I’ve just got back from my holidays and I need a break. I just can’t face Cussler right now, and in any case I’ve been approaching the problem of him all wrong – the way I’m going I’ll have a text headed Valhalla Rising long enough to publish (from my padded cell), and that’s two things I don’t want to have in common with Clive for a start. So instead, I’m going to toss Dirk Pitt® in the direction of the bonfire for a while and go back to basics: just a nice, easy reading diary of some spectacular piece of crap.

So, what is it that I hold in my hand?

FROM THE WORLD’S FASTEST-PACED WRITER COMES THE GREATEST ADVENTURE OF ALL

MATTHEW REILLY

An Indiana Jones clone goes fantasy spelunking for giant hieroglyphics  (with his pet kestrel)

SEVEN
ANCIENT
WONDERS

Ahhhh – I feel refreshed already! In all honesty, this cover image is pretty restrained as these things go (if slightly out of focus, like a disaster recorded by a bystander’s camera-phone). Warning signs, though: what exactly does “the world’s fastest-paced writer” mean? The author is all nippy, but his book is steady and restrained? I’m guessing not. As for “the greatest adventure of all” – well, the bigger they come…

What else can we say about this little doorstop? Well, the top quote on the back cover (“Breathless Action . . . Explosive stuff”) is credited simply to MIRROR, which rather makes me wonder if it was dictated by the author into one. The next, attributed to GUARDIAN, means I may be picking on an orphan – though judging by the glowing comments, at least he’s a well-loved one. Alarm bells now: “Reilly’s talent for coming up with ingenious new twists on every page is awesome. So are his characters” claims this proud parent-figure. Ingenious new twists on every page? And is it ingenious new characters on every page too? I wonder what this creative gargantuan looks like.

OH MY GOD HE’S HARRY POTTER.

That was quite a scare, and unfortunately makes it very clear that, in fact, I’m picking on an unloved orphan after all. What a total prick I am. However I’m a prick who learns from his mistakes, so I’m not going to waste time checking the page total and counting the chapters, I’m just going to dive straight in.

…oh, fuck no.

Clip-art.

Take me now, lord, take me now.

So, what is it that I hold in my hand?

The new bestseller from the
author of ATLANTIS FOUND

CLIVE
CUSSLER

Picture of Viking
longboat
in cave

VALHALLA
RISING

A DIRK PITT® NOVEL

“®”? Dirk Pitt “®”? Does that mean, if I criticize Dirk Pitt right now, I become suable? Have I just become suable right now, simply by typing the name? What if Cussler demands a share of all revenues from the Don Brawn canon-sera? And what if I never write them all and make that money in the first place? I could never pay him off. I’d be ruined.

I’ve not even opened it yet and I’m not sure I want to continue. Need to think about this.

No. I’m not going to allow Cussler to intimidate me like this. Nor am I going to deny the world my craft and allow Agent Don Brawn to die before his fans even have a chance to know him. I’ll get a lawyer if I have to, nothing will stop me in my righteous endeavours. Here: I begin.

Well, before I start, maybe just a quick glance inside the back cover.

Five hundred and thirty-seven pages. I wonder how many chapters that is? I’ll just check.

Fifty-eight chapters. And… looks like it’s in six parts. Umm… wait – what’s that?

Clip art?