Click here to read reviewer Marie D. Jones's take on Seven Deadly Wonders.
Seven Deadly Wonders starts with an exciting race into and through the tunnels and walkways of an ancient diorite mine which was built and used by the ancient Egyptians. The main character is Australian Captain Jack West Jr. and his intrepid group of are six soldiers from various countries who are protecting a ten-year-old girl and an elderly professor. They have mighty adversaries: a well-armed team from the Old European countries led by Jesuit priest Father Francisco del Piero and an even bigger and better-funded crack U.S. military team led by ruthless Special Forces commander Marshall Judah.
After the pulse-pounding search and escape that lasts around 80 pages, the reason for it is finally revealed in a dream scene and flashbacks. Once every 4,500 years, the
sun rotates to shine on Earth a devastating sunspot that will melt the polar icecaps and plunge most of the planet into a flood. Last time this happened, the Egyptians managed to avoid it when a Golden Capstone was built and put atop the Great Pyramid of Giza, where the Capstone's seven crystals managed to focus and dissipate most of the sunspot's energy. Occult legends tell that the Capstone has other powers as well: the one who places it on the Pyramid and says the correct spell will insure that his nation will be the dominating power on the planet for the next millennia. Astronomers know that the huge sunspot, the Tartarus sunspot, is again turning toward Earth, and someone has to save the human civilization from destruction. However, most of the characters are really looking for the power to rule the world.
Powerful men have tried to posses the Capstone. The latest of them was Alexander the Great, who sliced it into seven pieces and hid the pieces around the world in places now known as the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Throughout history, a secret society, the Cult of Amun-Ra, has protected the knowledge of how to find these pieces and hidden them again when it was necessary. The clues to finding them have been written in a coded language which nobody has managed to interpret. However, the Oracle of Siwa should be able to. Ten years ago, the Oracle managed to get himself killed, but his wife gave birth to twins who also possess the gift to understand any language. The leader of the Old European team stole the newborn boy and killed the mother, but Jack West managed to save the baby girl. For ten years, West and his team have raised the girl, Lily, in secrecy, waiting for her gift to manifest. Now, when there is only one week to the day when the fateful Tartarus sunspot turns towards Earth, her powers have emerged and she can read the ancient codes – but only one entry at the time. The Old European team has the girl's twin brother and is hot on the heels of West's team, and the Americans are breathing down the necks of both of the other teams.
Seven Deadly Wonders is fast-paced adventure with lots of exploring of ancient sites, traps, last minute escapes, and a deadly time limit much in the tradition of the
Indiana Jones movies. Short chapters and paragraphs, italics, exclamation marks, and Reilly's tendency to split paragraphs in the middle of sentences when something interesting happens emphasize the fast pace. There are also many illustrations of the places and the traps there. Some of them are nice additions, but most are not necessary.
The characters go thorough quite a few historical places talking about history and even more about made-up history or people or events which have been changed for this book. The Catholic Church is presented as a Sun cult.
Unfortunately, the characters are left flat. Only West has any distinct personality of the main character group. He has some personal ties to the leaders of the both other groups, but Reilly does not exploit that nearly enough. There are also only three female characters in the whole book. One of them is only mentioned briefly, one is the girl prophet, and
the third is a token female soldier. Interaction between characters is also quite muted: the only time the characters are not focusing on the plot, they are talking with or about either the girl Oracle or Jack West. Lily seems either
quite emotionally sturdy or possibly stunted, because she does not seems to be afraid even in the middle of the fiercest of firefights.
If you are looking for character development or even meaningful interaction between characters, steer clear of this book. But if you are looking for light, quick-paced entertainment Seven Deadly Wonders might be for you.