52 of 55 people found the following review helpful
Clive Cussler has done what some other accomplished writers have tried and failed to do. He started a new series that he co-authors, he has kept the quality of the reading very near that of his own books, and now they have gone from a paperback format to hardcover. The last step is a major one and speaks very well of the care this new series was created with. Other authors have tried the same diversification and they are not worth the soft cover format they were introduced with, and will never see the more expensive binding.
The central organization is the same; specifically NUMA, but the central character and the events he is involved in are stepped down from the more outrageous elements that sometimes turn a Dirk Pitt adventure into something akin to Indiana Jones. The famous bathtub escape comes to mind. The Pitt adventures have become classic in the genre and they make for great reading, they also have had occasion to go over the top at times. Kurt Austin is Dirk Pitt on a smaller scale. Austin collects antique dueling pistols while Dirk accumulates World War Two German Jets, railroad cars, and fantastically rare cars.
The idea of introducing a Romanov theme into a story is a gutsy decision for it has been used countless times, and in the majority of uses has become an overused cliché. Cussler and Paul Kemprecos handle the idea well, and while it is still a bit fantastic it does not cross the line in to storytelling that really is a pretty wild stretch to suspend disbelief.
I don't know the science of the Methane (Fire Ice), but again it strikes me as being credible. These books almost seem to take their cue from some of the countless ships that Mr. Cussler has located in real life, and which history will always owe him a debt. This story has a tragic event, but unlike many of the Pitt series the results are far less dramatic and flamboyant. Austin certainly enjoys the beautiful woman that NUMA scientists seem to have a knack for finding wherever they go, but again it is toned down quite a bit.
Whether on his own or in collaboration with another author, if a book has Cussler's name on it you invariable get your money's worth. He is a great teller of tales, and knowledgeable of history, a combination that guaranties good books. This is really escapist fiction at its best. And for those who enjoy the non fiction work of Cussler and his search for old ships there is a second installment of that book on the way as well.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
See storyline above.
Kurt Austin returns for another adventure that's sure to keep you pumped till the last page.
When Cussler teams with Kemprecos, you get the Dirk Pitt clone known as Kurt Austin. An original character on his own but still as tough as they come. This time around Austin and his regular partners-including Joe Zavala-- must stop a Russian mad man, who claims to be a Romanov descendent, from destroying the United States and becoming the new Tsar of Russia.
I am never disappointed with a Clive Cussler novel. The entertainment value is unbeatable. The subjects he writes about are well researched, as are the locales (Black Sea, Istanbul). Even though the good guys always miraculously win, it's still darn good storytelling.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on July 29, 2002
Clive Cussler is an established author with a proven formula of success in his books. I love the way he takes a historical event, puts a twist on it and then works it into his story. I feel that this particular aspect adds a dash of credibility to his fantastic adventures. The book starts out in Odessa Russia when the Czars family is fleeing persecution from the Bolsheviks. Supposedly the family perishes in a ship while escaping through the Black Sea, but one of the girls survives and leaves the possibility for descendants. The villain of this adventure is a mining tycoon named Mikhail Razov who claims to be descended from the Romanovs. Razov hopes to claim world dominance by creating a series of tsunamis using an unstable methane hydrate compound called fire ice that would wipe out the United States coastlines. This action would weaken Russia's main opponent and leave him free to claim leadership of the Soviet Union and dictate world economic policy. In actuality, I found Razov to be a weak and boring character. His sidekick Boris actually made a better and more interesting villain. It was later revealed that Boris might have been descended from Rasputin himself so I think he would have made a much better antagonist.
Kurt Austin proves to be the same womanizing adventurer on the same caliber as Dirk Pitt. The two are very interchangeable. In this adventure, Kurt works in conjunction with one of his cold war enemies by the name of Viktor Petrov. Since the cold war has thawed out, Petrov is now very cooperative and has a new attitude toward the United States. They make a good team and their competitive relationship makes this novel more interesting. Kurt Austin also has a cast of supporting characters such as Joe Zavala, Paul Trout and Gamay. I felt that these characters needed to be developed a little more, their personalities need to be a little more distinctive and unique. Luckily Clive Cussler had a sprinkling of old familiar characters such as Admiral Sandecker, Rudi Gunn, Hiram Yaeger and Julian Perlmutter that strengthened the story.
The adventure in Fire Ice is as exciting as you would find in any Clive Cussler novel. I particularly liked the way he included the USS Constitution in a firefight exchange with the bad guys. The one thing that you notice right away is that Cussler did not make his usual cameo appearance in the novel. I thought that the officer on board the Constitution named Josh Slade would have provided Cussler with a good opportunity to write himself in but that does not happen in this book. I was disappointed when I first heard that Clive Cussler had written new novels that starred a different hero by the name of Kurt Austin. I didn't even bother to read "Serpent" or "Blue Gold" but when I saw "Fire Ice" at the bookstore I decided to break down and give it a try. I'll have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. Now I'm going to go back and find the other two Kurt Austin novels to see if they are just as good.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
It is impossible NOT to notice the overwhelming similarities between the characters of Kurt Austin & Joe Zavala and Dirk Pitt & Al Giordino. As I read the first installment ('Serpent') I couldn't help but think if you substituted the name Dirk with Kurt, and Al for Joe, well, you pretty much had your basic Dirk Pitt adventure. I must admit that it bugged me -- at FIRST. Instead of collecting classic cars, Kurt had classic firearms...and other than that, the differences were slim & none. Al and Joe are virtual clones, too. Both are strong, both love the ladies, and both can sleep at the drop of a hat in almost any possible situation. Did I enjoy running around with Kurt & Joe as much as I did with Dirk & Al? Well I must admit that for the most part, the answer was YES. 'Serpent' was a slam-bang introduction into the life of our newest NUMA hero. While 'Blue Gold' wasn't as all-out entertaining, I have to say that 'Fire Ice' has been Cussler's best bet since 'Atlantis Found' (for ME anyway).
This adventure reads like something out of the Cold War ala Robert Ludlum, with an adventure twist that only Cussler could serve up. Russia is on the verge of collapse (actually I can't remember when they weren't...) and a wealthy Russian bad guy who claims royal ancestry with the tsars is poised to make the biggest coup since the Bolsheviks de-throned the original royal family back in the early part of the previous century. There seems to be only one thing standing in his way: The United States. He knows that a takeover of this magnitude can't possibly be ignored by the world's foremost superpower. So he arranges a few surprises in the form of the title of the book, 'Fire Ice'. Unstable pockets of explosive gas trapped in bedrock all over the globe under the seas and oceans. Just a simple trigger of this amazingly powerful stuff can cause waves of incredible force to slam into the coast of America -- giving our Russian bad guy just the sort of diversion he needs to keep
his plans of taking over his country in motion.
Along the way we meet Kurt's Russian rival (from the Cold War) who turns out to be a great friend in the fight against the self proclaimed New Tsar of Russia. The pace is frenetic (as you have come to expect from ANY Cussler novel) and while nothing seems to come as a complete surprise, I lapped up this adventure eager to find out how it all tied together in the end. Either Cussler has a great deal of input in the storytelling of these Kurt Austin stories, or Paul Kemprecos has mastered the art of imitating Cussler's style. Without question I felt that 'Fire Ice' is an above-average adventure tale, and better than several
Dirk Pitt stories. Again, this is just MY opinion. I have never been disappointed with Clive's novels, and he seems to be keenly aware that in order to continue his fan base, he must write adventures based upon his tried-and-true formula which he has perfected over the years. A formula which WORKS, I might add. Simply put, I loved this story and very much look forward to many stories to come in the world of Kurt Austin as well as Dirk Pitt. Cussler truly IS a gifted storyteller, and I believe 'Ice Fire' helps to prove it.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
What do tsunamis, methane hydrate (nicknamed fire ice), a studly hero and a plot to take over the world by a mad man all have in common? No, it isn't the latest James Bond picture-at least at the time of this writing. Instead, it is another thrilling adventure from the empire of Clive Cussler. One does not read him for deep penetrating insights into the human species. You read him because he does adventure better than just about everyone else even if some of his scenes stretch the limits of believability at times.
As noted in the title, this is another in the new series featuring Kurt Austin. And everyone is back to face a foe bent on worldwide domination. In this case the mad man, Razov, is owner of a mining consortium in Russia. He believes that he is an heir to the Tsar's, which were last in power in Russia in 1918. He believes that it is his duty to restore Russia to its early glory and he has a plan to do so. He plans to detonate the massive pockets of methane hydrate along the continental shelf along both coasts of The United States. Among other consequences, the resulting massive undersea landslides would case huge tsunamis that would destroy major east and west coast cities.
Of course, with the fate of the world in the balance, he must be stopped. Enter the always studly, Kurt Austin, and the merry band of operatives from NUMA. After being involved in several strange incidents in the Black Sea, Kurt begins to put the pieces of the puzzle together. Along with the usual scenes of him angrily crossing words with the evildoers, he also has time for the ladies. They, of course, are beautiful, interesting and alluring, and would welcome a brief interlude from the dangers of a world in peril.
This writing team does not plough any new ground but one really does not expect them to do so either. These novels are sheer escapism and this novel has several sections devoted to briefly explaining earlier novels in the series. As such, because of those explanations, if you read this novel first, then you don't need to read the others. Regardless take this one for what it is-a light fun read where everything ends happily and the stud does get the girl (for the night, weekend, or whatever.) Life is good.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 16, 2002
Literary commercialism. I guess, from a pure business point-of-view, commercialism IS the name of the game but that can really leave the reader in an undefined abyss at times. To better define where I'm heading, I fully believe the new impetus relative to second author "contributors" is nothing more than a methodology to put books on the shelf. If Paul Kemprecos can write the meat of a novel and Mr. Cussler can edit the manuscript through cursory review, a publisher has the formula for "best efforts" relative to gross sales. Unfortunately, this formula does not always yield the "best" results for the reader.
FIRE ICE is the latest offering from Cussler and Kemprecos and, as is wonderfully expected, centers itself around the latest NUMA adventure. Like VALHALLA RISING (a book I enjoyed immensely), Cussler brings the reader to a different time and place at the beginning of the book, setting the tone for the main theme. The introduction of FIRE ICE begins in Russia in 1918 with the sinking of a rusty merchant ship, the Odessa Star. The reader is then 'transported' to current day, off the Maine coast, fishing with Dr. Leroy Jenkins. Dr. Jenkins, a retired oceanography college professor, feels a shift in the ocean waters suddenly reminding of him of a not so pleasant memory, in another time and place. True to professorial form, he notifies the sheriff of his hometown to evacuate the coastline. What does Dr. Jenkins suspect? A tsunami. Why and what causes it is the darkly-veiled mystery.
As the story unfolds, our resident villian comes to the reader in the form of Mikhail Razov. Razov, like the archetypal filthy rich megalomaniac, believes himself to be a direct descendent of the Romanovs. Like the czar, Razov's personal advisor is a mad monk aptly named Boris who, conveniently enough, is an indirect descendent of the infamous mad monk, Rasputin. Our villan has devised a scheme to instigate numerous tsunamis by tapping into the ocean's natural methane hydrates, or Fire Ice. The reason? To shift the planet's climate base and accelerate global warming in an effort to tap into the untold resources in Siberia. The rub? It would turn most of the United States into a vast wasteland.
Our hero for this Cussler iteration is Kurt Austin, a bit less outspoken than Dirk Pitt but nonetheless heroic and dashing. Austin and his Special Assignments team must determine the source of this diabolical plan and, with the assistance of his team and another very unlikely character, foil it lest the U.S. perish. Returning characters to the Austin genre include the lovable Joe Zavala, the Trouts, Adm. Sandecker, Rudi Gunn and Hyram Yeager (Max, as always, is 'with' Yeager!).
Like the latest collaboration by Robert Ludlum (The Paris Option), FIRE ICE just does not have the same edge expected from Clive Cussler, which leads to one of two conclusions: 1) Cussler is losing his touch or 2) Kemprecos is the writer. I lean toward 2) as I don't think Cussler is considering retirement nor do I believe he's finished enthralling us with NUMA tales nor can I fathom that he's losing his touch.
Like most of Cussler's books, FIRE ICE provides the reader with the requisite tutorial in an area of oceanic science and history unlike any other fiction offering. Frankly, from this standpoint alone, learning from a book of fiction what can be considered as extremely boring classroom discussions is something of an unexpected treat. However, this is not the reason a typical reader picks up the latest Cussler thriller.
In the end, this is a decent book with some sharp edges but without the typical Cussler brio. Perhaps I'm expecting too much when I see Cussler's name on a "soon-to-be-released" list but still, isn't that one of the reasons we read?
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 11, 2002
First, I have to admit that I've been a Clive Cussler/Dirk Pitt junkie from the time my grandmother bought me a copy of Raise the Titanic back in 1978. I still have the origonal, well-worn paperback sitting on my shelf. I've read all his work and even began to buy the hardcovers in first edition as soon as I got out of college and could afford them. To me, Cyclops was the pinnacle, but I still keep buying, hoping that ole Dirk can get close to the heights reached in that book. I even could live with the "Dirk meets Clive" bits.
After Fire Ice, I can honestly say that I believe Mr. Cussler has lost one of his biggest fans. The book was slow, plodding, and generally unexiting. I'd have to say it was the worst book purchase I've ever made.
I really have a feeling that Paul Kemprecos is more than just a "contributor." I have a feeling that like Tom Clancy's Op Center, etc, that he is writing for Cussler. I could be wrong, but that's what I think. This is a huge disappointment, as the Kurt Austin books have been quite terrible.
Please, please, please bring back Dirk Pitt. And please start writing on your own again.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 4, 2003
Are we sure Fire Ice was written by Cussler? I've been fascinated by his imagination since I read Raise the Titanic years ago, and I've read a number of his books since. First, it is too much a reworking of other novels and too little an adventure based on historical possibilities. Second, it appears to be written with Hollywood, not readers, in mind; one can almost read the script's instructions between the lines and the director's voice in the background. Too bad. It really was an idea with possibilities.
12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on June 20, 2003
In his third installment in the NUMA Files series, Clive Cussler delivers another exciting adventure packed with action, intrigue, and dangerous exploits.
Emanating from the Soviet Union, a mining and shipping tycoon has designs on overthrowing the current Soviet government believing himself to be the Tsar of Russia. To avoid the interference of the United States, he orchestrates a plan to create a massive disaster that would affect a large part of the U.S. eastern seaboard. On the continental shelf are pockets of a highly combustible compound known as methane hydrate or Fire Ice. Detonating this material would cause tidal waves sufficient enough to destroy major cities. Unbeknownst to NUMA officials and the American government alike, an even more insidious plan is in the works and time is fading fast to avert a catastrophic event that could have global implications.
Fire Ice is a fast paced and very entertaining read that will be sure to please Clive Cussler fans and anyone who enjoys a solid, well written adventure tale.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 2, 2002
This is the third installment of Kurt Austin and it is not quite as good as the other two. This time we see Kurt in an adventure where Cussler uses this novel to give some more detail on our new hero's background. The Russian 'Ivan' - or Petrov - is a potential arch-nemesis of Austin's - who refuses to make him such despite nearly killing him - and we get a Russia - US collaberation to prevent an meglomaniac who wants to destroy the US Eastern Seaboard using artifically created sea floor slumps to create tsunami which in turn will lead to global warming designed to turn most of Russia into an resource abundant paradise. Throw in the search for the truth about the Romanov Tsars' treasure and you get a rip-roaring yarn.
The plot, even for Cussler, is a little thin, but our erstwhile hero chases old submarines across the Black Sea, gets involved with Cossack warriors, an adventurous and beautiful TV show reporter - Kaela - before racing across the world's oceans in NUMA ships with his companions, Joe, Gamay and Trout to prevent the tsunami disaster.
Unlike recent Dirk Pitt adventures this entire novel is ocean bound (the odd dip into NUMA headquarters). It is clear that Cussler and Kemprecos are more at home undersea where the adventure has all the technical jargon thrown in, than in creating a thriller based on characters, but, all in all, it takes us where we need to go as Austin proves again he is the new Pitt. What must eventually be asked - will Cussler do a Pitt-Austin adventure? This is an enjoyable Bond-esque ride that can be read on any journey or on holiday.