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First edition cover
|Author||Clive Cussler, with Paul Kemprecos|
|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
|Pages||420 pp (first edition, hardback)|
|ISBN||0-399-15177-X (first edition, hardback)|
|LC Class||PS3553.U75 L67 2004|
|Preceded by||White Death|
|Followed by||Polar Shift|
It tells of Kurt Austin's dealings with the Fauchard family, which has dominated the weapons industry for several thousand years, their secret past, the monsters they have created, and the plague they have unleashed on the worlds oceans, all in a quest for immortality.
The Story begins with a flashback to August 1914, where Jules Fauchard is flying his Morane-Saulnier N, mono-winged aircraft. Fauchard is heading to meet the pope's emissary in Switzerland but as he is coming to the border and the French Alps, a squad of six Aviatik biplanes find him. The planes attack Fauchard and though he destroys four planes he is eventually shot down and killed. His plane lands in a glacial river and Fauchard along with his helmet and strong box are buried in a glacier.
Cut to the present day in the Scottish Orkney Islands. A reality television show is being filmed when that evening a group of animals attack the crew and cast. Everyone is killed except for Jodie Michaelson; the only reason she is not killed is because as she was running from the creatures she fell into a deep crevace in the rocks and the animals lost her scent.
At about the same time yet another plotline is developing. This part of the story takes place in Monemvassia, The Greek Peloponnese. The storyline follows Dr. Angus MacLean, a research Chemist. MacLean is on the run. He is living in a monastery on a small island in Greece.
As MacLean reminisces it becomes clear why he is running. The trouble began when he was hired to research enzymes in France. As the leader of a team of scientists doing enzyme research, the hours were long but the pay was great and MacLean had no complaints. That was until he began asking questions. The owners of the lab decided to send home the scientists, telling them "not to worry." MacLean headed to Turkey to see the ruins. This probably saved his life. When he came home he was greeted with an envelope full of newspaper clippings and a telephone message from one of his former colleagues that asked him if he had been watching the news and urged MacLean to call him back. When MacLean tried to call him back he was informed that the man had been killed in a hit-and-run accident. This leg of the story ends with MacLean being kidnapped by a hit team that had been hired by the company that ran the lab.
The story then cuts to the French Alps where a team of scientists is studying a glacier named Le Dormeur. The scientists, Hank Thurston and Bernard LeBlanc are accompanied by Derek Rawlins, a journalist for Outside magazine. As the three scientists are giving Rawlins a tour they get a phone call saying that a body frozen in the ice had been discovered.
Two hundred feet below the surface of Lac du Dormeur, Kurt Austin and a beautiful woman named Skye Labelle are inside a submersible searching for remnants of trade routes between Europeans and the Mediterranean civilizations, when Skye is recalled back to land. Skye is an expert in arms and armour. It seems that the authorities need her help to identify the helmet found with the frozen body in the glacier.
When Skye arrives where the body is frozen, she sees her nemesis, Renaud. Auguste Renaud is one of the higher-ups at the State Archaeological board of France. He is attracted to Skye but she is repulsed by him. Skye is puzzled by the body. The deceased is dressed in an early twentieth century flight suit but in his possession is a very old helmet. The helmet is a riddle in itself, as it is of very high quality and very distinctive yet it isn't like anything she has ever encountered. Needless to say Skye cannot identify the artifact on the spot. Much to Skye's chagrin, Renaud has called a press conference in the underground laboratory to announce the discovery to the world.
During the press conference something terrible occurs. A very large and muscular bald man comes up to Renaud and demands the strongbox found with the body saying, "Give the box to me." Renaud responds saying with a grin, "Not on your life!" To this the bald man says, "No, Not on your life!" and with that he pulls a pistol out of his coat and brings it down on Renaud's hand. The large man then takes off with the box. A few seconds later the group hears a loud explosion as a barrier that holds back the glacial waters is destroyed, water is flowing into the laboratory. Then they are trapped in a flooding tunnel.
When Kurt Austin hears the news, he sends a rescue team and they start an operation. Then, another chopper lands on the shore. Austin had called Joe Zavala on his cellphone. Austin and Zavala got into the submersible and crack a hole in the flooding tunnel from under water. They got everyone safely to shore within the next hour.
That was only the first 1/3 of the entire book.
- References are made to the work of Edgar Allan Poe throughout the novel. In one scene, the villains host a costume ball where all of the guests dress as characters from Poe's stories.
- The final scene references Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher" and Kurt Austin explicitly cites the parallel.
- The Fauchards were loosely based on the Krupp family, a dynasty who manufactured quality steel products, mainly (and most profitably) ammunition and armaments for four centuries.
- The Fauchards are also based on the Yabouti family who sold arms to people who had lost them in a second-hand shop. That is Only the first part (about 1/3 of the way).