The Wrath of the Lizard Lord
By Jon Mayhew
Published by Bloomsbury
ISBN 978 1 4088 2632 4
In 1870, French science-fiction writer Jules Verne published his most famous book, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. This classic French novel tells the story of Captain Nemo and his futuristic submarine, Nautilus. Through spin-offs from the book and many movie adaptations, both Nemo and Nautilus have become more famous than the book in which they first appeared.
Verne's Captain Nemo is a mysterious figure, and his creator revealed little about his past life except that he is really Indian royalty: Prince Dakkar of the royal house of Bundelkhand.
Creating a prequel, contemporary writer Jon Mayhew made an interesting choice when he took on Young Nemo in The Eye of Neptune a couple of years ago.
The Wrath of the Lizard Lord, an edge-of-the-seat, rip-roaring adventure from start to finish, is the second outing for our hero Dakkar and his eccentric mentor, Count Oginski, who works perfectly as our hero's sidekick.
Initially employed as Dakkar's private tutor, to get the boy back onto the straight and narrow after being expelled from some of the world's best schools, Oginski is a very good foil to Dakkar's youthful enthusiasm and excesses. The pair work well together, and obviously have many more adventures ahead.
Set in 1815, Lizard Lord starts off in high gear and stays there. Dakkar and Oginski have discovered a plot by Cryptos, their archenemy, to kill Napoleon, who is now a prisoner on the tiny island of Elba.
Arriving in their submarine, Dakkar and Oginski explore the tunnels underneath Napoleon's prison, and there they come across a gigantic lizard that seems to be guarding something.
What is this lizard and why is it stalking the tunnels beneath Elba? As the two adventurers escape back to England, Dakkar is lured underground into a hidden world of giants and prehistoric creatures - not to mention a reptilian army.
Mayhew knows exactly what he's doing, and he gets on and does it. He wants to capture the essence of adventure that will always keep young people reading, and he manages this by filling each page with exciting developments and ending each chapter on a cliffhanger, with Dakkar plunging to certain doom. Mayhew knows how to get his readers to turn the page.
There is no time to pause and ask questions in this thrill-a-minute story. It's a fun and addictive read that will leave the reader gasping for the next instalment.
John Millen can be contacted on MillenBookshelf@aol.com