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Valhalla Rising Summary
SuperSummary, a modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, offers high-quality study guides that feature detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, quotes, and essay topics. This one-page guide includes a plot summary and brief analysis of Valhalla Rising by Clive Cussler.
Valhalla Rising (2001) is a thriller with adventure elements by New York Times bestselling author, Clive Cussler. The sixteenth book in Cussler’s debut series Dirk Pitt series, it follows a marine explorer who must thwart a power-hungry oil tycoon who craves political power. The Dirk Pitt series has a wide readership and a devoted fan base. As with the rest of the books in the series, Valhalla Rising can be read on its own without reading the earlier books. An authority on maritime history, he received the Lowell Thomas Award for outstanding underwater exploration.
The protagonist is Dirk Eric Pitt, a sharp-witted adventurer who happens to love collecting cars. He has two children with Summer Moran, who is presumed dead after a botched rescue attempt. He serves the National Underwater and Marine Agency (NUMA) as a marine engineer and oceanographic researcher, and his life is anything but ordinary. Dirk’s best friend, Al Giordino, a fellow researcher, plays an important role in his adventures.
Technology is being developed which could end the need for oil exploration and harvesting. Instead, everyone would use seawater as a sustainable energy and fuel source. Naturally, oil industry leaders are not happy with this development, wanting to block the research before the technology is fully realized.
Mr. Zale, an oil tycoon and a billionaire, has seemingly endless resources and always gets his own way. Not only does he have his own battleships and navy, but also he is friends with everyone from government officials to congressmen. With a seemingly untouchable armada, he won’t let anything stand in his way of world domination and oil exploitation.
One day, a luxury cruise liner the Emerald Dolphin sets out on a long voyage across the Pacific Ocean. Everyone knows this cruise liner, much like the Titanic, is unsinkable. It is fully booked with rich passengers looking forward to spending a few weeks aboard this opulent ship. However, they soon learn that there is no such thing as an unsinkable ship. When a fire starts aboard the Emerald Dolphin, the emergency facilities fail. There is no backup system, the fire extinguishers don’t work, and the staff isn’t trained to deploy the lifeboats properly. Everyone will die if they aren’t rescued immediately.
Luckily, Dick’s NUMA vessel, Deep Encounter, is on a mission nearby. Dick sees the red glow from the distress signal through his binoculars and knows they must respond. Dick and Al race the vessel towards the Emerald Dolphin and save as many people as they can. Unfortunately, many passengers and crew still die.
Dick speaks to a passenger Kelly Egan. She knows the fire didn’t start by accident. She watched two men kill her father, an inventor, and try to steal the files he had on board with him. Suspecting there is a larger conspiracy at work, Dick decides to do some investigations of his own. He discovers that a case Kelly’s dad carried, a case with special technology in it, is now empty. Kelly tells him that her dad worked on technology that would end the oil industry. He had developed an engine that could use seawater as a sustainable energy source—naturally, oil tycoons don’t want anyone to know this might be possible.
Before Dick and Al can start their investigations, the perpetrators hijack the Deep Encounter. They will stop at nothing to ensure that no one ends the oil industry. Dick and Al seize back control of the vessel and save their crew, even more determined to bring the evil men responsible to justice.
Al and Dick lead the investigation into who and what caused the disaster. In the meantime, they learn more about this technology. Kelly’s dad discovered an old Viking settlement around the Hudson River; even back then, they tried to use seawater as a fuel. Their maritime activities form the basis of his research—however, his research doesn’t end there. The inventor’s research includes the work of Captain Nemo, a fictional character created by Jules Verne, a science fiction writer. Captain Nemo invented the Nautilus, a submarine powered by a magneto-hydrodynamic engine. The inventor based his research on these fictional concepts that he planned to bring to life.
Meanwhile, in New York City, the villain is planning a terror attack. He is going to strike the World Trade Centre by air, and he plans to hijack a plane full of children to do it. He is going after a plane that Kelly will be on to ensure she is destroyed forever. Luckily, he is thwarted, exposing the corruption in the oil industry. It has been noted how eerily similar the attack attempt is to the later true events of 9/11.