For anyone who is not familiar with the work of Clive Cussler, he is a highly accomplished author having written over 50 books. Yet his acclaim doesn’t stop there. As well as a New York Times Best Selling author he is also a marine biologist who founded the National Underwater and Marine Agency (NUMA). This organization plays a very large part in his novels featuring hero, Dirk Pitt, but is incorporated into many of his other stories as well. His knowledge of history, especially nautical history, is highly influential in the development of his novels and have enhanced his literary work in becoming highly acclaimed and well known adventure novels. In The Tombs Cussler takes us away from the water to explore the history of ancient Europe and Asia.
Husband and wife amateur treasure hunters, Sam and Remi Fargo, receive a call while at a salvage archeology site from a friend and German historian with intriguing possibilities. Taking their leave of the salvage site the Fargo’s embark for Europe, but when they get there they discover this find is something much more valuable than any of them had previously thought. Before long they find themselves in a race for the legendary treasure of Attila the Hun; which is said to be one of the greatest undiscovered treasures in history. As they journey across two continents they will have to use all their resources and intellect to outsmart a Russian mob boss and a ruthless Belgian who claims be a direct descendent of Attila himself.
I have read Cussler’s novels since I was in high school. They are fantastic adventures with great historical references. They are a fun, and I’ve found them to give some good history lessons along the way, but they are not deep literature. It’s pretty straight forward and easy going. Even the historical parts are clearly written and easily understood. Imagine the best history teacher you’ve ever had. Mine was able to take the events of the past and display them as clear and interesting to even the most resistant mind. That’s what the history in this book feels like. Regardless, it is still a book of fiction. The facts are accurate as far as I’ve been able to deduce, but it is an adventure story. It’s like Indiana Jones. Fact mixed with myth and brought to life to create plot.
There was one thing that bothered me while I read this book. It has been a while since I was acquainted with any of his other books, and whether time or experience is the reason for my observation I don’t know. I found some of the book to be repetitive. Nothing large as to be invasive or problematic for the story, but small bits of information were restated and described as if to remind the forgetful reader. I suppose it could be helpful but not to me. I have no problem remembering facts but if he wanted to make sure people remembered something he cold have done it more naturally. I’m not sure if this is a trend in his books, but I hope not.
That being said, they are a good book but one that may not fit with certain audiences. This is not literary fiction or young adult fiction. It is written for adults (both because of characters and content) and provides a light and fun way to read and pick up a little history. He knows his information, especially when it comes to oceanography and nautical history and it convinced me, when I was younger, to go into oceanography. That has since changed, but my interest in history is partially due to his books.