Book Retort: Fortune & Glory: A Treasure Hunter’s Handbook

Book:  Fortune & Glory: A Treasure Hunter’s Handbook
Author:  David McIntee
Publisher:  Osprey Adventures Books

Equal parts educational and entertaining, David McIntee’s handbook transports the reader to faraway places and times like no other book since Ian Wilson‘s Undiscovered did in 1993.

Let’s see a show of hands.  Who hasn’t dreamed of leaving it all behind; to board a boat or plane and go searching for the classic lost treasures of the ages?  Just as we suspected.  You’re reading this article, hence you must be another one of those dreamers.  McIntee’s handbook may not exactly guide you straight to the doorstep of each treasure, but you’ll come away from the reading experience with a better understanding of what exactly the treasures could be, a better idea of what you are likely find in areas where such treasures are thought to reside, and how to be better prepared for such expeditions.

Crystal Skull

A few of Earth’s more-famous lost treasures are notably absent from the book, such as the Menorah from the Second Temple (not seen since the 2nd century,) the Chinese Emperor Qin Shi Huang’s Heirloom Seal of the Realm (not seen since the 10th century,) and the seven lost Imperial Fabergé eggs (not seen since in nearly a hundred years.)  These omissions were to be expected.  After all, have you ever laid eyes upon a complete listing of Earth’s famous lost treasures?  Such a book would fill more pages than you can shake a carbon-dating machine at.

As for classic lost treasures, many of the usual suspects are represented in McIntee’s handbook (including the Ark of the Covenant, the Holy Grail, El Dorado, Kusanagi and the Honjo Masamune.)

Incan Golden Idols

McIntee’s writing style is a delight, with a conversational charm, and this is an author who’s really done his research.  As for which chapters will hold sway over which readers, it all depends on the reader.  Your mileage may vary.  McIntee’s handbook is, after all, a non-linear work of non-fiction, and there’s no harm in jumping backwards or forwards, from one chapter to another, out of sequence.

One chapter that’s sure to capture the imagination of readers everywhere is that of the Oak Island Money Pit.  “Since nobody even knows what the treasure is,” writes McIntee “it’s impossible to put a likely value on it.”  From the late 18th century til now, many have searched Oak Island for a big payoff. None have yet found it, even with modern technology being what it is.

Knight Templar

The formulaic outline structure of each chapter detailing each of the lost treasures adds to to the allure of McIntee’s handbook. It’s nearly as interesting as the treasures themselves; covering each of the following bases and leaving no stone unturned:
* What is it?
* How much is it worth to you?
* The story
* Previous searches in fact and fiction
* The truth is out there
* Where is it now?
* The opposition in your way

McIntee’s handbook contains pop culture references aplenty (Indiana Jones, Lara Croft, Edgar Allan Poe‘s story The Gold Bug, and Guybrush Ulysses Threepwood to name a few,) giving the book a lighthearted aura.  No doldrums for the readers here.  As informative as it is, McIntee’s handbook is also a far cry from just another dry text (a fate not entirely shared by Ian Wilson’s Undiscovered, considering Undiscovered’s straightforward non-whimsical presentation of the facts of its day.)

Lion Enjoying A Leg

Fortune & Glory is peppered with a few treasures of its own, appearing in a slightly smaller font size, nestled in each treasure chapter.  Seekers will find and will feel empowered.  What is power if not knowledge?  Be on the lookout for these sections which contain titles such as “Artefact Smuggling,” “Conservation And Care,” “Cracking The Whip” and “Dragons And Treasure.”

Rare is the book too when its last fifteen pages are as good a starting place as any for the readers.  This is that book.  Its last fifteen pages give readers a fun look at other books about treasure hunting, movies about treasure hunting, and games about treasure hunting.

Man Who Would Be King

All in all, there is much to like about Fortune & Glory.  Some of the book’s diction could present American readers with a fair challenge, as a result of the book’s author being a British author who will occasionally use British slang and spellings.

Dungeon Masters and Game Masters alike will find inspiration on every page of McIntee’s handbook, for their tabletop rpg adventures.  Fortune & Glory is recommended for treasure hunters of all ages; of both the armchair variety and the real variety.

Treasure chapters appearing in this book:
– The Pharaoh’s Treasures
– King Solomon’s Mines
– El Dorado and Aztec Gold
– Captain Kidd’s (and Others’) Pirate Treasure
– The Oak Island Money Pit
– The Beale Treasure
– Kusanagi and the Honjo Masamune
– Peking Man
– The Holy Grail
– The Templar Treasure
– Nazi Gold
– The Irish Crown Jewels
– The Ark of the Covenant
– Treasures of the Copper Scroll
– All at Sea
– Other Types of Treasure

Pirate Treasure


“Oddly, despite the Nazi attempts to locate the Holy Grail, and the plot of a certain Hollywood movie, the Nazis never did actually go looking for the Ark. The Ark’s imminent rise to popular fame would actually be mostly due to a completely different type of subject matter: the rise of pseudoscience books promoting the ‘ancient astronaut’ theory, that ancient myths were actually tellings of how aliens had interacted with ancient civilizations. So, according to the likes of Brad Steiger, Erich von Däniken and other writers, artefacts (sp) like the Ark could have been examples of advanced technology, indistinguishable from magic.”

“When the Spaniards came to the treasure vault to take possession, the loot was gone. Moctezuma (sp) and his people had twigged that the Spaniards weren’t gods, and changed their minds about them their entire gold supply.”

“In the treasure hunter’s case the important thing will be to make sure that the treasure is recovered safely, which will be dependent on both its nature and the environment in which it is to be found. Organic material submerged in right depth of water might well be preserved, due to the lack of oxygen available to rot causing bacteria. In such a case, bringing it to the surface will cause it to rot, and you don’t want that. For example, anyone who remembers the media coverage of the raising of the Tudor warship Mary Rose will remember that the wood of the ship had to kept wet with salt water so that it would not dry out and rot and crumble.”

“Everybody with even the slightest interest in digging up treasures from the past, whether by beachcombing themselves, or simply from watching TV history shows such as Time Team, will have noticed the use of what’s called geophysical surveying equipment, whether it be in the form of hand-held metal detectors on the beach, electrical resistance meters used in fields, or even ground-penetrating radar.”

“In 1898, dye was poured into the (Oak Island) pit in the hope that following the colouration in the water would reveal the flood tunnel exits. Surprisingly, not only did the dye appear from points all around the island, but did not appear from the finger drains in Smith’s Cove. Nothing the company did, including blasting with dynamite, prevented flooding (of the pit.)”

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  • Editor’s Note:  Illustrations appearing in this article were created by Hauke Kock and they appear here courtesy of Osprey Adventures Books.

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