Tag Archives: dragons

Matthew Reilly : The Great Zoo Of China (Review)

Matthew Reilly's picture

Matthew Reilly

Australia (1974 – )

Matthew Reilly was born in Sydney in 1974 and studied Law at the University of New South Wales. He has written both screenplays and magazine articles, and recently optioned the film rights to Contest. His second and third novels, Ice Station and Temple, became No. 1 bestsellers in his native Australia, and went on to enjoy huge success internationally. The author still lives in Sydney, and keeps on writing.

zoo

Product details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Orion (12 Feb. 2015)
  • ISBN-10: 1409134253
  • ISBN-13: 978-1409134251
  • Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 4.7 x 24 cm

In the blockbuster and bestselling tradition of Jurassic Park comes the breakneck new adventure from the New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author Matthew Reilly whose imaginative, cinematic thrillers “make you feel like a kid again; [they’re] a blast” (Booklist).

It is a secret the Chinese government has been keeping for forty years. They have proven the existence of dragons – a landmark discovery no one could ever believe is real, and a scientific revelation that will amaze the world. Now the Chinese are ready to unveil their astonishing findings within the greatest zoo ever constructed.

A small group of VIPs and journalists has been brought to the zoo deep within China to see these fabulous creatures for the first time. Among them is Dr. Cassandra Jane “CJ” Cameron, a writer for National Geographic and an expert on reptiles. The visitors are assured by their Chinese hosts that they will be struck with wonder at these beasts, that the dragons are perfectly safe, and that nothing can go wrong.

Of course it can’t..

Review (With Spoilers… not usual for me… but there you go)

I don’t normally write reviews for books that I score below a 4 star rating, but I felt compelled to write something about this one. I have always enjoyed the release of Matthew Reilly’s books, they are my escape from genre and reality. After spending so much time in the past sometimes I need something fantastical, something out there on the edge that tests your ability to suspend belief, where you are not wondering if a person could really have survived an encounter (we know that really they would have died in scene one).

What I think that readers of this genre do demand though is originality, and for the first time ever I think the author fails, there is no way anyone can do anything but compare this book to Jurassic park, only instead of Raptors and T-Rex chomping people to bits we have dragons. The author does add in a few nuances around intelligence (but we saw that with the raptors in Jurassic park) the Dragons desire to escape, again we saw that in Jurassic park. The hero (Geoff Goldblum) became a heroine (CJ Cameron), nice move, but she was just too much, she would have and should have died so many times, too many to swallow. Normally The authors weapon research is excellent, but this time they only worked to suit the author, eg: grenades that go off at the touch of a flame (nope) tanks and Apache helicopters destroyed in a blink, yet they (dragons) could not destroy a fire truck, and CJ… well charmed life with the odd scratch.

I know already that fans of the author will flame any review I add like this, if I put it on good reads or amazon I can ticker tape count the negative votes it will get. But I’m sorry that will be an emotive response… quick protect the poor fragile author. I’m pretty certain that he is expecting reviews like this, and maybe hoping to get away with out them. Reviews are a personal thing, so for me, personally this did not work, I’m sure it will for many other.

That said I still passed some fun hours, even if I scoffed at much of the action… but it really is a 3/5. The characters are fun as ever, the writing is splendidly paced as usual, but the plot was the let down… and that’s the first time I have ever said that for a Matthew Reilly book.

as with any book that isn’t to my taste… read it yourself, make up your own mind (just maybe save it for the pool on holiday when you have left the brain back at home.)

(Parm)

Scarecrow

1. Ice Station (1998)
2. Area 7 (2001)
3. Scarecrow (2003)
4. Hell Island (2006)
5. Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves (2011)
aka Scarecrow Returns
Ice Station / Hell Island (omnibus) (2007)
Ice StationArea 7ScarecrowHell IslandScarecrow and the Army of Thieves
Hover Car Racer
1. Crash Course (2005)
2. Full Throttle (2006)
3. Photo Finish (2007)
Hover Car Racer (2004)
Crash CourseFull ThrottlePhoto FinishHover Car Racer
Jack West Junior
1. The Seven Ancient Wonders (2005)
aka Seven Deadly Wonders
2. The Six Sacred Stones (2007)
3. The Five Greatest Warriors (2009)
The Seven Ancient WondersThe Six Sacred StonesThe Five Greatest Warriors
Tournament
Roger Ascham and the King’s Lost Girl (2013)
The Tournament (2013)
Roger Ascham and the King's Lost GirlThe Tournament
Troll Mountain Serial Novel
1. Troll Mountain: Episode I (2014)
2. Troll Mountain: Episode II (2014)
3. Troll Mountain: Episode III (2014)
Troll Mountain: The Complete Novel (2014)
Troll Mountain: Episode ITroll Mountain: Episode IITroll Mountain: Episode IIITroll Mountain: The Complete Novel
Novels
Temple (1999)
Contest (2000)
The Great Zoo of China (2014)
TempleContestThe Great Zoo of China
Series contributed to
Quick Reads 2006
Hell Island (2006)
Hell Island

 

 

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Filed under Action/ Adventure Thrillers, Matthew Reilly, Thrillers

Writing Historical Fiction and Fantasy By Miles and Christian Cameron

Writing Historical Fiction and Fantasy

By Miles and Christian Cameron

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Miles Cameron Fell Sword web site

Christian Cameron Website

Writing Historical Fiction and Fantasy: It’s something I’m asked all the time since I admitted to being Miles and Christian too–which is harder?

I hope I won’t appall you by saying that they are basically the same.  Heretical, I know.  I’ve been very interested in a conversation among my friends and some other authors online–I’ve discovered that most HisFic readers don’t read Fantasy, and most Fantasy readers don’t read HIsFic. Interesting.  I’d like to suggest to both groups that you try dabbling in the other, and I’ve tossed out the names of some of my favorites in this blog to give each group a place to start. Er–after you read all my books…

Anyway, I read both.  I love them both.  If I didn’t have to spend my waking hours reading history (right now its essays on the education of boys and girls in the early Renaissance) I’d read Ben Kane and SJA Turney and Anthony Riches–AND CJ Cherryh and Michael Scott Rohan and Scott Lynch.  I’d read them all, all day.  In between bouts of fighting in armour.

Anyway, here’s my point.  Historical fiction is, in a way, all fantasy.  The past is another country.  We cannot go there in the real world, and when we visit it in literature, we acknowledge a suspension of disbelief.  It is virtually impossible for us to understand Greek worship of the gods–or Roman.  It’s too far away.  Ancient Greek clothes?  I honestly think I know as much as anyone on the planet, and I’d kill for one bog-corpse in a 6th c. BCE chiton.  Want to start a fight at an academic party among people who study Classics?  Ask someone either 1) how a phalanx worked, or 2) what Socrates meant when he said almost anything.  So when I write that period (which I hear I do with some authority) I’m, in fact, creating a whole world.  It’s informed by hundreds of hours of serious research–but I won’t pretend I know.  NO ONE KNOWS.  Hell, we don’t even know if Alexander was a great general.  The first serious description of him was written down hundreds of years after he died.  And 50 BCE is as far removed from 300 BCE as 2015 AD is from 1765 AD…

But even more entertaining–all Fantasy is history.  (Out there somewhere, one of my friends is throwing my comments across the room).  But–it is.  No one–really–can write about anything but what they have experienced.  History–the written record of human experience–is just that, the sum total of all our stories.  I have never read a fantasy novel that didn’t owe virtually all its culture to history.  Tolkien?  Slam dunk.  Guy Gavriel Kay?  Obvious.  But even when you get to ‘original’ worlds–if they bother to ‘create’ economics or religion or weapons or armour…  One of my favorite fantasy series is ‘Wizard of Earthsea’ by Ursila LeGuin.  No part of her work is based on one simple history.  It’s not ‘Rome, disguised’ or ‘Greece’ or ‘Egypt.’  And yet every page is, in fact, informed by all those cultures, and the books would be very different if they were written in China…  My university D+D group (yes, friends, I am and was a D+D nerd) used to say we could type a borrowed culture in one weapon.  Curved swords or straight?  Dirk or dagger?  Bronze or iron?

When a fantasy novelist wants to truly understand the culture she’s creating–where can any of us possibly go for data but history?

By the way, I’ve read some awesome books that were purely speculative, about alternative cultures that bear little or no relation to history–on the surface.  Perdido Street Station by the superb China Mieville comes to mind–and yet, virtually every cultural allusion will return you to Victorian London; the whole novel is (to me) grounded in history. (The architecture, for example).

Of course, I’m a fanatical historian.  So I see everything through the lens of history.  But its not a bad lens, and it is the tool I use to focus my writing.  My Red Knight and Fell Sword are NOT set in Arthurian England. They are not set on Earth–even an alternate Earth.  In fact, they have a cosmology and everything–they are set in a multiverse not unlike Michael Morcock’s, because Mr. Morcock (whose work I also admire) was also a fan of medieval hermeticism.  In the Red Knight’s world, there is a Jesus and a Mohamed (at least, people believe in them) for reasons that may or may not be explained–but I know why.

That said, the real reason that many of my characters are Christian is because I wanted to write my skewed re-telling of the Arthurian tales in the same mythos from which they REALLY sprang–the Christian mythos.  It’s a fantastic set of beliefs that are arguably deeper, stranger, and better developed than anything any fantasy writer could invent…
That’s history.  Basically, the best stories ever told.  Our story.
Good reading!

Miles and Christian Cameron

Books by Miles/ Christian Cameron

Traitor Son Cycle
1. The Red Knight (2012)
2. The Fell Sword (2014)
3. The Dread Wyrm (2015)
The Red KnightThe Fell Sword
Tyrant
1. Tyrant (2008)
2. Storm of Arrows (2009)
3. Funeral Games (2010)
4. King of the Bosporus (2011)
5. Destroyer of Cities (2013)
6. Force of Kings (2014)
TyrantStorm of ArrowsFuneral GamesKing of the BosporusDestroyer of Cities
 Long War
1. Killer of Men (2010)
2. Marathon: Freedom or Death (2011)
3. Poseidon’s Spear (2012)
4. The Great King (2014)
Killer of MenMarathon: Freedom or DeathPoseidon's SpearThe Great King
 Tom Swan and the Head of St George
1. Castillon (2012)
2. Venice (2012)
3. Constantinople (2012)
4. Rome (2013)
5. Rhodes (2013)
6. Chios (2013)
CastillonVeniceConstantinopleRomeRhodesChios
 Novels
Washington and Caesar (2001)
God of War (2012)
The Ill-Made Knight (2013)
The Long Sword (2014)
Washington and CaesarGod of WarThe Ill-Made Knight

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Filed under Christian Cameron, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Miles Cameron, Uncategorized