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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 14 February 2010
This was my first Cotton Malone novel and I think it shall be my last. The protagonist's previous exploits are amply advertised throughout this novel but I do not care enough to go through another one of these. And I will try to explain this without any spoilers.

The book starts off promising enough, a sub in trouble and probably lost at sea. Cut to the hero about to pick up a package in a clandestine setup, at the high terminal of a ski lift. Of course all hell brakes loose. Of course the hero survives. And the pursuit begins. But it is hardly ...Charlemagne's.

I cannot understand why Charlemagne was dragged into this, besides providing a catchy title in a "Da Vinci Code" fashion. The story could unfold without the dead emperor's item as it holds no crucial hints and it provides no motivation to anyone. The entire "mysterious symbols / ancient writing" gives off a sense of mimetic attempt rather than add anything to the story. Both Cotton and his antagonistic companions already have a strong motivation to go on with their quest (in fact, no imagination was stretched in providing said motivation) and the records of the footsteps that are to be followed already exist.

What is never explained is why the nefarious bad guy is paying an expensive assassin to take out a number of people only to keep a secret that is not if it came out. The (minor) scandal would have been the covering-up and not the information that was supposedly protected - so why cover it up in the first place?

If you are the airport and are between this one and the latest Kathrine Neville novels, go for this one.
In any other case though, Pass.
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on 23 July 2010
This book isn't exactly what one would call a page turner. The reading can get quite confusing and the author presents a lot of historical notions which further complicates, and thus repels, the storyline. I am a big thriller fan, a personal favourite authour of mine is the Scott Mariani series, which is a truly gripping read. Comparing The Charlemagne Pursuit to that yields no competition. If you like a slow paced thriller and if you have the ability to patiently comprehend the historical connections which the authour tries to present, then this book is for you. If not, you are better off absorbing with some other book.
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While I have previously enjoyed all of the author's books, this one was definitely not one that I would consider a keeper. While it has its moments, they are few and far between. Only because I am a fan, did I get a modicum of enjoyment from the book.

The main character, Cotton Malone, is a recurring one. He is definitely a likable character. A former government agent, he is currently retired from service and living in Denmark, where he is a bookseller. When he learns that his beloved father, who died when Cotton was a child, had not perished is a submarine disaster in the North Atlantic as originally thought, but, instead had died while on a classified secret mission in a submarine lost beneath the ice shelves of Antarctica

Cotton joins forces with twin sisters, German by birth, whose own father had also disappeared on that same submarine. They each want to discover the truth about their father's death. There are journals written in a previously unknown language, clues found in the tomb of Charlemagne, and other revelations. Adding to the problems of the quest is the enmity between the sisters, making the quest a do or die situation.

Unlike the author's other books, this one dragged. It also hit an all time high on the implausibility scale. While I am still a fan, this simply was not one of his better books. While it picked up some steam towards the end, it did not compensate for all of the moments of inertia one felt while reading this book. If you have never before read a book by this author, do not make this one your first, or you may never pick up another of this author's books again. Fans will stay the course and hope that the next one will have the author back on track.
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on 7 November 2010
I am a huge fan of the Cotton Malone series of books that Steve Berry has given us, however i have to say that this offering was not quite up to the same standard as the other books. Don't get me wrong, i could not put it down when i was reading it, but it seemed to lack a little depth of the other books. Our other favourite characters were also noticed for their absence..... were they on holiday??? This is the first time i have been left thinking that the whole thing was perhaps a little rushed, i still enjoyed it and am looking forward to the next instalment, but please Steve let us have the old gang back together as they make a good team.
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on 14 August 2010
I am a big fan of Steve Berry, but I found this to be one of his weaker thrillers. As with all of his books, there is plenty of action, pursuits and dead bodies - enough to satisfy any thriller fan. On the action front alone, this book delivers. However, the book is let down by its plot. As a previous reviewer has commented Berry likes to write with two or three events happening simultaneously. Berry has used this style in his previous books, but not as often. Here he uses it almost every chapter. This leads to a fragmentary narrative and confusion, and slows the pace of the book. There are three different plots going on at the same time, which, to be fair, all make sense at the end of the book. In a way the novel's strong ending saves this book from being Berry's poorest book.

In a way this is different to previous Cotton Malone adventures. His usual companions - Henrik Thorvaldson and Cassiopeia Vitt - do not appear. This gives the reader the chance to delve deeper into Malone's character - his motives, his past, his future. It is very much a personal adventure for Malone.

As for the big secret in this book. For me, the Charlemagne - Einhard - Holy Ones - Civilisation One - plot did not catch my imagine or interest. I also found it implausible, coupled with an ancient civilisation based at Antarctica. The sub-plot, Admiral Langford Ramsey's political and murderous machinations, whilst aiming for a position on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was much more interesting. I think the story would have worked better just concentrating on this.

In summary, I would cautiously recommend this book, as it does have some good moments. It should appeal to Steve Berry fans, but newcomers should start with another his books before this one.
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on 21 July 2014
This book starts out the same as Steve Berry's earlier novels but is still worth reading as it explores Cotton Malone's past with regard to what happened to his father. I thought it slowed down at times but the pace would pick up again afterwards as the plot developed. All in all it was a good read.
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on 26 May 2009
The Charlemagne Pursuit is the least successful of Steve Berry's Cotton Malone thrillers. The plots in the book are quite separate and I found them difficult to believe in. In one plot a Bavarian family is looking for an US submarine (commanded by Malone's father) with their own father on board which went missing during an Antarctic expedition in the early seventies. The other plot involves a US admiral who is trying to achieve an important position through various nefarious deeds and who also went on the Antarctic expedition and brought back evidence of an early civilization. The two plots occasionally overlap but neither is really believable and the ending made little sense to me. It is very well written (as are all Berry's books) but he favours fragmentation of action where two or three situations are being discussed together and he switches from one to another at exciting moments. I personally think this is carried to extremes and you lose track of the plots as well as having to keep going back to see what was happening.
An interesting thriller but not nearly as satisfying as The Venetian Betrayal.
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VINE VOICEon 12 December 2008
I bought this book on a business trip to Munich (coming from Boston)and was quite surprised that much is set in Bavaria and partly in Munich. As jetleg kept me awake I started to read it and did not stop before I had finished the last pages. Steve Berry continues a bit the theme he developed in his "The Amber Room", but it is far from a mere copy.

I got hooked with page one and could not let go. No. 7 in the Cotton Malone mysteries - as in the previous six novels - Steve Berry offers the reader a fast moving plot linking present and past. It is action packed and another thriller of first order.Political intrigues of the present find their link with the past and its mysteries. Cotton Malone develops from book and book and gets rounded, more human. This applies to all his characters. I found them much more rounder and complex than in his previous books. But Steve Berry writes in such a way that one does not need to have read the first six novels in order to understand these characters. This novel is sequence but stands as well alone and makes perfect sense.

The chapters are short and easy to read and one simply wants to know what happens next The style is just fanastic and a pleasure to read.

If you enjoy thrillers this is one you do not want to miss. Steven Berry has proven himself - once more - as a superb story teller.
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on 29 January 2015
Enjoyed the book,however rather disjointed at times. The final scenario was a little far fetched. Sisters are unrealistic although dislike for each other seemed genuine
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on 17 January 2014
I found this book a compulsive read, I could not put it down. Your are drawn into the journey to find out actually what happened to the submarine.
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