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Five Greatest Warriors by Matthew Reilly

“The end of the world is approaching and only one man can prevent it…”

Five Greatest Warriors is the third in the series featuring all round good guy and action hero Jack West Jr. Written by Matthew Reilly, this book continues the adventures of West and his motley crew of mismatched soldiers as they race around the globe on an international treasure hunt. Their continuing objective is to solve centuries old clues that will hopefully lead to an ancient machine and prevent a global catastrophe. On their trail are many other interested parties, including a Japanese suicide squad, a deranged ex-Soviet general with a metal jaw and even Jack’s estranged evil father and half brother. They all have their own nefarious plans/private agendas/traitorous schemes and will stop at nothing to impede Jack and his friends at every turn.

I have been a fan of Reilly’s writing since I first picked up Contest, his first novel from 1996. The author has a real flair for action and this book certainly has a lot of that. The story kicks off at breakneck speed picking up where the previous novel,Six Sacred Stones left off. Jack was last seen disappearing over the edge of a cliff into a bottomless abyss.

Whilst I enjoyed the novel on the most part, I had a couple of small issues. Firstly, with each new piece of the puzzle that the characters solve it sends them to yet another maze/temple/burial site which is more complicated than the last. Exciting no doubt, but each new venue is more and more complicated. I realise with fiction you have to suspend belief, but with this story, I felt that we had to throw it out of the window.

The author has also set himself the unenviable task of trying to describe these places in detail. This means that each chapter has to start with a map or diagram to get the reader up to speed. It also means the reader has to be constantly reminded of all of the clues and information that has come before. Sometimes this works well and moves the narrative along with a nice “a-ha” moment while building the tension, but in other instances it feels like information overload and slightly contrived.

I also felt that the action was getting more outlandish as the story moved on. In Six Sacred Stones there is a brilliant sequence that takes place at the top of the Burj al Arab tower in Dubai. It’s full of tension and is a great example of Reilly’s action-film style writing. It felt like I was reading an action movie.  By the end of The Five Greatest Warriors there had been so many lakes of lava, earthquakes and tsunamis I was all actioned out. It seemed as though every action set piece had to be bigger and better than the last. I don’t think this was needed. Previous novels have managed to find a good balance between out and out action vs keeping the story believable.

On the plus side the characters are all great fun. The heroes are all un-flinchingly heroic while the villains are all suitably evil in a moustache twirling fashion.  Each of the team gets a chance to shine and as the plot evolves from book two to three, relationships develop between West and his extended family, particularly with his adopted daughter Lily.

I wanted very much to love this book but I ended up just liking it.

The Five Greatest Warriors (Jack West Series)

New From: £1.90 GBP In Stock

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