A captivating spy story… very well written and constructed, with well-drawn characters.
- Courier Mail

A fast-paced and thrilling read
- West Australian

A provocative book in which every sort of dogma is turned on its head
- Sunday Mail

The Inca Prophecy - Adrian d'Hagé

From the back cover: ‘An eerie clue to the Inca Prophecy lies heavily guarded beneath the Vatican.  Another is hidden near the famous Inca ruins at Machu Picchu.  Archaeologist Aleta Weizman and rogue CIA agent, Curtis O’Connor must unearth both clues if they are to decode the prophecy, but time is not on their side.  The Iranians are building a nuclear bomb.  Israel has an itchy trigger finger.  The world has never been closer to destruction, but a powerful few are doing all they can to ensure the Inca’s fabled warning will never be heard.  And the CIA is hunting down Weizman and O’Connor, hell bent on silencing them forever.’

‘A crystal skull lay at the feet of the mummified king. It glistened in the flickering light of the oil lamps hanging on the walls of the Inca tomb, deep inside the snow-covered Andes.’  The opening lines give the reader an inkling of what is to come.  Located not far from the famed Machu Picchu, the burial chamber of Pachacuti Yupanqui, has been undisturbed since the ninth ruler of the Inca was entombed on a solid gold throne in 1472.  Undisturbed that is, save for the visits of a very select few shamans who know how to avoid the deadly pitfalls awaiting anyone trying to access the passage into the mountain.  Carlos Huayta is one such shaman.  A direct descendent the Inca Q’ero people, Huayta sits quietly in the tomb amongst the untold riches glinting ‘from the niches carved into the granite walls: gold statues and figurines, silver chalices, vases full of emeralds, and priceless filigreed gold face masks and necklaces.’  An unassuming pottery urn stands in a niche in the furthest corner of the tomb, but Huayta knows that what appears to be of little worth holds the most valuable objects of all – and it is the most heavily protected.

‘Huayta pondered again the ancient Inca prophecy that had been passed down from shaman to shaman.  When the Eagle of the North and the Condor of the South fly together, the Earth will awaken.’

The Research and Background

Fontana della Pigna - Pic: Lance_Mountain

To research this novel, I flew first for Rome, where O’Connor breaks into the Vatican’s secret archives. The archives are housed in over 80 kilometres of shelving and are located beneath the Fontana della Pigna or ‘Pine Cone’.  The four-metre high bronze pine cone was once a Roman fountain located at the Pantheon, next to the Temple of Isis and it now stands in grounds of the Vatican facing the Cortile della Pigna, the courtyard which takes its name from the fountain.

Dressed as a priest, O’Connor chooses the chaos surrounding the Pope’s death to make his daring entrance, while the Papal authorities are pre-occupied:

‘O’Connor headed unerringly toward the courtyard behind the papal apartments and the entrance to the archives.  The Swiss guard scrutinised the request for access to the codex of the trial of Galileo Galilei. O’Connor had chosen it deliberately.

It was a document the Vatican had already made available to scholars. To ask for one that had yet to be studied was to court refusal.  … O’Connor left the document on the desk and quietly moved toward the staircase leading to the Diplomatic Floor above. 

Pondering the plot of The Inca Prophecy from my balcony as a velvet night descends over Lake Como and northern Italy

Here, documents of the Secretariat of State going back to the 1500s were stored in hundreds of old wooden cabinets and O’Connor cast around for a place to hide until after closing time.’

Having cased the Vatican, I drove the route O’Connor would take to the stunningly beautiful Lake Como – a lake formed by retreating glaciers at the end of the last ice age.

Like many of his wealthy predecessors, Cardinal Salvatore Felici, the second most powerful cardinal in the Vatican, owns a weekend ‘retreat’ – the 18th century Villa Felici on the shores of the iconic lake.  It is a retreat the cardinal often visits with Sister Bridget.  ‘Sister Bridget, with her soft blue eyes and flawless creamy skin had raised more than one eyebrow in the Vatican when Felici had appointed her to his household.

I based Felici’s villa on Villa del Balbianello –famous as a setting for a number of feature films, including Casino Royale in 2006.  Like Villa del Balbianello, Villa Felici has a secret escape passage leading to a hidden boat dock beneath the cliff, and given Felici’s activities both in and outside of the bedroom, that is a necessary precaution. 

Villa del Balbianello - Pic: Markus Mark

In a safe blasted out of the rock below the villa, Felici has hidden a crystal skull, together with a mysterious cypher which, despite the cardinal’s best efforts, has resisted all attempts to crack it.  A second document in the safe has been translated from the Inca Quecha dialect, and it reads in part:

“Advertencia – a warning.

When the Eagle of the North and the Condor of the South fly together, the Earth will awaken.  Twelve thousand years ago, the Atlantean Sun Disc was secured in the Temple of the Sun in the Inca capital Cusco. But when the Spaniards came, the Sun Disc was removed and taken to the Lost City of Paititi, deep in the Amazonian jungle.  The Great Cipher holds the key.”

Ducati 1198

After a pitched battle in the depths of the villa, O’Connor and Aleta escape in Felici’s polished mahogany speedboat.  ‘Another burst of machine-gun fire crackled over their heads as the boat’s two massive V8 Cadillac engines burst into life.’  The pair make it across the Swiss border, only to find they are being trailed by an assassin on a big Ducati 1198 racing bike.

The quest for the codex leads from the Swiss Alps to Peru.  I flew to Puno on the shores of Lake Titicaca, high in the Andes on the border of Peru and Bolivia where the snow-capped mystical mountains of Ancohuma and Illampu soar above the lake.  At over 12,000 feet, it is the highest navigable lake in the world and it is here that O’Connor and Aleta link up with O’Connor’s contacts in The Mossad.

Lake Titicaca from the Peruvian side.
Pic: Anthony Lacoste

The Uru people construct floating islands from dried totora reeds, but O’Connor and Aleta discover that one of islands is off limits to tourists.  For a very good reason: it conceals a grisly secret.

Having unearthed the secret of Lake Titicaca, we catch the Andean Explorer from Puno to the old Inca capital of Cusco.  It’s a ten-hour trip and well worth putting on your bucket list.

‘The shores of Lake Titicaca gave way to the tufted grasses of the Andean highlands and the train reached Juliaca, where the track ran through the centre of the town and a jumble of markets.  Colourful tricycles, some with barbecues welded to the front with meats sizzling on the plates, added to the chaos of the streets. O’Connor was once again on alert, scrutinising the crowd to see if anyone boarded the train. 

Uru People on one of the floating islands I visited

Children ran alongside the carriages as they moved slowly past the mud-brick buildings, just metres from the track, before the train began its climb to La Raya, a small village on the Altiplano dominated by towering snow-capped Andean peaks.  … O’Connor walked casually through the carriages, hand on his Glock, making a careful check of the passengers.’

At Poroy, O’Connor and Aleta board the luxury Orient Express train: the Hiram Bingham (named after the American explorer who revealed Machu Picchu to the world).

Our destination is Aguas Calientes, the little town on the Urubamba River at the base of Machu Picchu where the Inca Trail, and more than a little danger beckons:

‘O’Connor focused his high-powered binoculars and scanned the rocky path below …
‘Why would you be carrying a brand new guitar case up to the Gate of the Sun? he wondered aloud.’
‘You think it might not be a guitar?’ Aleta’s heart sank.

O’Connor and Aleta are not the only ones searching for the Lost City of Paititi.


On board the Andean Explorer – contemplating plot (as usual!)


The bar on board the Hiram Bingham


The stunning Andes – beneath which lies a clue to the Lost City