Reviewed by Ian Lipke
This is Matthew Reilly’s sixteenth book and the sixth in the Jack West Jr series. Fans of the author will not be disappointed with Reilly’s latest volume. It is an unashamed action thriller, designed to stir the blood of the most anaemic of readers while supplying the most hot-blooded of action men the flood of testosterone they ardently desire. Such readers Matthew Reilly does not disappoint.
Reilly is a man of the twenty-first century. There is no gender discrimination. Jack West’s mother, wife and daughter are given major roles and explore them with discernment and distinction. They are up to any task and are never fazed by villain bestiality. Being handcuffed to a stationary, immoveable object and flanked by two headless nuns who showed less than minimal interest in their surroundings is just one of those hiccoughs that life transmits. Lesser women characters, of which there are several, are lesser only in exposure not because of a dearth in character or fortitude.
West is the key character in the novel. His is the path straight and true. Selfless in his dedication to his team’s welfare, solicitous of his mother’s and daughter’s comfort, he always chooses the virtuous way, even if such a trail of honest virtue leads him into deadly danger. His goal in this book is maximal. He is the hope of the world; his strength is the bulwark standing in defiance of the evil Sphinx who would gain dominion over the earth and the dreaded General Rastor whose goal is to destroy the universe completely – the annihilation of all culture, all learning and all life.
Situation is important in Reilly’s book. He has a firm grasp of the geography of the planet and can manipulate his way about the most demanding of geographical entities to suit his will, and so further the intellectual breadth of his novel. Areas and objects spread across Europe, Africa, Israel, even Australia are incorporated in a work of stupendous scope. Even the moon plays an important role. Who but Reilly would have his villain cover with a flap of flimsy material a pedestal on the moon and then task the team’s IT specialist with using an abandoned moon rover to remove it? Why do this? It is all explained with the verve of the true scientist.
Much new knowledge is to be found in Reilly’s book. That the great Egyptian ruler Imhotep had the secret of the ages inscribed on his head, that Albert Einstein’s E = mc (squared) had so many aspects hitherto unknown, that Moses stole two stone tablets and that the Catholic Church is the modern religious equivalent of an ancient cult known to the Pharaohs was an awakening and a stirring in my knowledge banks that had not surfaced to consciousness before.
The passage in the book that I admired most, the extract that made Lily a flesh and blood creature worthy of my complete admiration was Lily’s note to her father. Almost overwhelmed by the knowledge that she was about to be rendered unconscious or killed, and still suffering from the last-minute escape from encasement in molten metal, Lily has the pluck to write a note of warning for her father:
Sphinx has a sonic weapon.
He also knows about Omega:
Newton’s planet, Friedemann + Einstein K>0.
I love you, Daddy. I knew you’d come for m
The final word was unfinished” (80 – 81).
That passage is so realistic and so characteristic of the selfless Lily. It is an hereditary feature of the West family – her grandmother faces great personal danger in the disinterested fashion of the scientist while exhorting her son not to sacrifice his own skin.
There are important tenets to be learned, alternative points of view, and so much fun to be had…if you are a reader that is gullible, accepting of the impossible, or finds mindless enjoyment in reading trash.
By Matthew Reilly
432 pp; $32.99