What I’m Reading: Lost Empire by Clive Cussler and Grant Blackwood


Truth is, to try to catch up on shelves of unread books, I’ve been maximizing my reading time by listening to books while in transit and while working. And though I am still a far cry from making it through my backlog of books, I have been making considerable headway. This year I’ve managed to read and/or listen to seventy books and attempted eleven others which I abandoned at some point, because I wasn’t enjoying them or found the content unsuitable.

This second book in the Fargo Adventure series takes place in a modern setting, but as the first novel, incorporates a wealth of background historical material. After reading the first book in the series I felt that the male protagonist, Sam Fargo, was perhaps a little too interchangeable with Dirk Pitt–if he had settled down and had an engineering degree–and perhaps there is still an element of that, but it seemed to me that he began developing more a character of his own in this book, and I wasn’t jarred out of the narrative, thinking: “That’s exactly what Dirk Pitt would say!”

It’s easy to be critical of Cussler because he often draws on the same wells of nautically inspired adventure, lost ships and historical secrets that are uncovered by his intrepid heroes, and he and his literary co-conspirators have written 72 books on variations of themes.

However, I love reading about lost ships and lost civilizations, and I love reading a good adventure novel. It’s part of the pulp tradition to pump out book after book to satisfy the cravings of the insatiable reader, and Cussler and friends do a great job of it. Even the least entertaining of Cussler’s books (this statement is open to revision because I’m a good twenty books short of having read all of them yet) is more entertaining than 99.9% of all fiction being published today. In order to find concurrent fiction in the same entertainment league you’d need to pick up a Dillon novel by Derrick Ferguson or a Royal Occultist novel by Josh Reynolds and sadly, both are rather obscure in comparison to Cussler.

Cussler has the advantage of being a brand name and though readers might be critical of the sameness, it is that familiarity that draws people back to his novels time and again.

-Joel Jenkins
Author of Weird Action & Adventure Fiction


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