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Matthew Reilly
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Matthew John Reilly (born 2 July 1974) 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:

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Independent Books

  • 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.
  • Troll Mountain: In a fantasy world where humans are under the thumb of oppressive trolls, an inventor named Raf braves their mountains to steal a cure for his dying sister. Initially published as an e-book only, originally in three parts, it received a print release in 2015.
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  • The Great Zoo Of China: An expert on reptiles is invited to a brand new zoo in China as part of a group of foreign journalists, only for events at the zoo to rapidly spiral out of control when the animals contained within — dragons, revived after millions of years of hibernation — start to fight back.
  • The Secret Runners of New York: A new student at an exclusive New York school discovers a secret portal to the future, just days before a massive gamma cloud will strike Earth and essentially destroy civilisation.

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.
  • The Four Legendary Kingdoms: A decade after the original Capstone mission, Jack is kidnapped and forced to compete in the Great Games, facing off against more than a dozen fellow "champions" — including the one and only Scarecrow — to complete a ritual that will, once again, save the Earth. Along the way, Jack learns more about the secret history of the world, the origins of the ancient knowledge and technology that have kept it safe, and what threats loom in the Earth's future.
  • The Three Secret Cities: Takes place a few days after the previous book, and features the return of Aloysius Knight.
  • The Two Lost Mountains: Again set immediately after the previous book, and continues Jack's race to prove himself worthy of stopping the Omega Event.
  • The One Impossible Labyrinth: The Grand Finale of the entire Jack West series.

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 Cool. 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 that feature in his works include the following:

  • Abusive Parents:
    • Jonathan "Wolf" West Sr., the Big Bad of Six Sacred Stones and Five Greatest Warriors.
    • As revealed in Scarecrow Returns, Shane's father was this, either beating him or his his mother up because he couldn't achieve the military accomplishments Shane or his grandfather could achieve. In spite of that, he left Shane with twelve million dollars... which was all donated because he didn't want a "cruel man's money".
  • Action Dad: Jack serves as this to Lily, and will very, very brutally kill anyone trying to harm her.
  • Action Girl: Reilly populates his novels with some of the most badass female soldiers around - Gant, Zoe and Renard all come to mind. That said, Mother is THE standout example, to the point it's written that if Death exists, Mother is the only person He fears.
  • Action Survivor: Stephen Swain in Contest, William Race in Temple, Raf in Troll Mountain, Skye in The Secret Runners of New York.
  • After the End:
    • Strongly hinted to be the setting of Troll Mountain, as what is on the surface a standard medieval fantasy world also has a few relics from previous societies, plus scurvy exists in it exactly the same as in ours.
    • Secret Runners of New York features the characters travelling to a post-apocalyptic New York over two decades in their future.
  • The Alcatraz: One part of Seven Ancient Wonders involves breaking a prisoner out of Guantanamo Bay. Yes, the Guantanamo Bay.
  • Alliterative Name: Shane Schofield. And that's not even mentioning his codename.
  • Ambition Is Evil: A constant theme; whether it's the greed and delusions of grandeur of Orlando and Sphinx in the West books when faced with power to rule over all, or Hu's determination to vault over the bodies of the witnesses to the Presidency of China using the dragon zoo, if you want more power you're undoubtedly a bad guy. And chances are you'll pay for it before the end.
  • 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 Area 7, the 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 joins Jack's team is an American.
  • And This Is for...: The exact term isn't used, but Jack makes sure to tell Judah that he can't forgive the death of Doris Epper just before kicking him into a Helicopter Blender. The One Impossible Labyrinth does this twice; when Alby kills Jaeger Eins he makes sure to tell him that it's for Julius (who he murdered two books previously), while Jack tells Rastor that he has a gift for him for killing his mother, just before blowing his head off with one of the red orbs.
  • Anonymous Benefactor: In the third book, Knight was hired to keep Scarecrow alive by Lillian Mattencourt, partially due to the fact that the villains plan would hurt her business, mostly because she's bitter they refused to let her join their society out of sexism and maybe just partially out of simple humanity.
  • Anonymous Ringer: The President turns out to be at the other end of a phonecall for Book II in Scarecrow, to prove Mosely can be trusted.
  • Antagonistic Offspring: King Hades' two sons plan to depose and murder him once the Hydra Games are done, viewing him as weak due to his putting being respected by his contemporaries over being feared. Dion eventually succeeds a few books later.
  • Anyone Can Die: Extreme.
    • Not to mention Gant, Scarecrow's girlfriend and the fourth above-mentioned survivor, is killed off in Scarecrow.
    • Also Wizard in Five Greatest Warriors.
    • Scarecrow dies several times. 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.
  • Apocalypse Cult: The Republican Army of Texas in Temple after merging with a Japanese version of this - they want the Supernova so they can end all life on Earth. Reilly clearly likes the idea, as the Japanese Blood Brotherhood in The Six Sacred Stones seek to let the Dark Star annihilate the Earth in retaliation for Japan's defeat in World War 2.
  • Arc Welding: There was a good bit of this to make the Four Legendary Kingdoms fit into the backstory estabished in the first three books.
    • The race between America and old Europe for the Capstone in Seven Ancient Wonders is retconned as being a fratricidal squabble between the Land and Sea Kingdoms to gain power at the other's expense.
    • The Deus Rex royal families (including Iolanthe) that sponsor first Father Del Piero in Seven Ancient Wonders then Wolf in the next two books are changed to being merely the most visible members of the Land Kingdom.
    • The American Caldwell Group that backed Wolf is revealed to be named for the King of the Sea (and implied to be backed by him personally), explaining why they continue to wield enormous power despite being declared rogue by the government.
    • Finally, Carnivore, the head of the Deus Rex royals in The Five Greatest Warriors, turns out to be the head of the Kingdom of Land prior to Orlando Compton-Jones, with the latter achieving the role when Jack killed Carnivore in a hail of explosive shells.
    • Even the books outside the West series got this; Majestic-12, the all-powerful business cabal that almost started a new Cold War in Scarecrow, was retconned as being one of the agencies the kingdoms used to keep control before going rogue.
  • Archnemesis Dad: Played classically straight with Jack and his father Wolf, to the point they're almost Mirror Characters.
  • Area 51: Never explicitly mentioned in Area 7, but you know that there are other Areas, so connect the dots and...
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: A major theme of the West books.
    • The first one we meet is Iolanthe, a minor member of the British royal family, who repeatedly betrays Jack when it suits her purposes (though she saves his life several times, and by the end is firmly on the side of the heroes).
    • Then we find out the Deus Rex, the royal families of Europe, are helping Wolf in order to gain unimaginable power for themselves. Their head, Carnivore, almost pips Wolf to the post in becoming the new God-king of humanity.
    • And then things go Up to Eleven with The Reveal there are actually four royal houses controlling the world, even countries like America that nominally aren't affected by royalty. Aside from Hades they're all Entitled Bastards spoiling to be humanity's next Evil Overlord at best, Sadistic murderers at worst. Even Hades, though firmly on Jack's side later on doesn't bat an eye at killing someone protesting being kidnapped for the games. The lower-ranked aristos we see are vain, greedy and display a stunning Lack of Empathy at watching people die in the Games. Then there's Sphinx, who while not a King, plans to rule the world and let billions die.
  • Artifact of Doom: The sixth pillar.
  • Artificial Limbs:
    • Mother gets a titanium leg after an unfortunate encounter with a killer whale in Ice Station, acting multiple times in later books as a Chekhov's Gun, as well as being a particularly nasty surprise for Killian's tiger shark in Scarecrow.
    • Jack's left arm, designed by Wizard to be better than the one he was born with. After Dion cuts his hand off in The Three Secret Cities, Alby receives an artificial hand modelled on Jack's.
  • Artistic License – Geography: Based on the lengths of the race courses in Hover Car Racer, Tasmania in that book is less than a quarter of the scale it is in real life (which would also explain how the entire island being bought by the International Race School would be plausible in any way).
  • Assassin Outclassin': Scarecrow has to do this quite a lot, first against the army of bounty hunters sent after him in his titular novel, then the operatives the French send after him the following novel after he, among other things, blew up one of their aircraft carriers.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • When the Sinovirus is first demonstrated to the President in Area 7, the prisoner test subject is a known torturer and murderer of young women who filmed their deaths and laughed about it - and his death is horrifying, with his stomach, liver and kidney all turning to soup before his internal organs fail. Even then, the President still has to spend a moment convincing himself the man deserved it, reminding himself he'd seen the tapes of the girls' deaths.
    • The formaldehyde tank prisons described in the Fate Worse than Death entry are pretty terrible, but aside from Stretch their inhabitants are either Nazis who escaped justice at the end of WW2 or Arab terrorists. The royal prison likewise features an ex-butler who killed and ate his master's family.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: General Rastor, the head of the nihilists seeking to end the world at the Omega event, is possibly the biggest physical threat to Jack in the entire series, relentlessly kicking his ass when they fight and even pulling Jack's signature Back from the Dead spot just when Jack thinks he can beat Sphinx to the Throne.
  • Back for the Dead: Fuzzy, one of the characters in Seven Ancient Wonders is revealed to be dead in Six Sacred Stones, his head delivered to Jack West Jr. in a hatbox.
  • Bad Boss: Another Reilly staple. In stark contrast to the heroes' "leave no man behind" philosophy the Big Bad will sacrifice his own men to protect himself without a second thought.
  • Badass Bookworm: Many characters in the books qualify as The Smart Guy, but given that they exist in Reilly's universe, they often turn out to be a lot tougher and more dangerous than they look.
    • Professor William Race in Temple. A hapless linguistics professor thrown into the quest for the idol, by the end of the novel he's saved the world multiple times from Nazis and death cults alike.
    • Roger Ascham in The Tournament, A Sherlock Homage character in some regards.
    • David Fairfax in Scarecrow; he might be a desk analyst for the CIA, but at one point he manages to kill a professional assassin while questioning a doctor about exactly why he and others are being targeted by the current bounty hunt, and is later sent into the field to basically act as Schofield's proxy as one of the few people Schofield absolutely trusts.
    • Zack and Emma from Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves are just a bomb disposal expert and a meteorologist, but pull their weight in helping out Scarecrow and the Marines.
    • CJ in The Great Zoo of China is a reptile expert, not a trained soldier. By novel's end she's pretty much single-handedly saved the day and gone toe-to-toe with actual fire-breathing dragons and won.
  • Badass Driver: Scarecrow, after he took a stunt driving course.
  • Badass Israeli: The Jack West series' Benjamin "Stretch" Cohen. He can shoot RPG's out of the air with a sniper rifle!
  • Bad with the Bone: Zoe uses one as an Improvised Weapon against the Neetha's pack of hyenas in The Six Sacred Stones.
  • Best Friends-in-Law: Jack West and JJ Wickham were good buddies before, during and after Wickham's marriage to Jack's late sister.
  • Bifurcated Weapon: Raf from Troll Mountain has an ax with a dagger in the handle.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: It's a staple of Reilly's books that there's never just one singular villain; usually, a whole host of bad guy groups with their own goals compete with the heroes and each other for the current book's prize. For example, Area 7 has rogue general Caesar Russell and his racist 7th Squadron men trying to kill the President, Dr. Botha and the Reccondos trying to steal the Sinovirus, the Chinese-bribed Echo team also trying to steal it later on and the escaped prisoner army generally being Always Chaotic Evil. Poor Scarecrow has to protect the President from all of them AND stop the Sinovirus from falling into the wrong hands.
    • The Two Lost Mountains sets up the one for the final book - Sphinx (seeking to rule the Earth as its new God-Emperor), Brother Ezekiel (seeking to return the world to the ultra-orthodox dark ages where the Church was all powerful and women were little better than slaves), and General Rastor (who wants the Omega event to kill everything).
  • Big Bad Wannabe: Orlando Compton-Jones, King of the Land, thinks he deserves to be the ruler of Earth because it's his royal right, not seeming to realise how much his success hinges on brilliant subordinates like Chloe and Sphinx. When Sphinx - the real Big Bad - kills him, few tears are shed.
  • Big, Bulky Bomb: The Supernova in Temple is absolutely massive and powerful enough to actually destroy the world.
  • Big Damn Heroes: While sometimes (especially in the West books) this is All According to Plan as the team is extracted from an impossible situation by clever planning, Reilly makes this trope its most exciting when the rescuees haven't a clue what's coming; the presumed-dead Mother's storming Killian's dungeon to save Scarecrow and Knight, and later Knight wiping out the defenders of Erebus to save Jack and his team - the latter even more unexpected as he'd been a Scarecrow-exclusive character up to that point. There's also Alexander saving his sister from being sacrificed to Omega by shooting Sphinx, angering him so much he sacrifices Alexander instead.
  • Biker Babe: Hell-Bent for Leather bounty hunter Ice Queen in Scarecrow.
  • Bilingual Bonus: A reader with some knowledge of French will know pretty quickly how meaningful Veronique's codename of 'Renard' is. It translates to Fox.
  • Black Knight: The call sign of bounty hunter Aloysius Knight. Extremely fitting as he's meant to be a dark Mirror Character for Scarecrow himself.
  • Black Site: Areas 7 and 8 from Area 7. The former is the research area for the sinovirus vaccine, the latter turns out to be the launch area for military X-38 space shuttles.
  • Blade Brake: His characters sometimes use this while going downhill.
  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands: Scarecrow does this to Killian's remote control for the castle defences without blinking near the end of his titular novel. Slightly different to most variants in that, given he's furiously trying to kill the tycoon in retribution for Gant's death, it's implied to have been accidental.
  • Blown Across the Room: Inverted. Book was blown across the room by the recoil, while Goliath had his skull cracked.
  • 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.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Many, many examples. Carnivore casually murdering Tank this way is probably the standout example.
  • Boring, but Practical: Zoe and the team find the location of Erebus (and the captive Jack) by, as usual, deciphering various vague clues in many ancient texts over weeks in such a way to reveal the location. Aloysius Knight accomplishes the same thing by simply already having a hi-tech tracker on another prisoner.
  • Bounty Hunter: Many examples of this in Scarecrow, ranging from single hunters like The Black Knight, organisations like IG-88 and rogue special forces out to make a quick buck. They largely serve as The Heavy for the book, hunting down Scarecrow and his allies while Majestic-12's plan plays out in the background, though Knight serves as an ally to Schofield.
  • Break the Haughty: Iolanthe in The Three Secret Cities. Once her brother gets hold of her, he makes her pay for betraying him - torturing her and destroying her once-beautiful looks by putting a ring though her nose like a bull.
  • Breath Weapon: The dragons of The Great Zoo of China are confirmed by their Chinese captors to be unable to do this, dismissing it as a myth - until fairly late in the book where it turns out each dragon subspecies has a dominant superking and superemperor that can breath fire.
  • Breather Episode: The West novels have several chapters entitled "A Girl Called Lily". In contrast to the frantic action of the rest of the books, these serve as lighter looks at Jack's raising Lily, her gaining a family in the team and - in later efforts - how Lily grew from child prodigy to poised young woman in later life. The last book has segments on Jack in between all the carnage, detailing how he became the man he is.
  • Broken Pedestal: Pancho finding out that his revered former commander was complicit to putting them in danger just to test the gorilla soldiers in Hell Island and is prepared to kill them even after they survive.
  • Bullet Dodges You: Warblers in the Jack West Jr. series. They proved so useful that Reilly later had to invent a severe drawback - they interfere with radio communication, pivotal in the various traps and mazes they run into - so the team couldn't just solve every combat problem by using them.
  • Bulletproof Vest: Knight's utility vests, but averted with normal combat armor.
  • Cain and Abel:
    • Jack and Rapier in the Jack West novels, given Rapier's Bastard Angst and feeling that their father (his boss and the Big Bad) favors Jack over him making him want to murder his half-brother out of the hopes of earning his father's affection. In this instance Jack ends up killing Rapier after Carnivore makes them battle to the death.
    • Pooh Bear and Scimitar in the same series, with the gentle, loyal and less physically attractive Pooh contrasting with the ruthless, power-hungry and classically handsome Scimitar. Things come to a head after Scimitar betrays the team in support of Wolf and kidnaps their father; Pooh ends up killing his brother very gruesomely in the Tomb of Jesus.
  • Canon Welding: After years of hints - the Supernova from Temple popping up as an urban legend in Area 7, Astro appearing in both the Scarecrow adventure Hell Island and the West novels - it's outright confirmed in The Four Legendary Kingdoms, the fourth Jack West Jr book, that the two series take place in the same universe, with Scarecrow appearing as a main character. And then The Three Secret Cities even off-handedly reveals that The Tournament is also a canon historical event, integrating that one too.
  • Carnival of Killers: In Scarecrow, Majestic-12 sets a bounty on the 15 people who could possibly foil their plan. Various groups respond, including Professional Bounty Hunters, Mercenaries, AWOL Military Units, Corrupt Corporate Executives...
  • Changed My Mind, Kid: Bassario from Temple returns in the nick of time to save Santiago and Prince Renco from Hernando, after previously abandoning them to their fate due to the treatment of his family by the Incan royals.
  • Chaos Is Evil: Jonathon Killian in Scarecrow views Majestic-12's plan to profit from a new Cold War as short-sighted, wanting total global anarchy to truly produce a new world order. As such, he hijacks their plan, arranging to have it look like Taiwan drops nukes on China, India and Pakistan destroy each other and Mecca is seemingly destroyed by Israel, inciting Muslims worldwide into a crusade against them and America.
  • Chekhov M.I.A.: Andrew Trent. A thought-dead friend of Scarecrow's whose death clued him into the existence of the ICG, he turns out to be alive later in the book and is the only one on the outside actively trying to help Scarecrow.
  • 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.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: Micro dots. They're used in Scarecrow to locate Killian's lair and then disappear - until The Three Secret Cities, when they turn out to be how Knight knows the location of the Royal prison Erebus.
  • Chekhov's Exhibit: Kevin, the artificially created child who serves as a living vaccine to the Sinovirus. He lives in a clear-plastic room where he can converse with those who created him.
  • Chekhov's Gun: People using their birthdays as their PIN or the Fibonacci sequence as the password to a top-secret experimental airplane, or the sixth Mersenne number.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Just about any time a character is mentioned in a way that makes it seem like they won't show up in person, they end up having an important role later on.
    • In Temple, Race suggests that the DARPA team use another linguist, Devereaux, instead of him. Colonel Nash replies that it would take several hours longer to fly Devereaux to South America and they don't have that much time. Devereaux is already working for DARPA, and Nash is only pretending to work for DARPA so he can steal their latest device, so Nash can't use Devereaux as his interpreter.
    • In Scarecrow, perfume tycoon Lillian Mattencourt is initially just mentioned to display the misogyny of the villains (who laugh about not letting her join their secret society). It turns out that Lillian is the one who hired Knight to protect Scarecrow and foil the villains, to get revenge for their poor treatment of her.
    • In Hell Island, "Buck" Broyles is first mentioned as a respected Marine Corps officer who has only lost one war games exercise (against Scarecrow). He shows up as one of the Co-Dragons.
  • Chekhov's Hobby: Scarecrow's flight experience, Fox's offscreen officer training. Junior maths prodigy Alby Calvin also has numerous interests that hugely benefit Jack's various quests. Really, any time it's mentioned a character took an interest in something or visited somewhere prior to the story, it's a given it'll be useful later on.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Manual hovercar pit stops. In the highly automated/computer-driven world of hover-car racing they're considered so anachronistic only Jason and his team train to do them - which comes in very handy when a virus crashes all the systems in one race, leaving them with a crucial advantage.
  • Child Prodigy:
    • Lily and Alby in the West series - Lily's a brilliant linguist thanks to her ability with the word of Thoth and is also a gifted historian like Jack, while Alby is a genius mathematician with an interest in astronomy. Both often turn out to be more adept than the adults at directing their various quests.
    • An evil version; the villain in Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves was this in the CIA.
  • The Chosen One: Renco (except really maybe Race) in Temple, and Jack West Jr. in The Five Greatest Warriors.
  • Closed Circle: Reilly's used this a few times. Contest, Ice Station, and Area 7 jump to mind.
  • Closest Thing We Got: In Scarecrow, Schofield's ally David Fairfax- who typically works as an analyst for the CIA- takes it upon himself to try and save Doctor Thompson Oliphaunt, who has been identified as another target of a bounty hunt that Schofield is another target of, Fairfax explicitly stating to Oliphaunt that he admits he isn't much of a hero but he's all the other man has. Fairfax manages to defeat one of the assassins in the hunt who is attempting to kill Oliphaunt, while also getting the man to tell him what the current situation is about. Although the doctor is subsequently killed by another assassin, the assassin in question spares Fairfax because she was impressed with his courage.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: A specialty of The Lord of Anarchy aka CIA officer Marius Calderon.
  • Cold Sniper: Snake. Stretch starts out at one, but gradually moves towards Friendly Sniper.
  • Colonel Badass: Inverted in Area 7 with Colonel Hagerty, who is a paper-pushing colonel who was never in combat and loathes real soldiers like Scarecrow because of it.
  • 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.
  • Compelling Voice: Thanks to the Throne of the Tree of Death, Jack gains the power that all will instantly obey him, whatever he says. Being Jack, he uses it for good, subtly nudging world leaders through peace talks and making royal sympathisers give up their masters.
  • Condemned Contestant: The prisoners in Area 7
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Area 7 opens with an article from "The Conspiracy Theorist Monthly". (National circulation: 152 issues.)
  • Contest Winner Cameo: Steven Oakes, a Red Shirt killed on the same page he was introduced on.
    • 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).
  • Continuity Nod: Shane survives Jack strangling him in the Games the same way Caesar Russell survived his execution in Area 7, with hyperoxygenated blood preserving his vital functions long enough to be revived. He even admits the earlier adventure was how he got the idea.
  • Convection Schmonvection: Averted, mostly - but played straight when Jack shoves his own arm into a waterfall of molten lava to reach the way out of the trap he's in early in his first book.
  • Cool Car: Killian owns a garage full of expensive sports cars. They all get stolen for a car chase. And by the next chapter, not one of them is intact.
    • Reilly himself fits this trope - he owns a Delorean.
  • Cool Guns: Reilly's books use the following guns:
    • Handguns: Beretta 92 M9, Glock, SIG Sauer, Desert Eagle
    • Machine Pistols: Škorpion
    • Submachine Guns: MP5, MP7, Uzi, FN P90
    • Assault Rifles: M4, M16, FA-MAS, AK-47
    • Sniper Rifles: Barrett M82
    • Launchers: Predator AT, Stinger AA
  • Cool Plane: the Silhouette, the Black Raven, the Halicarnassus. Only time will tell if the last one's replacement, the Sky Warrior, will be the same.
  • Cool Old Guy: The U.S. President in Area 7. Has his moments of snark and badassery, while still retaining the dignity of his office. Wizard from the West books definitely qualifies, as does Iolanthe's mentor Bertie in The Two Lost Mountains. Everyone thinks Tank is in the early West books, but he's actually the agent of a Japanese Apocalypse Cult.
  • Cool Shades: Scarecrow's sunglasses that he wears to cover up the scars [read] on his eyeballs. Aloysius Knight also wears cool wraparound sunglasses to protect his eyes due to a defect that means they can't handle natural light - another indication of his being a dark Mirror Character for Schofield.
  • Cool Versus Awesome: Scarecrow vs. Jack West in The Four Legendary Kingdoms.
  • Corridor Cubbyhole Run: Six Sacred Stones rotates this 90 degrees with giant boulders. And sometimes there are sliding stones instead.
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: Deliberately invoked: the frantic race against time to rediscover the secret cities and lost mountains to save the world from the Hydra galaxy is completely unnecessary, as if someone had stood in the chamber in Hades' mountain, he would have instantly received the knowledge to avoid it all. But that person would also have received supreme power over humanity, and Jack decided it'd be better to find things the old fashioned way rather than let one of the four kings rule as some sort of new god.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Jack West Jr. and his team.
  • Creator Breakdown: The death of Reilly's 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 Edgier The 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 a 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".
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • Mother may be bigger, stronger and just as well-trained as Scarecrow - but when they throw down in Scarecrow in a desperate attempt to keep him from killing himself over Gant's death he beats her with disturbing ease once he starts focusing on the fight.
    • Anytime Aloysius Knight really cuts loose; even the royal Knights of the Golden Eight get utterly massacred when he turns up.
  • Death Course: Seven Ancient Wonders has lots of trap systems like this. It's become a staple of the West series.
  • Dark Is Evil: In The Great Zoo of China the black dragons are the ringleaders of the dragon revolt, and as the final confrontation with the superking and superemperor shows, they're the only dragon subspecies to be actively malicious towards humans instead of just predators following their instincts.
  • Darker and Edgier:
    • The Tournament is a far darker and more mature story than his usual work, to the point where it's honestly hard to believe it's the same guy.
    • The later Jack West novels, especially The Three Secret Cities and The Two Lost Mountains, also have shades of this, with some truly horrifying things happening to the heroes - Sky Monster's parents' crucifixion, the appalling deaths of the Adamson twins, Alby getting his hand cut off, Iolanthe's brutalization by her brother...
  • Deconstruction: Troll Mountain, for the frequent portrayal of fantasy monsters as Always Chaotic Evil. The trolls do have a lot of violent, evil members, including their leadership, but there are also plenty of smart ones who get shouted down by the others. And the ones who attack humans are actually insane from near-starvation after being exiled.
  • Deus ex Machina: Any time that something goes wrong, the trusty Maghooks come out. Notably subverted when something is just a "tiny bit too far" for the hook to reach.
  • Desk Jockey: Colonel Hagerty, callsign: Hotrod—no, Ramrod.
  • The Determinator: Don't try and stop a Matt Reilly hero from finishing his mission. Seriously, don't do it. All you'll do is make them angry.
  • Development Hell: Movies of his books are constantly in limbo. Someone should just show them to Michael Bay.
    • Reilly himself has stated that he would like to direct a film based off a book of his, so...
    • He moved to Los Angeles in 2015 to better supervise these efforts, including writing a script for a movie of The Tournament himself. He's also stated that a Jack West TV show is in discussion.
  • Didn't See That Coming: Jack sets the entirety of his last three books in motion when he stops Orlando from receiving the knowledge to stop the Hydra galaxy, forcing everone to find the required knowledge the old-fashioned way. It's noted that the possibility of someone knowingly preventing the discovery of knowledge that could save them all was so unlikely it hadn't been seriously considered throughout the 12,000 year history of the Games.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: Many of Reilly's books (most notably Temple) have the person set up as the main antagonist die well before the end, as other villains emerge
  • Dismantled MacGuffin: The Golden Capstone.
  • Distress Call: Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves would have had a very different ending if Dr. Ivanov hadn't managed to take off his plane when the Russian base is attacked at the beginning and broadcast an alert about the attack which is heard by Scarecrow and the others nearby.
  • Doing It for the Art: Reading any of the interviews in the back of Reilly's books will make clear that despite his frivolous subject matter, the man takes his stories very seriously and has never sent a book to be published unless he's absolutely sure it's as good as he can make it.
  • Door of Doom: The portal in Temple. No-one who enters ever leaves, due to it being the home of the predatory rapa cats. Unless, like Renco, you know the secret way out.
  • Door Roulette: A pair of Death Traps in Seven Ancient Wonders.
  • Double Knockout: Subverted in the fight between Schofield and Wexley.
  • Dragons Are Dinosaurs: Quite literally in The Great Zoo of China. They're a dinosaur species that were hibernating deep underground during the extinction, which have been checking now and again to see if the world has become hot enough for them all to come out, which is the reason that so many ancient cultures had dragon myths despite being isolated from each other.
  • Drowning Pit: A common type of Death Trap, and it doesn't always involve water...
  • Dumb Muscle: Goliath in Area 7 and Rocko in Scarecrow. Amazingly, Aloysius Knight in The Three Secret Cities - he's near-enough a One-Man Army when it comes to blowing through Jack's enemies (he wrecks the Knights of the Golden Eight in the space of a single chapter) but is also essentially clueless at the team's specialties of solving traps and deciphering riddles.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Contest, his first written book, has much more sci-fi elements (to the point of including aliens) and a lot less emphasis on the military. Ice Station, his first published book, has less-but-still-prevalent sci-fi, such as the spaceship MacGuffin that turns out to be man-made and still quite advanced, while backstory on the ICG provides implications for Ancient Astronauts.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: The Supernova in Temple is designed to cause this.
  • Elevator Action Sequence: Contest. Notably, it happens beneath the elevator.
  • Elevator Escape: Subverted several times in Contest.
    • At first, it seems successful in Area 7, and they even climb below the elevator for extra protection. Until several million gallons of water start pouring down the shaft.
  • Elites Are More Glamorous: If a character from a specific nation pops up during a Reilly book, chances are he or she will be a member of that nation's military special forces (Scarecrow's a Recon Force Marine, Jack is ex-Australian SAS, Aloysius Knight was Delta Force before going AWOL). Failing that, they often pop up fighting either alongside or against the protagonists.
  • The Elites Jump Ship: The Secret Runners of New York features a contagion that kills 99.5% of humanity. The narrator's parents and most of their acquaintances pay $17 million apiece to ride things out in an island refuge. When the narrator travels into the future and journeys to the island, she discovers that it was attacked by angry lower-class survivors who killed or chased away all the elites.
  • Emphasise Everything: Sometimes happens during action sequences, usually to point out how utterly insane whatever's just happened actually is.
  • Enemy Mine: While Jack often ends up unwillingly helping Wolf so as to make sure the Pillars are cleansed and set properly (because the world will be destroyed if they don't), their alliance inside the Japanese Vertex is the most explicit example of this, with Wolf being the one to propose it.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • When the Pope (explicitly not Francis here) claims that Sphinx becoming god-emperor will see the Catholic Church as the world's moral leader once more, Sphinx shoots him, observing with some disgust how hypocritical it was for the leader of a group that protects paedophiles to say that.
    • The nihilist philosophies of General Rastor were too much for even the Four Kingdoms, who had him imprisoned away from any means to destroy the world.
    • Speaking of whom, once he escapes, General Rastor makes clear he believes the Omega Monks' ultra-misogynist philosophies to be nonsense.
  • Everyone Knows Morse: Jack and Alby escape from the South African Vertex after everyone thought they were dead by using Jack's metal helmet to send out a clanging SOS, one that the Sea Ranger's submarine picks up on its sonar.
  • Evil Brit: Quite a few - Damon "The Demon" Larkham in Scarecrow and Hardin Lancaster III (aka. Sphinx) in the later Jack West books come to mind.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: A routine occurence in that the bad guys simply do not understand why Scarecrow or West keep coming against all the odds in the most hopeless of situations. Played somewhat for laughs in Scarecrow when the bounty hunter Ice Queen is so baffled by David Fairfax's selfless bravery in trying to help his friend Scarecrow even when totally outmatched, she's actually turned on by it.
  • Evil Counterpart:
    • Subverted with the Black Knight (real name Aloysius Knight). He's 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. The subversion is he's a good guy underneath it all. Well, sorta.
    • Wolf is also this to Jack - both are highly intelligent and well-trained soldiers who are also formidable leaders of men. Both are experts on ancient mythology, both are escape artists and both lead the quests for the pillars. The difference is that while Wolf has all Jack's skills he's got none of his morals, and as such borders on being The Sociopath in his approach to people.
  • Evil Former Friend: Wizard's kindly professor friend Tank turns out to be a member of an Apocalyse Cult determined to let the Dark Star destroy Earth to expunge the shame of Japan's defeat in World War 2.
  • Evil Is Bigger: General Rastor is determined to let the Omega Event wipe out all life on Earth, and is routinely described as a giant of a man.
  • Evil Overlord: What the Kings are competing to be in the later Jack West books.
  • Evil Plan: a lot of the Big Bads run these through hell and back. And in the case of Area 7, goes into My Death Is Just the Beginning territory and beyond.
  • Evil Versus Evil: The second half of the Jack West series features several equally nasty people vying to become the ruler of the world, who fight each other just as much as they do Jack. General Rastor is the "oblivion" part of Evil Versus Oblivion, while the "evil" part is represented by Sphinx and Ezekiel.
  • 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 both series.
    • In The Tournament, Roger Ascham is basically Sherlock Holmes a few centuries early.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: Except for the last few pages, all of Area 7 happens within five hours.
  • Eye Scream: Ever wondered how Scarecrow got those scars?
    • The Great Zoo of China features an eye surgery scene described in quite nauseating detail.
  • Face Death with Dignity: The bad guys never do, and if you took a shot every time one was described as screaming all the way to his death, you'd probably poison yourself. Whenever a hero dies, on the other hand, this can happen - see Gant's calm acceptance of her impending death and Wizard's certainty he'll see his wife again as he lays dying.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Mario in Scarecrow Returns. Notable since most enemies from within the heroes' team in Reilly's works are often The Mole or otherwise never really on their side.
  • Failed Future Forecast: In-universe example in Hover Car Racer. After the Italian Run a newspaper prepares two versions of the front page but prints the wrong one, leading to Jason reading a story with the headline "The Death of Jason Chaser".
  • 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 remove China as an economic threat to the United States.
  • Fate Worse than Death:
    • Both Mordechai the Old Master and Carnivore both entomb paticularly hated enemies in tanks of formaldehyde, sealed in, chained up and with oxygen, waste-extraction and nutrition tubes hooked into them so they can't kill themselves. They're then left like that until they either die of old age or the cancers brought on by the formaldehyde. Some of them have been in for years.
    • They turn out to have been inspired by the Royal Prison at Erebus, where inmates are entombed in living stone that hardens around their bodies, then left there in perpetual darkness, forced to urinate and excrete on themselves from the static position they're in. Over time the stone hardens further, cracking their bones and eventually their skull.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Most Reilly villains are out-and-out bastards, but a few make the effort to hide it under a cloak of civility; Jonathon Killian is charming and friendly as he both leads Scarecrow and Gant into a trap and when he has her murdered, while Carnivore is never less than polite and respectful even when he's having Jack and his half-brother fight to the death. Sphinx is probably the standout though; he's friendly and welcoming to Lily even after having her kidnapped, commiserates with her on the dismal state of his fellow royals and talks with her as an intellectual equal - then promptly has her stuck in a drowning Death Trap to get Jack to do his bidding.
  • Fire-Forged Friends:
    • Stephen, Balthzar and Hawkins during the Gladiator Games the former two are made to participate in, and Hawkins stumbles into investigating Stephen's disappearence.
    • Pooh Bear and Stretch absolutely loathe each other at the start of the West series due to Stretch's univited entrance to the team and the traditional hostility between Arabs and Israelis. However, things start to settle between them when the two inadvertently team up to save Lily's life, and Pooh later admits he misjudged the sniper when he chooses saving Lily from a maze trap over helping his home country. By later books they're described as being as close as brothers, with Pooh risking everything to save his friend from the vengeful Mossad.
  • Foreshadowing
    • Scarecrow's introduction in The Four Legendary Kingdoms is pretty heavily set up with an intro to a kidnapped Marine with his signature anti-flash glasses, Jack later catching sight of him with a massive female Marine companion (Mother) and even his name on the Games' leaderboard at one point.
    • By contrast, the Four Kingdoms themselves were very subtly set up in The Six Sacred Stones when Jack finds a mural featuring five warriors (the titular ones of the next book) standing behind four thrones. It was so easy to miss (Jack breezes past it trying to find one of the stones) that Reilly re-included it as a chapter intro in the fourth book.
  • Frame-Up: A really interesting version in Temple; after the Supernova theft leaves behind a specific bullet that points to terrorist group the Oklahoma Freedom Fighters, Agent Demonaco speculates that they're being framed by their rivals the Republican Army of Texas. Near the end it turns out the two groups merged; the frame job was a ruse to send the FBI chasing a group that no longer existed.
  • French Jerk: All of them pre-Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves. 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: Very, very much a Reilly staple.
    • 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.
  • Gambit Pileup: Frequently. Most of his books have at least three or four sides at play.
  • Genius Bruiser: Jack and his team. They're as badass a group of special forces soldiers as you'll ever read about, but they're also incredibly knowledgeable about the ancient world and its myths and legends. Becomes a plot point in The Four Legendary Kingdoms when Scarecrow realises he can't beat the trials on his own because he doesn't really have the required knowledge, so he lets the classically-trained Jack kill him to progress and stop the royals' plans.
  • Genre Refugee: Much of the humour in the otherwise Darker and Edgier The Three Secret Cities comes from the fact Aloysius Knight, ruthless bounty hunter and supreme badass, is suddenly stuck in an Up to Eleven Indiana Jones treasure hunt he either doesn't understand or couldn't give less of a shit about.
    Knight: [On being confronted with the coordinates for the three secret cities pilfered from the tomb of Sir Francis Drake] Amazing. I'm overwhelmed with fucking joy.
  • Genre Savvy: Hamish notes that the Great Zoo and its dragons are great... as long as you haven't seen Jurassic Park, wondering (accurately) what'll happen when the dragons get out and turn on the humans. Sure enough...
    • Amusingly, the Chinese think they're this, even telling Hamish they've seen the film too - but as there and the later Jurassic World, they don't do much better when the animals escape and start killing everybody.
  • Girl Posse: The Secret Runners of New York features a quartet of psychopathic prep school girls who engage in time travel for thrill-seeking. They kidnap classmates who get them mad (a friend of theirs who outshined the eldest girl in a debutante showing, a girl with Down's Syndrome who the Beta Bitch got into trouble for bullying, etc.) and strand them in the Bad Future to be killed by cannibals. They have several male friends, but the boys don't know about the murders. The narrator (a New Transfer Student) becomes the Token Good Teammate of the group's female members.
  • Good All Along: The German BKA team in Temple take the main characters hostage and are believed to be allied with the German murderer from the opening scene. However, they're actually trying to stop the Neo-Nazis and are willing to form an Enemy Mine alliance with the heroes that soon becomes genuinely friendly.
  • Good Is Not Soft: Scarecrow and Jack are both defined by their idealism, their total trust in and loyalty to their teams, and are described many times as being genuinely good men. That said, they're both highly trained special forces soldiers who can and will kill without a second thought if it means protecting their own.
  • Gotta Catch Them All: The pieces of the Capstone, the Six Sacred Stones, and four of the six Pillars (two already provided beforehand).
  • Graceful Loser:
    • Played with in Scarecrow. When "Demon" Larkham and IG-88 corner Knight and Rufus towards the end, he tells Knight he considers their prior encounter - where Knight stole 3 heads (over $50m) of bounty from him while helping Scarecrow - the nature of their bounty hunter business and he doesn't hold grudges outside the hunt. That said, he DOES blow up Lillian Mattencourt before she can pay Knight, costing him an even larger sum in return just so he doesn't escape entirely scot-free.
    • Played straight in The Five Greatest Warriors. In contrast to the screaming, oft-cowardly deaths of many of Jack's foes, Carnivore makes no effort to run and calmly acknowledges Jack's victory shortly before his foe shreds him with 50mm cannon fire.
    • Alessandro Romba, the veteran hover car racer on the cusp of a historic Grand Slam, congratulates Jason on a good race when he wins the Masters championship, and tells him to go celebrate.
  • Grappling-Hook Pistol: The Maghook. Any time it gets pulled out, the chance of something awesome happening skyrockets. It's practically Scarecrow's Weapon of Choice, and later emigrated to the West novels as well. Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves has the Magneteux, an upgraded French version, while an Indian version appears in Four Legendary Kingdoms.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Happens a lot in the West series.
    • The Six Sacred Stones has Jack's father Wolf offhandedly mentioning the previous book's Big Bad, Marshall Judah, worked for him, making Wolf this for Seven Ancient Wonders.
    • Then the titular Four Legendary Kingdoms turn out to have been this for not only many of the events of the first three books, with the Caldwell Group behind Judah and Wolf being named for and led by the King of the Sea, but Majestic-12 in the Scarecrow series too.
    • Sphinx turns out to be have been behind Dion and Zaitan's plan to assassinate their father in The Four Legendary Kingdoms.
  • Groin Attack:
    • Scarecrow's attempt to do this to Hydra fails miserably thanks to the fact that even his codpiece is armoured for the Trials.
    • Lily gets a fatal one in against Dion in the final book. After all he's done to her, not to mention trying to kill her there and then, she dispatches him by shoving an active grenade down his pants, then watching it blow him in half.
  • The Group: Die Organisasie in Temple, a Neo-Nazi organisation founded by a surviving SS concentration camp guard who camp out in South America and plan to use the Supernova to totally destabilize the world's economy.
  • Gun Porn: Has a tendency to go into great detail on weapons used by the nations shown - even fictional ones like IG-88's Metalstorm railguns.
  • Guns Akimbo: Notably, dual shotguns. At one point, Mother dual-wields an M16 and an MP7.
  • Handicapped Badass: Aloysius Knight is an absolute badass even by Reilly standards, but his wraparound glasses are needed because of a condition that makes him sensitive to light. Twice in Scarecrow he's brought down by knocking off his glasses, rendering him near blind.
  • Handy Cuffs: Double Subverted - the main characters jump over their handcuffs.
  • Heel–Face Turn: In the later West books, Princess Iolanthe and Hades, King of the Underworld, transfer their allegiance to Jack after realizing the corrupt and tyrannical ways of the legendary kingdoms.
  • Helicopter Blender: Jack West kills one of Marshall Judah's lackeys and Judah himself this way, one with a fallen helicopter's rotors and the other with the Hali's turbines.
  • Hero of Another Story:
    • Many of the people targeted by The Conspiracy in Scarecrow.
      • Israeli soldier Simon Zemir has spent a lot of time training to stop the villains and working out their plans on his own, showing up out of nowhere during the finale and nearly managing to stop the Evil Plan by himself.
      • British spy Alec Christie and Mossad agent Benjamin Rosenthal spent a lot of time undercover, independently spying on the Big Bad.
      • CIA agent Damien Polanski stole all kinds of documents from the Soviets and aided various cold war defectors before becoming a Broken Ace.
      • General Weitzman foresaw the possibility of the country's missile system being compromised and pushed through a program to test soldiers for their ability to manually take control of the missiles while they were in mid-flight.
    • Both Trent in the first Shane Schofield book and Knight in the third have had long, cat and mouse games with ICG killers which remain largely off-screen.
  • Heroic BSoD:
    • Scarecrow tries to kill himself during Scarecrow after Gant's death. Even after the seemingly upbeat ending where he returns to duty, the following novel reveals he's still severely traumatised by this.
    • Reilly himself went through one after the death of his wife; he disappeared completely from Facebook and Twitter without explanation for a couple months, and only left the house to walk his dog.
    • In the last West book Jack begins to sink into this following Zoe's death, though it's downplayed by both Lily snapping him out of it and his own realisation he can't dawdle with the fate of the universe at stake. Happily, Zoe later turns up alive.
  • High-Speed Battle: Reilly almost never has a straight Chase Scene. The mid-book car chase in Scarecrow is probably the standout, with the main characters being chased by Wexley's mercenaries and the Skorpions' Mi-34 helicopters while simultaneously being shot at by a French destroyer just off the coast they're driving on.
  • Historical Domain Character: Quite a few in The Tournament: Elizabeth I, Roger Ascham, Sultan Suleiman, Michelangelo, Ivan the Terrible...
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • Hell Island. Creating an ape army could go horribly wrong? No! Really?
    • The royal jailer Yago is entombed in his own prison the same way he'd imprisoned Jack and Hades. Later, Jack later kills him by having two bronzemen walk him out a plane to fall to his death - just as he'd planned to do to Easton.
    • The Great Zoo of China has the red-and-black superking's own fire breath set it on fire, with a little assist from the fuel from CJ's flamethrower.
  • Honey Trap: Dido is sent by prince Xavier to distract and exhaust Jason before their big races so he won't be driving at peak efficiency.
  • Honor Before Reason: Jack and Wizard both disdain their adversaries' habit of bypassing traps with modern technology instead of facing them directly. More justified than most examples, as many of the traps reward those who figure them out with knowledge useful to future situations. It's very much a mark of how desperate things are when Jack uses the Helicarnassus to bypass Easter Island's trap system to stop Carnivore.
    Jack: [in The Four Legendary Kingdoms] It's better to lose everything the right way than win the wrong way.
  • Hypocrite: Caesar Russell in Area 7. He berates the President for never having served in uniform, yet he spends almost the entire novel hiding behind his commandos while the President routinely risks life and limb alongside the Marines to save the day.
  • If I Wanted You Dead...: Judah says this to Jack a few times in Seven Ancient Wonders, to drive home how outmatched he is. It's a cover for the fact he's got very good reasons for not wanting to kill him - he's got a tracking device surgically implanted in Jack that keeps leading him to the locations of the Wonders.
  • Ignored Expert:
    • In The Secret Runners of New York, aging physicist Dr. Finklestein claims that a gamma cloud traveling through the solar system will kill 99% of humanity. He's right, and his claims are broadcast to the world, but most people don't believe him, mainly because he has been accused of plagiarism in the past.
    • Reilly himself occasionally does this, admitting in the interview at the end of Scarecrow that he'll occasionally disregard the advice of the actual military experts that help him with the technical and military details of his books if he thinks he can get a better action sequence out of doing it his way.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: One of the prisoners in Area 7 is a man called Lucifer Leary - a Serial Killer who murdered and ate the limbs of numerous backpackers in his home state of Arizona, some while they were still alive. Once he escapes, he kills the base commander this way, cutting off and eating everything below the waist.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Israeli sniper Stretch proves able to shoot incoming RPGs out of the air. In Temple Bassario is such an incredible bowman that he's able to shoot flaming arrows close enough to a cannon's fuse to light it.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: The ultimate hallmark of a Reilly hero, even more than supreme badassery. If you've read the books, read the intro paragraphs on the trope page and tell us you can't think of all the times those qualities directly applied to either Scarecrow or Jack West (or both).
  • Indy Escape: Stretch lampshades in Seven Ancient Wonders: "Let me guess. A boulder is going to come and chase us down the slope, just like in Raiders of the Lost Ark". Actually, three of them do. Very spiky ones.
  • Indy Ploy: Schofield lives on this.
  • Interservice Rivalry:
    • Very prominent in his works, especially notable in Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves when the Navy SEAL leader arrogantly brushes him off, and in Hell Island where everyone considers the Delta Force soldiers to be useless show ponies.
    • Taken to murderous extremes in Temple, where it turns out the US Army, Navy and Air Force are competing to prove their worth and avoid being demobilized by the government. This leads to Nash's undercutting and massacring the Navy's attempt to seize the idol so the Army can be the only ones with a supernova and avoid liquidation.
  • Interspecies Friendship: Human CJ Cameron and Lucky the dragon in The Great Zoo of China.
  • It Can Think: The dragons in The Great Zoo of China are FAR smarter than their Chinese zookeepers realise, even having a complex language to communicate with.
  • Just in Time: A staple of his works, especially Contest.
  • 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, in spite of being a medieval sex trafficker. Though the postscript about the historical figures reminds us that his life was quite ignominious.
  • Kick the Dog: Killian's execution of Gant and Wizard's murder by Wolf are both specifically done to break Scarecrow and Jack's spirit. The former very nearly succeeds. General Rastor later kills Jack's mother Mae as a demoralizing tactic against Jack.
  • 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!
    • CJ from The Great Zoo of China kind of falls into using this as her primary weapon once she gets hold of a flamethrower. Which is handy given she has to face actual fire-breathing dragons, one the size of a bus, the other bigger than a jumbo jet.
  • Kinda Busy Here: Alby in The Six Sacred Stones.
    "It's your mother," said Zoe. "Please be discreet."
    A missile whooshed by overhead.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Knight in Scarecrow. Once a soldier as brilliant as Schofield himself, his betrayal by his Delta buddies and Frame-Up by the ICG have left him a very bitter and cynical individual who's not in Scarecrow's fight for any moral reason but because he's being VERY well paid. However, over the course of the book Scarecrow's Incorruptible Pure Pureness rubs off on him and, after seeing that Scarecrow's people will follow him to the end because of who he is, he stays with him even when he doesn't have to and saves Scarecrow's life at the book's end.
  • Knight Templar: The 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.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: A positive example in The Great Zoo of China. Early on, CJ first protects a hapless worker from the wrath of his supervisor, then saves Lucky the dragon when she's surrounded by black dragons. Both come back to help her later in the book.
  • Legacy Character: After "Book" Riley is killed in Ice Station, the next two books have his son - with the fitting callsign of "Book 2" join Schofield's unit.
  • Legally Dead: Caesar in Area 7 (after being executed and revived).
  • Let's You and Him Fight: Happens a few times. The Five Greatest Warriors has Carnivore force Jack and his half-brother Rapier to do the same (and also to see whether Jack or Wolf is released from his captivity).
  • Life-or-Limb Decision: Turned Up to Eleven in Seven Ancient Wonders, with how West lost his arm; he, Wizard and the newborn Lilly were trapped in a chamber that was being filled with lava, and the trigger that would open the door could only be opened if someone put their hand through a lava flow, requiring Jack to move to quickly to trigger the switch before his arm was lost for good.
  • Like a Son to Me: Jack flatly says this to Alby in The Four Legendary Kingdoms when it looks like they might die. Later, Sphinx and Dion have a distinctly villainous variant of this.
  • Lighter and Softer: Troll Mountain is his first book explicitly written for families to read together.
  • The Mafia: In his fourth book, the Marine Mario has links to a Mafia family, hence his effective exile in the Arctic.
  • Magical Defibrillator: Used to revive Caesar after he is executed by lethal injection. Because apparently it cures poison too!
  • Market-Based Title: Seven Ancient Wonders became Seven Deadly Wonders in the United States. Likewise Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves was renamed Scarecrow Returns in the same market.
  • Medals for Everyone: Scarecrow ends up repeatedly decorated over the novels.
  • Medium Awareness: Darkly near the end of Army of Thieves. When the main characters speculate on what happened to Calderon, Scarecrow's sure he survived, is back at the CIA plotting more mayhem and they'll be told he's dead to cover this up. Not even a page later and he's meeting high-level CIA bosses who tell him Calderon drowned escaping from Dragon Island.
  • Mêlée à Trois: Reilly's got a penchant for doing this between two directly opposed characters being plagued by a third, random player - most usually a killer animal.
  • Mirror Character: Happens several times.
    • Aloysius Knight is this for Schofield - highly trained special forces soldier with a variant of Scarecrow's Cool Shades and a similar backstory of battling the ICG. However, unlike Shane he lost that particular battle, leaving him a much darker and more ruthless version of Scarecrow, to the point he initially seems like Scarecrow's Evil Counterpart. Mother even lampshades the similarities in-universe as Knight being what would happen if Scarecrow went bad.
    • Mother acquires a male one in the form of Baba, a gender-flipped variant who is also a physical colossus dedicated to watching over their friend and charge (Scarecrow for Mother, Champion for Baba). Again, it's noted in-universe that the two would meet and sparks would fly, with the text specifically describing Baba as Mother's mirror.
    • Wolf can be seen as this to Jack, but his ruthless approach to power and disdain for Jack's family relationship with his team place him more in the Evil Counterpart territory.
  • Mis-blamed: Renard aims to kill Scarecrow as revenge for his killing her cousin Luc in Ice Station - but as he points out when the Army of Thieves aren't trying to kill them, he actually spared Luc after wiping out his paratrooper allies, detaining him instead. It was SAS commander Barnaby that actually had Luc executed.
  • Missing Backblast: Averted. Reilly's very careful to ensure the firepower his characters use has the appropriate effects in combat.
  • The Mole: Another favourite trope of Reilly's.
    • Several more in Area 7 - Jerome Webster is this to the President, feeding information to Caesar. Botha and Echo team are this in turn to Caesar, both wanting the Sinovirus and Kevin for their own ends.
    • In Seven Ancient Wonders everyone thinks Stretch is this due to his Israeli ties, but he's actually not - an unwitting Jack is after Judah implanted a transmitter in him before the story. The Six Sacred Stones has Switchblade as this in Wolf's forces for the Japanese Blood Brotherhood, while the next book has Diane Cassidy act as this for Carnivore.
    • Temple meanwhile, has Race's own brother be this in the Navy team researching the Supernova, while Troy Bittaker turns out to be this in Nash's Army team for the Republican Army of Texas. Uli (aka "Craterface") turns out to be a helpful one to Race, spying for the BKA inside the Stormtroopers.
  • Most Writers Are Writers: Two of his short stories feature Mitch Raleigh, author of "Detachment-5" and "Seven Deadly Wonders". And then there's "The Rock Princess and the Thriller Writer"...
  • Mr. Exposition:
    • There's usually at least one of these in each Scarecrow novel, most often a shell-shocked tech or someone involved in the creation of the MacGuffin who can fill Schofield in on what the hell's going on - Dr. Isanov in Army of Thieves is a classic example. Even the President gets in on it in Area 7 regarding the creation of Kevin and the hiring of Botha.
    • Played a bit differently in the West novels - the group are so knowledgeable on the myths and history vital to their quests that usually each one is this on some aspect of what they do. Hades plays the role in the last few novels, as he's a former King that know the inner workings of the Four Kingdoms. Until he's killed.
  • Mugging the Monster: Nine out of ten attempts to assassinate or kidnap one of his main characters end this way.
  • Multinational Team: Jack West leads one.
  • My Greatest Failure: Renard's backstory involves her failing to realise the informant she'd been cultivating in an Islamic terror group was actually a reverse mole using her to kill multiple high-level DGSE agents in a suicide bombing, including her husband. Because of this, she's Took a Level in Badass and Took a Level in Cynic by the time we meet her.
  • N+1 Sequel Title: Inverted by the Jack West series. The first book, Ancient (or Deadly) Wonders, has the number seven as part of the title, and then each sequel reduces the number by one until the final book, Impossible Labyrinth, which has the number one in the title.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Jonathon Killian, Demon Larkham.
    • Lucifer Leary, the Surgeon of Phoenix. Guess what he does to people who he happens to encounter?
    • Many of the Jack West Jr.'s groups' fomer callsigns are this. For example: Pooh Bearnote , Princess Zoenote , Fuzzynote , Noddy and Big Earsnote .
  • Nice to the Waiter: Early on in The Great Zoo of China CJ intervenes when she sees a worker who made a mistake in front of the Western guests being physically chastised by his boss. She helps him clean up his stuff then threatens to have the foreman fired if he tries anything.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: In Hell Island, we got mind-controlled killer gorillas with knives and guns!
  • No Honour Among Thieves: The multinational coalition of the American Caldwell Group, China, Saudi Arabia and the UAE unsurprisingly have a lot of this, with the latter two planning to blackmail the Aericans with a fake pillar. They work together only as long as they have to achive their goals.
  • Nonuniform Uniform: Delta Force.
  • No One Could Survive That!: Jack West Jr. shows up guns blazing at the top of the The Great Pyramid at Giza after having had a garden the size of a mountain dropped on his head.
    • And then he once got crushed by a stone slab after being crucified to another stone, surviving thanks to his metallic arm, though it did take hours and several times unconscious for him to finally escape. A couple hours later, he's out, bloodied, and utterly pissed off!
    • And was dropped down a seemingly Bottomless Pit with a psychotic nihilist Marine, only surviving thanks to a weapon nobody knew he was carrying. Jack kinda makes his living out of doing this.
  • No Respect Guy: Marty's principal reason for betraying the Navy in Temple; he's a brilliant scientist, but he works at DARPA, which is full of brilliant scientists. He jumps at Nash's offer of a high-level posting at the Army's Supernova project. Copeland rubs in his lack of self-worth just before gunning him down.
  • No-Sell: Serial killer Lucifer Leary and IG-88 mercenary Rocko are so huge and tough they both do this to Scarecrow in different fights, with the latter shrugging off a Maghook butt to the chin before handing Schofield his ass. Fortunately, in both cases Heroic Second Wind ensues.
  • Not the Fall That Kills You…: The beginning of Five Greatest Warriors, although it's usually averted.
  • Not Too Dead to Save the Day: Mother comes back at the end of Scarecrow, just in the nick of time.
  • Nouveau Riche: The old-money men of Majestic 12 look sneeringly down on this, despising Lillian Mattencourt because she's a woman but also because her fortune is based on cosmetics and perfumes. Backfires on them when she hires Aloyisius Knight to ruin their plan becuase she's sick of their sneers.
  • Off with His Head!:
    • The very brutal way Gant dies, via guillotine. In a nice bit of Laser-Guided Karma, Scarecrow later kills her executioner the same way.
    • Even more disturbingly, the later West books have the Bronzemen and their variants be strong enough to tear someone's head off the old-fashioned way.
  • Official Couple: Scarecrow and Gant at the end of Area 7, until its very brutal ending in the next book. Jack and Zoe at the end of The Five Greatest Warriors have a much happier outcome.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Though most of the marines are only ever referred to by their callsign (Mother, the Books), it's particularly prevalent with Scarecrow, who's only ever referred to by his real name in one conversation, when Mother's trying to stop him killing himself.
  • Once an Episode: In the Shane Schofield series, Mother seemingly dying, only to survive by improvising. Lampshaded in later books.
  • Once for Yes, Twice for No: Unable to use her hands, a captive Gant uses Morse code to communicate through her headset with Scarecrow this way in Area 7. Again, much more tragically, between the two when she's caught by Killian the following novel; it turns out to be their last conversation.
  • 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.
  • One-Man Army: Never, ever push a Reilly protagonist to breaking point - Jack massacres Judah's forces and later the Ethiopian guards who'd crucified him despite being hugely outnumbered both times. Scarecrow likewise SLAUGHTERS most of the Army of Thieves after Bertie resuscitates him, to the point even Mother is shocked by the carnage.
  • OOC Is Serious Business:
    • Mother calling Scarecrow by his actual name of Shane is the only thing that gets through to him after he tries to kill himself after Gant's death. He notes it's maybe the first time she's ever done so - because in her mind, calling him Shane makes him normal, like the rest of the world. He's the Scarecrow, and he's far too badass to just be a Shane.
    • As mentioned in the Honor Before Reason entry, Jack's bypassing the trap system in the last Vertex by crashing the Helicarnassus through it is very much this. As he says later, he felt it was justified given the fate of the world was at stake.
  • Outside-Context Problem: The Bronzemen. Up to that point, the West series had been built around human vs. human (with numerous killer animals thrown in). Then they, automatons built by the previous civilisation, show up; super-strong, Immune to Bullets to the point one needs anti-tank firepower to be stopped, and totally loyal to whoever owns their control device. It's not surprising that whenever they appear Jack and co. are swiftly running for their lives.
  • Padding: 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.
  • People Jars: "Old Master" Mordechai and Vladimir "Carnivore" Karnov in The Five Greatest Warriors keep prisoners preserved in these. Until they die of old age.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • In Seven Ancient Wonders Judah elects to sacrifice Alexander after he'd arrogantly mouthed off about his own importance, whereas he liked Lily for her sense in keeping quiet.
    • In the following novel Jack saves Wolf inside the Japanese Vertex, despite everything that had happened between them. In return, Wolf spares him and his team as a one-off. Downplayed in that he doesn't object to Rapier blowing the bridges and stranding them instead.
  • Pinned Down: Very common.
  • Plot-Driven Breakdown: Scarecrow gets this very hard in his titular novel when Killian kills his girlfriend Gant to get at him. He nearly commits suicide before Mother is able to talk him down. While he defeats Killian and Majestic-12, the following novel shows he's still severely traumatised by it, and his arc there is finally coming to terms with it.
  • Precursors: It's a recurring theme in the West series that someone, possibly even a prior human civilisation, built the Machine and other pieces of technology to protect Earth from the Dark Star and the Omega Event - but also that they're long gone and next to nothing is known about them. Wizard speculates they were a super-ancient race of humans, given their buildings and technology are clearly meant for human use. It's also given early acknowledgment in Ice Station when Sarah Hensleigh speculates on a prior human civilaisation being the source of the spaceship in the cavern.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "Get. (punch) Off. (punch) My. (punch) Boat!"
  • Pursued Protagonist: The Secret Runners of New York begins with Decoy Protagonist Becky Taylor being chased by the maddened inhabitants of New York in the Bad Future. The time portal she hopes to take back home is blocked, and Becky is never seen again.
  • Race Against the Clock:
    • All of Jack's quests are time-sensitive; if the wonders aren't found/pillars aren't set/challenges aren't met by a certain point bad, bad things will happen - either the world being devastated or the Big Bad attaining unimaginable power.
    • Scarecrow isn't immune to this either; Majestic-12's plot has to be stopped before noon that day or their ships will fire their missiles on a pre-arranged countdown.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: In Army of Thieves, henchman Bad Willy is portrayed as an unrepentant rapist of young girls and specifically goes after Emma (though thankfully Zack saves her before anything happens). Accordingly his death is gruesome even by Reilly standards, with his face and hands melted by acid and a graphic description of the way his body spasms as the acid eats into his brain.
  • Rare Guns: The Neo-Nazi unit uses H&K G-11s. IG-88 use even cooler Metalstorm guns against Scarecrow and his pals.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: Almost literally in the fourth Scarecrow novel (they're equipment testing in the Arctic), although this is done to keep him and Mother out of the reach of assassins rather than to punish them for anything.
  • Red Shirt: Any members of Scarecrow's unit outside the man himself and a select few others - Gant, Mother, Book 2 - is guaranteed not to last beyond the halfway point of the book.
  • Reluctant Warrior: Downplayed but present with Jack. Despite being a member of the Australian SAS and one of the top-ranked soldiers in the world in his youth, it's mentioned several times he was very uneasy at being turned into a killing machine and preferred his mother's love of archaelogy. However, when push comes to shove he's still terrifyingly good at taking down his enemies.
  • Revenge:
    • Renard's entry in the narrative is hunting down Scarecrow in the Arctic to kill him in revenge for her cousin's death in Ice Station - just in time to get sucked into the Dragon Island mess.
    • Turns out Dion is still alive after being presumed killed at the games - and is very ticked with Alby for shooting him in the face...
  • 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. He admits in the interview at the end of Scarecrow that in real-life the MOAB bombs used by the US aren't laser-guided - but he needed someone (Gant) to place a laser inside the mine so the characters could then have a race against time to get out before the bombs hit. He even ignored the advice of his military consultants to do so.
  • Running Gag:
    • Faking us out about Mother being killed. It's at the point that when it actually happens for real, nobody will believe it.
    • In The Great Zoo of China every time the Chinese unveil something spectacular about the park - the architecture, bullet trains bringing people in, the menu - they then spoil the effect by revealing it to be have been designed/created by a foreigner originally. Even the bombs that annihilate the park at the end turn out to have been bought from the Russians.
  • Sacrificial Lion: One in every book. Book, Braniac, Gant, not to mention Jack's ever-dwindling band of heroes.
  • Serial Escalation: He's practically the patron saint of this. Best seen with his doomsday events. The first West novel features life on Earth being threatened by a lethal sunspot that'll render it uninhabitable. The next two give the earth a dark antimatter twin that'll annihilate everything on Earth if it's allowed to mirror Earth unhindered by the other planets. The fourth features the entire Milky Way being threatened by a runaway galaxy. The final three deal with the Omega Event, the destruction of the universe.
  • Sequel Escalation: A self-stated goal of his.
  • Sequential Symptom Syndrome: The Sinovirus. When it's first introduced it gets one of these, with Botha explaining the effects to the President as the test prisoner gruesomely expires.
  • Shark Pool: Jonathon Killian's dungeon in Scarecrow, to the point of having actual tiger sharks to feed his victims to.
  • Shoot the Builder: In Temple (by Matthew Reilly), after the heroes kill all of his guards, the omnicidal Big Bad kills the scientist who built his doomsday device so no one can disarm it.
  • Short-Lived Aerial Escape: In Temple, 2 helicopters try to escape, but a giant cat kills everyone in the first shortly after it takes off, and the out of control copter takes out the second one.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In reference to her mechanical leg, Mother attempts to have her call sign changed to Darth Vader in Area 7.
    • He named a bounty hunter team in Scarecrow, IG-88, after the robotic bounty hunter in The Empire Strikes Back.
    • In Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves one of the marines with links to The Mafia is {nick)named for The Godfather author Mario Puzo.
  • 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 (officially it was set in a Fictional Counterpart called the New York State Library). Under the circumstances he got it remarkably close, and the updated edition currently out fixes any mistakes (mostly inserting hallways between rooms). On the other hand, all Australian editions retain the original layout, with recent printings including a note from the author about the changes in the American edition.
    • 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.
  • The Starscream:
    • Jonathon Killian to Majestic-12. He hijacks their plan to create a new Cold War and aims to produce total global anarchy in order to create a new world order.
    • Sphinx in the later West books. Barred from being a true king after his father abdicated, Sphinx spends the book manipulating Land King Orlando to his ends until such time as he can dispose of him, taking his place as the series' true Big Bad.
  • Straw Misogynist:
    • In Hover Car Racer Ariel Piper, arguably the school's best racer, has to confront a whole world of them. One actively propositions her, telling her it's the only way for a girl to get ahead in the hover car game - later, with help from Jason he unknowingly races her and she beats him as payback. Later, Principal LeClerq actively sabotages her in championship races simply because she's a girl.
    • The Fraternal Order of Saint Paul (or as the team knows them, the Order of the Omega) are convinced women were only put on this Earth to provide offspring and serve men unconditionally - they even think the Catholic Church, already shown in the series to be appallingly sexist, are too moderate. Even being spoken to by an uncomprehending Lily is met with revulsion and horror. Needless to say, when the time comes it's Zoe who kills their leader and foils their plan to use the power of Omega to reduce women eveywhere to little better than slaves.
      Zoe: Die knowing this. You got beat by a girl.
  • Straw Nihilist: General Rastor believes the philosophies of his rivals - Sphinx's desire to rule as a new God-Emperor, Ezekiel's hatred of women - are absolutely pointless, because the world doesn't deserve to exist anyway.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: 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?
  • Stupid Evil:
    • Dion and Zaitan's plan to go back on giving the minotaurs freedom so they can kill their father and rule with fear turns a simple escape by Jack and Scarecrow's various teammates into a full-blown revolt the royals have no chance of stopping.
    • Orlando's ignorance of the mythology surrounding the Games and Trials leads him to open the first city without understanding that it also opens the other two simultaneously and that all three must be solved together - something that would have doomed everyone if Jack and his team hadn't intervened. Sphinx and his conspirators even list it as one of the reasons they're betraying him to die near the end.
  • Super-Detailed Fight Narration: Reilly spends pages and pages describe every detail of a fight that he can.
  • Super-Persistent Predator: The dragon known as Melted Face in The Great Zoo of China spends almost the whole novel tracking down and trying to kill CJ in retaliation for her burning its face. More justified than most in that dragons are shown to be frighteningly intelligent, and this one was really pissed off about what happened to its face.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Scarecrow takes a serious beating in The Four Legendary Kingdoms (including getting a sword run through his shoulder) then is actually killed by West. He's revived in the nick of time, but his injuries keep him from helping Jack for the remaining West books, which take place very rapidly afterwards. He does send along Aloysius Knight to help out though.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Veronique Champion is basically a French version of Libby Gant in Scarecrow Returns. They even have the same call-sign.
  • Take That!:
    • The Jack West series features an Ancient Conspiracy who have frequently rigged elections for their preferred candidate. But Donald Trump was not one of them; the Americans were just stupid enough to do it on their own.
    • He really hates Delta Force for some reason. Aside from Knight (who's initially painted as a possible bad guy), virtually all their appearances have them as villains. In a flashback in The One Impossible Labyrinth Jack even moans how much he hates working with them due to their glory-seeking tendencies and habit of looking after themselves first and foremost.
  • Taking You with Me:
    • German paratrooper Von Schroeder does this to the Nazis in Temple after he's mortally wounded, using an M-22 isotropic charge (a ludicrously powerful explosive) to wipe out the Stormtrooper fleet. It doesn't stop the Supernova threat, but does leave Race and Renee with only a few remaining Nazis to fight at their base.
    • 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.
  • Tank Goodness: Inevitably given Reilly's fascination with military hardware; an M1A1 Abrams is crucial to the climax of Temple as the Republican Army of Texas stick the Supernova inside to protect it. In the later West books British Challenger 2s are used both by and against the Knights of the Golden Eight.
  • The Swear Jar: To "protect" Lily from the soldiers' bad language. Or to just buy her lots of presents. She's happy 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)
  • Temple of Doom: The focus of Temple, unsurprisingly.
  • This Is a Drill: And it goes right through Snake's head. Ouch.
  • Threatening Shark: Or any number of other creatures. If a man-eating animal shows up, you'd better believe that animal will eventually be eating some man - mutated elephant seals, killer whales, komodo dragons, tiger sharks, polar bears, caimans, gigantic rapa cats, hyenas and crocodiles have all entered into the fray (the latter are so prevalent in the West novels Pooh Bear has a phobia of them). The Great Zoo of China takes things Up to Eleven with a whole book based around escaping dragons causing havoc.
  • Thrown from the Zeppelin: When the competitors for the Great Games of the Hydra are gathered in The Four Legendary Kingdoms, one man says he is there against his will and won't participate. He's killed by an Explosive Leash seconds later, before The Hero can decide whether to speak up as well.
  • Token Evil Teammate: Zaeed in Seven Ancient Wonders. A murderous terrorist fanatic who couldn't be more different morally from the rest of the team, they still need him for his knowledge of the Wonders. Fortunately, when he does inevitably betray them, Jack outsmarts and puts a bullet in him.
  • Token Good Teammate: Hades is a harsh and ruthless ruler, but unlike the rest of the royals that plague Jack West he's got a sense of honour and lacks the sadism and power-hunger of his contemporaries. Race in Temple is an interesting example in that he doesn't know he's this for the Army until fairly late in the novel, thanks to Nash's manipulation.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Zoe was already a badass in the prior book, but in The Six Sacred Stones she singlehandedly discovers the Neetha, offs their prince when he tries to claim Lily for himself, escapes their death maze using her wits and Alby's photography skills and then flies the group out in the face of Wolf's CIEF troops. Wizard even says it proves Jack isn't the group's only hero.
  • Took a Level in Idealism: Aloysius Knight. In Scarecrow he's a dark Mirror Character to Scarecrow, with all of his One-Man Army skills but a lot less morals and far more ruthless - his Establishing Character Moment is shooting a wounded and helpless mercenary when he's deemed to have no useful info and later has to be specifically told by Scarecrow not to shoot an innocent air-tanker crew to dispose of witnesses. However, exposure to Scarecrow's Incorruptible Pure Pureness reawakens his own idealism and he fights with him to the end, even when he didn't have to. By the time he reappears in the West series he's still pretty cynical but overall a far nicer character.
  • Train Job: Jack's team hijacks a prison train in The Six Sacred Stones to free Wizard and Tank from the Chinese.
  • Transplant: Scarecrow supporting character Aloysius Knight is sent by Scarecrow himself to assist Jack West's crusade against the Kingdoms in the later West books.
  • Trick Bomb: Plenty of examples include chaff grenades which clog up a gun's moving parts, P-61 palladium bombs that are only a step off being as powerful as a nuke and acid grenades which horrifically melt their victims.
  • Tuckerization: General Jackson Dyer was chosen on a radio show, and actually lasts 29 pages before being drowned. That's huge.
  • Turbine Blender: Happens a few times, most notably when Jack kills his half-brother Rapier in The Five Greatest Warriors.
  • Turned Against Their Masters: Hell Island, or so you are supposed to believe.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: Hover Car Racer opens with "A few years from now..."
  • 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.
  • Two-Part Trilogy: The first three books Jack West series are this, while the whole series as a whole is more of a Three Part Septalogy.
  • Uncertain Doom: In the prologue of The Secret Runners of New York, Pursued Protagonist Becky is trapped in the Bad Future and left terrified that her pursuers are about to kill her. Still, she isn't killed onscreen, and other characters survive in the post-apocalyptic world for long periods.
  • Underdogs Never Lose: Does Reilly ever love this trope. They'll rarely get through it unscathed, and frequently lose people along the way, but no matter the mountainous odds against a Reilly hero, they'll always come through at the end - even if it comes down to the last second.
  • Undying Loyalty: Both Scarecrow and Jack are great at inspiring this, for the same reasons; they're such naturally good men, gifted leaders that care intensely for those under their command and Determinators that never give up no matter the odds that their teams will do anything for them. Lampshaded by Knight at the end of Scarecrow; he could have just bailed after his contract to protect Scarecrow ended, but after seeing how Shane's team would have done anything for him, he chose to stay and fight at his side until the very end.
  • Up to Eleven: Every single one of his action sequences would make Michael Bay drool.
    • 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 AMRAAM missiles at a Chinese space shuttle.
    • The One Impossible Labyrinth has Jack say "Rule This" to Sphinx just before using a destroyer's main gun to blow up the Throne of Life, ruining his first attempt to seize ultimate power.
  • Villainous Valor: The whole point of the Falling Temples in The Two Lost Mountains. The ones seeking to navigate the final labyrinth have to risk their own lives dashing through the temple while it plummets for miles through the hollowed-out mountains to receive the branding necessary to proceed. If they make a misstep, they'll be killed when the temple hits bottom.
  • 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.
  • Weaponised Exhaust: Jet engines make a pretty efficient crematorium.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: The last segment of The One Impossible Labyrinth details what happened to all the surviving characters after the defeat of Sphinx, including how Alby and Lily went on to have a family.
  • White Sheep: Oz is more moral than his parents and sisters in 'The Secret Runners of New York.
  • Whole Plot Reference: While it incorporates plenty of Reilly's signature fast-paced action, in addition to having some very critical commentary on the Chinese Communist Party, The Great Zoo of China is essentially Jurassic Park at its core - not helped by being released just as the hype train for Jurassic World was getting into full swing.
    • Interestingly, it also has shades of that latter film as well (despite being released months beforehand) as both have the park higher-ups losing control after certain animals - the Indominus Rex there, the dragons here - turn out to be far, far smarter and determined to escape than anyone realises.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Marshall Judah has a fear of heights while Pooh Bear can't stand crocodiles enough not to follow Jack West through them, though he understands.
  • Wild Card: Mustapha Zaeed in Seven Ancient Wonders because his very genuine fascination with uncovering the Seven Wonders clashes with his desire for Muslim supremacy, and Princess Iolanthe in The Six Sacred Stones and The Five Greatest Warriors due to her royal status conflicting with a barely-hidden infatuation with/admiration for Jack (by the end she's firmly on the side of good). Also General Rastor in The Two Lost Mountains - he openly undermines and fights against Sphinx and Jack because he wants to see the world end.
  • The Worf Effect: In both Temple and The Great Zoo of China, enormous predatory crocodilians (caimans in the former, saltwater crocodiles in the later) are taken down by even larger, nastier apex predators (rapa cats and dragons) to show how serious things are getting.
  • The World's Expert on Getting Killed: Dr. Krauss is certainly an expert in getting other people killed in Temple; while he has the excuse that the rapa has been considered myth up to this point, he repeatedly makes confident predictions about their behaviour based on observations of other big cats like lions. He's nearly always wrong, and a lot of people pay for it with their lives.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: Two cases in Hover Car Racer. The more obvious one is Syracuse claiming that 10 out of 2000 equals 0.005% (it's actually 0.5%, or a proportion of 0.005); the less obvious one is in one of the early leaderboards - Jason has more points than would be possible for someone at such a low ranking and at that point in the year.
  • You Called Me "X"; It Must Be Serious: Mother considers the Scarecrow far too badass to be called 'Shane', until he's about to commit suicide.
  • Young Future Famous People: The Tournament is narrated by a thirteen-year-old Elizabeth Tudor, and also features a similarly young Ivan the Terrible.
  • Your Head A-Splode: This is why the characters use hollow points. This is also the final fate of General Rastor, thanks to Jack West and an exploding orb.


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