Chakana: W.E. Lawrence
Kate Rhodes is a trained marksmanship and is quite capable of taking out criminals and saving hostages with one quick shot. When bank robbers take over the bank in Athens, Ohio, her father, Chief of Police wants her to remain at her desk. But, after being on the force for two years she insists that she can be of help and he allows her to come but only if she remains in a position where she can see the action but not take part. Things get out of hand and the robbers take hostages and eventually kill two when they get the upper hand and the police force is made to retreat. Forgetting that Kate is there she uses her good judgment and manages to take out all of the robbers and safe the hostage. Thus begins the real story as her father suspends her from duty claiming she should never have taken things into her own hands, not giving her the credit due she is about to embark on a mission that will change her life forever. The year is 1940 and the time period is when the Second World War is about to begin and the Nazis have taken over Germany. Receiving a package from her brother Nick who is on a dig in Peru she opens it to find that it is part of a lost Treasure of King Huascar of the Incas and if she does not find the rest or understand what the symbols mean on this blue box the world will be in danger. Bringing the box to her college professor, Dr. Charlie is a start as she is capable of decoding and interpreting the clues that are written within this box called the Chakana and hunt for the treasure. Fired from her job or at least on suspension Kate feels that she needs to find her brother, go to Peru and learn more to help him guard this precious box and the treasure that is hidden within it. Dr. Charlie pays for both of them to got to Peru but when they get there, travel many distances they learn that her brother has been kidnapped by a dangerous man named Joseph Soros who is working with the Germans hoping to create this dangerous weapon to destroy the enemy. Enter James Fleming a British Officer working for the United States and for Britain as he remembers Kate who rescued him from a marshy bog and now years later shows up in Peru to look for her brother an archaeologist. Kate and Dr. Charlie are now a team and hopefully with James they will be able to find her brother. Smart, cunning and definitely conniving, James manages to find out from the very men who kidnapped Nick where he is and takes out the guards. Rescuing him is just the beginning, Dr. Charlie using his medical skills to heal his wounds as a professor of antiquities he is smart, astute and able to unravel the puzzles that the Inca’s set out to create to hide their treasure. Only certain people who understand the clues that are hidden beneath certain structures will find out where the treasure is. With the help of a machine that can decode the markings and create the messages that lie within the box marked by the Chakana, an Incan cross shape . “An ancient polytheistic cross, used in Andean art, as a template for architectural design, as a meditation aid, a calendar, an almanac, and an aid for farmers. Four arms” The four ‘cross’ arms represent: the four directions of the compass: The four classical elements of earth, air, water and fire are each represented as the Kate, James, Nick and Charlie try to decipher each clue they receive but not before both James and Kate find themselves where the Incas marked their clues, dangerous terrain, steep mountains and hills. Searching for the four main stars of the Southern Cross, an important constellation for the Inca, who believed it to be the center of the universe. The Chakana is also called the Cruz Andina or Andean Cross and appears on four clues and the places where they need to go to find the ones to bring back and place within the blue box and solve the mystery of the treasure. At the heart of the symbol is a circular hole, which means or stands for the city of Cusco the capital of the Inca Empire. As the story continues you learn that around the circle are four corners with ridged with three steps each one having a meaning. Each one represents one of the three worlds of the Inca belief system including the underworld, Ughu Pacha, meaning the snake, the middle world, that of humans called the Kay Pacha and represented by the puma and finally the upper world of gods, Hana Pacha represented by the condor. These three animals and the chakan are represented in Inca architecture and artwork. James appears to be hunting for the treasure when in reality he is an undercover agent or spy working to catch Soros dangerous big time smuggler posing as an artifacts dealer with powerful allies in both Peru and Germany. Soros is bent on finding the gold, giving it to the Nazis and stopping James even if it means taking Kate prisoner. Each symbol when found has to be turned like a key and then three quarters to the right in this way the system works. The Incas turned the entire Sacred Valley into one giant Chakana. The element of water to the left, or west on your compass, is where James and Kate went first to Choquequitran to get the symbol. The element of air at the top or north they found when they went to Ollantatampo. The symbol of fire on the right or the East in Pisac. All of this leads these leads to the south and final symbol Earth. The symbol is probably in the shape of the Chakana but the doctor states much larger. On page 266 he describes it in detail as Kate and James do after the final symbol but will they survive this time? But, not everything goes according to plan and Soros and his accomplice Braun find them and then the action takes on a different meaning as Kate is captured, James is in danger and the race to save them both is on. As James and Kate search Huscar’s chamber where are the guards? Losing their foes but getting caught again they who miscalculated? Who finds out the true power of the Chakana? What is the fate of Kate and James as the author takes readers straight to where the treasure is found but who gets it and who learns that they do not control the power of the earth or the Chakana? Heart stopping ending with two characters that could make for a great series if the author brings them back again. Lies, betrayals, deceits and manipulation are just some of the strategies used to create the illusion of trust that James needs if he is going to survive. Will they be back again or will Soros and Braun win as they face off for the treasure of a lifetime. Don’t underestimate the Inca!
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine