Nobody Writes Like Matthew Reilly

“The New York Times Bestselling Author”: Matthew Reilly

Today I give you a “New York Times bestselling author”: Matthew Reilly. I hope you’re impressed because it’s not often that I can talk to you about bestselling authors; long dead is more in my line.

I read this book over a year ago, in the dark aftermath of the Christmas & New Year festivities. You know what I mean: the morning of 2nd January, the low point of any year. You’re one year closer to your grave and you’re regretting your recent excesses: too much food, too much drink, too much family time perhaps, definitely too little sleep. Work is looming on the close horizon, or worse, you’re on your way there already. You go to work in the dark and come home in the dark. Like I said, the low point of the year. What you need is a brutal dose of adrenaline in the form of a light-weight page turner: all action and no brain. I’m quite fond of that kind of stuff, actually, although they seldom get me blogging.

Let’s take this example from Seven Ancient Wonders by Matthew Reilly:

They crossed the mini-ledge, came to the rough stone-carved ladder.
Drops of fire rained down it, bouncing off their firemen’s helmets.
Every second or third rung of the ladder featured a dark gaping wall-hole of some kind, which West nullified with ‘expand-and-harden’ foam.
“Jack! Look out! More drop-stones!” Wizard called.
West looked up. “Whoa shit…!”
A giant drop-builder slicked with oil and blazing with flames came roaring out of a recess in the ceiling directly above the ladder and came free-falling towards him and Lily.
“Swear jar…” Lily said.
“I’ll have to owe you.”
West quickly yanked an odd-looking pistol from his belt – it looked like a flare gun, with a grossly oversized barrel. An M-225 handheld grenade launcher.
Without panic, he fired it up at the giant boulder free-falling towards them.
The grenade shot upwards.
The boulder fell downwards.
Then they hit and – BOOM! – the falling boulder exploded in a star-shaped shower of shards and stones, sparying outward like a firecracker, its pieces sailing out and around West and Lily on the ladder!

The First, the Last and the Only

Seven Ancient Wonders is the first, the last and the only book I’ve ever read or will read by Matthew Reilly. Given the excerpt above, can you wonder?

Boy, you’ve read nothing yet.

Then abruptly Kallis’s men stopped firing.
Pooh Bear exchanged a worried look with Wizard.
Change of tactics.
A brutal change of tactics.
Frustrated by the electromagnetic field of the Warbler, Kallis and his team started firing RPGs at the tower.
It looked like a fireworks display: long hyperextending fingers of smoke lanced upward from the their tunnel, streaking up toward the mighty ancient citadel.
“Oh my Lord,” Wizard breathed. “The Warbler won’t work against RPGs! RPGs are too heavy to divert magnetically! Somebody do something…”
It was Stretch who came up with the answer.
Quick as a flash, he unslung his sniper rifle, aimed and fired it at the first oncoming RPG!
The bullet hit the RPG a bare thirty feet from the tower and the RPG detonated in mid-flight, exploding just out of reach of the tower.
It was an incredible shot. A single shot, fired under pressure, hitting a high-velocity target in mid-flight!
Even Pooh Bear was impressed. “Nice shot, Israeli. How many times can you do that?”
“As long as it takes for you to figure out a way out of here, Arab,” Stretch said, eyeing a second incoming RPG through his sights.

Seven Ancient Wonders has everything. Cute kiddo, cheesy nicknames, nasty ways to die, smart-arse weapons, classic clichés, exclamation marks! The inter(natio(n)al tension within the commando is, ahem, a nice original touch! Perhaps the bold is overdoing it a bit though?


They hit the exit ramp at speed, and rose up it briefly –
– at which moment Stretch yanked left on the steering wheel, and the bus lurched leftward, hitting the concrete guard-rail and…
…tipped over it!
The double-decker bus overbalanced shockingly and rolled over the concrete fence, using the fence as a fulcrum. As such, the entire double-decker bus rolled, going fully upside-down – off the exit ramp, back down onto the roadway proper – where it slammed down onto its open-topped roof…
…crushing all eight of the French troops on it!
But it wasn’t done yet.
Since it had tipped over the dividing rail from a considerable height, it still had a lot of sideways momentum.
So the big bus continued to roll, bouncing off its now-crushed roof and coming upright once again, commencing on a second roll – only to to bang hard against the far wall of the sunken roadway, which had the incredible effect of righting the bus and plonking it back on its own wheels, so that now it was travelling once again on the riverside drive and heading into the tunnel having just performed a full 360-degree roll!

Impressive style: all those adverbs, the blockbuster verbs, the paragraphing… so very cinematic too. Absolutely awesome. Awesomely awful, that is.

Nobody Writes Like Matthew Reilly

“Nobody writes like Matthew Reilly.”

(Vince Flynn, quoted on

I whole-heartedly agree with Vince Flynn: nobody writes like Matthew Reilly.

(Thank God.)

PS.: I'm having trouble classifying this as English fiction but it has to go somewhere...

2 thoughts on “Nobody Writes Like Matthew Reilly

    1. I”m glad you didn’t find it offensive! 🙂

      As I said, I do actually like this kind of stuff, for light relief or like you said, when travelling, or on going to bed… and you do lower your expectations, you don’t expect it to be written in amazing style but you do expect a certain level of craftsmanship. This was so bad that at first I thought I made a mistake and bought a children’s book! But no, he meant it for adults… I’ve read a good few badly written books (The Lost Fleet series comes immediately mind) but never felt a particular need to slag them off on the blog… this just had to be quoted!


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