“Jake Ransom and the Skull King’s Shadow” by James Rollins (Harpercollins, 2009)

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Jake and Kady Ransom are the children of brilliant archaeologists who tragically and mysteriously disappear while on a dig for ancient Mayan artifacts.  Three years later the Ransoms are suspiciously invited to a new Mayan exhibition at the British Museum, commemorating the memory of the missing archaeologists.  It turns out to be a PR stunt, but Jake and Kady get to enjoy the special Mayan artifacts before anyone else.  It is the miniature pyramid that intrigues Jake, noticing that the doorway is an unusual shape that two pieces of a glyph – the last items the Ransoms got from their parents – fit exactly into.  When inserted, there is a bright light, then darkness.

Jake and Kady awake to find themselves in another world where there are very different people from different moments in time: Mayans, Vikings, Romans, even Neanderthals who have been there for many thousands of years.  They live in the great city of Calypsos.  Here they are protected from the dinosaurs that walk about outside looking for prey.  The Ransoms find themselves in a time long, long ago, where there are many dangers.  There is also the Skull King, once an elder of Calypsos, who is now looking to take over the city and subjugate its people.  It will be up to Jake and Kady to figure out a way to stop the Skull King and somehow find a way back home, to their time.

Bestselling author James Rollins kicks off a great children’s book series with Jake Ransom and the Skull King’s Shadow, which is a combination of adventurous Indiana Jones with some fascinating history of the different cultures of the world.  Focusing on the Mayan people and their culture in this first book, the rest of the series promises to be just as action-packed and educational.  Jake Ransom and the Skull King’s Shadow is a book to be enjoyed by anyone of any age.

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Originally written on April 7th 2009 ©Alex C. Telander.

For an interview with James Rollins check out BookBanter Episode 9.