The Mayan Prophecy by Steve Alten
An ancient prophecy. An evil older than mankind. It is the beginning of the end.
I was about three or four pages into The Mayan Prophecy by Steve Alten when I had a niggling suspicion that everything seemed awfully familiar. After bit of hunting around at the front of the book I discovered that the novel was originally published under the title Domain back in 2001. Though I had read it before, I decided to re-read and refresh my opinion of the novel.
The Mayan calendar runs out on the 21st December 2012. Some have predicted that this heralds the end of mankind. The novel uses this premise as the basis for a thriller/science fiction adventure.
In a Miami mental asylum inmate Michael ‘Mick’ Gabriel has spent the last eleven years incarcerated in solitary confinement for attacking a politician. He forms a relationship with the new psychiatric intern, Dominique Vazquez, who is assigned to care for him. As she gets to know him, she learns about his unconventional upbringing in South America. Mick was raised by his archaeologist father, Julius, amongst the ancient ruins of the Mayan culture. Julius, having spent decades researching the Mayan’s lost history, firmly believed that the winter solstice of 2012 would be the Earth’s Doomsday. Before his untimely death he passed this revelation on to his son, Mick.
As the calendar continues counting down to the end of the year strange phenomena start to appear all around the globe, and Dominique finds herself believing Mick’s claims. They are in a race to save the world.
Mick has a real intensity about his character. He is single minded, having spent most of his life involved in the search for the truth. At times, he appears almost arrogant, but he is just driven to try and solve all of the ancient puzzles that are placed in his path. Dominique though drawn to Mick’s strength is initially sceptical of his claims about a forthcoming apocalypse.
For the first three hundred odd pages The Mayan Prophecy reads like a conventional thriller. You have the details of a race against time to discover and destroy ancient artifacts that threaten to destroy humanity. Where the book differs is that about half way through, the science fiction element of the story really kicks in as Mick uncovers the dormant UFO that has been awaiting his arrival for thousands of years. Suddenly, there are alien presences and distant planets. Some may find this a little far fetched in the confines of a standard thriller but I was quite pleased with this change of pace. The scope of the whole novel suddenly becomes that much larger. It is not just the Earth but also many other planets that are at stake.
While Alten details Michael’s cosmic odyssey, the reader is also treated to the escalation of events on the world stage. The leaders of the United States, China and Russia are all at one another’s throats. As events speed toward December 21st, a taught game of political cat and mouse begins.
The religious ramifications of an extinction level event are also explored as the author weaves in elements from different world religions into the story. The author delves deeply into the Mayan and Incan ceremonies, but also takes time to compare their creation myths and doomsday prophecies with Christian mythology.
I’m a huge fan of Alten’s prehistoric mega-shark magnum opus Meg, and was happy to discover that it wasn’t a fluke. The Mayan Prophecy is an above average thriller with a gripping science fiction twist.