Excerpt from Map of Bones by James Rollins, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Map of Bones

by James Rollins

Map of Bones
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    May 2005, 448 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2006, 560 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

The holy relics were granted to Rainald von Dassel, Archbishop of Cologne (1159-67), following Emperor Barbarossa's sacking of the city of Milan. Such a treasure was granted to the German Archbishop for his aid and chancellorship in service to the current Emperor. Not all were content to see such a treasure leave Italy…not without a struggle.

--Excerpt taken from L'histoire de la Sainte Empire Romaine (The History of the Holy Roman Empire), 1845, HISTOIRES LITTÉRAIRES
 

***


March, 1162


The archbishop's men fled into the shadows of the lower valley. Behind them, atop the winter pass, horses screamed, arrow-bit and cleaved. Men shouted, cried, and roared. The clash of steel rang as silvery as a chapel's bells.

But it was not God's work being done here.

The rear guard must hold.

Friar Joachim clutched the reins of his horse as his mount slid on its haunches down the steep slope. The loaded wagon had reached the bottom of the valley safely. But true escape still lay another league away.

If only they could reach it…

With his hands clenched on the reins, Joachim urged his stumbling mare down to the valley's bottom. He splashed across an icy brook and risked a glance behind him.

Though spring beckoned, winter still ruled the heights. The peaks shone brilliantly in the setting sun. Snow reflected the light, while a billow of rime-frost flagged off the peaks' razored tips. But here in the shadowed gorges, snowmelt had turned the forest floor into a muddy bog. The horses slogged up to their fetlocks and threatened to break a bone with every step. Ahead the wagon was mired just shy of its axles.

Joachim kicked his mare to join the soldiers at the wagon.

Another team of horses had been hitched to the front. Men pushed from behind. They must reach the trail coursing along the next ridgeline.

"Ey-ya!" yelled the wagonmaster, snapping a whip.

The lead horse threw its head back, and then heaved against the yoke. Nothing happened. Chains strained, horses chuffed white into the cold air, and men swore most foully.

Slowly…too slowly, the wagon dragged free of the mud with the sucking sound of an open chest wound. But it was moving again at last. Each delay had cost blood. The dying wailed from the pass behind them.

The rear guard must hold a little longer.

The wagon continued, climbing again. The three large stone sarcophagi in the open wagon bed slid against the ropes that lashed them in place.

If any should break…

Friar Joachim reached the foundering wagon.

His fellow brother, Franz, moved his horse closer. "The trail ahead scouts clear."

"The relics cannot be taken back to Italy. We must reach the border."

Franz nodded, understanding. The relics were no longer safe upon Italian soil, not with the true pope exiled to France and the false pope residing in Rome.

The wagon climbed more quickly now, finding firmer footing with each step. Still, it trundled no faster than a man could walk. Joachim continued watching the far ridge, staring over his mount's rump.

The sounds of battle had settled to groans and sobbing, echoing eerily across the valley. The ring of swords had died completely, signaling the defeat of the rear guard.

Joachim searched, but heavy shadows steeped the heights. The bower of black pines hid all.

Then Joachim spotted a flash of silver.

A lone figure appeared, limned in a patch of sunlight, armor glinting.

Joachim did not need to see the red dragon sigil painted on the man's chestplate to recognize the black pope's lieutenant. The profane Saracen had taken the Christian name Fierabras, after one of Charlemagne's paladins. He stood a full head taller than all his men. A true giant. More Christian blood stained his hands than any other man's. But baptized this past year, the Saracen now stood beside Cardinal Octavius, the black pope who took the name Victor IV.

Copyright © 2004 James Rollins - Excerpted from Map of Bones by James Rollins. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher, William Morrow.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Opposite of Everyone
by Joshilyn Jackson

"Quirky and appealing characters, an engaging story, and honest dialogue make this a great book!"
- BookBrowse

About the book
Join the discussion!

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: A Great Reckoning
    A Great Reckoning
    by Louise Penny
    Canadian author Louise Penny is back with her twelfth entry in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache ...
  • Book Jacket: Homegoing
    Homegoing
    by Yaa Gyasi
    It's all very well to challenge people to be the masters of their own destiny, but when you&#...
  • Book Jacket: When Breath Becomes Air
    When Breath Becomes Air
    by Paul Kalanithi
    When Breath Becomes Air is the autobiography of Paul Kalanithi, written in the time period between ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Victoria
    by Daisy Goodwin

    Daisy Goodwin breathes new life into Victoria's story, and does so with sensitivity, verve, and wit." - Amanda Foreman

    Read Member Reviews

Who Said...

Show me the books he loves and I shall know the man...

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

The Big Holiday Wordplay:
$400+ in Prizes

Enter Now

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.