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The Charlemagne Pursuit: A Novel
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As a child, former Justice Department agent Cotton Malone was told his father died in a submarine disaster in the North Atlantic, but now he wants the full story and asks his ex-boss, Stephanie Nelle, to secure the military files. What he learns stuns him: His father¡¯s sub was a secret nuclear vessel lost on a highly classified mission beneath the ice shelves of Antarctica.

But Malone isn¡¯t the only one after the truth.

Twin sisters Dorothea Lindauer and Christl Falk are fighting for the fortune their mother has promised to whichever of them discovers what really became of their father¨Cwho died on the same submarine that Malone¡¯s father captained.

The sisters know something Malone doesn¡¯t: Inspired by strange clues discovered in Charlemagne¡¯s tomb, the Nazis explored Antarctica before the Americans, as long ago as 1938. Now Malone discovers that cryptic journals penned in ¡°the language of heaven,¡± inscrutable conundrums posed by an ancient historian, and the ill-fated voyage of his father are all tied to a revelation of immense consequence for humankind.

In an effort to ensure that this explosive information never rises to the surface, Langford Ramsey, an ambitious navy admiral, has begun a brutal game of treachery, blackmail, and assassination. As Malone embarks on a dangerous quest with the sisters¨Cone that leads them from an ancient German cathedral to a snowy French citadel to the unforgiving ice of Antarctica¨Che will finally confront the shocking truth of his father¡¯s death and the distinct possibility of his own.

Customer Reviews:

  • wait...wait...darn
    Steve Berry has the formula for interesting books.

    1- His main character, Cotton Malone, is complex and interesting with the plausible background of having once worked for the government but has decided to retire to the life of a bookseller in Europe (good so far);
    2- Malone has as a reoccurring circle of friends who seem to have endless connections and unimaginable wealth, all of which he seems to have access to at his beck and call (well, it is fiction);
    3- Berry's books are historically-based and often revealing, giving credence to his stories and making the storyline more interesting (it's amazing what you can discover from his books);
    4- He makes his stories even more interesting by situating them in fascinating, actual surroundings with great detail and explanation (at least most of the time);

    So what the problem?

    Although I look forward to reading each of his books based upon the features above, I know I'm going to be disappointed at the end. Berry seems to take one step too many. His leaps from the realm of possibility into the circle of absurdity...not much, but just enough to deflate me.

    His character, his supporting cast, his locations, even the situations and premises are all outstanding, but he takes a well-created human character with human skills and human frailties and moves the plot into
    abnormal, absurd situations. I, for one, would be far more interested in having Mather seek a long-lost copy of Shakespeare's plays (a plausable notion) rather than a long-lost civilization (okay, if we must).

    Steve Berry's books are always fun, enjoyable reads, if for nothing more than the interesting, historical facts that surrounds the situation. But the final chapters are flawed. Are the endings satisfactory? Well, kinda. They would be far more interesting to me if they were far less grand.

    The shelves are full of wonderful, interesting characters... Cotton Malone is certainly one. For my sake, I would like Berry to keep him human, and away from far-reaching premises. ...more info
  • You've got to be joking...
    I've read most of Mr. Barry's books and, within this genre, they have been enjoyable. You get action w/history. I especially like the end of his books which separate fact from his fiction.
    BUT THIS STORY TAKES THE CAKE. The author apparently could not decide on which story-line to use so he incorporates two of which makes NO SENSE whatsoever???? I think we've just entered the genre of 'ridiculous'.
    I'd say "plot spoiler" right about here but this plot(s) was spoiled a while ago:
    Cotton wants to find out what happened to his father..fair enough..sounds good AND he has to deal w/an evil Admiral(even better, he was very very evil..until he became stupid).
    All plausible UNTIL he meets up with beautiful twin sisters who want to find out the fate of their dead NAZI father(who died with Cotton's all American Dad) and whose mother is pitting them against one another to see who will take over the family fortune...take a breath 'cause it gets worse...and they all get killed in the end so old Mommy Dearest keeps the fortune. Yep..plot spoils right about HERR..oops, meant HERE.
    This book was such a disappointment, it was irritating to read. And I bought it HARDCOVER! ...more info
  • purchased as a christmas gift.....
    ....for someone in my office. she always asks for steve berry's books, so he must be a terrific writer :) ...more info
  • Okay Read...
    First Steve Berry book... Your average run of the mill thriller formula of plot - big secret, murder, good guy on the run and saves the day, confusion, etc. Didn't care for the choppiness of the story settings, meaning, one chapter you're with Malone in Europe and the next you're back in that states with Davis, et all.

    Like Malone's character, although it did remind me of Mitch Rapp (character created by Vince Flynn) and Gabriel Allon (character created by Daniel Silva). Frankly, would rather read Flynn and Silva than Berry anyday....more info
  • The Bodies Pile up like Cord Wood
    I've read a few other Berry thrillers (THE AMBER ROOM, THE ROMANOV PROPHECY), mainly to satisfy my Romanov jones. Berry usually does a pretty good job making the historical distortions palatable. That's not the case with THE CHARLEMAGNE PURSUIT. I wanted to know more about Charlemagne, but this is more about some crazy Nazi scheme to prove their Aryan ancestry.

    The book is in trouble right off the bat in that there are too many characters, and each of them is given his/her own viewpoint. There's a villainous admiral who wants to be vice president who will stop at nothing to get there, including murdering people. There are three or four secret agents, some of whom work for the admiral. There are two crazy German sisters who hate each other and their mother who is even crazier. There is a professional hit man with more lives than a cat. The list goes on and on. Suffice it to say the bodies pile up like cord wood.

    The Charlemagne reference has to do with a couple of books that the two German sisters own, one supposedly found in Charlemagne's grave. One of the books is in Latin, the other in some unintelligible language that the sisters and Cotton Malone, the main character, try to translate. It supposedly has to do with an advanced civilization that existed well before the Egyptians. And get this, it was supposed to be located beneath the ice cap in Antarctica.

    Berry must have had a problem with some of this stuff himself because he includes a "writer's note" at the end, trying to fill some of the holes. For instance, there really is a NR-1 submarine; there really were two covert operations called Highjump and Windmill. There really is a Piri Reis map with advanced navigational references that existed before longitude and latitude and the prime meridian were agreed upon. He also takes a mild swing at science which denied the existence of continental drift; this is supposed to prove that there could have been an advanced civilization before the Egyptians.

    What finally got me was the complete lack of motivation for the hatred of the two sisters. Was it supposed to have something to do with impressing their mother, or were they just crazy? The most likely explanation is that Berry needed them to behave that way, and that's author intrusion, a big no no. ...more info
  • Disappointing
    I have long wondered how Steve Berry could maintain his pace of writing a novel per year. I believe the effort required has begun to take its toll. I have read 5 of the Cotton Malone novels and really enjoyed them. I appreciated how Mr. Berry took some "mystery of history" and spun out a plausible scenario for it, cutting back and forth between locations and situations to keep suspense high. I always felt I was learning something interesting whilst enjoying a good read (although the resolutions of said mysteries are fictional, the details surrounding each mystery are largely factual - Mr. Berry spells out the difference at the end of each book).

    In the Charlemagne Pursuit form solidly trumps content. The cinematic scene-cutting which is one of Mr. Berry's trademarks seems to become a crutch used to keep readers' interest high when the plot cannot. Somehow the author was unable to make this "mystery" very compelling, and the plot really stretches credulity. The characters are one-dimensional, women in particular. A major plot point is meant to flesh out Cotton's character, but it was an unsatisfying attempt. This book was more repetitive and cliched than the author's previous novels. For example, I felt I would scream if I read one more time that someone was "being played." And the cliff-hanger final sentence of the book felt like a cheap trick meant to boost sales of the next volume.

    I admire Mr. Berry's work ethic, but I feel that his creativity would get a much-needed "re-boot" if he perhaps tried writing his next book in a different format and perhaps with different and more complex characters....more info
  • Good plot, but writing not up to quality standards
    Steve Berry has written some really very good books. This is not one of them. Every now and then, it seems a lot of good writers (and some not very good ones) fall in love with their own words. In "The Charlemagne Pursuit", Steve Berry has fallen victim to this temptation. The book is too long for the story, is "herky jerky with its character/scene switchbacks and generally lacks the traditional writing "tightness" of previous Berry novels....more info
  • What you would expect from Berry
    Another Cotton Malone thriller, this book offered what Berry readers have come to expect: international intrigue, a thousand-year-old mystery, and action. Malone is trying to unravel the secrecy behind his father's death aboard a submarine on a classified mission in Antarctica. This leads him to a family who is also seeking answers to the death of their father who was also on board the sub. But the quest to find answers leads them to a deeper mystery involving a strange language and a link to Charlemagne. What they uncover is evidence that a civilization pre-dating all other known societies.

    The characters we became familiar with in other Cotton Malone books were absent, but the Justice Department and down-to-earth but smarter-than-he-looks President Danny Daniels are significant players. I really enjoyed the conspiracy theories of Douglas Scofield and his conjecture on ancient navigation and the role of the "Holy Ones" in the development of early civilizations. The scenes in Antarctica are chilling and compelling. One complaint was that I felt nothing for the Oberhauser family. They were cold and calculating and Berry doesn't develop any sympathy for his supplemental characters. Another thing I wasn't thrilled about was the political maneuvering going on stateside with Langford Ramsey. It was too dog-eat-dog and there was so much backstabbing and allegiance-swapping that it was confusing to remember who was on whose side at any given point. Otherwise, it was a decent read. Like I said, it is exactly what Berry fans expect.
    ...more info
  • Very enjoyable
    When I read a book like this I understand, before starting, that the plot is implausible, the characters over dramatic and the ending underwhelming. No different than other such books.

    Having said that, this book was fun and that is why I read novels like this. Was it a DaVinci Code? No, but few are. Was it enjoyable, keeping the reader involved? Yes, and few novels these days do.

    I think the book was well written, exciting and I enjoyed the style. Mr. Perry has a knack of keeping the reader involved. I had a hard time putting the book down. ...more info
  • An enjoyable book
    This was a well written book in Berry's series that follows Cotton Malone. It is not the kind of book that you just cannot put down and keeps you awake all night, but well written and enjoyable.

    One of the things I like about Berry as a writer is that he spends as much time fleshing out the endings of his books as he does the beginnings. One of my pet peeves is with writers that spend pages and pages setting up their endings and then when they get there they rush through them with just the bare facts - almost as if they hit the number of pages required and are now just mopping up. Berry does not do that - his endings are as detailed and fun to read as the start of his books....more info
  • Starts off interestingly enough...then goes a little too far
    This book seemed to have all the ingredients for a good spy adventure, but somehow ends up half-baked. Having lived in the Garmisch area, it was nice see it accurately depicted in the opening chapters. However, that's about the most positive thing I can say about the book. There were some suspenseful moments, but overall I had a hard time buying any of the character's behavior. Way too many of the characters in this story were offing other characters at the drop of a hat. By the end of the book, they're offing themselves. Killing some people creates drama, but killing everyone seems monotonous....more info
  • Another Berry History Mystery
    Another Berry History Mystery
    The Charlemagne Pursuit is one of Mr. Steve Berry's better efforts. Mixing New Age mysticism with historical revisionism, Mr. Berry explores the possibilities of ancient civilizations that could have once roamed the earth. Expanding on this theme he postulates through his characters that ancient knowledge was passed to great leaders like Charlemagne. Further mixing current political intrigue with plot character familial mysteries, Mr. Berry develops both an entertaining story and an educational experience in New Age history. All in all a good effort and generally a fun read if a little turgid in places.
    Basically, the story revolves around a lost American classified submarine while on a secret missions to search for an ancient civilization of "Enlightened Ones" know as the "Watchers". The submarine, captained by Cotton Malone's father, disappears under strange circumstances and for over 35 the mystery linger carefully hidden by the Navy. Enter a whole host of characters who are in some way tied to the lost submarine mystery and voila you have got your typical Steve Berry pot boiler.
    I liked this Berry novel over his previous efforts because there was more story development and less over-the-top action. He does do his homework and it shows. All in all it was a fun read that just could excite one's curiosity to do a little more investigation on our ancient past.
    No gratuitous violence, sex or language: A+ in that department.
    Character development was a continuation of previous Cotton Malone novels, Newly introduced characters developed haphazardly and tended to be superficial.
    Recommended as a library hardback. Wait to buy the paperback. Good read for that long wait in the airport terminal for your delayed flight. It will be very interesting to see what History Mystery Steve Berry tackles next.

    ...more info
  • Cotton Malone and the quest for his father
    I think that this book may be the best that Mr. Berry has written to date. Even though the plot is rather incredible (but who cares, it's fiction after all!) it certainly speeds along quite quickly and on parallel tracks. In one paragraph you're following Cotton Malone, in another a nasty Navy admiral with high ambitions, and in another Cotton's former boss and an aide to the President. Everything eventually comes together and the quest is ended, but the ending is quite enigmatic and appears to be preparing the reader for the next book in this series. I, for one, will be eagerly awaiting it!...more info
  • Could have used more character development
    This was the first Steve Berry book I've read, but I wasn't too lost. There are some references to the earlier books in the series, but nothing that's crucial to the story. The one thing that is missing here is any sort of extensive character development. There are a lot of people intertwined in this story, but you never get a real thorough sense of any of them, even Cotton.

    There's two different things going on here, even though they are related. First, there is Cotton's search for the truth about his father's death, referred to in the book as "The Charlemagne Pursuit". In addition to this, there is a military/political cover-up that is spearheaded by an admiral who will do whatever he needs to close to the President. I enjoyed both parts of the pursuit, but I think I liked Stephanie and Edwin's chase of the killer more, especially their adventures on the Biltmore estate (probably because I just visited it last spring). The parts about Charlemagne were interesting to me, because it's a time of history I'm not real familiar with. For one, I never would have associated Charlemagne with Germany. I've heard the theories about there being some sort of "first civilization", but I never knew the Nazis went to Antarctica (even if that's not why they went there).

    Overall, I liked this, despite some slowness in the middle. The last couple of parts are written in a way that keep you turning the page to see what will happen next....more info
  • 3.5 stars, too many plots and characters, interesting subject matter
    The Charlemagne Pursuit by Steve Berry held a lot of promise as an interesting story. Coming in at just over 500 pages, and expecting that the main character Malone would go to Antarctica, I was very intrigued. But, despite an interesting premise, picturesque settings including the Biltmore Estate, Europe, and Antarctica, and being the third book in the series, I just didn't feel the book lived up to what it could have been.

    The quasi-historical portions of the book were serious thought-provokers, that being the primary reason I was interested in reading this book. I love historical fiction as well as alternate history. I felt far too much of the book was devoted to the "plot" of a mother pitting her daughters against each other and Washington politics. The characters were underdeveloped, which was surprising considering how long this book was. But, with too many plots going and too many characters the author was hindered in making any character or any plot seem realistic.

    The final twenty percent of the book is riveting. That made all the time I spent reading this book worthwhile. The chapters are short, most being only 3-5 pages, so if you only have a few minutes here and there to read throughout the day, and you enjoy thrillers, I would recommend this book to you. ...more info
  • Intriguing premise....
    I read Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code when it came out and enjoyed it. But then I discovered Steve Berry and haven't looked back. As far as I'm concerned he's the master of this genre, combining historical fact with suspense, intrigue and non stop action.

    Berry's recurring character is Cotton Malone, a 'retired' government agent. His father Forrest died in a submarine accident in 1971. For years he has tried to find out details, but has been stymied by the Navy. He pulls in a favour and gains access to highly classified documents - his father's sub was on a secret mission to the Antarctic. When he is contacted by the German family members of another of the doomed submariners, he agrees to embark on a search for the truth. And that truth is a shocker. The other family holds documents that show the submarine was out to prove the existance of a 'First Civilization' - a culture that evolved long before history as we know it. There seems to be evidence that Charlemagne had knowledge gained from this advanced culture. The Nazis looked for it in 1938 and the Americans went back in 1971.

    The Charlemagne Pursuit is a thrilling read. The plot is intricate and involved, with many seemingly disparate stories converging at the end in a gripping climax. Berry's research is intriguing. I found myself stopping and actually looking up some of the events and history he refers to. One example is the Piri Reis Map. Much of it is true and thought provoking. There is a writer's note at the end indicating what is fact and what he has taken fictional liberty with.

    Cotton Malone is an engaging character, one I've enjoyed following the previous six novels. The supporting characters are also well written, but I did find the German sisters a bit over the top at times.

    Any of his books can be read alone. Read one and I guarantee you'll be looking for others in the series! ...more info
  • An all night read.
    This book by Steve Berry will keep you up at night just to see what happens next....more info