To anyone who knows a writer, never underestimate the power of your encouragement.
Matthew Reilly is an Australian author who writes extremely fast-paced action novels. His books have been compared to Indiana Jones on fast forward, with some of the wildest and most sustained battles in an action thriller. His books often contain many examples of both fictional and real-world firearms and military technology, simply for plot advancement. They also usually contain multiple explosions and could be described as 'What can we blow up this time, and how can we make it more awesome?'His books are:
Contest: In the New York City Library, aliens and one chosen human fight to the death.
Temple: William Race is a language professor tasked with translating a manuscript that will reveal the location of an Incan idol, capable of powering a doomsday device.
Hover Car Racer: A kid tries to win the Hover Car Racing World Championship. Notably released for free on the internet, as a serial, and Reilly sold the publishing rights for the princely sum of $2 AU.
The Tournament: A thirteen-year-old Elizabeth Tudor gets mixed up in a murder plot while attending a high profile chess tournament.
Shane Michael "Scarecrow" Schofield Series
Ice Station: Lieutenant Shane Schofield, nicknamed Scarecrow, is in charge of a Marine Recon squad that is sent to secure an ice station in Antarctica to investigate an alien craft. It's actually an invisible fighter/bomber lost when the corporation building it in secret there was smashed in an Earthquake. Everyone and their mother want it - to the point America's allies are willing to kill American civilians and soldiers for it... even the American government itself.
Area 7: The President has a transmitter placed on his heart that will destroy over a dozen major American cities if he dies. Scarecrow must protect him from a company of super soldiers while locked in a secret air force base.
Scarecrow: Scarecrow has a $18.6 million price on his head, and faces some of the world's most ruthless bounty hunters. To survive, he will need to discover the organization behind the bounty and stop their attempts to create a new Cold War through nuclear attacks.
Hell Island: A novella. Scarecrow fights an army of 300 genetically engineered apes, to test them for real combat.
Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves(retitled Scarecrow Returns overseas): An anarchist terrorist group seize control of Dragon Island, which houses a former Soviet superweapon. With only a few hours to stop the so-called "Army of Thieves", it's up to Scarecrow, Mother, a handful of Marines and civilians, and a few unexpected allies to save North America from destruction.It's actually not North America that's in danger. It's actually a CIA plan to obliterate China so America stays as the head economy. America is only taking some casualties to maintain a guise of innocence
Jack West Series
Seven Ancient Wonders(retitled Seven Deadly Wonders in America): Retired Australian soldier Jack West and his team of multinational commandos have to find all seven pieces of the Golden Capstone that once graced the Great Pyramid of Giza, before either America or a coalition of European superpowers can assemble it. In the right hands, it will prevent a deadly sunspot; in the wrong hands, it will grant one superpower a thousand years' worth of power.
Six Sacred Stones: 18 months after averting either destruction or domination, the "Dark Sun" threatens to violently shake the Earth's biosphere. Jack sets off to find the titular artifacts, which are the key to using the power of six other MacGuffins, the "Pillars". The catch: Max "Wizard" Epper, his mentor, was captured by a new player in the superpower war—the Chinese—and is guided with nothing but Wizard's notes.
The Five Greatest Warriors: Jack and his team have hit a dead end, and must find the location of the remaining Pillars and tap into their powers before the Dark Sun threatens to destroy the world and/or the Americans, the Europeans and the Chinese use it for their ends, aided by another clue: five of the greatest warriors in history.
His books are written more like action movies than traditional thrillers; he likens them to stripped-down sports cars. Great literature it ain't, but the bottom line is the Rule of Fun. Reilly admits this, and says that the most important thing is that his books get people (especially teenage boys who wouldn't read higher-brow novels) to read.Tropes:
America Saves the Day: Subverted in Seven Ancient Wonders, Six Sacred Stones, and Five Greatest Warriors, where America [and everyone else not represented by a person on the team] is the bad guy. Played straight in any novel involving Scarecrow.
Actually, played straight and subverted in Ice Station and Area 7; the former contains backstabbing moles planted in Scarecrow's group that are part of a larger, American organization, and the latter's bad guys are Americans trying to kill the President. The Army of Thieves is also revealed to be a CIA ploy to destroy China. So it's more like 'A couple of Americans save the day while the rest act like total dicks'.
And in Five Greatest Warriors, one of the members who join's Jack's team is an American.
Anyone Can Die: Extreme. In Ice Station, Scarecrow starts with 16 Marines. By the end of the book, he has four left. One of them loses her lower leg, and another leaves the service between books due to the massive trauma suffered.
Not to mention Gant, in Scarecrow, The Scarecrow's girlfriend…and Scarecrow himself, almost.
Also Wizard in Five Greatest Warriors.
Scarecrow dies in both Ice Station and Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves. He gets better each time.
It's become almost a running theme for Scarecrow to lose at least half his squad any time they go out on a mission.
Area 51: Ice Station mentions UFO storage facilities in Nevada, that are used to distract conspiracy theorists from America's experimental fighter planes.
Never explicitly mentioned in Area 7, but you know that there are other Areas, so connect the dots and...
The Book Cipher: The heroes of Six Sacred Stones use a book cipher to send confidential messages to each other. The key text is the Harry Potter books, but the messages are sent via a The Lord of the Rings forum to make the key text harder to identify.
Chekhov's Armoury: His writing style uses more guns than James Bond. Put simply, if it's mentioned, it'll come into play. Guns, equipment, the surrounding buildings, the weather, the landscape...usually when Scarecrow blows part of it up.
Colonel Badass: Inverted in Area 7 with Colonel Hagerty, who is a paper-pushing colonel who was never in combat.
Combat Pragmatist: you better believe that Schofield is going to use everything surrounding him to take you out. And the rest of his team have no qualms about fighting dirty if it'll save their lives. Truth in Television, real fights aren't clean. Same goes for Jack West Jr's team. At least those who are soldiers.
Reilly does this all the time, running contests or charity auctions and letting the winners pick a name for one of his characters; they usually go with their own name or their kid's. Examples range from Jackson Dyre (a General from The Five Greatest Warriors, named for a radio contest winner) to Max Epper (Wizard's real name, from the son of an auction winner).
Creator Breakdown: The death of his wife hit him hard, and led to him disappearing from the Internet for several months and taking much longer than usual to put a new book out. And when it did come, it was the much Darker and EdgierThe Tournament.
Crucified Hero Shot: Jack gets literally crucified. But, because his executioners don't want him to suffer, they then drop a giant stone slab on him. He survives, thanks to his titanium arm.
Cruel and Unusual Death: If you're Matthew Reilly character, you might end up getting a hole drilled through your skull, crushed in a depressurizing diving bell, getting your spine ripped out by a giant cat, decapitated by helicopter rotors, crushed beneath an elevator, electrocuted in a pool of water, thrown into a jet engine, getting the bottom half of your body melted by volcanic mud, falling four hundred feet before a crate crushes you, getting your insides liquefied by a virus, boiled alive by microwaves, incinerated by the engines of a fighter jet, stabbed through the throat while being fed alive to crocodiles, getting a bunch of sulfuric acid poured on you in a coffin-sized space, sliced up by the turbines in a hydroelectric generator, and shot by anti-aircraft guns while not in a plane. What fun!
And those are just the bad guys!
Cultural Translation: Jack West was given the call sign "Huntsman", a very large, non-aggressive Australian spider. The American version instead called him "Woodsman".
Evil Counterpart: The Black Knight (real name Aloysius Knight) is basically the darker version of Schofield, who became that way after he lost everything to the ICG - an evil organization that Schofield defeated. They even look quite similar - prone to wearing black, both have black hair, and both wear sunglasses due to various eye problems.
Explosions in Space: Averted. The destruction of the Chinese space shuttle describes it as "just cracking".
Expy: Many of the characters in the Jack West Jr. series could be seen as expies of the Fellowship of the Ring. Jack himself is Aragorn, the Badass leader of the team; Wizard is Gandalf, the wise adviser; Lily is Frodo, the only one who can read the Word of Thoth/carry the One Ring; Alby is the Sam to Lily's Frodo, the dependable friend who gives her a reason to keep going; Stretch is Legolas, the member of a Memetic Badass race with Improbable Aiming Skills; and Pooh Bear is Gimli, his short, bearded verbal sparring partner and later best friend. Julius and Lachlan, as red-headed, fun-loving twins, are also expies of Fred and George and to a lesser extent Merry and Pippin. Most of these are lampshaded in the books through chat-site usernames, book code codenames and frequent allusions to bothseries.
In The Tournament, Roger Ascham is basically Sherlock Holmes a few centuries early.
Eye Scream: Ever wondered how Scarecrow got those scars?
False Flag Operation: In Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves, the titular army are planning to use an abandoned Soviet superweapon to wipe out North America; however, their leader is a CIA officer conducting a long-term operation to destabilize China.
... aaaaand 99.95% of any book involving Scarecrow.
The last .05% of which is them getting into those situations. Or Stuff Blowing Up.
Five-Man Band: The Jack West series—and a [[multinational]] one at that.
The Hero: Jack "Huntsman" West, Jr. (Australia), all the way.
The Lancer: Liam "Big Ears" Kissane (Ireland) killed during Seven Ancient Wonders; V.J. "Fuzzy" Weatherly (Jamaica) dead by the time of Six Sacred Stones ( both were replaced by Pooh Bear and Stretch)
The Big Guy: Enrique "Noddy" Velacruz (Spain) killed early on in Seven Ancient Wonders; Zahir "Pooh Bear" Abbas (UAE); Benjamin "Stretch" Cohen (Israel), since Six Sacred Stones; "Sky Monster" (New Zealand) [as plane pilot]
The Smart Guy: Maximilian "Wizard" Epper (Canada); Lachlan and Julius Adamson (Scotland) and Alby Calvin (Australia), starting from Six Sacred Stones
The Chick: Zoe "Princess" Kissane (Ireland); Lily (Egypt)
The Sixth Ranger: Stretch in Seven Ancient Wonders; Sean "Astro" Miller and Jack's brother-in-law J.J. "Sea Ranger" Wickham (USA), for the next two novels.
Forces with Firepower: You'll find representatives of just about every armed force on the planet. Military porn for everyone!
French Jerk: All of them. Good luck finding his books in France!
Subverted in Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves- none of the French involved are jerks, and one of them ends up as Scarecrow's new love interest, despite being sent to kill him.
Friend or Idol Decision: While escaping Wolf's forces invading the Neetha, Alby's forced between getting to the Second Pillar or rescuing Zoe from certain death by falling. He chooses Zoe.
From Bad to Worse: All of Ice Station. As the beginning of the next book puts it, "the mission went to hell on an express elevator".
Temple as well. From German special forces with murky motivation to Nazis wanting to wreck the world's economy to nihilists who just want to destroy the world.
And in Six Sacred Stones and Five Greatest Warriors, aside from Jack having to contend with Wolf's alliance, they also have to deal with the Japanese Blood Brotherhood, who wish to see the world destroyed in retaliation from losing their honor in World War II.
Karma Houdini: With Army of Thieves, Reilly finally developed an antagonist good enough to want to use again, so he just gets away at the end and even sends Scarecrow a mocking package to indicate he's still out there.
Crown Prince Selim in The Tournament, as per history. Though the postscript about the historical figures reminds us that his life was quite ignominious.
Kill It with Fire: In Five Greatest Warriors, how does Jack West's half-brother "Rapier" kill ninjas with guns in a dark tunnel? The answer; flamethrower!
Knight Templar: ICG. A black ops organization designed to make sure America has dibs on any helpful new technology or information, and infiltrate various organizations in their own country in case they have to kill everyone in them.
One Last Smoke: Scarecrow uses this in his Indy Ploy to escape from a situation in which he is handcuffed, upside down, being lowered into a pool of freezing water containing hungry killer whales. He doesn't even smoke, by the way.
Padding: Extremely averted. As mentioned above, his books are like stripped-down sports cars, and if something isn't blowing up it's because the protagonists are trying to get clear before it does or have run out of things to blow up.
Papa Wolf: Jack. Don't mess with his (adopted) daughter Lily.
Robot Buddy: In Scarecrow Returns, we have the BRTE-500, named Bertie, who has an AI that lets him follow orders, learn, and even make tactical decisions. Originally meant for bomb disposal, it also has a 5.56 mm M249 machine gun, a blowtorch, a hi-res cam, a first-aid kit it can use, and MRE rations for its operators.
Rule of Cool: Most definitely a driving force behind much of his writing, followed by…
Shown Their Work: He has military advisers to make sure he gets things right. Although sometimes he ignores them because of plot requirements or Rule of Cool.
Contest takes place in the New York Public Library, and even includes a map of it at the beginning of the book.
Though the original edition made a few errors as Reilly was largely guessing at the library's layout. Under the circumstances he got it remarkably close, and the updated edition currently out fixes any mistakes (mostly inserting hallways between rooms).
In Temple, he manages to cram a surprising amount of Inca factoids into an intense action novel. Real Inca too, not Mayincatec.
In Six Sacred Stones, he includes a bibliography.
Spanner in the Works: In Scarecrow Returns, if it weren't for Ironbark, the SEAL squad leader who went in ahead of Schofield and was thought to have been killed with his entire squad, the Lord of Anarchy might've won early.
He's more-or-less the Michael Bay of literature, but with better plots.
He's actually noted in an interview that he enjoys writing books because movies are limited in the scale of stuff they can blow up by budgets and safety laws. Reilly could level a city block without a problem (and with the way his books go, that's probably up next).
This is Lampshaded when it becomes known as Schofield's signature tactic.
Fairfax: So, what have you destroyed today? Schofield: I've flooded a Typhoon-class submarine, leveled a building, and launched a ballistic missile to destroy a maintenance facility. Fairfax: Slow day, huh?
Taking You with Me: Schofield was prepared to do this to kill the villain in Scarecrow (who is a civilian and thus could not be shot) by jumping off the window with him down to a cluster of rock spikes below. While fully intending to do so, Aloysius Knight saves him in time.
The Swear Jar: To "protect" Lily from the soldiers' bad language. Or to just buy her lots of presents, either way.
Team Mom: The Marine codenamed Mother is a subversion. While she is protective of her team, it's to about the same extent that everyone else on the team is. She's also one of the most foul-mouthed and violent members—"Mother" is actually short for "Motherfucker".
"A six-foot, shaved bald female Marine with a heart of gold", his words. (sorta)
Twice Told Tale: The Jack West Jr. series require the exact same suspension of disbelief as Indiana Jones, being realistic action adventure for most of the story until the supernatural comes in at the end. In addition, most if not all characters and locations can be matched to those in The Lord of the Rings, including the Great Pyramid standing in for Mount Doom.
A good example is the car chase midway through Scarecrow. It's set on a cliffside road above the sea, and involves seven cars (all but one of which have a driver and a gunner), two big rigs, three helicopters, two fighter planes, and a destroyer. Once it's done, only one car, one truck, one helicopter, and the destroyer are intact.
And one or two chapters later, Scarecrow has sunk an entire aircraft carrier.
Vasquez Always Dies: Solidly averted: Mother, a bicep-rippling, foul-mouthed, utter badass Vasquez clone if ever there was one, survives everything thrown at her, including killer whales. While Gant, often described as very attractive, gets guillotined. (And unlike many other recipients of horrific injuries in Reilly's books, she doesn't get better.) For extra aversion points, at the time, Gant is Scarecrow's girlfriend.
Verb This!: In Area 7, Scarecrow says "Confirm this." before firing two AMRAMM missiles at a Chinese space shuttle.
The Voiceless: The Bug in Hover Car Racer. He only talks directly to Jason and his mother (not his father though), and even the readers don't hear him. Except at one particularly dramatic moment.