Cussler's 18th 20,000-leagues-below-Clancy thriller is a genuine literary innovation: the dadaist airport novel. Apparently, a domestic oil cartel (evil) is committing acts of terrorism for reasons both obscure and anachronistically mercantilist. Vikings are somehow involved (see title), as is Jules Verne, although their roles in the proceedings remain shrouded in mystery until a second or third scotch is consumed. In the meantime, men fight and die, and ladies swoon and discuss propulsion systems and fill out their bathing suits nicely. As a lagniappe, several world-changing scientific discoveries are made and forgotten about. Even the workaday heroics of Cussler's longtime leading man, Dirk Pitt, feel blasé; is this smarmy weekend warrior really the same guy who blithely raised the Titanic way back in 1976?