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Lost Empire (A Sam and Remi Fargo Adventure) Paperback – August 30, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
While scuba-diving on the Tanzania coast, Sam and Remi Fargo find a U.S. Civil War ship's bell engraved with Aztec hieroglyphs. Recovering it and discovering its provenance becomes irresistible--especially when they realize someone is desperate to conceal its secrets. From Africa through North America to Asia, the Fargos race to stay ahead of their ruthless pursuers. Narrator Scott Brick continues to keep Cussler's escapades light entertainment; having narrated the previous books in the series, Brick is now part and parcel of the Cussler audiobook fan's continued enjoyment--and essential in ratcheting up the tension and excitement as needed. A Putnam hardcover (Reviews, Aug. 2). (Sept.) (c)
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.
This is the second installment (after Spartan Gold, 2009) of Cussler’s action-packed new series featuring husband-and-wife treasure-hunters Sam and Remi Fargo, a spunky Nick and Nora for the twenty-first century. Scuba diving off the coast of East Africa, the couple discovers a bell, covered in cryptic carvings, from a long-lost Confederate warship. While they struggle to decode the clues found on the bell, a sinister faction is shadowing them in hopes of also discovering the secret to which the clues lead. Unlike the Fargos, this group does not want the secret uncovered and will kill to keep it hidden, as the discovery would result in a rewrite of the history books. In his inimitable way, Cussler throws everything into the pot: Confederate warships, the Aztecs, the Krakatoa explosion of 1883, pirates, and, in the tradition of Alfred Hitchcock, Cussler himself in a cameo appearance. Blackwood, the coauthor, seems to have brought a breath of fresh air to Cussler’s usual testosterone-laced style by toning down the traces of xenophobia and misogyny that often permeate the long-in-the-tooth Dirk Pitt series. HIGH DEMAND BACKSTORY: Fans of Mathew Reilly and James Rollins will revel in this treasure-hunting adventure. --Michael Gannon --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Just about everything in this book was out of focus. There are pages dedicated to hotel rooms and meals that really serve no purpose, and as other reviewers have pointed out, no character development. Even more maddening are segments that are supposed to show how clever the characters are (lifting the bell from the bottom of the ocean, the whole "decoding"), yet they are so poorly written that you wind up confused. Then there are some glaring editorial mistakes that got me so turned around, I went skipping back pages to see what I missed. SPOILERS. For instance, when the Orizanga Codex is introduced, Sam Fargo says "Orizanga, that's something out of Blaylock's journal." I thought, wow I guess I missed that, so I went back 25 pages trying to find out where Orizanga was mentioned earlier. He wasn't. Here's another howler: When Sam and Remi get rounded up by the Madagascar Rebels, they are brought back to their Range Rover which "sat under The Three Wise Men." What wise men? Are there three sages sitting on top of the car? One begins to understand that these wise men are in fact some sort of rock cluster which is never mentioned, named or described. Bad editing. Poor writing. I won't even go into the incessant product placement for Apple.
Why did I feel like I was losing my mind? I would get frustrated with the writing, I would hand the book to my girlfriend and say "do me a favor, read this and tell me if you understand this / can picture what he's trying to describe." Cussler books are not supposed to be like that. They're fun, easy reads. Not ponderous.
So, whatever you do, forgo the Fargoes.
The last time we saw the husband and wife team of treasure hunters, Remi and Sam Fargo, they were off doing their stuff in Spartan Gold, a la Indiana Jones. Now, they are back in a dud of an adventure entitled Lost Empire, again, co-authored by Clive Cussler and Grant Blackwood. Once more, I was left feeling dissatisfied on many levels.
First, I still have no idea what either Remi or Sam looks like. Oh, there are the brief descriptions where Sam is several inches taller than the rebels who capture him or that he can swim quite well, or that he knows some self-defense moves. But I could not see him, physically, as I read the novel. Also, I have absolutely no image of his wife, Remi; she just floats along as a sometimes wise-cracking companion to her husband. Curiously, the only character I can slightly envision is Selma, the researcher, organizer, travel agent, and computer/technical genius who seems to hold the Fargos' lives together by being able to arrange for the rental of planes or boats at critical moments, in often the most inaccessible and poorest countries in the world.
I also have problem with much of the dialogue, especially between Remi and Sam. I was able to switch back and forth, changing the name of the speaker from one to the other, with no differentiation in the dialogue. The other characters speak as "types," simplistically drawn: the evil villains, the manipulating and scheming politician, the revolutionary thugs, the CIA contact able to provide what is needed at a moment's notice.
Beyond the above points, the story is weak, little more than a treasure hunt, with no suspense, and a predictable outcome. True, the Fargos are often threatened by ruthless Rivera, the henchman of Garza, the President of Mexico. Garza, a self-serving, power-hungry politician, is attempting to rebuild both his personal and his nation's images with an attempt to return to the world of the Aztecs--through his ultra nationalistic party, Mexica Tenocha--before European invaders destroyed the Aztecs. Rivera, his personal thug, is a stereotype, able to withstand extraordinary pain and punishment to his body as he pursues the goals of his master.
The story involves a lost Confederate ship whose captain may have found the origins of the Aztec people, the revelation of which would topple Garza's government. The Fargos travel from Tanzania to Zanzibar, Madagascar to Indonesia, with several trips in between to Southern California where they draw upon the computer skills of their research staff led by Selma. Along the way, they are threatened by assorted villains, yet I never got the feeling that they were ever in danger, since they always managed to escape, with a few scratches and bruise, to continue on to their next capture and beating. After all, Indiana Jones never died...he always managed to escape the most outrageous cliffhanging dangers. So, too, do the Fargos manage such derring-do, with minor injuries...including Remi being shot in her leg...something which only manages to slightly incapacitate her.
But, no more spoilers. Let me just say that Lost Empire is written for a ten-year-old seeking some adventure, with comic book dangers and villains, content to read about characters who have superficial appeal and show no unique identities. I think Mr. Cussler and Mr. Blackwood would have done better to have had one lead character, either Sam or Remi, since they are they same, and flesh out that character into someone believable. Then, of course, they might have been able to create real characters, with whom the reader can sympathize and identify.
In his early days, Mr. Cussler wrote some terrific books, with Dirk Pitt and Al Giordano as people we care about. The two are individuals, cleverly drawn, in some ways opposite sides of the same coin. They are friends who watched each other's back, can anticipate the other's words and actions, and yet remain unique. The Fargos are cardboard cutouts by comparison. Perhaps, Mr. Cussler has run out of ideas, or is losing his writing skills, and is attempting to recapture the quality of his early work through co-writers. If that is the case, he should be more selective about his co-writers, and should also spend more time critically editing the final manuscript. If not, future novels of the quality of Lost Empire will find more lost readers.
Reading the 'professional' reviews on the slip cover has no made me doubt the veracity of those reviewers as well.
Mr. Cussler...Clive....shame on you! Worse yet, shame on your editor and publisher for even allowing this to reach the stands!!!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
gives facts with all the plots they go through,
the only draw back is in every one of these stories