New York Times bestselling author James Rollins' latest novel, "The Eye of God," is a psychological and philosophical thriller set against the threat of a coming apocalypse predicted in the Bible.
But the book also pulls in St. Thomas' travels to the east, Genghis Khan's conquests, an approaching comet
and a new idea on the afterlife.
Story continues below.
"All of my novels, I'm always looking for the historical mystery, that piece of history that ends in a question mark, something I can solve within the pages of this novel," Rollins tells Newsmax TV.
Genghis Khan has been a longtime fascination, he said. "He conquered most of the known world. When he died, his tomb vanished into history along with most of the treasures from his conquered kingdoms."
Though Khan's tomb is unknown, his legacy lives. "In Mongolia, he's sort of worshiped almost as a semi-god," Rollins said, and one of 200 people living today are his direct descendants.
Always looking for ways to mix the present and the past, Rollins followed the theory that St. Thomas, one of Jesus' apostles, traveled not only to India, which is widely accepted, but also as far as China, passing through Mongolia along the way.
That connects St. Thomas not only to Khan, but to the Chinese language itself. Though ancient Chinese script goes back 4,000 to 5,000 years, predating a visit by St. Thomas, Rollins says there are convincing arguments that the language has been influenced by biblical stories.
"Eye of God" isn't just about history and religion. Rollins spices it up with the latest in scientific thought.
A visit to the particle accelerator at Firmilab provided him with an unexpected addition. When Rollins questioned scientists there about what keeps them up at night, they told him about their work looking into whether the universe is actually a hologram.
A trip to a body modification fair gave him another element. "Biohacking" is a new movement where people incorporate technology into their bodies.
"I'm always for that new character, and I was watching this gentleman that was having these rice-sized little pellets of rare earth magnets put into his fingertip," Rollins said. The magnets vibrate in the presence of an electrical field, allowing the "wearer" to sense them.
"He said he could sense rhythms and heat and textures to electrical fields, and they'll even have a color to them," Rollins said. "So I just liked the idea that he's opening up, almost, his third eye, this new sense of the world."
Rollins also incorporates into the book a comet that will pass near the sun in late November.
"I always like to make my books feel of-the-moment," Rollins said, "and this is quite the celestial event that is going to be occurring this November."
Expected to be one of the brightest objects ever to light up the sky, it may be so bright that it can be seen in daylight with the naked eye.
Comets historically have been seen as harbingers of doom, so with such a potentially spectacular one headed here this year, Rollins felt drawn to forming a story around it.
Rollins doesn't give away what that doom might be, but he also hints at his own theory on the afterlife, which mixes religion and science.
"I had one early reader who read it who found great comfort in the proposition that I have in this novel," Rollins said. "Unfortunately, I can't give you great detail, but it's the twist at the end of the novel that reveals this new glimpse at the afterlife."
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