A review of The Five Greatest Warriors by Matthew Riley

Reviewed by Dominic Ball

The Five Greatest Warriors
by Matthew Reilly
ISBN: 9781405039338, Hardback, 20 October 2009, 480 pp, rrp$49.99AUD

In Seven Ancient Wonders Matthew Reilly began the story of a small group of nations who want to stop the power from a deadly solar event known as the Tartarus rotation from falling into the wrong hands and save the world all at once. They managed to prevent the destruction of the world and save us from being ruled by terrorists.

The Six Sacred Stones continued the story, establishing that Tartarus was the precursor to a fall larger and far more devastating celestial event – the return of a ‘Dark Sun’ to our Solar System. When this Dark Sun arrived, all life on Earth would be destroyed. The only hope was to place six different pillars at six different vertices of a ‘Machine’ built by a mysterious ancient civilization. Each pillar had to be placed at a particular time or the end of the world would arrive.

In Six Sacred Stones, Jack and his team succeeded in placing the first pillar. However, after placing the second pillar, Jack along with enemy soldier Scimitar fell, and was last seen tumbling into a bottomless abyss…

The Five Greatest Warriors opens in typical ‘Reilly style’; action, action and more action. After leaving his characters, in particular Jack in disarray at the end of Six Sacred Stones, there were a lot of cliffhangers to resolve. Within the first three pages his hero has risen once more to fight another day… and so begins a heart-pounding, edge of your seat adventure.

It may be one big rollercoaster ride of gunfights, races against time and intricate trap systems, but unlike Reilly’s previous novels, there are also several moments of reflection; most notably when everything has settled down after the hectic beginning of the novel and members of the team set out to research a mysterious inscription relating to ‘The Five Greatest Warriors’. However, these moments add to the mystery and excitement of the story, and also establish some pretty important plot points.

One theme which persists throughout the whole story is mystery. Who are the five greatest warriors? What is their connection with the pillars and the machine? And, more importantly where and when are the remaining four vertices to be placed?

As the perfectly-paced story unravels and more of both Jack and Lily’s past is revealed, their adventure will take them to the tomb of Genghis Khan, Hokkaido in Japan, from Scotland to the Easter Islands to a forgotten naval base in the Indian Ocean. Reilly’s action-film-like style keeps you reading as his characters progress from place to place. Throughout the whole book, one ultimate question persists: Will they make it to the Sixth Vertice in time to prevent the end of the world? As the final page looms and there still seems no chance of a resolution, the skill of the writer at keeping the pages turning is amazing.

This book is a bit like the second episode of the Doctor Who serial The Daleks: The Survivors. In that episode, every moment seems to plunge the characters down an even deeper hole. Five Greatest Warriors uses the same device; every few pages a further hindrance to the quest is revealed. Elaborate trap systems and murderous family members are just a few of these hindrances that keep popping up. (Not to mention a deadly new player to the game known only as ‘Carnivore’ and some old friends…) Plus we know that no character is safe after Reilly killed off Fox in Scarecrow.

As the world collapses around Jack West Jr and his team, the reader is transported to a world of secret, shadowy organizations, murderous plots and a deadly threat to the world. Reilly’s innovative action-packed style will drag probably anyone who so much as reads a few lines into the story; after all, the job of the book is to transport people, not to get bogged down in endless adjectives and adverbs. Reilly proves that you don’t need all that to provide a descriptive and imaginative story that is impossible to stop reading.

I read this book in one sitting and when I’d finished, I had to take a few moments to let me catch up with myself; I had been so into the story that I had forgotten the real world.

This book is a superb story; 10/10. I would recommend it to teens and up; if you want to be transported to another world, read this book!

About the reviewer: Dominic Ball is a twelve year old compulsive reader who likes nothing better than to sit for hours with a good book. He is occasionally forced by his parents to get up for meals, and also swims, is a Dr Who fanatic, writes, plays piano, mandolin and chess, and has been known to contemplate the ‘multiverse’. To accompany his reading, watching, or pondering (but perhaps not his swimming or music playing), a piece of good quality Parmesan is always a welcome addition.