The Maze Runner

Having read the 4 books in the Maze Runner series I was waiting for this movie for a long time and I didn’t get disappointed. 

I knew that just like Harry Potter and The Hunger Games there would be some changes moving from the book to the big screen but those changes where really well made and ended up giving more action to the movie. The grievers look different from what I imaged but still have the nails and the robotic feeling and the escape at the end was made by helicopter as opposed to the bus from the book but it was a great way to show us the maze from above in a impressive scene. 

The acting was good specially considering the age of the cast. I already knew Kaya Scodelario from Skins, Will Poulter from We’re The Millers and Thomas Brodie-Sangster from Game of Thrones but the rest of the cast is completely unkwoned to me. 

The story follows the same path to the book and I’m relived to see that unlike other movies where they try to smooth things and change the tone of the movie to make it lighter and more approachable that didn’t happen in this movie and the final scene in the lab actually surprised me with all the bodies but for a while I was afraid they would let Chuck live but then Gally showed up like in the book so that was a good move. 

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Here’s the plot from Wikipedia:

When Thomas wakes up trapped in a massive maze with a group of other boys, he has no memory of the outside world other than strange dreams about a mysterious organization known as W.C.K.D. Only by piecing together fragments of his past with clues he discovers in the maze can Thomas hope to uncover his true purpose and a way to escape.

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I read that 20th Century Fox already gave the green light for the sequel The Scorch Trials and it seems Wes Ball will come back to direct it wich is really good news. 

Cast:

Dylan O’Brien as Thomas
Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Newt
Kaya Scodelario as Teresa Agnes
Will Poulter as Gally
Ki Hong Lee as Minho
Blake Cooper as Chuck
Aml Ameen as Alby
Alexander Flores as Winston
Jacob Latimore as Jeff
Chris Sheffield as Ben
Dexter Darden as Frypan
Randall D. Cunningham as Clint
Joe Adler as Zart
Patricia Clarkson as Chancellor Ava Paige

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Let’s Be Cops

Both Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans, Jr. are regulars on the TV series New Girl and they have great chemistry so when I first saw the trailer I decided to go watch it if there was nothing better on. 

The movie is surprisingly not funny for something labeled as comedy. 

My favorite character as to be Patrol Officer Segars played by Rob Riggle who does a better job than the 2 leads. 

I’m not wasting more time writing about this movie. If you’re looking for a comedy this isn’t it. 

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Here’s the plot from Wikipedia:

Two long time pals, Justin, a reject video game designer, and Ryan, a washed up college quarterback, recall a pact they once made: if they hadn’t “made it” in Los Angeles by the time they were thirty, they would head back to their Ohio hometown. While exiting a bar, their car is hit by a vehicle full of Albanians, who intimidate them into doing nothing.

Justin attempts to pitch a game about policemen, but his boss bullies him down. Later, Ryan convinces him to use the police uniforms from his presentation as costumes for their college reunion party. Upon attending, both are confronted with their failures and mutually accept to honor their pact. As they walk home, they are treated like real cops and decide to enjoy the gag. It allows Justin to finally get the attention of Josie, a waitress to whom he is attracted and who works at a local diner, Georgie’s.

Ryan decides to take the hoax further than one night. He learns official procedures and buys a used police cruiser, modifying it to resemble the genuine article. Although reluctant, Justin agrees to continue the charade, and through it begins a relationship with Josie. Ryan gets revenge on the Albanians who hit his car, unaware that they are mobsters blackmailing the owner of Georgie’s. During their many shenanigans, Ryan and Justin end up on a real distress call with Patrol Officer Segars. The experience shakes Justin, who realizes they face serious jail time if exposed. He tries to “retire,” but gets a phone call from Josie about a man frequently harassing her at work. It turns out to be Mossi Kasic, leader of the Albanian mobsters. Once more, the pair are intimidated into doing nothing.

Via Segars, Ryan obtains surveillance equipment to gather evidence and put Mossi away, along with an unidentified partner who has been investigating the pair. Ryan convinces Justin to do an undercover operation to obtain information on an incriminating shipment of crates. During the mission, they discover the crates full of SWAT equipment, along with secret tunnels in which they are shipped that run between Mossi’s club and Georgie’s restaurant. This necessitates the acquisition of the restaurant, explaining the blackmail. After a few close encounters, they barely escape. Fed up, Justin insists on mailing the evidence anonymously, but Ryan, finding purpose in his life again, is set on delivering it personally. They fight, and part ways.

Ryan brings his evidence to Segars, who recommends it go to the highest authority, which is Detective Brolin. Unfortunately, Brolin is actually Mossi’s partner. After instantly recognizing each other, Ryan makes it out of the station, but his sudden threat has blown their cover. Meanwhile, Justin decides to man up and, in uniform, assertively pitches his game again. One of Brolin’s officers shows up to try and kill him, inadvertently helping to sell the pitch. Ryan is abducted, and Mossi sends a threatening message to Justin. Overwhelmed, Justin pleas to Segars for help after admitting everything. He also confesses to Josie, which he had made previous attempts to do, and she disgustedly leaves him.

Justin goes into the tunnels alone while Ryan pits Mossi and Brolin against each other, prompting Mossi to shoot and kill the detective. Justin attempts to save his friend, but is overpowered. Segars arrives, causing Mossi and his crew to retreat. Segars admonishes the duo for their deception and orders them to leave before going after the mobsters without waiting for backup. Ryan and Justin agree they can’t abandon him, and suit up with the SWAT equipment. They save Segars, but he becomes incapacitated. The pair then face Mossi alone, during which the two reconcile. They fail to take him out, luckily, Segars is able to show up and shoots Mossi in the back of the chest, killing him.

Thanks to the respective confidence and motivation gained during their impersonations, Justin has become a successful game developer, while Ryan graduates from the police academy as a true, fully fledged member of the LAPD. Justin apologizes to Josie, and after she forgives him, they rekindle their relationship. Ryan, however, still has not given up on their fun as cops together, and convinces Justin to don the fake uniform once again and join him on patrol.

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Cast:

Jake Johnson as Ryan O’Malley
Damon Wayans, Jr. as Justin Miller
Rob Riggle as Patrol Officer Segars
Nina Dobrev as Josie
Keegan-Michael Key as Pupa
James D’Arcy as Mossi Kasic
Andy García as Detective Brolin
Jon Lajoie as Todd Connors

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If I Stay

If I Stay is based on a book by the same name writen by Gayle Forman

The book is writen with the use of flashbacks and the movie works in the same way causing it to break pace and needing to remind us at witch point of the Mia/Adam relationship we are at that time. 

The big selling point for me to go see this movie was Chloe Moretz and she doesn’t dissapointed delivering a solid performance from the begining to the end but the same can’t be said of her costars. 

The story is the same as the book and as the same simple and uninspired ending. Sometimes the movie adaptations of books offer something more like in the Hunger Games movies where we get to see President Snow point of view for a while but If I Stay never did that and decided to play it safe. 

One of the major themes in both the book and movie is music and we spend a lot of time during the movie listening to either Mia or Adam playing. Before watching the movie it saw an interview of Moretz saying that she tryed to learn to play the cello but couldn’t so they used someone else to play the cello and then put Moretz’s head on top of that person so every time Mia played the cello my mind would focus on this. 

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Here’s the plot from Wikipedia:

Mia Hall (Chloë Grace Moretz) and her family are getting ready to go on with their normal day activities when it is announced on the radio that school has been cancelled. Mia’s dad Denny (Joshua Leonard) is a teacher and as a result of the snow day doesn’t have to go to work. Mia’s mom Kat (Mireille Enos), a travel agent, decides to call in sick and along with her family decide to visit Mia’s grandparents who live on a farm. It’s also revealed that Mia once dated an older, popular up-and-coming rock-star named Adam Wilde (Jamie Blackley), who she broke up with months back.

The story then flash-backs to Mia’s early life with a rocker dad who was in a band when she was younger, and an inexperienced mom; one day they take Mia to a music class where Mia decides that wants to start playing the cello. After her parents see that Mia is passionate about the cello they hire a teacher to help her play, while Mia’s mom is now pregnant with Teddy (Jakob Davies), who, to Mia’s belief, was the reason for her father’s departure from being in a band.

Years later with an adolescent Mia who is still passionate about the cello is playing at school in the band room where Adam peeks in on her playing, seeing her for the first time, leading him to ask Kim (Liana Liberato), Mia’s best-friend, for her name. Adam then asks Mia out on a date to the symphony, where they show mutual affection towards one another.

The story flashes-back to current time with the family driving to the grandparents farm when their car collides with an oncoming truck. Mia now appears to have an out-of-body experience and sees her body laying on the road while paramedics seem to be trying to help her other family members as well. Mia tries to ask a paramedic what is happening, but realizes that no one can see or hear her. Mia, now in the hospital panics as she doesn’t know the current status about any of her family members when they take her in for surgery. A comforting nurse (Aisha Hinds) tells Mia that it is up to her whether or not she wants to stay.

The story flashes-back once again to Mia attending one of Adam’s concerts with his band Willamette Stone, where she doesn’t seem to fit in with anyone. Adam’s band is steadily gaining more recognition and gets signed to a label, which starts to put a strain on their relationship due to the travel schedule. While at dinner Grandpa suggests that Mia should apply to Juilliard, an idea which she initially rebuffs, but ends up further researching. She eventually lands an audition in San Francisco. It takes a while for Mia to tell Adam about her audition and when she does he becomes upset and leaves for a week long gig.

The story now focuses on the surgery of Mia. She sees a doctor speaking to her grandparents who are standing outside of a pediatric room where Teddy lays in a coma-like state. Adam comes to the hospital to see Mia, but is not allowed in as he isn’t immediate family. It is then revealed that Mia’s mom Kat was pronounced dead on arrival, and her dad Denny died on the operating table. She also later finds out that Teddy died from a subdural hematoma. Grandpa talks to Mia, revealing that her father gave up being in a band because he wanted to give her a better life and be a better father. He also, tearfully, gives Mia his permission to move on from this life if she wants, which promotes Mia to decide that she wants to die so that she can join her family on the other side.

The story now flashes-back to Mia at her audition for Julliard, she plays the best she has ever played leading her to think that if accepted she will go. After a short reconcile with Adam, they talk about the huge possibility of her going to Juilliard, which ultimately leads to them fully breaking up and going their separate ways.

After some time, Mia is considered healthy enough to have more visitors. Mia, who after learning of her immediate family’s death, and her grandfather’s words, is shown symbolically about to let go, when she hears music of her favorite composer Ludwig van Beethoven. It is revealed that Adam has come to see Mia, playing his iPod. With him he brings a letter from Juilliard that she has got in, he also begins to play a song for her, letting her know that he will do whatever it takes to get her to stay, even if it means not being with him. Mia, after flashing back through all her happy moments in her life, opens her eyes and sees Adam.

Cast:

Chloë Grace Moretz as Mia Hall
Jamie Blackley as Adam Wilde
Mireille Enos as Kat Hall
Joshua Leonard as Denny Hall
Stacy Keach as Grandpa
Lauren Lee Smith as Willow
Liana Liberato as Kim Schein
Aisha Hinds as Nurse Ramirez
Jakob Davies as Teddy Hall

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Wish I Was Here

10 years after Garden State Zach Braff comes back with Wish I Was Here. The movie got a lot of attention for being financed through the crowdfunding website Kickstarter. 

Critics can’t agree on wether this is a good or bad movie. I for one liked it even though I think that it could have been so much better given the cast and the type of story that resembles that of Garden State. 

The movie is interesting and there’s moments to laugh and other moments more dramatic and they combine well but there are elements that I didn’t get in there too. 

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Here’s the plot from Wikipedia:

Wish I Was Here is the story of Aidan Bloom, a struggling actor, father and husband, who at 35 is still trying to find his identity; a purpose for his life. He winds up trying to home school his two children when his father can no longer afford to pay for private education and the only available public school is on its last legs. Through teaching them about life his way, Aidan gradually discovers some of the parts of himself he couldn’t find.

Cast:

Zach Braff as Aidan Bloom
Kate Hudson as Sarah Bloom
Joey King as Grace Bloom
Pierce Gagnon as Tucker Bloom
Mandy Patinkin as Gabe Bloom
Josh Gad as Noah Bloom
Ashley Greene as Janine
Jim Parsons as Paul
Donald Faison as Anthony 

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The Giver by Lois Lowry

I only heard of this book because of the movie of the same name based on it. I also heard a lot of people saying good things about it so I decided to give it a try. 

The book starts fine and sets these dystopian world in a very interesting way leaving some parts for later like the realisation that there’s no colour in the world but then it fails to deliver. The idea that memories are carried by just one person and that person will have to pass them onto another and if that person dies or goes far enough those memories will go back to the citizens of the Community is just ridiculous. It’s easier to believe in Magic and Hogwarts. 

Writer Debra Doyle made a good point saying “Personal taste aside, The Giver fails the Plausibility Test”, and that “Things are the way they are (in the novel) because The Author is Making A Point; things work out the way they do because The Author’s Point Requires It”.

The Giver idea that one person holds all the memories makes no sense. Why not have the original Giver write the memories down on books? 

I heard the movie had many things changed starting with the age of the characters that went up from 11 to 17 and looking at the poster I see that Odeya Rush who plays Fiona is in focus and close to Jonas so the ending may change from Jonas rescuing the baby to him rescuing Fiona or both of them rescuing the baby. 

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Here’s the plot from Wikipedia:

Jonas, who is eleven years old, is apprehensive about the upcoming Ceremony where he will be assigned his job or his “assignment in the community.” In his society little or no privacy is allowed; even private houses have two-way intercoms which can be used to listen in for infractions of the rules. However, the rules appear to be readily accepted by all, including Jonas. So it is without real protest that he initially accepts his selection as the Receiver of Memories, a job he is told will be filled with pain and the training for which will isolate him from his family and friends forever.

Yet, under the guidance of the present Receiver, a surprisingly kind man who has the same rare, pale eyes as Jonas, the boy absorbs memories that induce for the first time feelings of true happiness and love. Also, for the first time, Jonas knows what it is to see a rainbow, and to experience snow and the thrill of riding a sled down a hill. But then he is given the painful memories: war, pain, death, and starvation. These are memories of the Community’s deep past. Jonas learns that the Community engineered a society of “sameness” to protect its people against this past, yet he begins to understand the tremendous loss he and his people have endured by giving their memories away, embracing “sameness”, and using “climate control”.

In his “community,” which is under extreme control, there is no suffering, hunger, war, and also no color, music, or love. Everything is controlled by “the Elders,” who are looked upon in a very positive light, though they control whom you will marry, whom you receive as children, and what you will be “assigned” as a job. The people in the community do not have the freedom to choose. Jonas aches with this newfound wisdom and his desire for a life Elsewhere blossoms. But the final blow for Jonas comes when he asks the Receiver (who now calls himself “The Giver”) what “release” is. The Giver says that he could show him, and allows Jonas to watch a present-day tape of his own father, a seemingly kind and loving man, “releasing” a baby twin by giving him a lethal injection. Like any other “aberration” from sameness, identical twins are against the rules, so the smaller of the two is dispatched like garbage, without the one who conducted the release understanding the true meaning of the action. Together, Jonas and the Giver come to the understanding that the time for change is now, that the Community has lost its way and must have its memories returned. The only way to make this happen is if Jonas leaves the Community, at which time the memories he has been given will flood back into the people. Jonas wants the Giver to escape with him, but the Giver insists that he will be needed to help the people manage the memories, or they will destroy themselves. The Giver also wants to remain behind so that when his work is done, he can be with his daughter: Rosemary, a girl with pale eyes who ten years earlier had failed in her training to become the new Receiver of Memories and who had asked to be released (the memories of pain and loneliness having overwhelmed her).

The Giver devises a plot in which Jonas will escape to Elsewhere, an unknown land that exists beyond the boundaries of the Communities. The Giver will make it appear as if Jonas drowned in the river so that the search for him will be limited. In the meantime, the Giver will give Jonas memories of strength and courage to sustain him and save up his meals as Jonas’ food and water supply for his journey.

Their plan is changed when Jonas learns that Gabriel, the baby staying with his family unit, will be “released” the following morning. Jonas has become attached to the baby, who also has unusual pale eyes, and feels he has no choice but to escape with the infant. Without the memories of strength and courage promised by the Giver, Jonas steals his father’s bike and leaves with Gabriel to find the Elsewhere. Their escape ride is fraught with dangers, and the two are near death from cold and starvation when they reach the border of what Jonas believes must be Elsewhere. Using his ability to “see beyond,” a gift that he does not quite understand, he finds a sled waiting for him at the top of a snowy hill. He and Gabriel ride the sled down towards a house filled with coloured lights and warmth and love and a Christmas tree, and for the first time he hears something he knows must be music. The ending is ambiguous, with Jonas depicted as experiencing symptoms of hypothermia. This leaves his and Gabriel’s future unresolved. However, their fate is revealed in Messenger, a companion novel written much later.

In 2009 at the National Book Festival, the author Lois Lowry joked during a Q&A, “Jonas is alive, by the way. You don’t need to ask that question.”

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The Expendables 3

This was another one of those times where I went to see a sequel without having watched the first movie and in this case the second as well. 

I chose to see The Expendables 3 because nothing else was particularly good except for the ones I had already seen and even considering this is the third movie in the franchise I didn’t think the story would be so good and connected to the previous ones that I couldn’t follow it. 

It’s not that the story isn’t interesting and I assume the Stonebanks story may have come from the previous movies but this movies tend to be more about the action than the complicated story that other movies have. That being said I liked the action scenes but the characters felt empty and I ended up enjoying Antonio Banderas Galgo the most. 

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Here’s the plot from Wikipédia: 

The Expendables led by Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) and formed by Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), Gunnar Jensen (Dolph Lundgren) and Toll Road (Randy Couture) extract former member Doctor Death (Wesley Snipes), a knives specialist and team medic, from a military prison and recruit him to assist them in intercepting a shipment of bombs meant to be delivered to a warlord in Somalia. Arriving there, they reunite with Hale Caesar (Terry Crews), who directs them to the drop point, where Ross is surprised to find out that the arms trader providing the bombs is Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson), who co-founded the Expendables, but later betrayed the team to profit off of illegal weapons dealing, and was since believed to be dead. In the ensuing firefight, the Expendables are forced to retreat due to Stonebanks’ men’s advanced weaponry, and Caesar is severely injured in the process.

Blaming himself, Ross leaves for Las Vegas, where he enlists retired mercenary Bonaparte (Kelsey Grammer) to help him find younger, mercenaries to join the team. The recruits include ex-Marine John Smilee (Kellan Lutz), nightclub bouncer Luna (Ronda Rousey), computer expert Thorn (Glen Powell) and weapons expert Mars (Victor Ortiz). Skilled sharpshooter Galgo (Antonio Banderas) advocates to be included in the team, but Ross turns him down. The new team rendezvous with CIA operative Max Drummer (Harrison Ford), the Expendables’ missions manager, and Ross’ rival Trench Mauser (Arnold Schwarzenegger), who have traced Stonebanks to Romania, where he is set to make a deal with another arms trader. Ross and the new recruits infiltrate his office building and capture him in order to deliver him to Drummer, but Stonebanks’ men catch up to them and fire a missile at the team’s van. Ross is thrown into a ravine, while Smilee, Luna, Thorn and Mars are captured by Stonebanks.

Stonebanks sends Ross a video, challenging Ross to come after him. While preparing to leave, Ross is found by Galgo, and agrees to give him a chance. Christmas, Jensen, Road and Doc likewise join his efforts, and they raid the building where Stonebanks is keeping the recruits and rescue them. Stonebanks has rigged the place with explosives, but Thorn is able to use a battery-powered device to delay the countdown. Drummer and Mauser arrive to help them alongside retired member Yin Yang (Jet Li), and the team begrudingly works together to kill Stonebanks’ men and destroy his weapons. Ross and Stonebanks fight hand-to-hand, and Ross finally kills him just as the batteries of Thorn’s device run out and the entire building begins to collapse. The team makes it to Drummer’s helicopter and flies away to safety.

Caesar recovers from his wounds, and Ross officially accepts Galgo, Smilee, Luna, Thorn and Mars into the team.

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There’s not yet been a confirmation for another Expendables movie but both Pierce Brosnan and Hulk Hogan claim to be involved in an upcoming sequel.

The Expendables 3 has one of the best casts in the history of action movies with many action legends and a few new ones. This star filled cast is probably why I feel they could have done so much more with the movie. 

Cast:

Sylvester Stallone as Barney Ross: Leader of the Expendables.
Jason Statham as Lee Christmas: The team’s knife expert.
Antonio Banderas as Galgo: a former member of the Spanish Armed Forces, Bosnian war veteran, and expert sharpshooter.
Jet Li as Yin Yang: A hand-to-hand combat expert and former Expendable.
Wesley Snipes as Doctor Death: A former medic, and one of the original Expendables.
Dolph Lundgren as Gunner Jensen: Volatile member of the team.
Kelsey Grammer as Bonaparte: A retired mercenary and ally of the Expendables.
Randy Couture as Toll Road: The team’s demolitions expert.
Terry Crews as Hale Caesar: The Expendables’ barrel-weapons specialist.
Kellan Lutz as John Smilee: A former Navy Seal recruited to the Expendables.
Ronda Rousey as Luna: An athletic nightclub bouncer recruited by Bonaparte. Rousey filmed her role while training to defend her title at UFC 168.
Glen Powell as Thorn: a highly trained combat veteran and hacker.
Victor Ortiz as Mars: A sharpshooter and lethal soldier, who is afraid of heights.
Robert Davi as Goran Vata: The head of the Albanian mafia.
Mel Gibson as Conrad Stonebanks: A rogue co-founder of the Expendables and a ruthless arms dealer.
Harrison Ford as Max Drummer: A CIA field operations officer and pilot who manages the Expendables.
Arnold Schwarzenegger as Trench Mauser: Barney’s former teammate and sometimes rival.

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The Eye of God by James Rollins (SIGMA Force #9)

“That’s the beauty of the universe. There’s always a new mystery.”

The Eye of God is the 9th book in the SIGMA Force series by James Rollins. It takes a long time for the books to come to Portugal and by the time I finished the book the 10th book of the series The 6th Extinction was being released in the United States. 

One thing I like in the SIGMA Force series is the mix of real technology and facts with supernatural and theories that revolve around those facts. The Eye of God is in my opinion the weakest of the 9 books I’ve read exactly because of these factors. Not enough of any of those things and several things where just not at the level of the previous books. The whole visions of a near future that may happen or not isn’t that compelling to me. 

I liked a lot of things about the book too like the scenes in Macau and North Korea and all the action sequences where great as usual. 

My biggest complaint of all about this book: not enought Kowalski. Kowalski is by far my favorite character and he stayed a lot on the sidelines in this book. If I could talk to Rollins I would suggest a spinoff series starring Kowalski as the lead. 

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Here’s the plot from Wikipedia:

The crash of a U.S. military research satellite in the remote wilds of Mongolia triggers an explosive search for the valuable cargo it holds: a code-black physics project connected to the study of dark energy, the energy connected to the birth of our universe. But the last blurry image from the falling satellite captures a chilling sight: a frightening look into the future, a view of a smoldering eastern seaboard of the United States in utter ruin.

At the Vatican, a mysterious package arrives for the head of Pontifical ancient studies, sent by a colleague who had vanished a decade earlier. It contains two strange artifacts: a skull scrawled with ancient Aramaic and a tome bound in human skin. DNA testing reveals both are from Genghis Khan — the long-dead Mongol king whose undiscovered tomb is rumored to hold the vast treasures and knowledge of a lost ancient empire.

Commander Gray Pierce, and Sigma — joined by a pair of Vatican historians — race to uncover a truth tied to the fall of the Roman Empire, to a mystery bound in the roots of Christianity’s origins, and to a weapon hidden for centuries that holds the fate of humanity.

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