While I was a little disappointed with Book #4, this next title really stepped up its game. The Forbidden City starts off with Annja helping a young Chinese man try to find the remains of one of his ancestors, who came to America during the gold rush years of the mid 19th century. But the man's true motives are revealed in a hail of gunfire, and Annja finds herself on the run (once again) with an ancient belt plaque, possibly the key to a lost city of thieves and an immense fortune that has been lost for over a thousand years.
This book features both Garin and Roux in prominent secondary roles, and of course, their interests are diametrically opposed to one another. It turns out that there is a mysterious artifact of great power hidden in this lost city; Garin wants the artifact for the power it contains, while Roux wants the artifact to keep it out of the hands of people like Garin. This book goes a long way to deepen the mystery of Roux's past (just how old is he, anyway?), and it reveals to Annja a little more of the mysterious, magical shadow world that she is now involved with since re-forming Joan's sword.
We also find ourselves meeting a bunch of new secondary characters. Some of them make it through to the end of the book and some don't, but I would like to see a couple of them re-appear in later books if at all possible. One of the great things about a series like RA is that secondary characters can come and go from book to book and help enrich the feel of the RA-verse as much more complex and interactive. Whether that happens or not remains for me to discover, but I have my fingers crossed.
All in all, this was a very solid offering, and it is clear that the Rogue Angel series has come into its maturity. If you like history, mythology, and a healthy dose of action-adventure, this series is for you. Fans of adventure games like D&D will especially enjoy this book, I think, because of the "treasure hunt" aspects of the plot and the journey into the subterranean "forbidden city", filled with traps and treasures, will be enjoyably familiar to any veteran dungeon-crawler. Where's a ten foot pole when you really need one?