Many years ago I was loaned Matthew Reilly’s Ice Station and fell completely in love. The man writes novels that feel just like a summer blockbuster, quick and action-packed and utterly, utterly ridiculous. Full of macho men and guns and all kinds of high speed chases and shootouts, they really rely on your to turn off any common sense you might have and just strap on for the ride.
I just become reacquainted with his work via his novel Seven Ancient Wonders, the first of his “Jack West Jr.” series that has apparently continued with Six Sacred Stones and Five Greatest Warriors. You can see where that is going. It’s nowhere near the genius of Ice Station but it’s still a fun, light read.
In the first scene alone (I always think of these as films) West and his crew of diverse special ops units break their way into an ancient temple set in the mountain near the Nile river and deal with approximately 60,000 traps that were set for them inside. Most other media that goes the Indiana Jones route will give them a few traps to contend with at a leisurely pace, but not Matt Reilly. Here they have to deal with a descending ceiling with spikes, lava, killer crocodiles, trap stones triggered by pressure, rolling stones, boulders, poison arrows, flaming oil waterfalls, and of course, another team that’s set to find the same artifact that they are and don’t care about the high cost of ammunition.
The book is full of handy illustrations to explain what the traps and locations really look like because it gets quite convoluted, but best of all is the man’s prose when the action starts up. Many sentences begin-
-and then end on cliffhangers.
Even better, Reilly breaks out the italicized words and exclamation marks when it seems like even he, the author of these words, can’t believe what he’s writing. Because what else would you write when rivers of burning oil are descending upon our heroes?!
It’s pure pulp, but it’s gloriously entertaining.