Book Review: Raising Atlantis
by R.J. Carter
Published: August 26, 2005
||Pocket Star Books
|For more information:
Among the many ancient legends that have titillated the minds of men through the ages, few compare in grandeur or longevity than that of the lost continent of Atlantis. Exceeded perhaps only by the Garden of Eden and Noah's Ark, Atlantis continues to elude explorers and historians -- and that makes it a common target for science fiction plot devices.
cover design by Tom Hallman
Enter Thomas Greanias, and his first novel, Raising Atlantis. With frenetic pacing and edge-of-your-seat cliffhangers at the end of nearly every chapter, Greanias blends science fact with science fantasy, doing for archaeology what The DaVinci Code did for art.
Conrad Yeats is an archaeologist with a reputation: he's not much into preservation as he is into learning what the finds can teach him on his personal quest to find the human race's long lost "Mother Culture." Banned from several countries, including Egypt for finding proof of the story of the Exodus, Yeats finds himself these days as the host of a tabloid archaeology television series, a la Leonard Nimoy's "In Search Of..."
But Conrad's luck may be finally changing when he's whisked away by U.S. military servicemen and brought to his father, a former astronaut who was trained for the scrapped Mars mission back in the Nixon era and now a General in the U.S. Army. The Yeats men have never really got along, largely due to information about Conrad's birth parents which the General has never satisfactorily divulged. There's a rift between the two men almost as chilly as the location Conrad is taken to, a place where a secret U.S. military operation has just uncovered a find that could change the world: Antarctica.
The pyramid in question happens to be under their feet, buried beneath two miles of ice, after having become the new South Pole during the last global crust shift.
Conrad ran his hand across the smooth face of the stone and inserted a finger into one of the strange grooves. This find could be it, he thoguht, nearly trembling now, the first evidence of the Mother Culture he had been seeking his entire life.
"So where's the rest of it?" he asked.
Yeats seemed to be holding back. "Rest of what?"
"The pyramid," Conrad said. "This is a benben stone."
Now Yeats was just playing dumb, clearly eager to see if his investment in him was worth the cost. Conrad didn't mind singing for his supper, but he wasn't going to settle for crumbs.
"An ancient Egyptian symbol of the bennu bird -- the phoenix," Conrad said. "It represents rebirth and immortality. It's the capstone or pyramidion placed on top of a pyramid."
"So you've seen it before?"
"No," Conrad said. "They're missing from all the great pyramids of the world. We know them mostly through ancient texts. They were replicas of the long-lost original benben stone, which was said to have fallen from heaven.
"Like a meteorite," finished Yeats, staring at the rock.
Conrad nodded. "But a benben this size means the pyramid beneath it would have to be enormous."
"A mile high and almost two miles wide."
Conrad stared at Yeats. "That's more than ten times the size of the Great Pyramid in Giza."
"Eleven point one times exactly," said Yeats.
Working both with and against Conrad during this discovery is Doctor Serena Serghetti, a former carmelite nun with whom the Vatican still maintains tenuous ties despite the rather flamboyant displays of global environmental activism that have earned her the nickname "Mother Earth." A discovery that Atlantis existed, particularly if it were inhabited by an advanced civilization, could potentially undermine all that Christendom stands for, obviating the Church's position.
However, if you're expecting the usual science vs. religion struggle common to similarly themed books, you may be surprised -- either pleasantly or no -- with how deftly Greanias manages to reconcile the two as the literally earth-shaking climax brings the novel to a satisfactory closing.
Filled with action, suspense, international politics, religion, Biblical history and the extraterrestrial origins of mankind, Raising Atlantis keeps the reader enthralled from start to finish. I expect a movie.