Alex Archer,
Rogue Angel #3:
The Spider Stone

(Gold Eagle, 2006)

In Rogue Angel: Destiny, we met Annja Creed, a beautiful archaeologist, who supports herself, and her serious archaeology work, by working for a sensationalizing television show called Chasing History's Monsters. While (successfully) tracking down the Beast of Gevaudin, Annja meets Roux and Garin, who turn out to be possibly-immortal French knights, and who failed to save Joan of Arc from the English. More importantly, Annja finds the last piece of the sword of St. Joan and St. Katherine, which the English shattered after executing Joan of Arc. The sword becomes Annja's, along with heightened awareness and fighting skills.

Now, in the third book in the series (after Rogue Angel: Solomon's Jar), Annja is asked by an archaeologist friend to assist when a warehouse is being torn down near Atlanta, Ga., and a previously hidden room in the basement turns out to hold the bodies of a war party of West African slaves from over a hundred years ago. And there might be something else in that hidden room of great interest to a modern African warlord named Tafari, a shaman-woman from a local tribe named Janeiba, a rich industrialist bent upon exploiting rural Senegal, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security!

Annja, her archaeologist-friend and a group of Homeland Security agents travel to Senegal and begin looking for the hidden room mapped out on an ancient stone, the "Spider Stone," which was supposedly given to the Hausa people by Anansi, a trickster-god, who often appeared in the guise of a spider. What's in Anansi's hidden room? Is there a treasure? Is there a bio-contaminant that might have caused the plagues of Egypt in the time of Moses? Is there the heart of the future of an almost-forgotten people, the Hausa? Maybe the room contains all of the above.

Of course, Annja has to survive long enough to find the room! Tafari wants the mythical treasure of Anansi and is one step behind Annja. Is he alone in his efforts, or does he have the aid of the wealthy industrialist? And, to make things even more interesting, Garin, the possibly immortal French knight, shows up with motives that are never clear nor simple. Will he help Annja, as he offers to do, or help himself, or both? The only thing I'll say is that almost all of the above questions gets answered by the end of The Spider Stone. One end is left loose, and I'm guessing that's an intentional act, to open the door for a later story in the series.

As Annja journeys from Georgia to Senegal, and contends with Tafari and his men plus treachery from an apparent ally and the appearance of Garin and his men, she is also continuing to figure out how possession of Joan's sword has changed her, and what her role is as the successor to Joan of Arc. That is an interesting journey itself.

Alex Archer has given us another great action-adventure story, with aspects of the supernatural, the spiritual and the ethical mixed in. The writing is smooth, and the pace is fast and furious, with no interruptions of the flow. It is just plain hard to put down! I notice, from the credit pages, that Mel Odom was involved in the writing of this book, as he was in Destiny. The quality here is on a par (great!) with Destiny, and slightly better than the first sequel, Solomon's Jar, with which Odom was not involved.

Bottom line: Hold on, and have fun!

by Chris McCallister
21 April 2007

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