I have been Matthew Reilly novels since I was probably way too young to be reading Matthew Reilly novels. Of all his work, Reilly’s Jack West Jr series is by far my favourite, which means that the EXCRUCIATING wait between the last in the series, The Five Greatest Warriors, and the newest instalment, The Four Legendary Kingdoms, has felt incredibly long.
But, trust me, it was worth it.
The Four Legendary Kingdoms is a brilliant novel, and one that differentiates itself from the rest of the series. There is an acknowledgement of the time that has passed between books, and the regularity of life between books is given a sanctity. Lily is at college, Zoe is conducting research trips, Jack has adopted a poodle (I know right?!) – they have been granted a few years of relative peace after a series of incredible adventures.
That is, until Jack wakes up in a dark room, his head shaven and a Minotaur charging at him.
And so begins a strange tournament of the strongest and strangest humans on the planet – one that is rooted in pre-history and may decide the future of the planet itself. Just your average day for Jack West Jr…
The Four Legendary Kingdoms does something different from the other books in the Jack West Jr series, largely by keeping the main action all in one place, and any surrounding events circulating around that place. There is something discomforting about having Jack stuck in one place, not knowing what is going on, especially when you consider that Jack is usually travelling all over the world with a very specific knowledge of what he is looking for. That discomfort mixed with the immediacy of the action creates a constant state of suspense for a reader, one that only adds to the wonder of this book.
Then there is the incredible plot twist – one that I will not spoil here because it would be a terrible thing to do to prospective readers. For all those people who are familiar with Reilly’s work, let me just say, you will love the twist, as much as it will shock you. When my Mum read the book, she rushed into my room with the look of a total fangirl wanting to gush about that moment when the twist is revealed and to make my Mum act like that is the mark of an incredible plot twist. I applaud Matthew Reilly, and thank him for that moment.
One of my favourite things about Matthew Reilly’s novels is the amount of research that goes into constructing them – and this book was no exception. The incredible work that goes into weaving history, mythology and politics together to create the circumstances of each novel is always astonishing, and I am always amazed by how everything comes together, even the most far flung details. To do such research and turn it seamlessly into such an intelligent and original novel is astounding, and as a writer myself, I can only aspire to do such justice in my work.
It is hard to talk any more about The Four Legendary Kingdoms without giving away plot spoilers for this book, or previous books in the series, so I will finish here by saying that no matter your taste in books, this is a series for you. I would not normally read books like this, but it Reilly’s Jack West Jr series has quickly become one of my favourite reads – and I don’t doubt it will become one of yours as well.
The Four Legendary Kingdoms is now available from Pan Macmillan Australia or in all good bookstores. As always, INWORDSANDINK encourages its readers to buy from and support their local independent bookstores.
Thank you to Pan Macmillan for sending me a copy of Matthew Reilly’s The Four Legendary Kingdoms. Whilst I was sent the book for reviewing purposes, I was not in any way paid or financially obligated to write this review.
© Hayley New 2016