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1st Edition Hardcover
|Cover artist||Paul Bacon|
|Series||Dirk Pitt Novels|
|Genre||Adventure, Techno-thriller novel|
|Publisher||Simon & Schuster|
|June 2, 1994 1st Edition Hardcover|
|Media type||Print (hardback & paperback)|
|Pages||539 pp (Hardcover edition)|
|LC Class||PS3553.U75 I53 1994|
|Followed by||Shock Wave|
In 1532 a fleet of ships sails in secret to an island in the middle of an inland sea. There they hide a magnificent treasure more vast than that any Pharaoh would ever possess. Then they disappear, leaving only a great stone demon to guard their hoard. In 1578 the legendary Sir Francis Drake captures a Spanish galleon filled with Inca gold and silver and the key to the lost treasure, which includes a gigantic chain of gold, a masterpiece of ancient technology so huge that it requires two hundred men to lift it and a large pile of diamonds worth more than 200 billion dollars that belonged to the last Inca. As the galleon is sailed by Drake's crew back to England, an underwater earthquake causes a massive tidal wave that sweeps it into the jungle. Only one man survives to tell the tale... In 1998 a group of archaeologists is nearly drowned while diving into the depths of a sacrificial pool high in the Andes of Peru. They are saved by the timely arrival of the renowned scuba diving hero Dirk Pitt, who is in the area on a marine expedition. Pitt soon finds out that his life has been placed in jeopardy as well by smugglers intent on uncovering the lost ancient Incan treasure. Soon, he, his faithful companions, and Dr. Shannon Kelsey, a beautiful young archaeologist, are plunged into a vicious, no-holds-barred struggle to survive. From then on it becomes a battle of wits in a race against time and danger to find the golden chain, as Pitt finds himself caught up in a struggle with a sinister international family syndicate that deal in stolen works of art, the smuggling of ancient artifacts, and art forgery worth many millions of dollars. The clash between the art thieves, the FBI and the Customs Service, a tribe of local Indians, and Pitt, along with his friends from NUMA, two of whom are captured and threatened with execution, rushes toward a wild climax in a subterranean world of darkness and death – for the real key to the mystery, as it turns out, is a previously unknown, unexplored underground river that runs through the ancient treasure chamber. The fallen are told to come back and haunt those who took their treasure.
The plot revolves on the great pre-Columbian civilizations in the Andes is used especially often in discussions of the great indigenous civilizations of the Americas, such as those of Andes (Inca, Moche, Chibcha, Chachapoyas) and Mesoamerica (the Aztec and Maya).
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- Huayna Capac gives to his son and heir Huascar a great gold chain, the most valuable treasure in the world.
- 1532: Francisco Pizarro kidnaps the Inca king Atahualpa and asks for a huge ransom.
- 1533: Huascar sends his riches to the North, beyond the lands of the Incas and the Aztec, to a small island in Central America, to protect it from the brother in law.
- 1547: Spanish Conquistadors discover the Naymlap's tomb in the city of Tiapollo. The armor of the mummy of Naymlap is an aid to discover the hidden treasure.
- 1577: Francis Drake set sail for the Pacific with four ships. His will be the first English ship to pass through the Strait of Magellan via what will be called the Drake Passage.
- 1578: The biggest treasure Spanish galleon of the Pacific Armada Nuestra Senora de la Concepcion, commanded by Juan de Anton and armed with only 2 cannons, set sails from Callao in the Incan lands to the colony in Panama, to pass the istmo by mule and send the richness to Siviglia.
The English Corsair galleon Golden Hind, commanded by Francis Drake and armed with 18 cannons, approaches using a Spanish Flag and take over the Spanish galleon. The gold is taken on the English vessel and the religious articles, including the small jade box holding the quipu, is left on the Spanish one.
- The Nuestra Senora de la Concepcion, captured and commanded by Drake's second Thomas Cuthill, is stormed by a Tsunami in the inland near Panama.
- 1580: The Golden Hind returns to Plymouth with the gold, Drake is dubbed Sir by Elizabeth I
- 1594: A Portuguese expedition find in a village on the Amazon River Thomas Cuthill. He speaks of Drake and the Conception, but is left as a mad man.
- 1922: Tiapollo's armor is stolen from the Regional Archaeological Museum of Siviglia.
- 1939: Nicholas Bender publishes a book on the ancient path of the hunter for Eldorado.
- 1964: Two subs die exploring the Cenote.
- March, 1998 Steve 'Doc' Miller of the Pennsylvania University goes in Peru and is killed by Tupac Amaru. Cyrus Sarason of the Solpemachaco takes his place.
- October 10, 1998: Dr. Shannon Kelsey, an expert in the Chachapoyas culture, and the operator Miles Rodgers, dive in the Cenote, and don't come back.
Trujillo military base asks for NUMA intervention. A helicopter with Dirk Pitt and Al Giordino takes off from the NUMA seismic vessel Deep Fathom. Tupac Amaru, with a band of Sendero Luminoso (Peruvian Maoist guerrilla group), kidnaps the scientists and the students, and take them in the Viracocha Valley, in the mythical death city Pueblo de los Muertos.
- Dirk Pitt frees the prisoners and steals an Mi-8, an old soviet helicopter, to return to the Deep Fathom.
- Rudi Gunn,comes to the Deep Fathom and joins the party.
- October 15, 1998: Pitt and Shannon return to the Cenope to recover the corpse of Dr. Miller and find an explosive trap.
- Julien Perlmutter is asked to find evidence on the Concepcion. He searches the archives at the Library of Congress. He contacts Frank Adams, the publisher of the book titled On the Trail of El Dorado by Nicholas Bender and obtains the author's phone number. Mr. Bender graciously offers to give St. Julien the journal of Cutthill
Dirk Pitt asks Hiram Yaeger to find evidence of a Tsunami in the zone.
Pitt flies to Lima and receive an EG&G magnetometer from the NUMA ship. The Geometrics G-8136 is an airborne proton magnometer, similar to the old G-801 Gunn is used to. Pitt hopes to be able to locate about 1 ton of iron in the wreck from a height of 50–75 meters. Pitt, Giordino, and Gunn board a commercial flight to Quito, the capital of Ecuador. A petrol company in debt to NUMA lends them a McDonnell Douglas NOTAR MD900 Explorer helicopter, a two-turbine modern helicopter with no tail rotor. They fly to the Bay of Caraquez and follow the Chone River inland, until they reach the rapids. Then they fly a grid composed by 2 km-long lines parallel to the 1578 coastline, from 2 km inland to 7 km, spaced 75m. They find the galleon on the original grid at the 7th km, meaning the tsunami would have carried the 570-ton ship 7 km over the land. Pitt goes down to retrieve the jade box while Gordino and Gunn refuel at the Manta airport. Pitt finds an anchor, mother-of-pearl and turquoise artifacts, a 3-meter pit viper, an oil lamp and finally the jade box. Pitt hops a flight to Dulles airport, Washington, where Deputy Loren Smith picks him up in a 1953Allard J2X. Taken to NUMA, Yaeger uses his computer to analyze the information in the quipu.
The Golden Body Suit of Tiapollo is taken to the Logan Storage Company, a warehouse complex near Galveston, and taken to an underground complex under the Zolar International.
- Dirk Pitt wants a Dixieland Orchestra to play Waiting for Robert E. Lee ("Way down on the levee in old Alabamy...").
- The First Attempt, a yacht owned by the couple that rescues Dirk Pitt in the Gulf of California, is also the name of a NUMA ship found in The Mediterranean Caper.