One morning, whilst waiting for my strong cup of coffee to kick in, and the laptop to boot up the latest manuscript that needs going over , I stuck on the Travel Channel in the hope of finding some adventure. Or more importantly to avoid all the terrible reality TV that ruins the medium.
Josh Gates was on doing his Expedition Unknown, and at first my heart sank when his quest involved a book called The Secret, thankfully it wasn’t referring to that terrible specimen that came out some years ago.
What Josh was referring to was a book that leads to real buried treasure, and instead of a classic ‘X’ marks the spot treasure maps, there are twelve fantasy images with clues of real world landmarks cryptically embedded within. Accompanying each illustration is poetry with additional clues to entice the reader into this deceptive maze.
Published in 1982, creator Byron Preiss tapped into the The 80’s love of fantasy but he layered it with the theme of immigration, from the Old World to the New. The fantastical creatures of Europe came over, and morphed into something else, along with those that told the tales. It is also an encouragement to get out and travel, to appreciate nature, and enjoy a bit of lateral thinking at the same time.
When I read Valverde’s Gold, a search for treasure in Ecuador .and the misdirection of treasure hunters hoarding their secrets and hoping to gain fame, The Secret in contrast now involves the internet community, who actively pools its clues.
Whilst two boxes have been found the rest remain waiting. Sadly the author died in a traffic accident, and the illustrator John Jude Palencar never saw the hiding places. Out of respect to Preiss, he burnt all the photos and notes too. All that is left is the enigmatic book. Clue solvers will dig up a ceramic box with a key, which can still be exchanged for a jewels, ranging from diamonds to sapphires.
What can be more intoxicating than books, treasure, and the feeling that you too can take part in the quest without having to be tooled up with all the latest gadgets. The remaining jewels are still up for grabs, and if nothing else its a lot more preferable to be walking around clutching The Secret, than those people who carry The Da Vinci Code around.