Clive Cussler: The Eye of Heaven

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Clive Cussler The Eye of Heaven
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    The Eye of Heaven
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    Прочие приключения / на английском языке
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The Eye of Heaven: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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The outstanding new Fargo adventure from the #1 —bestselling author. Baffin Island: Husband-and-wife team Sami and Remi Fargo are on a climate-control expedition in the Arctic, when to their astonishment they discover a Viking ship in the ice, perfectly preserved — and filled with pre — Columbian artifacts from Mexico. How can that be? As they plunge into their research, tantalizing clues about a link between the Vikings and the legendary Toltec feathered serpent god Quetzalcoatl — and a fabled object known as the Eye of Heaven — begin to emerge. But so do many dangerous people. Soon the Fargos find themselves on the run through jungles, temples, and secret tombs, caught between treasure hunters, crime cartels, and those with a far more personal motivation for stopping them. At the end of the road will be the solution to a thousand-year-old mystery — or death.

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Clive Cussler

The Eye of Heaven



Flashes of lightning seared the turbid night sky, illuminating the drawn faces of the men heaving on the long wooden oars of the Viking longship as it fought against the ravages of the unforgiving sea. The captain swayed in time with the relentless swell as he watched the wall of towering waves pounding the stern.

Sheer cliffs of black water driven by the icy wind threatened to capsize the hardy craft with each passing minute. Sheets of rain lashed the grim crewmen as they strained at their task, their survival depending on their unflagging effort. The captain eyed them with determination, his brow furrowed as the deluge tore at his skin, water running along the faint white battle scar stretching from the corner of his left eye to his blond beard. He’d grown up on the ocean, one of a hardened race of adventurers and plunderers, and nature’s untamed violence was nothing new. Countless nights he’d hurled oaths on the treacherous North Sea, but, even for him, this was a once-in-a-lifetime storm.

The wooden vessel was now badly off course, driven north as it ran with the seas. Had it pressed on its intended route, one of the mammoth waves would have assuredly broken over the bow and capsized the ship, bringing certain death. The best the captain could do was to steer the boat with the wind at his stern and ride out the fury of the gale.

A flare of brilliance streaked through the roiling clouds, glowing momentarily before fading back into the gloom. Salt water dripped from his bearskin cloak as the muscles on his powerful arms bulged from the effort. Another bright flash lit the night. The glowering profile of a carved wooden dragon reflected the light just aft of the captain’s head, soaked with the spray blowing off the angry sea.

From among the exhausted oarsmen, a tall man with skin the texture of leather and an untamed red mane lurched his way forward, his footing sure on the coarse oak planks beneath him even in these miserable conditions.

“Thor is venting his fury tonight, eh, Vidar?” the captain shouted to his mate over the howling wind.

“He is indeed, sir. But I think the worst is past. The swells seem smaller than a few hours ago.”

“I hope you’re right. My arms ache like I’ve been wrestling a bear all night.”

“I know the feeling. You’ve seen my wife.”

The two veteran seamen exchanged humorless smiles, and then the mate edged next to the captain and took the rudder staff from his grip.

“So much for trying to sleep in this nightmare. How are the men holding up?” the captain asked.

“As well as can be expected. Cold. Tired.” Vidar didn’t say “afraid.” It wasn’t in these warriors to admit fear.

“They’ve spent enough time quaffing ale and enjoying the native hospitality. This will give them something to think about in case they’ve softened like a maiden’s robe.”

“Aye, Captain. It’s definitely putting them to the test—”

A deafening explosion shook the deck beneath them. Both men gazed at the dazzling pyrotechnics with eyes seasoned from a lifetime on the ocean and in battle.

The captain glimpsed a shape rising behind him and turned instinctively. They stared as the stern split a massive wave, the rush of the breaking sea the only sound. After a brief moment suspended at the crest, they gradually eased down the back side, the black monster disappearing into the darkness.

“Could you imagine if we’d hit that one square on?” Vidar asked in a hushed voice.

“Or amidships. We’d all be on the way to Valhalla by now.”

Their eyes drifted to the mast, now shattered and useless, the top half torn away like a twig, along with a major portion of the sail — victim of the stealth with which the storm had hit. That had been a costly miscalculation. He should have lowered the woven wool sheet before the wind could rip it loose. But he’d been trying for every bit of speed possible. His men’s arms were strong, but after almost twenty-four hours of rowing, even in shifts, they were reaching their limit.

Among the most impressive longships ever launched, Sigrun was built to exacting standards for a crew of ninety, with rowing positions for up to eighty men, two to each of the ship’s forty oars, and a detachable mast fifty feet in height. She boasted a length of a hundred twelve feet and a beam of sixteen, a keel hewn from one massive oak, and square stones for ballast. Sigrun could travel at a speed approaching fourteen knots under sail in calm conditions, but during a winter storm of this proportion, in the farthest reaches of the North Atlantic, speed wasn’t an issue — staying afloat was.

The Sigrun had a typical Viking lapstrake, double-ender hull, but with a taller gunwale for open-sea expeditions, and its stern and bow were sculpted with identical dragon heads. Ships like Sigrun had a solid track record, navigating some of the most dangerous ocean on the planet, and their seaworthiness and speed were legendary. But even the most durable craft had its limits, and the storm had pushed Sigrun and her crew far beyond anything they’d been through in all their years together.

Long hours passed, and as dawn’s first glimmer fought through the heavy gray clouds the seas began to flatten. The captain called out the order for the exhausted oarsmen to rest now that the most dangerous part had passed — and then his eyes spotted a new menace: ice. Fifty yards ahead, an iceberg loomed in the haze, easily the size of a small hill. He twisted to the crewman manning the rudder and yelled a warning.

“Ice! Ahead!”

The ship had a shallow draft, but, even so, the churning waves could push them too near the submerged mass, which would shatter the wooden hull and sink the longship, the icy water killing all hands within minutes. The bow swung slowly, the steering sluggish as it resisted the surge of the following seas. Another rolling swell pushed them nearer — too close for the captain’s liking.

“Put your backs into it. Pull, damn you, pull or we’re done for.”

The ship glided past the brooding ice as silently as a wraith. The captain’s eyes roved over the frozen monolith, an island of desolation in the middle of the ocean. He offered yet another silent prayer to the gods. If the ship was in the ice, the storm must have blown them farther north than he’d feared, and the overcast would make it impossible to plot a course using the primitive means at his disposal.

“Bring one of the ravens from the hold,” he ordered.

Vidar relayed the command to the nearest crewman, who scuttled away. The storm surge was nearly spent, and it was time to use one of the Viking seafarers’ secret weapons: birds.

Two men heaved a deck hatch open and descended into the forward cargo hold. Moments later, they emerged carrying a rough wooden cage with a large, agitated black form in it. The taller of the two men carried the cage to the captain’s station at the stern and set it down on the deck. With a final glare at the sea, the captain squatted on his haunches and eyed the raven.

“Well, my friend, it’s time. May you fly straight and true. Don’t let me down. Our survival depends on your instincts. Let Odin guide you.”

He straightened and gave the crewman a curt nod. “Release it, and wish it Godspeed.”

The crewman lifted the cage to chest height as Vidar approached and, after fiddling with the leather binding that held the access door closed, pulled the door open and reached in. The raven flinched, but the fight was out of it, and Vidar easily cornered it with cold hands. He withdrew the bird, and then, with a prayer of his own, tossed it into the air.

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