only one that saw the attack, but how to get someone in a semi-comatose state to speak? A neurologist may have the answer to that. Meanwhile, a terrified young woman witnesses a massacre by a video link and realizes that her invention is the reason for this and now she has to run. These two events will link together and once again Sigma must stop evil people out for destruction.




9 reviews

January 27, 2019

Not even close to his best

I automatically order every Rollins novel to be delivered to my Kindle upon publication. One more of this caliber and I will require a sample first. While the premise was intriguing, the excess repetition rapidly became boring and the conclusion obvious. I understand the convention he was using in the development of Eve's intelligence, but a couple of examples would have sufficed.

Oh well, an occasional disappointment is inevitable. This is the first of his novels not to rate five stars from me so he is still on auto delivery for now.

Ahuva Traube

211 reviews

January 27, 2019

To be honest, I'm a James Rollins fan but I found it difficult getting through the book. It wasn't as enjoyable as many of his other books. I felt like he was throwing a whole lot at a wall and hoping something would stick. The whole idea of AI as the cause of man's destruction was done (equally poorly) by Dan Brown in his most recent book. I didn't love this book.

João Sampaio

129 reviews37 followers

March 2, 2020

Eu non creo nas meigas, mas habelas, hainas.
Não acredito em bruxas, mas que as há, há.

Malleus Maleficarum, Maléficas, earum heresim, ut phramea potentissima conterens.
O Martelo das Feiticeiras que destrói bruxas e a sua heresia com uma espada de dois gumes.

Inquisição espanhola;
Estados Unidos da América;
Inteligência artificial;
Tratamentos inovadores aos estados de consciência alterada, aos pacientes em estado comatoso;
Viagens no tempo e teoria quântica.

Tratou-se de uma leitura interessante, um enredo com frequentes reviravoltas. Uma história com algum suspense e que transcende a ficção, revelando-se demasiadamente, assustadoramente, muito próxima da realidade.
A humanidade, tal como a conhecemos está em perigo. É então que um grupo armado, a Força Sigma, com os seus infindáveis recursos, tem de intervir para salvar o mundo.
Um thriller onde viajamos pelos meandros da programação de computadores, inteligência artificial e os seus perigos para a humanidade. Os riscos inerentes ao desenvolvimento descontrolado de uma IA (Inteligência Artificial) avançada são o mote para o desenrolar dos acontecimentos.
Acompanhando o desenvolvimento da história, vão surgindo inúmeros e relevantes detalhes históricos, que se entrelaçam harmoniosamente.
O Forjador de Almas é uma interessante mistura entre a realidade e a ficção, onde se torna difícil destrinçar as duas.

"Tornou-se chocantemente óbvio que a nossa tecnologia excedeu a nossa humanidade."
Albert Einstein

Acabaremos por ser os arquitetos da nossa destruição.


2,092 reviews694 followers

February 9, 2019

I will admit, I am rubbish when it comes to understanding the workings of the computer. I do know how to turn them on an off, do the important things like write my blog and compile my shopping lists, but the rest leaves me with a blank look upon my face and the feeling that somehow I have been left behind. So, in James Rollins newest outing with the brave and intrepid members of Sigma Force, Crucible, left me lagging in netherspace or is it etherspace?

I did so enjoy the rapid pace of the story, the ideas and concepts it entailed, but understanding what was going on in the field of artificial intelligence just went whooshing right over my head.

After discovering Kat, his friend’s wife, their two children, and his pregnant girlfriend attacked while Kat is left for dead, Commander Pierce and the illustrious Sigma Force is on the trail on the assailants. Kat is left for dead and through the use of some pretty sophisticated technology, she, the only witness to the crime, is enlisted to help. Problem is she is technically brain dead.

The team swings into motion and this time wages war against the modern forces of the Spanish Inquisition. As history tells us, the Inquisition was a blood filled era, a time where everyone was thought to be a witch, a wizard, or a demon of some kind that members of the Church felt duty bound to rid the world of in none too pleasant a manner.

In this book, the modern incantation of the Inquisition is back in a group that decides the world is too evil and needs to be cleansed. Never a good sign really! In their quest to do so, they want to steal the AI work of a brilliant scientist whose work has produced an AI which resides, at least for now, inside her computer. Joining forces with Sigma are witches, seemingly sanctioned by the church who play a role in tracking down the bad guys, and striving to prevent the Inquisition members from attaining their goal, that of purifying the world. Things really are looking pretty dire for planet earth, but is it possible that the Sigma forces can succeed once again and save the day?

This is the fourteenth outing for the Sigma Force books and as always, Mr Rollins is able to combine areas in science that are currently occurring, with an intriguing story line. I enjoyed the book, although not as much as his others and I blame on my lack of computer savvy skills. Rollins’s fans, and I count myself on of those, will enjoy this fast paced drama that will blend amazing things being done today with a fast paced story line. However, Mr Rollins is quick to point out that humans might not benefit from the current breakthroughs especially if the breakthroughs become smarter than the people who discovered them.
My reviews can also be found here: http://yayareadslotsofbooks.wordpress...

    books-of-2019 library


2,138 reviews2,696 followers

February 28, 2019

3.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

James Rollins is one of those authors who has been on the periphery of my attention for a while now, and so when I was offered a chance to review his newest Sigma Force novel, I decided to give it a try. Although Crucible is the fourteenth installment of the series and I usually balk at the idea of starting anywhere other than the beginning, I was reassured when I learned that book can be enjoyed as a standalone.

At the University of Coimbra in Portugal, the first test of an advanced artificial intelligence program is abruptly halted when the laboratory in which the experiment is taking place is invaded by a group of armed cultists. All the scientists in the room were slaughtered except for a young researcher named Mara, who had been the one to develop the powerful AI known as Eve. Frightened and alone, Mara has no idea why her lab was targeted, but knows that whoever the attackers are, they will stop at nothing until she and her creation are destroyed.

Meanwhile, in Silver Spring, Maryland, Commander Gray Pierce and his friend Monk of Sigma Force return home after a night out on Christmas Eve to find a horrific sight. Gray’s house has been ransacked, and his pregnant girlfriend Seichan is missing. Monk’s wife Kat is found unconscious on the kitchen floor with a serious head wound, and the couple’s young daughters are also gone, stolen away by whoever took Seichan. These mysterious kidnappers seem to believe that Sigma Force is linked to the massacre at the University of Coimbra, leading Gray and Monk to travel to Europe to investigate the possible connection and to try to get their loved ones back. Unfortunately, while Kat may be able to glean some information about their enemies, her injuries have put her into a comatose state. Knowing that his wife would do anything to save their girls, Monk agrees for her to be moved to a state-of-the-art MRI suite at the Princeton Medical Center, where Sigma Force members Lisa Cummings and Painter Crowe endeavor to work round the clock with the neurologists there to unlock the answers in Kat’s brain using cutting edge technology.

As a first-timer to Rollins, the best way I can describe Crucible is a techno-thriller and special ops action/adventure hybrid that blurs the lines between science fiction and reality, somewhat in a similar vein as Michael Crichton or Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child. The main thrust behind this novel is the idea that a super artificial intelligence would eventually achieve self-awareness and one of its first orders of business would be protect itself against any kind of intervention from its human creators. However, the fear that a global catastrophe or even human extinction might occur if this happened has not halted the advancements in the AI field, which continue to be developed at an alarming pace.

In Crucible, Mara is the brilliant scientist who created Eve as an AI that would learn, evolve, and grow with empathy—presumably so that it would rethink going all Terminator on us if the program ever broke free from human control. But to the main baddies of this story, who are like the modern incarnation of the Spanish Inquisition, Mara and others like her who mess with the natural order of the world must be purged, as instructed in their venerated treatise, the Malleus Maleficarum, or the “Hammer of Witches”. To my surprise, while inundating us with details of high-tech gadgetry and complex scientific theory, the plot also includes elements that take us back to the seventeenth century for answers buried in the past.

Needless to say, there was a lot going on. Since this was also my first Sigma Force novel, I have no idea if this is standard for these books, but there were times where I felt completely overwhelmed with all the people, places, and things to keep track of. You had Mara on the run with her AI program. Kat in the neurology lab going through the most advanced and experimental neurological treatments. Seichan and the girls trying to stay alive in their kidnappers’ custody. Gray and Monk running all over Europe chasing down the clues to get their family members back. The main antagonists and their connection to secret society tracing back to Medieval Spain. Towards the end, Rollins even threw in some quantum physics and time travel for good measure, which I felt was a bit much. But again, this might be par for the course with these books, and for all I know, Crucible is simply serving up more of what fans want.

To its credit though, this book can indeed be enjoyed as a standalone despite the challenges of keeping up with all its moving parts. I felt only slightly disadvantaged when it came to not knowing the characters’ histories, and while I had some problems relating to their motivations and decisions, there was enough background information provided to make me at least understand. In a way, not being familiar with the characters also meant not being able to predict their behavior and actions, which might have actually increased the level of suspense and my enjoyment.

Overall, Crucible was wildly exhilarating, and as a reader coming to James Rollins for the first time, I also found his writing to be wonderfully readable and addictive. I also enjoyed his author’s note at the end describing all the topics he touched upon, revealing how there’s perhaps a lot more truth than fiction in many of the things he writes about. If this is the caliber of action, thrills and suspense I can expect from a Sigma Force novel, then I definitely wouldn’t mind reading another one after this.

    review-copy thriller-suspense

David Eppenstein

732 reviews177 followers

January 22, 2023

This book is the 15th addition to James Rollins' Sigma Series. I have read all of Rollins' books even the ones written prior to the start of the Sigma Series which, to me, evidence a misspent youth watching entirely too many old 1950's sci-fi movies featuring horrendous monsters created by ill-advised atomic bomb tests. Those earlier works weren't entirely to my taste but they were gripping and they were fun and that's why I read Rollins. Rollins is one of 3 or 4 authors I started to read and follow mostly for entertainment but from the beginning of his Sigma Series you are also in for the treat of actually learning something along the way. These books are thrillers but all of the plots of these books are based on some scientific fact or device that actually exists and is not some sort of fictional tidbit of make believe science. Rollins puts real science into his fiction and then uses this science to weave a plot that his Sigma team is challenged to deal with for the exhilaration of his readers. The Sigma team is composed of people many of which are former military but all are equipped with some expertise in a scientific field. The team is a branch of DARPA which is a real agency of the federal government devoted to scientific research and development. Now the part that may be a little too James Bondsy is the fact that the Sigma Team Headquarters is located under the Smithsonian Castle of the Washington Mall. The books are supposed to be fun after all so I think we can overlook this little bit schtick and move on.

In my opinion this latest book in the series is by far the best and I am giving it 5 stars. The science used for this book is Artificial Intelligence (AI). The story involves a young Portuguese woman, Mara, that is a computer genius and has created an innovative new AI. Attempts are made by competing villains to steal and weaponize this AI. In the course of the story the reader is introduced to the real aspects of AI, its components, its evolutionary history, the present state of its development, its potential for good and for harm. The story has many of the same facets that Mary Shelley's

Frankenstein had for 19th century readers, however, this monster has the potential to actually become reality.

The story also demonstrates some interesting neurological treatments for people suffering devastating brain injuries resulting in brain death. Again, the science and treatments depicted are based on real world innovations that either exist or are in various stages of experimentation. Rollins' science is real and his notes at the book's end distinguishes between what was real and what was not.

I do not wish to give you too much detail about the plot of the book as I do not wish to destroy the fun of the book. However, I would repeat that I have read all the Sigma books in order and would caution against entering this series with this book. Of course you can do that and the book would still be enjoyable but you will miss the level of suspense and enjoyment that I have experienced. The Sigma Team has evolved over the course of the series. Members have changed, members have been added, relationships have been formed, villains have been removed and added and returned. This series evolution adds considerably to the reader's reaction to these Sigma stories and it would be a shame not to experience the full value of these books. Rollins will give you enough background information for you to enjoy the book but if you are really interested then start with the first Sigma book

Sandstorm and go from there. Enjoy.

    4-or-5-star-fiction fiction signed-collection

Ryan Steck

Author5 books400 followers

November 26, 2018

James Rollins’ (The Demon Crown, 2017, etc.) 14th Sigma Force novel delivers such a shocking conclusion that the author actually starts off with a warning to readers to proceed at their own risk.

What starts as a lighthearted opening set in Silver Spring, Maryland, soon morphs into something tragic. Commander Grayson Pierce and Monk, his best friend and colleague, talk over drinks at a small tavern on Christmas Eve. Monk, who was recently fitted with a newer, more advanced prosthetic, uses DARPA’s latest tech to earn the duo free drinks by flipping random coins and consistently predicting whether it’ll come up heads or tails.

While the shenanigans lead to a confrontation with a group of drunk patrons, it’s nothing compared to what they discover back home.

Returning to Pierce’s house–where Monk, his wife, and their kids are staying for the holidays–Gray discovers that his home has been ransacked. Worse, Monk’s wife, Kat, is found on the kitchen floor covered in blood after barely surviving a vicious attack that left her in a coma. Seichan, Gray’s pregnant lover, is gone. So too are Monk’s two girls–they all vanished without a trace into the night.

Just when it seems things can’t get worse for the duo, they’re called into the office by Sigma Force Director Painter Crowe, who has more bad news.

At the same time that Kat was attacked and Seichan and the girls were abducted, a group of . . .

Continue reading this review here:


3,367 reviews530 followers

February 9, 2019

At the heart of this installment of the Sigma Force series is a scary scenario: that artificial intelligence will eventually develop to an extent to protect itself against its human creators. Eve is invented by a Spanish scientist (Mara), and during her introduction to her sponsors, they are slaughtered by an ancient religious cult of witch-hunters, who want Eve to promote their agenda. Eve's last transmission is a Sigma sign. Meanwhile, the Sigma family is attacked: one left for dead and three others kidnapped by another party interested in Eve, who is partially funded by DARPA (like Sigma), and Gray and Monk are sent to Europe to find answers. Mara has to accelerate Eve's learning so she can make the best decisions for humanity as Eve falls into the hands of the twisted cult, wreaking havoc in Paris. I especially liked the setting in the Catacombs, which is a very strange and eerie place for those who have never been, and the medical procedures used on Kat to find clues as to the kidnapper's identity.



196 reviews10 followers

July 6, 2020

The Sigma Force books are one of my favorite franchises. While this wasn't mu favorite of the series it's still really good.

Nice mix of early history and Sci-fi. Battle between Spanish Inquistion cultists, A Russian Terrorist Cell, and Sigma Force over what could be the most dangerous weapon ever designed.

    books-i-own police-crime-thrillers


597 reviews27 followers

May 17, 2019

The subject matter has SO MUCH POTENTIAL, but the author's product was pure crap because it is SO over the top. I'm surprised Sylvester Stallone didn't show up for an arm wrestling contest.

The men who bully James Bond must retrieve the world's greatest Artificial Intelligence machine with the help of their supermodel/brain surgeon wives. (They are all part of a super secret military organization that recruited them after they were kicked out of the military for anger issues and striking an officer--just the sort of thing black ops looks for.)
Never mind that the device was built by a linguist from a village with almost no was built for a...wait for it...a bunch of witches! Yes a coven in need of AI.

It turns out the rustic witch's quantum & laser computer was the Spanish Inquisition whose chief henchman...CAN FEEL NO PAIN except for the emotional pain when he lets down his high priest. (Cue Dan Brown's albino)
After raiding the Inquisition's headquarters in where else...the bone caverns under Paris, we're treated to a stolen helicopter chase that involves machine gunning tourists as they circle each other around the Eiffel Tower.

A Russian super spy (who can call our heroes on a private channel aboard an F-15 fighter jet over the middle of the Atlantic) just happens to kidnap all their children. Luckily thanks to a brain dead patient, the blurring of lines between necromancy and MRI scanners, and a crumpled up script found in the dumpster outside the "Grey's Anatomy" writer's building, the cavalry arrives well after our orphan-thieves-guild/supermodel/assassin escapes with a daring motorcycle the pajamas...with a small child.

If you think I'm exaggerating, I haven't even included the machine sentience, rogue operator, autonomous prosthetics, or time travel.
The sad part is many "outlandish" features in this book are plausible, possible, and even in early phases of development. But the way the author combines them makes seem less authentic than fairies and magical wizards.

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.


437 reviews38 followers

September 7, 2021

An absolute home run. Rollins never fails to disappoint, but this Sigma adventure was a real treat. The technological aspects of this novel were pivotal to its success and the detail captured was comprehensive without being overdone. Something not easily achieved. Writers hoping to deliver an exceptional techno-thriller tend to either overindulge in the tech aspects of the tale, or skimp to the point where they lose credibility. Rollins continues to walk this delicate line with precision and finesse to deliver a spellbinding thriller that keeps the pages flying by from begging to end.

هادی امینی

Author27 books88 followers

February 17, 2020

خیلی میتونست تراژیک باشه، ولی برای من حداقل خیلی استرس داشت.
کت تقریباً مُرد. مونک نزدیک بود بمیره. سیچان باردار گروگان گرفته شد و نزدیک بود خودش و دختر مونک رو برای اینکه دوباره گیر گروگانگیرها نیفتند، بکشه.
کمی هم تنه به تنه خاستگاه دن براون میزد، البته فقط از جنبه حضور یک هوش مصنوعی پیشرفته در داستان.
صد صفحه آخر رو دیگه یک نفس خوندم و دائم هم میخواستم کل کتاب رو نصفه کاره ول کنم. چون تحمل بعضی چیزها رو نداشتم. ولی میدونستم نویسنده، عادت به کشتن شخصیت‌های اصلی نداره.

    رمان ماجرایی


1,114 reviews35 followers

November 20, 2018

4.5 stars

The Sigma series can always be counted on to deliver a great read and this addition to the series is no exception. In this fourteenth installment, the whole gang is back for Christmas but things go bad quickly and—in classic Rollins fashion—they split up to figure things out. Though its format is similar to the previous books in the series, there's a lot about this book that feels new. Maybe it's just that these characters I've been reading about for over a decade have families and are settling down. Or maybe it was the crazy science, this time focusing on artificial intelligence, that blew this book out of the water. I don't want to give anything away so I'll say nothing more than this is uncharted territory for Rollins and I hope all of this is only theoretical. *nervous titter*

The science here is really the star. It's all so fascinating. I love that even if things seem a little farfetched, Rollins never jumps the shark. There is always scientific data of one kind or another to back it up and it feels so possible, if maybe not always likely. I can't recommend this series highly enough, though I would suggest starting at the beginning with Sandstorm and working one's way through them all chronologically.

I received a copy of this book from Edelweiss and HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.

Shariful Sadaf

195 reviews99 followers

May 29, 2020

করোনা লকডাউনে একটানা সিগমা ফোর্স সিরিজের ১৪ টা বই শেষ করলাম এখন এই সিরিজটা একটা ভালোবাসায় পরিণত হয়েছে। ২-১ টা বই ছাড়া পুরো সিরিজে আর বিরক্তি আসেনি। এই সিরিজের আর বই আমার কালেকশনে নেই বাজারে মাত্র ১ টা মাত্র বই লাস্ট ওডেসি আছে সব কিছু ঠিক ঠাক হলে কিনে আনতে হবে। ক্রুসিবল বইটা সিরিজের অন্যতম সেরা বই ভালো। প্রচুর থ্রিল পাওয়া যায়, হার না মানা সংগ্রাম খুবই ভালো লাগায়। সেইচান আর ক্যাটের দুই বাচ্চা সহ অপহরণ করে গিল্টের সদস্য। ক্যাটের অবস্থা কোমায় চলে যায় এবং মরতে করতে কিভাবে যেনো লেখক আবার বাঁচিয়ে তোলেন যাই হোক এই বইটা শেষে লাস্ট ওডেসি পড়ার আগ্রহ বাড়িয়েছে।


1,452 reviews45 followers

January 26, 2019

I liked the characters but I was a but lost. Seeing as though this was the 14th book in the series and I hadnt read any before hand i wasnt connected with the characters. I liked the ancient history and symbols ♾

Jordan Anderson

1,525 reviews41 followers

February 6, 2019

It was bound to happen. After 24 novels (14 in the “Sigma” series alone and the 3 “Order of the Sanguine” series that I don’t bother to count as true “James Rollins canon), Rollins hit a dead end and for the first time In a very successful and ridiculously consistent career, Crucible becomes one of the dreaded “duds of the year”.

I’ve been a fan of Rollins for years so the fact that Crucible was such a bummer and let down, actually kind of hurts. The fact that I have to rate it so low and go on about why I didn’t like it hurts even more.

I think the one of the main issues with Crucible is the wildly divergent storylines that, in a instance, don’t come together in typical Rollins fashion. They do have some vague interweaving themes and the conclusion does sorta kinda wrap things up, but it was a huge stretch, relying on way too many deus ex machina moments and feeling far too weak to lay claim to Rollins’s usual deft skills at making everything flow together.

But by far the biggest problem revolves around the story itself. Reading more like an anti-AI argument than an actual thriller, Crucible meanders around the theme of true AI and its dangers. It’s a concept that’s been done to death in films and other books, so it’s not necessarily foreign territory, but Rollins packs so much technobabble and such crazy theorems into this one (along with a few confusing chapters from the POV of Eve, the AI) that it just becomes gobbledygook that isn’t fun to read in the slightest. The eventual Dénouement doesn’t help things either.

I thought long and hard about giving Crucible 3 stars. Part of that is an unashamed favoritism for James Rollins. The other part of that is that in all the years of reading his novels (once again, not counting the craptastic mess that was “The Order of the Sanguines” series...which I blame on Rebecca Cantrell), I’ve never given anything less than 3 stars to any of them. I’ve enjoyed pretty much everything he’s written and even the so-so books (6th Extinction and The Eye if God) were at least entertaining enough to keep me invested. The same just can’t be true of Crucible.

It really does give me a sinking feel in my stomach to do this to Rollins’s newest book. I’m gonna screw up the average rating on both Goodreads and Amazon, and I’m gonna look like a jerk to everyone. But in all honesty, I just can’t do it.

If you do happen to somehow read this, I’m sorry James. I really am. I’m still a huge fan though and I’m already eagerly anticipating next year’s novel...maybe a standalone...?

    2-stars 2019 action

Amy Bruestle

273 reviews218 followers

March 11, 2019


This is the first book I have ever read by James Rollins...and I can definitely say that I’m glad I read it! I won it through a Goodreads Giveaway in exchange for an honest review...

Since I had other books I was working on when this came in the mail, I let my Dad read it first. He read the first hundred pages and called it quits and comparing it to Dan Brown’s symbolic-type novels. Generally we agree on most book-related things, so this had me worried that I was in for a boring and complicated read. Let me just say....MY DAD WAS WRONG! This book was EXCELLENT and wonderfully written! Captured with just enough spunk and action to keep it interesting and non-predictable without getting overly complicated and confusing. I thoroughly enjoyed this.

It was a bit slow in the beginning, so I can understand why he had trouble getting started, but for those of us that give books more of a chance (lol) we are rewarded with awesome stories!

If you are looking for a new book to read, or a new author, add this to your TBR List! I am looking forward to reading more my James Rollins soon!

    books-i-own giveaways


2,088 reviews213 followers

January 19, 2020

É véspera de Natal e o comandante Gray Pierce chega a casa com Monk e descobre que foi assaltada e que a sua namorada, grávida, Scheichan, desapareceu, Kat, mulher de Monk, está gravemente ferida na cozinha, e as duas filhas de Kat e Monk também desapareceram.
Temos também, um crime violento, com várias mulher, que ocorreu, nada mais nada menos, que nas catacumbas da biblioteca de Coimbra, e que percebemos que está relacionado com bruxas. Isso mesmo, bruxas 😉
É claro que temos todos os ingredientes habituais dos livros do autor. Muita acção, muitos perigos, e uma mistura perfeita de história e inquisição espanhola, com investigações científicas e até Inteligência Artificial.
Podem achar estranho esta mistura de temas que, aparentemente, não se relacionam, mas James Rollins consegue fazer uma ligação fantástica e manteve-se sempre agarrada ao livro.

Uma leitura viciante e intensa, e até aterradora, afinal de contas, poderemos estar a caminhar, muito rapidamente, para esta realidade de Inteligência Artificial. E ainda com o bónus de parte da acção se passar em Portugal 😄

Não poderia ter começado melhor as minhas leituras de 2020! Fabuloso!

    aquisições-2019 livros-2020 meus


3,528 reviews24 followers

January 29, 2020

Worst entry yet in the series. It's no longer adventure or thriller - it's fantasy. And the fantasy is a delusional one. At least three main characters should be dead, but for the magic plot device of 'computer fixed it'. It's a little weird for a male author to write female Mary Sues, but it's inexcusable to do so so poorly. Prog politics infests the young and beautiful polyglot computer genius, A sop to the LGXYZ crowd is thrown in at the end, and the casual murder of an unarmed prisoner by our 'hero?' is not even hand-washed away, its completely ignored because grrlpower revenge.


Tim Prilucik

94 reviews1 follower

February 4, 2019

Easily the worst SIGMA book written to date. Too full of jargon, sloppy, poor character development. Just when I thought Rollins was going to shock us with a main character death, a miraculous end saves the day. This series is becoming tired and outrageous. A major shakeup is needed foe its survival.


317 reviews74 followers

September 30, 2019

3.5 stars

Crucible (Sigma Force, #14) (2024)


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