It has been a while since I last blogged. I hope to return with a bang. Five and a half years ago I wrote a post covering the whole of Matthew Reilly’s oeuvre as it then stood. Two days ago my copy of The One Impossible Labyrinth (pre-ordered so I got as soon after publication as possible) arrived, and by the end of yesterday I had finished reading it for the first time. This book completes the Jack West series to which this post is dedicated.
SEVEN ANCIENT WONDERS
This is where it all started, with Jack West’s small crack team, made up of individuals from minor nations up against much larger and better armed opposition forces from the USA and Europe. An event called the Tartarus Rotation was due, and to prevent it the golden capstone of the Great Pyramid of Khufu had to be re-erected and a special ceremony conducted. West’s team had two aims: either to ensure that the ritual of peace rather than the ritual of power was performed or to prevent the ceremony altogether.
In the event it did not work as planned, and the ritual of power was performed by a notorious Saudi terrorist, Mullah Mustapha Zaeed. However, West had substituted soil from his native land for that of Zaeed’s, so Australia had the power, and West planned to keep that as secret as possible. The story could have been left there with no cause for complaint…
THE SIX SACRED STONES &
THE FIVE GREATEST WARRIORS
A group of Japanese fanatics who want the world to end undo the Tartarus ceremony, and now the world is in a high stakes race against time to save itself from the Dark Sun, to do which six pillars need to be placed at six different temple shrines around the world at specific times. All the pillars need to be cleansed before they can be set in place, and some are in unknown locations.
By the end of The Six Sacred Stones two of the pillars have been placed, and West is plunging down an effectively bottomless pit locked in battle with a traitor whose Japanese heritage had counted for more than his American heritage.
The Five Greatest Warriors features a multi-faceted struggle between Old Europe (The Deus Rex), The Caldwell Group (USA, but no longer on the same wavelength as their government), Japan, and West’s team. Old Europe and the Caldwell Group are both hunting for absolute power, Japan want the world to end and West’s team are trying to keep the world turning and prevent anyone from gaining absolute power. In addition to these major players, China is also involved, as are Saudi Arabia. Jack West’s adopted daughter Lily, a Siwan Oracle, places the final pillar at its site underneath Easter Island, and at the very end Jack West then kicks the charged pillar into the abyss to ensure that his wicked father, Jack West senior cannot use it to rule the world as a dictator. West the elder dies in the final scene. This, like the end of the first book could have been the end of the story, and for some years it seemed like it would, but after a lapse of eight years the series changed course in a big way, starting with…
This book, and with it the second half of the series, starts with West being abducted and forced to take part in the Great Games of the Hydra, which will decide the fate of the universe. This book reveals the existence of four ‘shadow Kingdoms’ which in reality rule the entire world. West is fighting on behalf of the Kingdom of Land, with the other three being the Kingdom of the Sea, the Kingdom of the Sky and the Underworld. At the semi-final of the games West finds himself in a duel to the death with Shane Schofield, also known as The Scarecrow. Scarecrow, knowing that West is more important than him, and also remembering the circumstances of Caesar Russell in one of his own previous adventures puts on a show but has every intention of being seen to be killed by West, and is. West duly wins, then wins the final as well, and finally correctly works out how to handle Cerberus to win the Great Games. West then manages to save Scarecrow as well. Also West sets the scene for the events of the last three novels by refusing to countenance one person ruling the world as dictator.
THE THREE SECRET CITIES &
THE TWO LOST MOUNTAINS
These two books build up for the finale. Aloysius Knight rescues West from incarceration in the world’s most secure jail, Erebus. Also escaping at the same time is Rastor, a Serbian general who wants the world to end, while various groupings associated with the shadow kingdoms and with the catholic church are also still very much involved. By the end of The Two Lost Mountains we are entering the final labyrinth, and four major players with differing goals are all still very much in the game.
The final installment begins with West’s team in three parts, one in quest of the bell which will reawaken those sent to sleep by the siren bells (very large numbers, part of Hardin Lancaster’s scheme to remake the world with himself in sole power), one keeping tabs on those shadow royals not directly involved in the quest, and one in the labyrinth. At times it seems like most of West’s team have been killed, but they survive somehow. The book and the series ends with a lengthy epilogue which takes things to a point from which everyone can be expected to live happily after. This is a fantastic series, and I have enjoyed seeing it change and develop, one from one book, to three, to a final seven.