It possesses elements of a children’s fable: an unlikely hero facing up against impossible odds, triumphing over the injustices of his society. Indeed, in the interview at the back of the novel, TROLL MOUNTAIN is referred to as ‘family friendly,’ and it could be precisely that, were it not for the overly (and avoidably) violent moments peppered throughout the text. At moments, TROLL MOUNTAIN struggles for equilibrium between Reilly trying to cater to his legion of fans of his mature series (Scarecrow, The Tournament, Temple, etc) and recapturing the exuberance of HOVER CAR RACER, a true family-friendly novel.
TROLL MOUNTAIN is a rip-roaring, simple adventure, and it is intended as such. When his sister falls ill, Raf journey’s up Troll Mountain seeking an elixir, meeting allies along the way, who both aid his expedition, and teach him valuable life lessons, particularly about brute force, and how it should always be a last resort. It’s a strong theme, but it’s far too pointed: there’s very little nuance to the prose, which again, wouldn’t be a negative factor if the novel was aimed squarely at a younger market, but its violence negates that entirely.
This is pure, unabashed Matthew Reilly in all his glory: a rollercoaster, full of action-packed set-pieces and extravagant scenarios. Young and adult will enjoy TROLL MOUNTAIN: but parents should use their discretion, and make sure their child is able to handle reading about impaled corpses, and blood spraying in every direction. These scenes are stark, and Reilly avoids elongated descriptions of these events, but even so, tread carefully.
For the rest of us, and I include myself as a Reilly fanboy, TROLL MOUNTAIN is a nice sojourn as we wait for his next full-length release later in 2014.