The Four Legendary Kingdoms by Matthew Reilly–Book Review

 

Goodreads Blurb

There are 16 contestants, but only one will survive.

The last thing Jack West Jr remembers is arriving for a meeting at a top-secret military base with his family in tow. Now he awakens to find himself in a hellish scenario.
Jack has been selected to take part in the Games, a series of deadly challenges designed to fulfil an ancient ritual. If he chooses not to compete, both he and his daughter will be killed.

With the fate of the earth at stake, Jack will have to traverse diabolical mazes, fight ruthless assassins and face unimaginable horrors that will test him to the limit. In the process he will discover the mysterious and powerful group of individuals behind it all: the four legendary kingdoms.

 

My Review

Rating: 5*

I cannot begin to describe my excitement over this book!

Maybe it’s because I haven’t read a good action book in a while. Maybe it’s because it feels like ages since Matthew Reilly‘s last Jack West Jnr book. Actually, it has been ages since his last Jack West Jnr book. Eight long years, to be precise. But now I’m rambling. And I’m rambling because, not only is this another adrenaline-fuelled rip-roaring yarn from one of the best action story tellers out there, it also has the mother of all spoilers that I really want to tell you about but absolutely won’t! I can’t! I mustn’t!

What I can talk about is how much I loved the premise of this book. It has a slight feel of the Hunger Games but for adults. Jack, amongst others, is kidnapped and taken to an arena in order to take part in the Hydra Games. In short, nine spheres have to be acquired from the arena—whilst also surviving what the arena throws at you—in order to save the world. The arena is creative, imaginative and utterly without mercy. The odds are definitely stacked against Jack in this one. And if you thought the Hunger Games were brutal, this is brutal squared. I don’t know how he does it but just when you think Matthew Reilly has taken Jack to the point of no return he pulls it out the bag.

One of the pluses of having waited so long for the next Jack West Jnr book is that Lily, Jack’s adopted daughter is now twenty and has a featuring role in this story. It was also cool to catch up with Stretch and Pooh Bear. I was totally absorbed by this book right from the beginning even if much of the foundation idea is somewhat unbelievable.

But that’s exactly what makes a Matthew Reilly book so engaging. You leave your disbelief at the door and hop on board the Matthew Reilly Crazy-train to Funsville.

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Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves (Scarecrow #5) by Matthew Reilly, Book Review

Goodreads Blurb

At an abandoned Soviet base in the Arctic, the battle to save the world has begun…

THE SECRET BASE

It is a top-secret base known only as Dragon Island. A long-forgotten relic of the Cold War, it houses a weapon of terrible destructive force, a weapon that has just been re-activated…

A RENEGADE ARMY

When Dragon Island is seized by a brutal terrorist force calling itself the Army of Thieves, the fate of the world hangs in the balance, and there are no crack units close enough to get there in time to stop the Army setting off the weapon.

ONE SMALL TEAM

Except, that is, for a small equipment-testing team up in the Arctic led by a Marine captain named Schofield, call-sign SCARECROW. It’s not a strike force; just a handful of Marines and civilians. It’s not equipped to attack a fortified island held by a vicious army. But Scarecrow will lead the team in anyway, because someone has to.

THE ULTIMATE HERO IS BACK, FACING THE ULTIMATE ARMY OF VILLAINS.

 

My Review

Rating: 5*

I absolutely loved this book. Matthew Reilly is my favourite action writer. He has the ability to grab you by the throat and not let go until the book is finished.

I have to say I’m really glad Scarecrow is back, I’ve missed him. The title is a bit naff but that does not reflect on the contents at all. The Army of Thieves picks up from where the last one left off. 

Scarecrow has been sent to the Arctic to test prototype equipment, almost as a punishment for his escapades. The French are out for his blood and it makes sense to have him as far away as possible. It also means he is there with a mixture of Army guys and civilians.

This sets things up very well for what is to come, though I will not give away any spoilers about the story. Permit me to say, though, how happy I was to see the return of Mother, and the additions of Baba and Bertie were inspired (I love Bertie!!!). I’ll be interested to see what happens with Champion as well.

Please remember, Matthew Reilly writes FICTION. You must temporarily suspend belief when reading one of his books. They are not intended to be educational aids. They are FUN!!! And boy, is this book fun.

I must caution you, though, there are some torture scenes that are extremely graphic and even I found myself skimming those pages. However, they are not purely gratuitous so don’t be put off.

I hope this is not the last we see of Scarecrow, Mother, Baba and Bertie. It was a roller-coaster read that I didn’t put down until it was finished.

The Chimera Vector by Nathan Farrugia, Book Review

 

 

Goodreads Blurb

The Fifth Column: the world’s most powerful and secretive organization. They run our militaries. They run our governments. They run our terrorist cells.
Recruited as a child, Sophia is a deniable operative for the Fifth Column. Like all operatives, Sophia’s DNA has been altered to augment her senses and her mind is splintered into programmed subsets.
On a routine mission in Iran something goes catastrophically wrong. Bugs are beginning to appear in Sophia’s programming and the mission spins out of control.

High-speed chases, gun fights, helicopter battles, immortal psychopaths, super soldiers and mutant abilities are all in the mix in this edge-of-your-seat action-packed techno-thriller. Perfect for fans of Matthew Reilly, THE CHIMERA VECTOR melds sci-fi with sizzling espionage action.

 

My Review

Rating: 3.5*

I was requested by the author of the Chimera Vector to read and review this book. This has not influenced my review of this work.


I must confess that this book was a pleasant surprise to me. It’s well written, with real intrigue and suspense. The reason I say it was a pleasant surprise is because many indie published books are let down somewhat by the poor punctuation and grammar, but I’m pleased to say this was not much of an issue with The Chimera Vector. Mr Farrugia has really taken time to present this work in its best possible light, and for that I thank him for his attention to detail.

Mr Farrugia has a very complex imagination and a vast knowledge of his subject matter. However, I found some of the descriptive passages in the story to be a bit too fact dense for me to fully understand. My lack of scientific expertise didn’t interfere with my overall enjoyment of the story, which leads me to conclude that some of the techno-speak could be omitted or simplified for the benefit of the average layperson such as myself. 

My favourite character was Sophia and I admired the fact that Nathan made the main character in an action book female. I enjoyed how he revealed her back-story throughout the book, and finding out how she, Jay and Damien came to be involved in the 5th Column.

My main criticism of this book was that it lacked a certain finesse, that extra added layer in the writing, that really gives the reader an emotional connection to the story and the characters. You know when you read certain passages in a book and you feel what the author was feeling, it draws you in and you really care for the characters and what they’re going through; you can’t stop turning pages and thinking about the characters even when you’re not reading it. In places, he almost got there, but it felt like he bailed just before he arrived. Perhaps it needs a little less “tell” and a little more “show” to fully engage the reader. Without it the story is a little disjointed. With smoother transitions it would be an easier, more satisfying read.

My criticisms of this book are really not negatives. They are simply my observations that, as a reader, would really improve the overall quality of writing in what is essentially a good book. However, this is certainly one of the best self-published books that I’ve read in a while, and I see genuine potential in Nathan as a writer. There is much to admire and I will be interested to see how Mr Farrugia’s writing develops.

All told, readers of action-packed adventure books will love this read. The action is non-stop, relentless, from beginning to end. I would love to have been able to give this book a higher rating than 3.5*, but for that to happen it needs a bit less head and a little more heart. C’mon, Nathan, I know you’ve got it in you!