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Valhalla Rising (Dirk Pitt Series #16)

Valhalla Rising (Dirk Pitt Series #16)

4.1 134
by Clive Cussler

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An ancient massacre unveiled. A fictional monster come to life. A stunning conflagration on the high seas. In Valhalla Rising, #1 New York Times bestselling author Clive Cussler delivers a thrilling ride packed with adept plotting, high-tech conspiracies, and nonstop action...

It is July 2003. In the middle of its maiden voyage, the luxury cruise ship


An ancient massacre unveiled. A fictional monster come to life. A stunning conflagration on the high seas. In Valhalla Rising, #1 New York Times bestselling author Clive Cussler delivers a thrilling ride packed with adept plotting, high-tech conspiracies, and nonstop action...

It is July 2003. In the middle of its maiden voyage, the luxury cruise ship Emerald Dolphin suddenly catches fire and sinks. What caused it? Why didn't the fire control systems work? What was its connection to the revolutionary new engines powering the ship? NUMA special projects director Dirk Pitt races to rescue the passengers and investigate the disaster, but he has no idea of the bizarre events that are about to engulf him.

Before the next few weeks are over, Pitt will find himself confronted by an extraordinary series of monsters, both human and mechanical, modern and ancient. He will tread upon territory previously known only to legend. And, at the end of it all, though many lives will be lost, and many saved, it is Pitt's own life that will be changed forever...

"[A] nonstop thriller.... Cussler speeds and twists through the complex plot and hairbreadth escapes [with] the intensity and suspense of a NASCAR race." (Publishers Weekly)

"The master of action/adventure fiction strikes oil. This nonstop thriller...tangles ancient Viking runes, water propulsion engines, [and] murderous oil magnates...into a knot that only Dirk Pitt can unravel."(Publishers Weekly)

"Action-filled adventure...great fun." (Library Journal)


"Full of all the adventurous plotelements that Cussler fans have grown to expect... This novel is great fun to read and will prove to be as popular as the rest of the series." (Booklist)

Editorial Reviews

This novel is great fun to read and will prove to be as popular as the rest of the series.

Product Details

Cengage Gale
Publication date:
Dirk Pitt Series , #16
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 8.34(h) x 1.61(d)

Read an Excerpt

Valhalla Rising

By Clive Cussler

Thorndike Press

Copyright © 2003 Clive Cussler
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0786238186

Chapter One


JUNE 1035


They moved through the morning mist like ghosts, silent and eerie in phantom ships. Tall, serpentine prows arched gracefully on bow and stern, crowned with intricately carved dragons, teeth bared menacingly in a growl as if their eyes were piercing the vapor in search of victims. Meant to incite fear into the crew's enemies, the dragons were also believed to be protection against the evil spirits that lived in the sea.

The little band of immigrants had come across a hostile sea in long, elegantly shaped black hulls that skimmed the waves with the ease and stability of trout in a peaceful brook. Long oars reached from holes in the hulls and dipped into the dark water, pulling the ships through the waves. Their square red-and-white striped sails hung limp in the listless air. Small lapstrake boats twenty feet long and carrying extra cargo were tied to the sterns and towed behind.

These people were the precursors of those who would come much later: men, women and children, along with their meager possessions, including livestock. Of the paths Norsemen had blazed across the oceans, none was more dangerous than the great voyage across the North Atlantic. Despite the perils of the unknown, they'd boldly sailed through the icefloes, struggled under the gale-force winds, fought monstrous waves and endured vicious storms that surged out of the southwest. Most had survived, but the sea had exacted its cost. Two of the eight ships that had set out from Norway were lost and never seen again.

Finally, the storm-worn colonists reached the west coast of Newfoundland, but instead of landing at L'Anse aux Meadows, the site of Leif Eriksson's earlier settlement, they were determined to explore farther south in the hope of finding a warmer climate for their new colony. After skirting a very large island, they steered a southwesterly course until they reached a long arm of land that curved northward from the mainland. Continuing around two lower islands, they sailed for another two days past a vast white sandy beach, a great source of wonder to people who had lived all their lives on unending coastlines of jagged rock.

Rounding the tip of the seemingly unending stretch of sand, they encountered a wide bay. Without hesitation, the little fleet of ships entered the calmer waters and sailed west, helped along by an incoming tide. A fog bank rolled over them, casting a damp blanket of moisture over the water. Later in the day, the sun became a dim orange ball as it began to set over an unseen western horizon. A conference was shouted among the commanders of the ships and it was agreed to anchor until morning, in hopes the fog would lift.

When first light came, the fog had been replaced with a light mist, and it could be seen that the bay narrowed into a fjord that flowed into the sea. Setting out the oars, the men rowed into the current as their women and children stared quietly at the high palisades that emerged from the dying mist on the west bank of the river, rising ominously above the masts of the ships. What seemed to them to be incredibly giant trees forested the rolling land behind the crest. Though they saw no sign of life, they suspected they were being watched by human eyes hidden among the trees. Every time they had come ashore for water, they had been harassed by the Skraelings, their term for any foreign-born natives that lived in the alien country they hoped to colonize. The Skraelings had not proven friendly, and on more than one occasion had unleashed clouds of arrows against the ships.

Keeping their usual warlike nature under firm control, the expedition leader, Bjarne Sigvatson, had not allowed his warriors to fight back. He knew well that other colonists from Vinland and Greenland had been plagued by the Skraelings, too, a situation caused by the Vikings who had murdered several of the innocent inhabitants purely out of a barbaric love of killing. This trip Sigvatson would demand that the native inhabitants be treated in a friendly manner. He felt it vital for the survival of the colony to trade cheap goods for furs and other necessities, without the bloodshed. And, unlike Thorfinn Karlsefni and Leif Eriksson, whose earlier expeditions were eventually driven off by the Skraelings, this one was armed to the teeth by men who were blood-hardened Norwegian veterans of many battles with their archenemies, the Saxons. Swords slung over their shoulders, one hand clutching a long spear, the other a huge axe, they were the finest fighting men of their time.

The incoming tide could be felt far up the river and helped the rowers make headway into the current, which was mild due to the low gradient. The river's mouth was only three-quarters of a mile wide, but it soon broadened to almost two miles. The land on the sloping shore to the east was green with lush vegetation.

Sigvatson, who was standing with his arm around the great dragon prow of the lead ship, gazing through the dying mist into the distance, pointed to a shadow in the steep rock palisades looming around a slight bend. "Pull toward the left bank," he ordered the rowers. "There looks to be an opening in the cliffs where we can shelter for the night."

As they drew closer, the dark, forbidding entrance of a flooded cavern grew in size until it broadened wide enough for a ship to enter. Sigvatson peered into the gloomy interior and saw that the passage traveled deep under the sheer walls of the cliff. He ordered the other ships to drift while the mast on his ship was unstepped and laid flat to permit entry beneath the low arch at the cavern's mouth. The fjord's stream swirled around the entrance, but the hardy rowers easily drove the ship inside, shipping the oars only slightly to keep them from striking the flanks of the opening.

As they passed through, the women and children leaned over the bulwarks and stared down through water of startling clarity, schools of fish clearly visible swimming over the rocky bottom nearly fifty feet below. It was with no little trepidation that they found themselves in a high-ceilinged grotto easily large enough to hold a fleet of ships three times the size of the little Viking fleet. Though their ancestors had embraced Christianity, old pagan traditions died hard. Naturally formed grottos were regarded as the dwelling places of the gods.

The walls on the interior of the grotto, formed by the cooling of molten rock 200,000 million years earlier, had been sculpted and worn smooth by the waves of an ancient sea against the volcanic rock layers that were an extension of nearby mountains. They arched upward into a domed ceiling that was bare of moss or hanging growth. Surprisingly, it was also free of bats. The chamber was mostly dry. The water level stopped at a ledge that ascended three feet and stretched into the inner reaches of the cavern for a distance of nearly two hundred feet.

Sigvatson shouted through the grotto entrance for the other ships to follow. Then his rowers eased off their strokes and let the ship drift until its stem post bumped lightly against the edge of the second cavern's floor. As the other ships approached the landing, long gangplanks were run out and everyone scurried onto dry land, happy to stretch their legs for the first time in days. The foremost matter of business was to serve the first hot meal they'd eaten since an earlier landing hundreds of miles to the north. The children spread out throughout the caverns to gather driftwood, running along the shelves that eons of water erosion had carved in the rock. Soon the women had fires going and were baking bread, while cooking porridge and fish stew in large iron pots. Some of the men began repairing the wear and tear on the ships from the rugged voyage, while others threw out nets and caught schools of fish teeming in the fjord. The women were only too happy to find such comfortable shelter from the elements. The men, on the other hand, were big, tousle-haired outdoorsmen and sailors who found it unpleasant to exist in rock-bound confinement.

After eating and just before settling in for the night in their leather sleeping bags, two of Sigvatson's young children, an eleven-year-old boy and ten-year-old girl, came running up to him, shouting excitedly. They grabbed his big hands and began dragging him into the deepest part of the cavern. Lighting torches, they led him into a long tunnel barely large enough to stand in. It was a tube passage, a rounded cave system originally formed when underwater.

After climbing over and around fallen rock, they ascended upward for two hundred feet. Then the children stopped and motioned to a small crevice. "Father, look, look!" cried the girl. "There is a hole leading outside. You can see the stars."

Sigvatson saw that the hole was too small and narrow even for the children to crawl through, but he could clearly see the nighttime sky. The next day, he put several men to work smoothing the tunnel floor to ease access and widening the exit hole. When the opening was expended so a man could walk through while standing straight, they found themselves stepping into a large meadow bordered by stout trees. No barren, Greenland timberless land here. The supply of lumber to build houses was limitless. The ground was thick with wildflowers and grass to graze their livestock. It was on this generous land high above the beautiful, blue fjord bountiful with fish that Sigvatson would build his colony.

The gods had shown the way to the children, who led the grown-ups to what they all hoped was their newly found paradise.

* * *

The Norsemen had a lust for life. They worked hard, lived hard and they died hard. The sea was their element. To them, a man without a boat was a man in chains. Though feared throughout the Middle Ages for their barbarian instincts, they reshaped Europe. The hardy immigrants fought and settled in Russia, Spain and France and became merchants and mercenaries, renowned for their courage and ability with the sword and battle-ax. Hrolf the Gange won Normandy, which was named after the Norsemen. His descendant William conquered England.

Bjarne Sigvatson was the image of a golden Viking. His hair was blond with a beard to match. He was not a tall man, but broad in the shoulders, with the strength of an ox. Bjarne was born in 980 on his father's farm in Norway, and like most young Viking men grew up with a restless yearning to see what was over the next horizon. Inquisitive and bold, yet deliberate, he joined expeditions that raided Ireland when he was only fifteen. By the time he was twenty, Bjarne was a battle-ripened, seaborne raider with enough pillaged treasure to build a fine ship and mount his own raiding expeditions. He married Freydis, a sturdy self-reliant beauty with long golden hair and blue eyes. It was a fortunate match. They blended together like sun and sky.

After amassing a vast fortune from plundering towns and villages up and down Britain and sporting numerous scars from battle, Bjarne retired from raiding and became a merchant, trading in amber, the diamond of its time. But after a few years, he became restless, especially after hearing the sagas about the epic explorations of Erik the Red and his son Leif Eriksson. The lure of strange lands far to the west beckoned, and he became determined to mount his own voyage into the unknown to found a colony. He soon put together a fleet of ten ships to carry 350 people with their families, livestock and farming tools. One ship alone was loaded with Bjarne's fortune in amber and plundered treasure, to be used for future exchange with ships transporting goods from Norway and Iceland.

The cavern made an ideal boat and storage house as well as a fortress against any attack by the Skraelings. The sleek craft were pulled from the water onto trees cut into rollers and placed in hewn cradles on the hard rock shelf. The Vikings constructed beautiful ships that were the marvel of their age. They were not only incredibly efficient sailing machines but also masterworks of sculpture, magnificently proportioned and lavishly decorated with elaborate carvings on stem and stern. Few vessels before or since have matched their lines for pure elegance.

The long ship was the vessel used for raiding around Europe. She was extremely fast and versatile, with ports for fifty oars. But it was the knarr that was the workhorse of the Viking explorers. Fifty to sixty feet long with a broad fifteen-foot beam, the knarr could carry fifteen tons of cargo over great distances at sea. She relied mostly on her big square sail for the open sea, but mounted as many as ten oars for cruising in shallow water near shorelines.

Her fore and aft decks were planked with a spacious open deck amidships that could be loaded with cargo or livestock. The crew and passengers suffered in the open, protected only by ox hides. There were no special quarters for chieftains such as Sigvatson; Vikings sailed as ordinary seamen, all equal to one another, their leader assuming command for important decisions. The knarr was at home in rough seas. Under gale winds and towering swells, she could barrel through the worst the gods could throw at her and still plunge ahead at five to seven knots, covering over 150 miles a day.

Built of sturdy oak by superb Viking shipwrights who shaped by hand and eye and used only axes to work the wood, the keel was cut from a single piece of oak into a T-shaped beam that increased stabilization in heavy seas. Next came oak planks that were hewn into thin strakes running with the grain and which curved gracefully before being joined at the stern and stem posts. Known as a clinker-type hull, the planks above overlapped the ones below. Then they were caulked with tarred hair from the animals. Except for the crossbeams that braced the hull and supported the decks, there wasn't another piece of wood on the ship that lay in a straight line. The whole thing looked too fragile for the storms that swept the North Atlantic, but there was a method to the seeming madness. The keel could flex and the hull warp, enabling the ship to glide effortlessly with less resistance from the water, making her the most stable ship of the middle centuries. And her shallow draft allowed her to slip over huge waves like a shingle.

The rudder was also a masterwork of engineering. A stout steering oar attached to the starboard quarter, its vertical shaft was turned by the helmsman using a horizontal tiller. The rudder was always mounted on the right side of the hull and was called a stjornbordi-the word came to mean starboard. The helmsman kept one eye on the sea and the other on a bronze, intricately designed weathervane that was mounted on either the stem post or mast. By studying the whims of the wind, he could steer the most favorable tack.


Excerpted from Valhalla Rising by Clive Cussler Copyright © 2003 by Clive Cussler. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Clive Cussler is the author or coauthor of over fifty previous books in five bestselling series, including Dirk Pitt®, NUMA® Files, Oregon® Files, Isaac Bell, and Sam and Remi Fargo. His nonfiction works include Built for AdventureThe Classic Automobiles of Clive Cussler and Dirk Pitt, and Built to Thrill:More Classic Automobiles from Clive Cussler and Dirk Pitt, plus The Sea Huntersand The Sea Hunters II; these describe the true adventures of the real NUMA, which, led by Cussler, searches for lost ships of historic significance. With his crew of volunteers, Cussler has discovered more than sixty ships, including the long-lost Confederate ship Hunley. He lives in Colorado and Arizona.

Brief Biography

Phoenix, Arizona
Date of Birth:
July 15, 1931
Place of Birth:
Aurora, Illinois
Pasadena City College; Ph.D., Maritime College, State University of New York, 1997

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Valhalla Rising (Dirk Pitt Series #16) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 134 reviews.
NewReaderVT More than 1 year ago
This book was non-stop action from the start to the finish.. I enjoy reading Cussler
bas609 More than 1 year ago
Clive Cussler continues the adventure of Dirk Pitt with the addition of his children. Very well written book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good story hard to put down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an action hero that would be a great leader for our country today. He is dependable and smart.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Clive Cussler struck gold in this great thriller of viking adventures and modern day story of gold and treasure. The transition from viking ship to the merciless ship twice the size of the titanic was genius. The tansition from dark gloomy water to the carribean is so awakining. Valhalla rising is not just a book but is a non-stop adventure that will blow your mind.I recommend it to anyone trying to live a time where anything goes through a fascinating book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was first introduced to Clive Cussler's works back in 1996 by a friend of mine. No one that I have read so far (and I've read a lot) has compared to this man. With each of the Dirk Pitt novels, you are submerged into an adventure that you just don't want to end.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book starts out a bit strange with the ancient ships, though still captivating on where he is taking you. I have read many Clancy books, All Jefrey Archer and a lot of other Fiction. Mr. Cussler is now on my collection list.
Guest More than 1 year ago
For all of you Dirk Pitt fans out there, this one is one of the best! Another great book from Clive. A very twisted plot, but as always, very descriptive. INTENSE!!!!!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Cussler, once again, proivdes readers wtih a good suspenseful tale which features the exploits of Dirk Pitt and his trusting sidekick, Al Giordino. On the plus side, he provides us with a thorough description of various ships and submarines and puts the reader right in the midst of the action. He also gives us some educational insight on the pre-Columbus expdedition and a good history lesson. I also get a kick out of the obese St. Julien Perlmutter. He's quite a character. The downside is that he puts Pitt in too many situations that would kill the average Joe 10 times over but somehow, he manages to come away unscathed every single time. If Cussler does this every once in a while, it would be more believable. However, with Pitt, he does it way too often. There were many instances where I simply heard myself saying, 'Aw, gimme a break' while reading a few paragraphs. Overall, a good story with interesting characters. Definitely would recommend.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read every one of the Dirk Pitt novels and have never been disapointed. Cussler writes grown up adventure novels for the child in us all. This novel is up there with his best and I loved the surprise ending are we seeing the next generation of NUMA adventures? I highly recomend all of these novels to anyone who loves a good story and a bit of history thown in for good measure.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Clive Cussler's Dirk Pitt does it again. I have read each and every one of Mr Cussler's books and I have never been disappointed with his writing. And this book, as with all, provides an immense amount of reading pleasure. How Dirk and Al get into and out of jams (and how Cussler works them all out) is part of the fun. You will not be disappointed with Valhalla Rising.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My first book was SHOCKWAVE which capdivated me. I then started with the first Pitt adventure and read them all until the emergence of Kemperos, which I struggled halfway through before throwing it on the floor vowing never to read Cussler again, unless ofcourse it was a Pitt adventure. Thanks Clive, for Vallhalla Rising. Dont cheat on the movie. My first thoughts were 'what great films these stories could be.' Enjoy this book , love the ending, brilliant Clive, leave line open for the children to follow Daddy
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was the first Clive Cussler book that I had ever read. It was awesome, the characters are great. The story is very intense. Anyone who is a fan of Indiana Jones will be drawn to the Dirk Pitt novels.
Anonymous 9 months ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another Dirk Pitt great read, love this series! Barnes & Noble, publish the whole series! Why only a select few?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think it's a good book, recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Decent (====[:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::>
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Valhalla Rising written by Clive Cussler is the sixteenth in his series of Dirk Pitt adventure-fiction books. I found that it to be a very compelling book that really gripped the reader, making it hard to put down, until about the fifth chapter at least. Cussler did work in some good threads throughout the story however, making it very multidimensional and a slightly more complicated read.  The book begins in July, 2003 (written in 2001) as you read from the points of view of various crew members as they go about their daily chores on the luxury cruise liner the Emerald Dolphin. The Emerald is one of the most technologically advanced cruise ships of its time, even earning the title of “the unsinkable ship” because of its complex array of warning systems and safety features. Ironically, although somewhat predictably, next the ship’s chapel catches fire and the ship begins to sink in an almost direct parallel to the infamous story of the also “unsinkable” Titanic. Of course though as it is a Clive Cussler novel, it turns out that Dirk Pitt the genius, resourceful, superhero of a main character and his team are just a couple of miles away. Pitt and his team save the day, but stumble on to a much larger problem in what actually caused the ship to sink. They then go head-to-head with an evil oil baron, attempting to steal the new engine technology used in the prototype cruise liner.  This is the fourth of the Dirk Pitt series that I have read, and unfortunately I found it to be by far the worst. It starts out extremely promisingly with the extremely well written, exciting ship wreck scene detailed above. However, it goes downhill from there. Throughout the book it’s much too predictable, making it somewhat boring to read. Furthermore, the characters become so cliché towards the end of the book that it’s almost laughable. Anyone even attempting to read a Dirk Pitt novel should know from the beginning that it’s going to be fairly unrealistic, and more like a superhero action story than a realistic adventure. But Valhalla Rising pushed the limits of believability throughout, whether it was breaking the laws of physics or creating video game like plane chases.  This book as a whole was much too predictable, unrealistic, and overall very corny. As much as it pains me to say it, since the other books in the series were very good, I would not recommend this book. 
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AnnBKeller More than 1 year ago
The luxury liner, Emerald Dolphin, was unsinkable. She was so opulent and spacious that her passengers basked in the height of luxury, being pampered by an attentive staff of officers and stewards too numerous to count. Suddenly, a fire ignited in her chapel, racing through the bowels of the ship with astonishing speed. Fire extinguishers and back-up systems failed and the lifeboats proved useless in the firestorm. The NUMA vessel, Deep Encounter, races to the rescue. Dirk Pitt, the captain and his stalwart crew take on more than their fair share of passengers, saving them from a fiery death. The Deep Encounter is overloaded and quickly in danger of sinking herself. Thankfully, help arrives in time, but a band of Vipers sent to silence her knows no bounds. The Deep Encounter is hijacked. Pitt and his friend, Giordano, bravely manage to free the ship and crew before all are destroyed to eliminate the evidence. The chase is on! Dirk Pitt returns to the United States and offers to help Kelly Egan and her group of disabled children. The dog fight between the Fokker triplane and Ford Trimotor was incredible! I also enjoyed the chase between the SUV and the vintage Packard. Cussler also zeros in on the vulnerability of New York harbor to a loaded, runaway LNG tanker before linking the story to the appearance of Norsemen in America just past the year 1000. As usual, an awesome ride with one of the kings of suspense and intrigue.
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