Treasure (1988)

In my continuing quest to read the entire library of Clive Cussler novels, I took a look at Treasure. It is the follow up novel to Cyclops (which I haven't read; I guess I'm reading the series backwards for unknown reasons). Unlike some later efforts, the author writes solo on this one, which produces a great novel of consistent quality.

The overall plot centers around the ancient Library of Alexandria. Today, the knowledge of our world is found on the internet. Back in the ancient world, this massive library functioned not only as a repository, but also as an institution of learning and research. It housed scrolls and artifacts collected from all the known civilizations and more ancient ones as well. The library was burned in 391 AD as it contained Pagan teachings. Before this tragic event, some scholars believe that they moved a good portion of the library's contents for safekeeping to a new location, but it is unknown to this day where the loot may have ended up. This tale of the lost knowledge of the ancients forms the basis of the novel Treasure.

Cussler starts off with a background story of Julius Venator hiding the loot for the ages. It is buried into a mountain in a far off land. It becomes a mystery for Dirk Pitt and crew to track down where in the world could the Romans have brought it, and is it still safe after sixteen centuries of time passing.

To accomplish this plot, there are several subplots intertwined. It starts with the story to take down an airliner. Then we have a search mission for a Russian sub, and an incidental discovery of a Roman galleon. Then there is a ruse to hijack an ocean liner, and a camouflage job to evade detection. Then there is a daring special forces rescue, complete with a massive shoot out. We do finally make it back to the library, but then there is the issue of the Mexicans invading their neighbor to the north. It's not what you think, as it's just a bunch of unarmed women and children running across the border (Wait a sec, that's not exactly fiction...). Anyway, there is another side plot of a revival of Aztec leadership and culture in Mexico, and a regime change. Is it any wonder it took me a while to read this novel?

Treasure has the same feel as Cussler's later works, which is to say, well developed and polished. What makes this novel unique in the Pitt series is that Dirk's father, the Senator, plays a far greater role this time than in any other novel in the series. Also, Rudi Gunn is right in the thick of things, and not more administrative as in later books.

The Dirk Pitt series of Clive Cussler novels are some of the best adventure fiction out there, and Treasure is definitely above average for the series. The theme of pre-Columbian transoceanic crossings figures into some of Cussler's other works, including Valhalla Rising, Trojan Odyssey, and most recently, Treasure of Khan. The author also does a fine job of explaining why this treasure of the ancients, including early Christian writings and maps showing mineral deposits would still be so relevant in our modern world. After hearing some of how various countries would bicker over ownership of this resource, l think it would be better if it stayed hidden. Even if you don't plan on reading the entire Dirk Pitt series, Treasure is an action packed, first rate adventure novel.

Overall Grade: A

Reviewed by Jonas

Addendum: I still have to read Night Probe and Cyclops for the original series to be completed. Maybe I'll finally figure out where the bathtub with the outboard motor in Dirk's home came from...

For the rest of our Clive Cussler reviews, click here.

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