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Literature / Trojan Odyssey

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Trojan Odyssey is a novel by Clive Cussler. It was published in 2003 as the 17th book in the Dirk Pitt Adventures series.

NUMA director of operations Dirk Pitt and his children Dirk Jr. and Summer are investigating the origin of a strange brown contamination that is killing all sea life around Nicaragua, when they get suddenly involved in the rescue of a floating hotel, the Ocean Wanderer, from a not less strange hurricane. They soon get proof that the Odyssey corporation, the cruiser's backer, is behind a diabolical plot that sinks its roots deep into ancient history.


The book's story draws heavily from Iman Wilkens's Where Troy Once Stood, a controversial work which claims that the city of Troy was located in England and that The Trojan War was fought between groups of Celts.

This book provides examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: Simone Raizet. She's clearly one of Odyssey's amazons, as well as probably the spy that outs Dirk and Summer, but the way she is described and the fact that she has a name to begin with give the impression she will be an important character. Instead, she is never mentioned again and is not even present among the coven members at the end.
  • A God I Am: Epona and company call themselves goddesses.
  • Amazon Brigade: Specter has one, given that most of Odyssey's executives, agents and security commanders are women.
  • Ambiguous Situation:
    • Pitt and Giordino believe Rathbone to be a disguised Odyssey agent, but his physical description doesn't clearly imply it. For instance, he is described as being sweating by his head, something that shouldn't be visible under a latex mask, and his dialogue lines reveal a lot of true information for someone that should be trying to misinform strangers. Still, the fact that he is an obese guy in a white suit echoes Specter himself, whose fatness is meant to be a comfortable disguise for a curvy woman, thus implying Rathbone is another Odyssey woman in disguise.
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    • Dirk notes one of the female guards looks brainwashed. It's unknown if those women are literally brainwashed or they are simply that fanatical.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Hiram Yaeger is weirdly opposed to believe Max's explanations about lost civilizations, despite he and Max were precisely the ones who collected all the info about Atlantis in the previous book, the aptly named Atlantis Found. To make things weirder, the latter's events are actually mentioned in this book, meaning it is still canon.
  • Artistic License – History:
    • Max claims Egypt was given this name by the Greeks from a location mentioned in the Iliad, which is thoroughly untrue. The Greek word "Aígyptos" was actually just their spelling of "Hikuptah" ("The Home of Ptah's ka"), an earlier native name for the Egyptian capital of Memphis. She also claims Egypt received this name when Alexander the Great invaded it, which is untrue again: Herodotus already referred to it by that name half a century before Alexander was born, and he was not even the first to do so.
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    • In general, the book describes ancient Celts as if they were a single, defined civilization, with all of their tribes from Spain to Denmark sporting the same weapons, customs, culture, religion and technology - something that is effectively a historical aberration. Even if archaeology and history had not proved the exact opposite of this notion (to put only one example, Celtiberians and Gauls were as different from each other as Greeks and Persians were, and that even although they were merely separated by the Pyrenees), this would be soundly unlikely due to the enormous differences in geography, possibilities of development, and exchanges with neighbor cultures they would have sported.
    • The in-universe historians, supported by the images in the ancient tomb, also claim ancient Celts fought naked most of the time, which is just a popular belief that a bunch of supposed experts should know better than. The Gauls were the only Celtic tribe that sported something similar to this custom, and whenever they did it, it usually amounted to merely fight bare-chested; full, unambiguous nudity was only recorded with certainty among two very specific Gaul tribes, the Gaesatae and the Tolistobogii.
    • Similarly to the previous, it is claimed that Celtic women fought all the time along with the males, with the tomb showing nude Amazons as a proof. This is another stereotype that cannot apply to all Celtic tribes: the only real instances of Celtic women coming out as regular fighters happened in the last days of the Lusitanian Wars and maybe during the Roman conquest of Britannia, and it was under very special circumstances each, not as an usual custom by any stretch of the expression.
    • Only Gaul and Britannia had "druids" by that name, and ancient chronicles about other Celtic lands like Hispania imply they had diverse and completely different religious systems. Also, even although we know little about them, it seems there were also great differences among the druidic orders of the two former countries. This might be justified because it is Epona, a Neo-Pagan cult leader and therefore not a reliable narrator, the one making the claim.
    • Warriors sporting bushy moustaches instead of full beards is given as a pictoric proof of them being Celts and not Greeks. In reality, this distinction doesn't exist; beards were common in all Celtic cultures, and only Gaul noblemen had characteristic moustaches.
    • Ancient Celts had a very primitive political system, based mostly in regional chieftains who ruled small tribes, so the possibility of a gigantic alliance of Celtic countries from all Europe in 1200 BC would have been downright impossible. Even larger-than-life figures like Viriathus and Vercingetorix failed to unify the lands equating to modern Spain and France, not to talk about creating a multi-national alliance (and those two had the advantage of being influenced by more advanced cultures like Greece, Carthage and Rome, so they were not even primitive Celts).
    • The experts from the book also seem to support the witch-cult hypothesis, a disproven conspiracy theory about how European witch-hunts were actually a mass attempt to suppress undeground pagan holdovers. Their explanation about the topic also seem to mix the conquests of Rome and the expansion of Christianity.
    • It is claimed that Greek gods might have been actually early Celtic gods that received different names. This is true in the sense that most European pantheons descend from the ancient Indo-European gods, but to say that the ancient Greek religion was an appropriation of its early Celtic homologue is a very bold claim.
  • Big Bad: Specter who is actually Epona Eliade in disguise.
  • Bad Boss: Flidais is implied to be one, given that she is effectively abandoned to die by her own crew in the Epona after being knocked out.
  • ...But He Sounds Handsome: Rathbone describes the Odyssey women as being beautiful and professional. It's implied he's one of them under a disguise.
  • The Cameo:
    • Kurt Austin and Joe Zavala (who had been mentioned as having worked with Giordino to create the Pisces) make a cameo in the NUMA headquarters.
    • Yet another character named Leigh Hunt appears in the story, this time as a 17th century pirate.
  • China Takes Over the World: China is explicitly backing Odyssey in their evil plans.
  • Continuity Porn:
    • The story mentions or references the events of a ton of books of the saga, namely Raise The Titanic, Sahara, Inca Gold, Shock Wave, Atlantis Found and of course Pacific Vortex. Valhalla Rising is also indirectly referenced through the Sea Sprite's MH engines.
    • Kurt Austin and Joe Zavala from NUMA Files make a cameo in the story, which, judging by their dialogue, happens at the same time as White Death.
  • Continuity Snarl:
    • As in the previous book, Valhalla Rising, Summer Moran is stated to have died when her father's submarine city was destroyed in a sea earthquake. In Pacific Vortex, the base was destroyed by a missile launched from a warship. This could be considered a poetic license, given that the missile more or less caused an earthquake inside the city, but it is still an oddity.
    • The narration also claims Pitt met Summer Moran for the first time while he was in the Moana Towers hotel with the daughter of Admiral Sandecker. Now this is correct, except by the last bit: it was the daughter of Admiral Leigh Hunter, a completely unrelated character. The change might be a typo, but Sandecker is later mentioned to have a daughter with children living in Hong Komg, vaguely implying she is the mysterious daughter Pitt was dating back then.
    • Earlier in the series, Sandecker's birth year had been established to be 1918, but here it is pushed forward to 1945 in order not to make him impossibly old.
    • In Atlantis Found, Giordino speaks Spanish because his family had a Latin maid, so he is called to translate for Pitt, who has no clue of the language. In this book, the roles are reversed: Giordino doesn't speak Spanish, only a bit he learned in Tijuana, while Pitt does, claiming to have studied it back in high school.
    • Loren's father appears here inexplicably alive and well despite having been killed in Vixen 03.
  • Contrived Coincidence:
    • Loren happens to be part of a committee investigating Odyssey Corporation, although this doesn't have much weigh in the plot.
    • Flidais invades the hotel room of a woman who happens to be an Identical Stranger to her, allowing her to use her passport.
  • Dark Action Girl: An entire Amazon Brigade of them, although most of them offscreen. Flidais is also a trained fighter.
  • The Ditz: One of the college students in the Sea Sprite believes that the Celtic amphora might be a modern cooking pot. Seriously, how do you even mistake one thing for another?
  • Does Not Like Men: Epona and company believe that most men are intrinsically dumber. This is clearly connected with them being a matriarchy-like cult.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: The cultists seem to be barefoot when in their ceremonial clothing.
  • The Dragon: Flidais appears to play this role towards Epona.
  • Evil Counterpart: In a thematic sense. While the NUMA has all their vehicles painted turquoise, Odyssey does the same in lavender.
  • Foe Yay: Epona and Pitt seem to have some weird chemistry in their few moments together, but it is never expanded upon.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: As it is typical in the series, the level of security in the Odyssey complex is frankly pathetic, with the guards failing to react quickly to an obvious trap like a burning vehicle and not calling for the alarm in hours. Their field agents are also incredibly unprofessional, with two of them being spotted and panicking after realizing so in midst of their missions.
  • Hand Cannon: Giordino wields a Desert Eagle of all things in this adventure. Nothing against the kickback is mentioned, probably because he's so strong.
  • Hollywood Satanism: The Neo-Paganism version. The coven is portrayed as a cult of misandric loons who preach pseudohistory and practice Human Sacrifice.
  • Hologram: Odyssey uses a futuristic hologram of a rather trite pirate ship to make it look like their kills in the sea are victims of a ghost pirate.
  • Informed Ability:
    • Sandecker explains the Poco Bonito is essentially a shapeshifting ship, being able to alter her structure to assume different disguises. This is sadly never demonstrated in the book.
    • The Odyssey women claim constantly to have trascended all sexist expectatives of efficiency, but truth is that none of them happens to be really competent in any sense: Epona does a terrible CEO work, Flidais blows her own cover in rage while being interrogated even although she had a relatively flawless alibi, her own mooks abandoned her previously, the female field agents are humorously clumsy, the security women are not very tight in their work, and the corporation itself seems to be quite badly managed for an organization of such size and power.
  • Meaningful Name: There's a helicopter pilot named Marvin Huey.
  • No Name Given: The Neo-Pagan coven seems to have no name, although they refer to themselves as the Daughters of Ulysses and Circe in their prayers.
  • Only One Name: Specter. Even his lawyers refer to him as "Mr. Specter", implying it is legally registered as an artistic name or something similar.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Both Pitt and Giordino easily deduce Percy Rathbone is actually someone in disguise, though not because his face looks wrong or anything, but because his hands's skin looks different from his face's. They also perceive that his voice sounds slightly like passed through a voice deformer. However, it can be said the disguise actually fulfilled its mission to some degree, because if the wearer was a woman as it was later implied, they didn't realize.
  • Sadly Mythtaken: The prologue is written from a (supposedly) Greek perspective, yet a character namedrops the goddess Minerva, who is a Roman deity. The Greek name should have been Athena.
  • Series Continuity Error: A helicopter that is described as blue turns red and yellow at the next scene.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Specter's name is probably a reference to SPECTRE from James Bond.
    • Epona Eliade's surname is an obvious reference to famous historian and writer Mircea Eliade, known for his work in the field of comparative religion.
    • All the named coven members go under names of Celtic goddesses, and one of them uses Druantia, a reconstructed deity invented by historian Robert Graves that is popular among real life Neo-Pagans.
    • The captain of the Sea Sprite is named Paul T. Barnum, a reference to the famous circus showman P. T. Barnum.
    • With his build, white suit and and speech pattern, Rathbone seems to be trying to evoke Sidney Greenstreet. His name also brings to mind Basil Rathbone and Percy Herbert, two British actors also famous for their work in mystery fiction.
  • Sigil Spam: The Uffington White Horse for Odyssey, used unsubtletly and all over the place. They even mark it in their ritual victims.
  • The Sociopath: Epone describe her coven members as such, noting it to be an advantage.
  • Straw Feminist: The villains of the book, mixed with straw Wicca-esque neo-paganism. Epona and company remind of your typical third wave feminist blogger: they voice constantly the opinion that most men are naturally vulgar and stupid, claim that women are essentially enslaved by men and restricted from business, accuse Pitt of "paternalism" every time he refutes their villainous nonsense, are offended by the mere concept of tolerance, and behave with gratuitous rudeness towards all her male employees (with Flidais even being implied to be such a Bad Boss that her own crew left her to die). In an extra twist, they also hypocritically celebrate that their cult members are capable to "enslave" rich men to capitalize on their wealth, a negative stereotype they should theoretically be against.
  • Super Gullible: Professor Dodge, possibly on the account of being an Absent-Minded Professor. He fully believes Rita's claims, even although Pitt and Renee refuted them clearly, and he later thinks the Epona crew are being honest when they claim they will release them alive if they surrender, despite those same mooks tried previously to destroy the Poco Bonito not once, but twice.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Epona disguises herself as the obese masked man Specter for public appearances. The obesity or her disguise is probably meant to hide comfortably her female frame, as it's implied that the also obese Rathbone is actually one of her henchwomen under a similar disguise.
  • Tap on the Head: Used by both heroes and villains, all with the usual effect.
  • Textual Celebrity Resemblance: Captain Barnum is described as basically a bald version of Jacques Cousteau.
  • Underwater Base: The Pisces, although one wonders what's its point in a mission that takes places only 30 ft deep - enough for Barnum to freedive back to the Sea Sprite from there.
  • The Vamp: Rita claims the men in the Epona left her alive to make her act as a honey bait for other ships. This part of her cover is actually plausible; assuming she was not lounging in a bikini for her personal amusement, Flidais might have done it for this purpose.
  • Women Are Wiser: Epona endorses this belief, although the events don't exactly back it up.
  • Word Salad Title: Downplayed. The NUMA deploys a disguised ship named Poco Bonito to investigate in the Spanish-speaking Nicaragua, but this chosen name, while gramatically correct (it translates to English as roughly "not very nice"), is a sort of Spanish Buffy Speak that doesn't sound entirely natural in that language.
  • Would Not Hit a Girl:
    • Pitt thinks he would not be able to kill the female cultists because it goes "against his natural instinct and all he had learned". He then opts to shoot their feet off in order to disable them.
    • Played straight, even exaggerated, with the US soldiers that assault the Odyssey base. After being forced to gun down the resident Amazon Brigade, Commander Nash states many of his men will have to seek therapy because they "weren't trained to shoot women".

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