By Kirby Vickery from the October 2013 Edition
By Clive Cussler
My friends know me to be an avid reader. Since my retirement I’ve spent a fortune in new books mostly in the “Mind Candy” arena. My vacation from reading great words of wisdom and great literary works has allowed me to venture into the world science fiction, historical fiction, and adventure. I’m really not sorry this has happened because I enjoy these types of literature a great deal.
My sojourns into Mexico last year introduced me to another interest which I should say is acquired through my association with the Rumford family. It just feels right to give up articles about Mexico for Ian and Freda. My only long term experience with the Mexican people was several years ago in Tijuana where I ran an electronics assembly plant. Now that I’m stuck in the great Northwest, I can’t absorb and current culture to write about. Ian is correct in wanting everything in his magazine to have a Mexican flavor, hence the series about the Aztec Indian past.
I just finished an adventure book by Clive Cussler (Penguin Books Limited. Copyright © 2013 Sandecker, RLLLP) which evolved around the Maya and some Mayan treasure. Not having researched the differences between the Mayan and Aztec cultures and histories, I thought it a good idea to give a couple of paragraphs on that and then bounce a report on Cussler’s efforts in exposing the Mayan culture both of history and current day existence.
Cussler’s interest for his book was to identify an area and time to establish a foundation for his story. His story was about the search and the people surrounding the possession of a Mayan Codex although he calls it a Mayan book.
Dan Brown does a similar thing in his books but his methodology is a little different. Whereas Brown digs into the past to set the stage for his modern mystery; Cussler, it appears, grabs some famous names and places with a brief glance at history and transforms at will to get his story out.
The first miss-named individual the reader gets to is a Mayan Indian by the name of Kukulcan. Kukulcan, in the story, is a village elder who helps the local priest smuggle a very important Mayan book (codex) from their village north to another site so the conquistadores wouldn’t destroy it with all the other books as they were pillaging. Well, one thing leads to another. In this instance, Cussler has the Priest and his personal history correct and I’ll get back to that in a second. But, this Mesoamerican Mayan carries the name of their supreme god. In Mayan mythology Kukulcan created everything.
The priest in this book is Bartalome de Las Cases and Cussler gives a terse history of the real guy in the first chapter. This history is as accurate as it can be except he not known for saving a Mayan Codex. In reality he was the first European to be ordained in the New World and was the first Bishop of Chiapas when the story takes place. An interesting side note in history other than Bartalome de Las Cases being the First Bishop of Chiapas was that he came over from Spain with Nicolas de Ovando in 1502.
Nicolas’ voyage took place in over thirty ships (this was the largest armada ever sent by the Spanish) on which one of them a young Bartalome de Las Cases rode looking for riches in the New World as a soldier and conquistador.
Ovando landed in Hispaniola which is currently Haiti and the Dominican Republic. He was sent there by the King of Spain to replace Governor Maldonado at the request of Christopher Columbus. The priest in actual history that saved the codex’s was one Bernardo de Sahagn. He did his thing further North only to lose his translation to history until the 1800 when it was found in Florence, Italy and thus became the Florentine Codex. This is the document which has enabled archeologists from all over to translate the Mixtec, Mayan, Aztec, and other Mesoamerican languages.
In Cussler’s book this one codex apparently is a map locating all the Mayan cities. He blends in a healthy amount of hide and go seek with several players including a very rich bad lady, some head strong natives, bad ass drug dealers, with an appearance of some Black Ops guys that the Protagonist used to work with.
Sam and Remi Fargo are a rich pair of treasure hunters who always get in over their heads on each expedition they go out on. The nice thing that helps make these books into a really easy read is the fact that the Fargo’s are really rich and money is never an object. This means they can plan and delve into all of their situations without worrying about anything called finances. As a matter of fact all of Clive Cussler’s series are that way.