Book #1
Jake Ransom and the Skull King’s Shadow [Book I]
Released On: Apr 28, 2009

When a mysterious envelope arrives for Jake Ransom, he and his older sister, Kady, are plunged into a gripping chain of events. An artifact found by their archeologist parents on the expedition from which they never returned leads Jake and Kady to a strange world inhabited by a peculiar mix of long-lost civilizations, a world that may hold the key to their parents’ disappearance-if Jake and Kady can survive long enough to solve the mystery.

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Bibliography [View, Print and Download the James Rollins Bibliography]

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Critical Acclaim

  • "It's about time someone wrote one of those roller coaster thrillers adults have been relishing for young adults. Rollins skillfully blends archaeology with science and fantasy to create an entertaining and informative tale that will keep readers glued to his pages. We needed someone like James Rollins years ago - I am glad he has created this series."

    Bill (Reader Review)
  • "Loved it, loved it, loved it. I couldn't put it down. I was hooked right away and kept reading and reading all day. The writing was so vivid I could picture all the places in my mind. I know kids will love reading this. It is a great blending of dinosaurs, different cultures, and action. I know kids will run to the Internet to research some of the cultures or animals. Fabulous way to encourage book reading."

    Sharon (Reader Review)
  • "I feel like I have been transported back in time to an era of pure excitement!! Jake Ransom and the Skull King's Shadow keeps you on the edge of your seat and leaves you waiting for the next book in this thrilling series."

    Alaina (Reader Review)
  • "Jake Ransom and the Skull King's Shadow has become one of my favorite books of all time! Jake Ransom has the potential to become this generation's Indiana Jones! Rollins has encompassed adventure, suspense, history, fun, and a touch of romance into one fantastic book. His descriptions are impeccable. I found it very hard to put down. The short chapters kept me wanting more. Jake Ransom will not only appeal to adventuresome boys, but daring girls as well."

    Christina (Reader Review)
  • "This was an exciting story filled with twists and turns and a great mystery to solve. It was definitely a great read and I would recommend it to others."

    Terri (Reader Review)
  • "James Rollins' book Jake Ransom and the Skull King's Shadow is a gripping book that draws you to an unknown world of adventure. You will never want to put this book down."

    Lynsee (Reader Review)
  • "With an ending that leaves it apparent that we will have more adventures to come, I can't wait for the sequel."

    Daniel (Reader Review)
  • "For a first-time writer of Young Adult fiction, James Rollins has hit the nail on the head. I read through almost half the book in one sitting, I just couldn't stop. The characters are well developed, and the plot line is great.

    Unknown (Reader Review)
  • "Hurry, read this book before the main character, Jake Ransom is brought to the big screen! This book is so ready for a suspenseful movie to be made about it. The descriptions of the characters and settings make you feel like you're one of the team frantically trying to solve the many mysteries rolled into one! The best part is that the ending left us with the possibility that we would see Jake again in another book in the future."

    Karen (Reader Review)
  • "Jake Ransom and the Skull King's Shadow is jam-packed with Mayan history, dinosaurs, alchemy, Vikings, Roman soldiers…along with Jake Ransom and his sister Kady. It's a high-adventure, fantasy-fused ride with bits of history thrown in for good measure. It's the sort of book that launches a series with kids lined up around the building to buy the next one."

    Cheryl (Reader Review)
  • "From start to finish, there really isn't a dull moment in the book."

    Tyler (Reader Review)
  • "Last, but certainly not least, James Rollins has decided to dominate more than just the adult thriller field. The first of a series for Young Adults, Jake Ransom and the Skull King's Shadow (Harper, $16.99) tells the exciting tale of young Jake and his older sister, Kady, who are still trying to adjust to life without their parents (who disappeared on an archaeological dig). The two of them receive an invitation to a special exhibit of Mayan artifacts and get drawn into a life and death struggle. Rollins has taken his love of Indiana Jones and made it fresh and fun for the younger set."

    Jeff Ayers, Author Magazine
  • "A rollicking good story."

    Publishers Weekly
  • "A challenger for Indy's archaeological crown in the months ahead. Excellent, rousing stuff!" – Bookreview.Come "Readers will be caught up in adventure."

    School Library Journal


  • Q. Jake Ransom's Fate
    A. Jake's fate (ie., publication date) is still up in the air. Whenever I get some concrete details--o ... Read More
  • Q. How do you relate so well to a middle grade audience?
    A. Whatever music you liked in high school is the music you like the rest of your life. I think the sam ... Read More
  • Q. How does writing for a younger reader differ from writing for adults? Did you face any challenges writing in this new tone?
    A. The story here is more linear, but is otherwise not much different. I don't think it serves to write ... Read More
  • Q. How much research did you do to prepare to write this adventure?
    A. Similar to my adult novels, I love to weave real world facts into the fantastical. This novel – wh ... Read More
  • Q. How would you define a heroic character? What unique traits make a hero in your eyes?
    A. While I certainly enjoy a bit of magic and strange science (which you'll see in this story), I also ... Read More
  • Q. That's the "fact" side of your story. What about the "fantastical"?
    A. In this story, science and magic blend into a world of prehistoric creatures, ancient peoples, and a ... Read More
  • Q. What did you find most interesting/surprising to learn while you mapped out the plot elements of Jake Ransom and the Skull King's Shadow?
    A. During my research, I discovered the Mayas were the first to use the cocoa bean to make chocolate. A ... Read More
  • Q. What do you find most exciting about a sense of adventure?
    A. The story started because of a Cabinet of Curiosities that I began putting together from my own jour ... Read More
  • Q. What future adventures do you have planned for Jake and Kady?
    A. In future installments, Jake and Kady will continue to piece together clues to their parents' fate, ... Read More
  • Q. What specifically attracts you to the fantasy/adventure genre? Are these the types of novels you enjoyed growing up?
    A. I grew up reading Hardy Boys and Danny Dunn's scientific adventures. I loved the old serial pulp nov ... Read More
  • Q. Which character's voice did you find easiest to capture? Do you see pieces of yourself in this character? Why do you think you were able to relate so well to this specific character?
    A. I love writing Jake. He is who I was as a kid: ever curious, impatient, slightly geeky but knowing i ... Read More


  • The Connection to James Childhood
  • Jake Ransom and the Skull King's Shadow Book Trailer
  • Jake Ransom and the Skull Kings Shadow Cover Story
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