Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Review: The Wrath of the Lizard Lord by Jon Mayhew

Prince Dakkar and his mentor Count Oginski discover a plot by arch-enemy Cryptos to kill Napoleon. Arriving on their revolutionary submersible to intercept Cryptos, they glimpse a terrifying monster that seems to escape back into the bowels of the Earth. It leads them to discover an amazing underground world, and a plan more nefarious than they could ever have believed - even from Cryptos.

The stage is set for an epic showdown complete with a giant reptilian cavalry and the Battle of Waterloo, in another breathlessly paced and endlessly inventive adventure for fans of Percy Jackson.

It isn't obvious from the the cover (or spine) of this book, but The Wrath of the Lizard Lord is the second book in Jon Mayhew's Monster Odyssey series, and a direct sequel to The Eye of Neptune. It is thus the second adventure for Prince Dakkar, Jon Mayhew's teen protagonist who will one day become Captain Nemo. Before I say any more about this book, there is just one thing I would love to get off my chest: why on earth is this series not called The Adventures of Young Nemo (or similar)? The Young Bond, Young Sherlock and rebooted Tarzan books seem to have garnered far more reviews and chatter online that either of the two Monster Odyssey books, and I genuinely feel that this is because they aren't being billed as 'Young Nemo'. I hope the scarcity of reviews does not also mean poor sales, as that would be a travesty as both of these Monster Odyssey books are brilliant, all-action adventure stories that are pure, unadulterated fun to read.

Dakkar is very different from the spoiled and arrogant brat we were first introduced to in The Eye of Neptune. As a result of his experiences battling Count Cryptos in that story he has matured and whilst still somewhat headstrong, he is also courageous and beginning to shoe true leadership qualities. These qualities become even more important in this outing as his mentor, Oginski, is badly injured during an abortive attempt to rescue Napoleon Bonaparte from Elba, and Dakkar soon finds himself in the middle of another megalomaniac's quest for world domination. Readers of The Eye of Neptune will already know that Count Cryptos had five other brothers, all bearing the name Cryptos, and all just as hungry for power on a global scale.

Like its predecessor, The Wrath of the Lizard Lord is an edge-of-your-seat adventure story that draws inspiration from one of Jules Verne's classics, this time Journey to the Centre of the Earth. Thus we have nasty prehistoric creatures, giants (of the human-like kind), and a fantastic underground world that very few people know exists. Throw in a few familar faces from Dakkar's first adventure, a character called Mary based very loosely on real-life Victorian fossil-hunter Mary Anning, and a plot to change the course of history (well, the history that we know), and you have the recipe for a hugely fulfilling story that is exciting enough to satisfy the hunger of any young fan of action/adventure stories. 

I hope these books are attracting the high levels of readership that they deserve. The ability to grab a reader has become par for the course in any book written by Jon Mayhew, and The Wrath of the Lizard Lord is no exception, and I'm certainly looking forward to reading Prince Dakkar's next adventure. According to the Bloomsbury website, this third book, titled The Curse of the Ice Serpent, is out in January 2015 and it sounds great:

Having stopped two of the six evil Oginski brothers, Dakkar now faces double danger from the Oginski twins – possibly the most cunning and devious of the brothers yet.

Set in the icy wastes of Greenland, Dakkar must battle giant bears, vicious arctic sharks and a sabretooth tiger as he hunts for the fabled Thermolith, a source of great heat energy which the Oginskis also seek, in order to complete their preparations for a new world order with themselves at the helm.

My thanks go to the wonderful people at Bloomsbury for sending me a copy of The Wrath of the Lizard Lord.

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