Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Three of A Kind - Clive Cussler (Part1/3): Sahara

Three of A Kind - Clive Cussler (Part1/3): Sahara
Three of a kind features three books from one of my favorite authors. I was supposed to do all three books in one post but it would be so lengthy and I had to reread them just to make sure that I have them right. So, I decided that I will have them in three parts.

First on the list is Clive Cussler. He is for me the best male fiction-action-adventure writer. I love to travel and this passion has been fueled to burn brighter each time I read a novel of Cussler. He has a penchant for stories that are connected to an ancient epic event complete with a historic icon and a vile villain whose mission in life is revenge, power, greed and destruction. Best of all, the action takes you to exotic places around the globe which often felt like you have been to the place also. He also describes vividly the locations that they will seem too familiar. My favorite character of Cussler and the most famous is Dirk Pitt, which was named after his son, but is more like his alter-ego. Most of the characters in Cussler's novels are based on real persons like Al Giordino who in real-life is his friend. Most of his books are about the adventures of NUMA (National Underwater and Marine Agency), a government agency which studies oceans and do explorations. More like NASA but it's about the seas instead of space. Cussler, also inserts himself in most of his stories and chanced a meeting with the hero. Often, the serendipitous encounter gives the hero a clue or nugget of information which always proved to be helpful in his adventures. Also, very very few good guys die on his books. They only get wounded or the worse is they lose a limb. 

Dirk Pitt

Dirt Pitt is a former Air Force and a master marine engineer who works for NUMA and has a way of finding himself in very delicate and dangerous situations but has an uncanny resourcefulness and wit to extricate himself and save other helpless characters. He also has a love for classic cars, airplanes and tequila. He has opaline green eyes and wavy black hair.

To know more about Dirk Pitt and his epic adventures, here we go:

The first book I read was Sahara and I was so impressed. After that, I made it my life's mission to read all of Clive Cussler's books. Every time I go to a bookstore, the first thing I check is a book by Cussler. 

Yes, you guessed it right, Sahara, the desert and it's where the story culminates. The backdrop of the story is 1865, during the Civil War in the United States. 

Storyline (from the back cover)

A Civil War gunboat that vanished in 1865...
 A world famous Australian aviatrix who disappeared in 1931...
 A deadly tide of poison that threatens the entire world...
 While searching for a treasure on the Nile River, Dirk Pitt thwarts the attempted assassination of a beautiful UN scientist investigating a disease that is driving thousands of North Africans into madness, cannibalism, and death. The suspected cause of the epidemic is vast, unprecedented pollution that threatens to extinguish all life in the world's seas. Racing to save the world from catastrophe, Pitt and his team run a gauntlet between a billionaire industrialist and a bloodthirsty West African tyrant. In the scorching desert, Pitt finds a gold mine manned by slaves and uncovers the truth behind two enduring mysteries--the fate of a Civil War ironclad and its secret connection with Lincoln's assassination, and the last flight of a long-lost female pilot. Now, amidst the shifting sands of the Sahara, Dirk Pitt will make a desperate stand-in a battle the world cannot afford to lose!

My One Cent

I love adventure stories, especially those dealing with intrigue, conspiracies and scandals. I also love stories that keep me on the edge and pique my curiosity. One wherein, I would not know what to expect next and I would have to finish reading in one go so I would have a goodnight's sleep. And sure enough, Sahara did not disappoint. As I have said, this started my almost-obsession with the works of Clive Cussler. I love that he can take an event in the past and turn it into something more interesting. If History textbooks were written this way, it would have been my favorite subject in school. I love history but only when it's written in a way that would intrigue me. I am a curious person and I love learning new things especially about something very historic like a conspiracy on a US President's assassination or scandal about the Catholic Church.

I am all praises for Sahara. The first chapter alone has me glued. I have to read the book again for this post and it still felt like I've read it for the first time. Though, I know the gist of the story, but still, going through each and every page has been a confirmation of high praises for Cussler's talent to spin tales. His ability to take past events, an exotic locale and a modern-day issue into one cohesive story is very phenomenal. He makes it appear like the story is real and not fiction at all. 

Dirk Pitt. I think of him as my elder brother who would be there when I need rescuing. He is a man of many talents and interests. A man of really solid character and convictions. He was never swayed by greed or wealth though he has a weakness for damsels in distress. A true example of a knight in a shining armor. How I wish he was real.

I love that Dirk Pitt is not portrayed as a one-man-army. Though he is a fictional character and often in fiction, the feats performed by the main character are too good to be true. But not in Pitt's case. His adventures often wound and injure him. He also needs help from time to time. He does not assume or pretend that he can take a whole battalion alone and unaided. And in comes, Al Giordino, the best friend since grade school. I don't want to call Al a sidekick, he is definitely not. He is Dirk's partner and he often comes to Dirk's rescue. Al and Dirk's personalities combined, make up a really good tandem. I love that they can find humor even in the midst of a very serious life-threatening situation. A witty banter that often makes me giggle in delight. Dirk is like McGyver (my favorite action TV series character) very creative and resourceful. And as true as in the real world, when faced with a very serious situation, the brain comes up with creative and even hilarious ways to ensure survival. This is one of the most admirable traits of Pitt. Often,the villain is caught blind-sided and never knew what hit him. 

Sahara. The story does not only talk of one great event in history but two, a history-book-altering event during the Civil War in the US and that of a great and courageous woman bent to set records in aviation history. I like that it also talked about red tide and its effect to the depletion of oxygen and earth life. This book might seem in a way a dooms-day-tale but it holds a near-to-reality scenario that might actually happen if we continue to abuse the world for gain. The book is relevant especially now that we are in the midst of global warming and climate change. Let's all be reminded that industrialization and advancement has also its ill effects to the environment. And like in the story, the world is filled with gifted scientists and brains. And in order to extend our existence on the planet, we must all come together as one solid force to come up with a brilliant solution. I also like that the book ends well, the villains were stopped and made to suffer the way they dole out punishment to others. Call it poetic justice.

This book has been made into a movie starring Matthew McConaughey as Dirk Pitt and Penelope Cruz as Dr. Eva Rojas. I would say, you have to read the book, it is always a lot 

better than the movies. And I would have preferred someone else to portray Pitt no offense to McConaughey.

Death is paid for grief and measured only by the depth of the grave.

Part 2/3: Night Probe.
Part 3/3: Treasure.

Text background is from Google.