I’ve got to admit that I’ve been waiting a long time to start this series, the Fargo Adventures, by Clive Cussler. I’m only one book away from having completed three of his other series (The NUMA Files, The Oregon Files, and the Dirk Pitt Adventures), and I’m only half-interested in his turn-of-the-century novels in the Isaac Bell Adventures series. So to have available seven more treasure-hunting adventure novels is just grand. The only reason I waited so long to start was that I couldn’t locate this Book 1 on audio.
When I first got into Spartan Gold and met Sam and Remi Fargo, I found them immediately refreshing. They had few ties to government agencies, but are merely a wealthy and romantic couple who self-finance their treasure-hunting escapades. Whereas Kurt Austin might stealthily attack his quarry in a HALO suit and Juan Cabrillo might use a Gatling gun, the Fargos attack with rusted rebar and a heavy rock. That shift in bravado was an exciting way to begin a new series!
One thing that specifically jumped out to me about this new couple is their constant banter about past exploits which we’ll (hopefully) never see. This history of “real life” adventure and romance gives these characters a whole other side that makes them almost human. When such shadows in a character are lacking, it’s noticeable and makes for very poor reading (see Tom Swift and His Underwater Adventure).
While I really did enjoy Book 1 and will certainly continue with the series, there are a couple of critiques to share. As the story progressed, for example, from American swamps and Caribbean caves to Bavarian snow chalets, I started to recognize a real drag to it all. An event or close-shave that would normally take Cussler just one or two chapters to describe seemed to drag on for five or more chapters here. An introduction to the couple and their methods are certainly necessary, but I found myself getting impatient with how slowly the book moved in some places. My initial excitement was starting to wear thin, and I wanted them to finally just find the pillars and move on.
Another thing that got to me was the issue of codes and riddles. Anytime a novelist works in codes and riddles, he has the potential to captivate with excitement and mystery like no one else. Just look at Dan Brown for example! For whatever reason, though, the codes and riddles in Spartan Gold were minimal plot points and far too difficult and abstract for any reader to follow and solve. Any excitement they promised to engineer came to naught, and that was a bit of a let-down. I hope the other novels in the series use codes and intrigue, but I also hope they’re far more successful at doing so.
I really did enjoy this entrance into a “new” Cussler series, and I look forward to cracking into Book 2, Lost Empire.