Trojan Odyssey

Clive Cussler has given us a whole series of novels that follow a certain formula: Mix one part nautical lore, add one part action hero, combine with another part of marine technology, then toss in a despicable evil person looking to take over the world. When combined in just the right proportions, the result is a great novel rewhich I have trouble putting down before completion. This has been the tried and true formula of the Dirk Pitt novels, which are Cussler’s main literary works and form an extensive body of literature over the last thirty years.

Now, ol’ Clive is not getting any younger. It appears that he is preparing to pass the literary mantle to his son, Dirk Cussler: In their latest novel, which follows Trojan Odyssey, Dirk is coauthor with Clive. Like an allegory, Cussler’s Trojan Odyssey has his trusty action heroes Dirk Pitt and Al Giordano share the spotlight with Pitt’s newly reunited children Dirk and Summer. Therefore, the usual formula is at least partially broken as Pitt and Giordano share the spotlight with Pitt’s children.

The background nautical lore of Trojan Odyssey focuses around the tale of Homer’s Odyssey. While it was long thought that The Odyssey was very loosely based around the ancient Greeks in an epic journey around the Mediterranean, a newer alternate view believes it was the Celts sailing in the Caribbean. Cussler masterfully interweaves the history into the plot in an unobtrusive and flowing manner.

The early action in the novel focuses around the hurricane of the millennium. Cussler’s descriptions are as well honed as a newly-minted, five-bladed razor. We feel the salt on our windblown face and the desperation of a floating hotel caught in its path.

Our action heroes Pitt and Giordano are presented not as eternally young but as approaching the sunset of their life. There are references to how “we still got it,” and their muscles are hurting and sore after severe physical exertion. While they clearly perform, they are working quite hard to get the job done.

There are the requisite appearances from recurrent characters that Cussler’s fans have come to expect, including Rudi Gunn, Admiral Sandecker, and Julian Perlmutter. They provide a consistency between the novels and are like old friends when they make their appearances. I’m always impressed that Cussler is able to come up with a new description each time they make an appearance, but he always manages to.

I wholeheartedly recommend this novel, with one caveat: If you have never read the Cussler series of Dirk Pitt novels before, I recommend starting with one not so far along in Pitt’s life. My recommendation is to start with Pacific Vortex (the first in the sequence chronologically) or The Mediterranean Caper (the first published). While the novels don’t need to be read strictly in order -- I still have a few early ones to read -- this is one journey you don’t want to rush to the end to.

Overall Grade: A+

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