Welcome to my review of Matthew Reilly’s latest thriller. The book is a continuation of the Jack West series, which started with The Seven Ancient Wonders, The Six Sacred Stones and The Five Greatest Warriors.
A NEW TWIST
Previously in this series we have seen the re-erection of the capstone of the Great Pyramid of Khufu and the rebuilding of a great machine which saved the world from the Dark sun. In the first adventure West and his team faced two sets of foes, a catholic church led group and a US led group. Having been beaten in the first quest, the catholic church played no role in the second, but a new set of foes in the Japanese, determined to end the world, appeared.
Now, eight years on the world faces another threat – a potential collision between the Hydra Galaxy and the Milky Way. The four kingdoms of the title are four shadow kingdoms who rule the world between them, Land, Sea, Sky and The Underworld.
The first stage of the process to save the world from the Hydra Galaxy is the staging of the Great Games of the Hydra, for the fourth time in history (the three previous champions being Osiris, Gilgamesh and Hercules). West is kidnapped so that he has to compete in these games on behalf of the Kingdom of Land.
This means that he faces a series of challenges (along with 15 other competitors) that passed into legend as the Labours of Hercules. It transpires that among the other challengers is Captain Shane Schofield of the US Marines, aka the Scarecrow, whose participation is also not voluntary.
Eventually West and the Scarecrow face each other in a fight to the death (West wins, but Schofield has taken the same drug that Caesar Russell used to cheat death in Area 7…). West then has to take on the younger son of the king of The Underworld plus Mephisto, Fear and Chaos all fighting on behalf of their king’s son. He emerges victorious from this fight, and then faces the final challenge of delivering Cerberus to the king of The Underworld, which he accomplishes by dint of asking permission to so.
He then prevents his own king from receiving hidden wisdom that will make him all-powerful. To save the world and prevent it from being in the grip of a tyranny West mus now find the three hidden cities (there is the title of the next book in this series ready made) and extract their wisdom. I did not see any pointers to the the title starting with two, but I would be fairly confident in reckoning that the last book in the series will be titled The Omega Event.
Given that Scarecrow has put in an appearance in this book what of other Reilly leads? Well I could see roles for William Race and possibly C J Cameron somewhere along the line. Another possibility would be a now grown-up Kirstie Hensleigh (from Ice Station) playing a role somewhere along the line.
This is a fabulous book, which I heartily recommend to everyone.
Before showing some internal illustrations a final speculation: I reckon the Japanese still have a final intervention in them before this series is done. For more on Matthew Reilly’s books check out this post.