Treasure of Khan (2006)

Treasure of Khan is the latest Clive Cussler novel. In the followup to Black Wind, Clive once again has the assistance of his son Dirk who is preparing to take the reins at some point. Treasure of Khan is in the Dirk Pitt series of Cussler novels which is his largest series (including this one, it's up to eighteen novels which is more than most series make it to).

One of Cussler's signature items is the background story. Through it, he vivdly sets the historical background for the modern day action that ensues. Like in Cussler's novel Sahara (as an aside the book was awesome, but the movie was awful), there are two separate background stories that really contribute to the depth of the whole plot.

For those not familiar with this series, it is based upon the adventures of Dirk Pitt, and his lifelong pal, Al Giordano. They are a bunch of marine engineers who work for a fictitious government office, known as NUMA, that is devoted to exploring and preserving the planet's oceans. Through the years, they have ended up in many situations, and while many involve the ocean, they have saved the world countless times from a variety of threats.

I think the Cussler men are starting to run a little short of ideas as this time the setting is focused around the deserts of Mongolia. While it serves to keep the location exotic, it makes our marine engineers, well, like "fish out of water." Through some creative planning, and nearby bodies of water, at least they are able to put their nautical skills to good use.

As the eighteenth novel in the series, Treasure of Khan definitely follows the winning formula. In one way, we don't stray too far from what obviously works. More specifically, the elements of the classic car, Hiram Yeager- the computer specialist, Pearlmutter- the ocean historian, retired Admiral Sandecker cutting through red tape, and the damsel in distress are all utilized, as they are throughout the Cussler novels. However, I can tell you that he deviates just enough from the usual, including placing them out of the usual order, to keep the experience fresh. Also, Dirk's children, Dirk Jr. and Summer get featured, but they don't steal the show like in some of the recent novels which didn't quite feel the same.

Treasure of Khan, despite its lengthy 552 pages, is an exceedingly well written novel. Pick any page, and we can experience the care that was used by the Cusslers to carefully construct their prose. The compact descriptions strongly evoke vivid imagery. Also, the sentences flow like a lazy babbling brook that few other writers can match.

As if you couldn't tell by now, I really enjoyed Treasure of Khan. We've all come to expect a lot from a Cussler novel, and this one clearly delivers. Even when compared to Cussler's other works, an unfairly lofty standard, Treasure of Khan stands out among the best of the series, and I wholeheartedly recommend it. My only caveat is that if you haven't read this series before, don't start at the end as it's worth the journey to do it right.

Overall Grade: A+

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