Tag Archives: weapons

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

James Rollins: The Sixth Extinction (Review)

James Rollins

rollins

(James Czajkowski)
USA (1961 – )

aka James Clemens

James Rollins was born in Chicago, Illinois, is 1961. With his three brothers and three sisters, he was raised in the Midwest and rural Canada. He graduated with a doctorate in veterinary medicine from the University of Missouri and went on to establish his own veterinary practice in Sacramento, California. An amateur spelunker and a PADI-certified scuba enthusiast, he’ll often be found either underground or underwater.

Bio: Authors web site Bio

Buy from WH Smiths

 6th extinction

Book Description

A remote military research station in Utah sends out a frantic distress call, ending with a chilling final command: Kill us all! Personnel from the neighbouring base rush in to discover everyone already dead – and not just the scientists, but every living thing for 50 square miles has been annihilated. The land is entirely sterile – and the blight is spreading.

To halt the inevitable, Commander Gray Pierce and Sigma must unravel a threat that rises out of the distant past, to a time when Antarctica was green and all life on Earth balanced upon the blade of a knife. Following clues from an ancient map rescued from the lost Library of Alexandria, Sigma will discover the truth about an ancient continent, about a new form of death buried under miles of ice.

From millennia-old secrets out of the frozen past to mysteries buried deep in the darkest jungles of today, Sigma will face its greatest challenge to date: stopping the coming extinction of mankind. But is it already too late?

 

Review:

Reading a James Rollins is always a pleasure, he is an author who combines so many of my personal reading pleasures, there is the action of the story, the historic past of the back story, the familiar character of Sigma mixed with new faces, new bad guys(and girls) and a plot that is usually mind bogglingly twisty. Like all well told lies (according to the films/books) the best told lie or fiction, the one that people will really believe, is the one that contains as much truth as possible.

This is the true genius of James Rollins thrillers, the scope and depth of research is staggering, but then the author takes that, adds in his own knowledge and skills, and wraps it up in his… well,… convoluted mind is the only concept I can think to use and out comes a story, a story so crazy, so bizarre, yet so plausible that it scares the hell out of me reading it.

Each sigma tale shows how far mankind’s technological growth has outstripped its growth of morality, maybe, as part of the story shows we do need to reach for the immortality gene and live lives long enough to experience the folly of our mistakes and grab for profit over morality, to truly start to gain some wisdom and stop abusing the planet?

 

6th Extinction as with many Rollins tales leave me not wanting to talk too much about the plot, because to give anything away would be annoying as hell for me, so I won’t do it to another. I did however find that tied around all of the fantastic plot, and world ending disasters there was also a great deal of personal plot and growth for Sigma characters, the continual integration of the new with Jason, who continues to grow into a sigma star of the future, old favourites in Monk and of course Kowalski (also a surprise cameo of some really old characters). The most I will give you in overall plot summary is, it gets very Hot, it gets very cold, it’s got fantastic creatures that boggle the mind and kill with impunity and a plot that will chill the blood.

As ever with all of James Rollins books, for anyone who is an avid reader you will know that the characters are real, they are not some two dimensional construct on paper, you the reader bleed with them, hurt with them, cry with them. He has a truly amazing gift to suck the reader into the tale and the lives of those in the book. Also unlike many thrillers, anyone could die, and yet if the main characters survive it’s not because of some unbelievable herculean character it’s because of a skill built up over the story and previous books in the series, the group survive as a group because of shared skills and experience and teamwork. It all lends a layer of credibility and reality to the plot that is missing in so many other thrillers of this type.

 

I really do think that this is James Rollins most terrifyingly real, mind bending-ly plausible tale to date, I wonder what on earth could come next. I know I look forward to it immensely.

 

(Parm)

 

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A.J. Smith: The Black Guard (Long War Book 1) Review + Q&A

The Author

aj smith

AJ Smith has been writing stories set in the lands of The Long War since he was at university. Defining the world and adding detail became an excellent distraction from his degree (which was in psychology, philosophy and sociology) and has remained equally distracting ever since. Interestingly, the maps came first, and then the world and its characters began to take shape in the writing. Since graduating, Tony has been working with troubled children in a high school in Luton and has had various articles related to counselling and youth work published. Fantasy fiction has always been his own version of therapy and a place where he can make up what happens next rather than waiting for the real world to decide.

Book Description

Buy it on kindle for the bargain 99p

Buy a signed copy £20

Buy Hardback from Amazon £15.99

 

Black Guard

The city of Ro Canarn burns. The armies of the Red march upon the northern lords. And the children of a dead god are waking from their long slumber… The Duke of Canarn is dead, executed by the King’s decree. The city lies in chaos, its people starving, sickening, and tyrannized by the ongoing presence of the King’s mercenary army. But still hope remains: the Duke’s children, the Lord Bromvy and Lady Bronwyn, have escaped their father’s fate.

Separated by enemy territory, hunted by the warrior clerics of the One God, Bromvy undertakes to win back the city with the help of the secretive outcasts of the Darkwald forest, the Dokkalfar. The Lady Bronwyn makes for the sanctuary of the Grass Sea and the warriors of Ranen with the mass of the King’s forces at her heels. And in the mountainous region of Fjorlan, the High Thain Algenon Teardrop launches his Dragon Fleet against the Red Army. Brother wars against brother in this, the epic first volume of the long war.

Review

2013 seems to be a year for Début fantasy novels for me, and they have all been fantastic books so far (Luke Scull, Stella Gemmell, Nathan Hawke), so how does the Black Guard stand up against those other débuts?

Like The City by Stella Gemmell it took me a little while to get into this book, maybe its the risk of a début author landing such a hefty tome in my lap, at 640 pages its a serious expression of trust from the publisher Head of Zeus, and an announcement that they think they have a real winner on their hands, and for me a big time commitment with so many great books out there.

So how did it shape up? For me, I felt the style was on the epic fantasy scale, Brandon Sanderson, Tolkien style. Where my personal preference is more Gemmellesque. But at the same time the characters are very much to my liking, they are realistic, likeable and natural rather than the average OTT fantasy drone. So has AJ Smith hit his own niche part Gemmell part Sanderson? I’m not 100% sure, I don’t think I read enough fantasy these days to be totally sure, I need more maybe when I see book 2?

The story however is very clever even though it takes a bit of time to get there, but when it does get going it keeps you turning the pages at a rapid pace, so much so that you will hardly realise the size of the book, and when the book ends it leaves you slightly bereft, needing more and knowing while there will be, its not going to be for at least a year.

There are clear signs in the book and writing of a true fantasy geek (not an insult) a man who has spent time becoming passionate with his genre and then building a world in his mind. Its that passion and desire to get his world down on paper I think that slows down the first third of the book, but it really is called for, that description pays off, that world building is key and I feel we will reap more rewards from it as this series continues.
In Summary read this book, you will find a book of subtle writing skill, with deep, careful world building and colourful real characters, written in a style all of his own.
I for one recommend this book and look forward to the next book in the series.

(Parm)

Questions & Answers

1) Why Fantasy?

I’m always thinking “what happens next”. With contemporary stuff (and the real world) there are hundreds of things telling you what should or must happen next. With fantasy, there are admitted tropes and accepted rules, but on the whole you can do what you like. What happens next is entirely dictated by the world laws you’ve created.

2) Was this the first world, or are there some lost hidden gems that have not seen the light of day?

The world is massive. There are nations and empires – some pretty extreme – still to be discovered by men. I’ve got a truck-load of maps from roleplaying games and short stories that explore some weird-arse places to the east of Tor Funweir. Volkast to the north and Jekka to the east are at least as big as the lands of men.

3) Give us some background on your fantasy geekage (yes… go on admit it… it will make you feel better)?

I’m all about geek-chic, baby!

I’ve been roleplaying for years – Shadowrun, World of Darkness, Cthulhu, D&D – being a geek is just embracing a need for escapism. I say to you, my brothers and sisters, freak freely.

4) What led you into writing?

It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. It’s the only thing I do that doesn’t make me feel like a should be doing something else. Weirdly, I only started writing fantasy a couple of years ago – although the world was already in place from roleplaying and my pathological love of drawing maps. Before that I tended toward surreal black comedy. I always wrote short stories and thought that, when I “worked out” how to write a book, I’d write loads. Hopefully I’ll get the chance to write more fantasy and non-fantasy.

5) Who is your fav author (to read)?

Big question. It’s largely mood dependent, but Douglas Adams, Michael Marshall Smith and H.P Lovecraft are probably my favourites.

6) Can you give us a some book two hints?

It’s called The Dark Blood. It was finished straight after The Black Guard and I’m nearly done with the third one – called The Red Prince. I write pretty quickly (much to my editor’s dismay).

As for hints: Rham Jas goes on a killing spree with an old friend. The battle for Ranen continues and we see more of the dark denizens of the world.

7) If you could have written any book in history which would it be?

Pretentious answer: Das Capital by Karl Marx.

Truthful answer: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.

In a different life: Anything by Christopher Hitchens.

 8) In your own words sell The Black Guard…..

I have five children who are starving and I’m massively in debt… please give generously (None of this is true).

I want people to become immersed in the world. I hope that it grows and grows from page one, unveiling sections of the world and plot as it goes. It’s the first part of a (probably) four book series and they should all build from this, giving the world more depth and the reader more immersion.

If there’s not a kind of fantasy called “Immersive Fantasy”, I want to invent it.

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