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The Charlemagne Pursuit: A Novel (Cotton Malone) Mass Market Paperback – November 24, 2009

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Product Details

  • Series: Cotton Malone (Book 4)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (November 24, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345485807
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345485809
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.4 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (216 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,823 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In bestseller Berry's fourth thriller to feature ex–Justice Department agent Cotton Malone (after The Venetian Betrayal), Malone embarks on a search for answers about his father, Capt. Forrest Malone, after learning that instead of dying in 1971 in a nuclear sub accident in the North Atlantic, his father actually died while on a secret submarine mission to the Antarctic. Meanwhile, bad guy Adm. Langford Ramsey schemes to become the next ranking officer of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The two story lines merge as a group led by Malone races to Antarctica, where they find a strange underground city belonging to the Aryans, an advanced race who inhabited the earth at the dawn of our own civilization. A meticulous researcher, Berry carefully integrates such elements as Charlemagne, Nazis, ancient manuscripts, historical puzzles and scientific surprises into the plot. Those who relish suspense in the Da Vinci Code vein will snap this one up, the best yet in the series. 10-city author tour. (Dec.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Berry outdoes himself in his latest Cotton Malone adventure (after The Venetian Betrayal). Using his connections in the federal government, Cotton asks to see a classified file that details the mission that resulted in his father's death. He knew his father died on a submarine but none of the shocking details about where or why he died. But Cotton is not the only person who wants this file, and they kill to get it. Nazi missions to the Antarctic, ancient societies, and a valuable artifact from Charlemagne's tomb all play key roles as Malone uncovers the truth. So much is going on that there is enough material for two good books, let alone one great one. Mixed in with the complicated action, Berry finds the time to explore the characters as well, making this his most personal and best book to date. For all fiction collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 8/08.]—Jeff Ayers, Seattle P.L.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

Each character was well written and the story had a nice flow.
While the overall plot is intriguing the multiple characters and sub-plots did seem a bit confusing and dragged a little at the start.
Within minutes of receiving the highly classified file Cotton finds himself in danger.
Monie Garcia

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

69 of 74 people found the following review helpful By S. McGee TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I love a good thriller, and there just aren't enough of them around. So I was thrilled to discover Steve Berry's early novels. I enjoyed the first one or two of his Cotton Malone books as well. But as he has moved from one book to the next, the body count seems to rise, the characterizations have become more stilted, the action choppier, and the plots have tumbled into territory that become laugh-out-loud implausible. (Sure, Berry provides detailed author's notes showing exactly how he develops his plots, and the historical clues that he relies on, but the real test isn't whether he can make a case for it in the author's note, but whether it feels 'natural' to someone reading.)

I would probably have given this book a 3.5 star rating if the system allowed it. But the core plot device -- the quest in Antarctica for a mysterious superior civilization that preceeded the Mayans, the ancient Egyptians, et. al., that had a connection with Charlemagne, and that evil forces (in the person of a manipulative U.S. Admiral, Langord Ramsey) want to keep secret for their own reasons -- is just too strained for four stars.

Nor is the writing good enough to carry the book over the four-star rating threshold. It's choppy, a la James Patterson, with 94 chapters in only 500 pages, a lot of one-sentence paragraphs, and 8-word long sentences. The perspective keeps jumping back and forth between antiquarian book dealer Cotton Malone and his former intelligence boss, Stephanie Nelle. Each time a gun fires in one location, the action immediately jumps back to the other protagonist. These are all tools that all suspense writers employ, but again, they work best when the reader doesn't realize that they are being used at all.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Quixote010 VINE VOICE on December 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Steve Berry has the formula for interesting books.

1- His main character, Cotton Malone, is complex and interesting with the plausible background of having once worked for the government but has decided to retire to the life of a bookseller in Europe (good so far);
2- Malone has as a reoccurring circle of friends who seem to have endless connections and unimaginable wealth, all of which he seems to have access to at his beck and call (well, it is fiction);
3- Berry's books are historically-based and often revealing, giving credence to his stories and making the storyline more interesting (it's amazing what you can discover from his books);
4- He makes his stories even more interesting by situating them in fascinating, actual surroundings with great detail and explanation (at least most of the time);

So what the problem?

Although I look forward to reading each of his books based upon the features above, I know I'm going to be disappointed at the end. Berry seems to take one step too many. His leaps from the realm of possibility into the circle of absurdity...not much, but just enough to deflate me.

His character, his supporting cast, his locations, even the situations and premises are all outstanding, but he takes a well-created human character with human skills and human frailties and moves the plot into
abnormal, absurd situations. I, for one, would be far more interested in having Mather seek a long-lost copy of Shakespeare's plays (a plausable notion) rather than a long-lost civilization (okay, if we must).

Steve Berry's books are always fun, enjoyable reads, if for nothing more than the interesting, historical facts that surrounds the situation. But the final chapters are flawed. Are the endings satisfactory?
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Yvette Beaudoin on December 10, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This was my first novel by Steve Berry, and I was impressed with it as a stand-alone book. There were occasional references to events and characters of the past, but only when it was relevant to the story. You do not need to read the previous books in the series to follow what's going on, though I'm sure they would give you extra insight into some of the characters.

The story itself was excellent. I love history and historical fiction, and all of the "history" that is unearthed by the characters was plausible. The action and dialogue were well written and paced... something I was not expecting after having read Dan Brown and (mistakenly) presuming that this novel would also require some serious eye-rolling. I connected with most of the characters, and spent most of the time wondering who were the good guys and who were the bad guys.

Not only was I very pleasantly surprised by the quality of the writing in this book, but it was also quite an action-packed page turner. I had a hard time putting it down! I am, however, knocking off a star for some slight character incongruities I noticed. So it's not a perfect literary masterpiece, but it is far and above the typical "historical thriller" genre and a very fun read.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Michael Stephens on August 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Of all the successful contemporary purveyors of this genre: "thriller/historical/'mystical'/with Nazis etc.", Steve Berry has to be the very worst writer. His prose style is workmanlike at best, but more often crude, graceless and mundane, unimaginative and on occasion breathtakingly banal. Even the dreadful but addictive Clive Cussler seems a polished technician of English compared to Berry.

Yet I've read all his books, and look forward to the next one, knowing full well that it will be no better. Because if you are a sucker for these absurd potboilers, as I am, Berry delivers the goods. The Charlemagne Pursuit (awful title) is stuffed with the intrigue, conspiracy, treachery in high places, extreme violence, twisted characters and New Age historical hokum that characterize the genre, and for the most part Berry keeps things moving along vigorously enough. However, he never really connects the two parallel and interrelated plots in a satisfying way that advances the action...and the last 50 pages feel rushed and incomplete as he ties up loose ends. The telegraphically short chapters can be irritating. Characterizations are shallow across the board, and motivations often either murky or blatantly obvious. A major flaw in this book: the lead villain turns out merely to be a paper tiger, disposed of almost as an afterthought.

James Rollins remains the gold standard for this kind of novel. But most fans of the genre will enjoy this book despite its shortcomings.
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More About the Author

Steve Berry is the New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author of The Lincoln Myth, The King's Deception, The Columbus Affair, The Jefferson Key, The Emperor's Tomb, The Paris Vendetta, The Charlemagne Pursuit, The Venetian Betrayal, The Alexandria Link, The Templar Legacy, The Third Secret, The Romanov Prophecy, and The Amber Room. His books have been translated into 40 languages with 19,000,000 copies in 51 countries.

History lies at the heart of every Steve Berry novel. It's his passion, one he shares with his wife, Elizabeth, which led them to create History Matters, a foundation dedicated to historic preservation. Since 2009 Steve and Elizabeth have crossed the country to save endangered historic treasures, raising money via lectures, receptions, galas, luncheons, dinners and their popular writers' workshops. To date, over 2,500 students have attended those workshops. In 2012 their work was recognized by the American Library Association, which named Steve the first spokesman for National Preservation Week. He was also appointed by the Smithsonian Board of Regents to serve on the Smithsonian Libraries Advisory Board to help promote and support the libraries in their mission to provide information in all forms to scientists, curators, scholars, students and the public at large. He has received the Royden B. Davis Distinguished Author Award; the 2013 Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award; his novel The Columbus Affair earned him the Anne Frank Human Writes Award; and International Thriller Writers bestowed him the 2013 Silver Bullet for his work with historic preservation. A 2010 NPR survey named The Templar Legacy one of the top 100 thrillers ever written.

Steve was born and raised in Georgia, graduating from the Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University. He was a trial lawyer for 30 years and held elective office for 14 of those years. He is a founding member of International Thriller Writers--a group of more than 2,600 thriller writers from around the world--and served three years as its co-president.

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