Saturday, January 30, 2010
Dragon sounds like a fantasy novel of some kind or perhaps a documentary if you're a believer like I am. However, this one refers to the ninth book in Mr Cussler's Dirk Pitt series. I've read about six of these books now and it seems I've discovered a pattern. The very early ones are a bit dry and then they get more and more fun to read, even if more and more improbable. This one's main premise is that back near the end of WWII, a third aircraft was on its way to drop another atomic bomb on Japan but crashed in the sea short of its target. The bomb remains intact through all these years until it becomes a handy plot device for Dirk Pitt and company.
The novel is a bit dated, having been written back in 1990 when there was some concern over Japan's financial investments in the US, especially the many real estate aquisitions. Several Japanese bad guys have a plan to smuggle nukes in to the US and use them to blackmail the president. Just how they do that and what they plan to accomplish is where the improbable part comes in. Add to that the author's approach to adventure writing (through a little of everything in there) and you have a fun novel to read as long as you can tolerate the ridculous nature of what's happening. I mean, we have an underground discovery of stolen Nazi art, a human-hunting-human scenario, an undersea science base destroyed, two undersea rescues, an army of robots, and a host of other action-oriented events, many of them not really related to the others. Mr Cussler even inserts himself in the story in a cameo role akin to Alfred Hitchcock in a scene depicting a classic automobile race. It's a bit like watching a combination James Bond/Indiana Jones movie...so many over-the-top impossible scenes that there is no doubt that the hero can do absolutely anything and will survive yet again. There is quite a bit of Japan bashing in here, I must say, but it's targeted at the more extreme elements who want to keep their culture "pure", unlike the melting pot of the US.
I still have four more Dirk Pitt novels on my shelf to read, (I picked them all up at a garage sale for a quarter each so figured I couldn't go wrong). I've been avoiding them for the past couple of years, not really sure why but now I remember their nature and so when I'm in the mood for a good ol' never-ending action-oriented adventure story, I'll pick up another.
"The Red King" is the latest short story I read, once again in Jeffrey Archer's Cat O'Nine Tales collection. This time Mr Archer tells the tale of a thief who got arrested and tried for the wrong crime, even though he deserved the jail time just the same. This one is a complicated story of the theft of a chess piece, the Red King, in a particularly rare chess set. Just how the caper plays out has many twists and turns and connecting the dots of the plot requires the reader's full and careful attention. If you can stick with it, it's worth it in the end but that very thing marks this entry down one notch as compared to the other stories so far.
In a couple of days I'll write about the second book I completed on my trip, The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks.
Top 10 Books in no particular order (Well Known Authors)
- "The Stand" by Stephen King
- "Kane and Able" by Jeffrey Archer
- "The Killer Angels" by Michael Shaara
- "The Dark Elf Trilogy" by RA Salvatore
- "Name of the Wind" by Patrick Rothfuss
- "River God" by Wilbur Smith
- "Mortalis" by RA Salvatore
- "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card
- "Centennial" by James A Michener
- "The Repairman Jack" series by F. Paul Wilson