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Matthew Reilly

Average Review Rating Average Rating 8/10 (3 Reviews)
Book Details

Publisher : Pan

Published : 1996

Copyright : Matthew Reilly 2000

ISBN-10 : PB 0-330-48995-X
ISBN-13 : PB 978-0-330-48995-9

Publisher's Write-Up

The thriller that started it all... Matthew Reilly's amazing first novel, in a new edition.


The New York State Library looms as a silent sanctuary of knowledge: a hundred-year-old labyrinth of towering bookcases, narrow isles, and spiral staircases.

But for Dr Stephen Swain and his eight-year-old daughter Holly it is a place of nightmare. Because, for just one night, this historic building is to become the venue of a horrifying contest... a contest in which Swain must compete whether he likes it or not.

The rules of the challenge are simple: seven contestants will enter, but only one will leave.

With his daughter in his arms, Stephen Swain is plunged into a terrifying fight for survival. The stakes are high, the odds are brutal. He can choose to run, to hide, or to fight - but if he wants to live, he needs to win.

For, in this particular contest, unless you leave as victor, you don't leave at all.

'If it is action you want, then the Australian author Matthew Reilly is your man.'

Adelaide Advertiser

'A Publishing phenomenon.'

West Australian
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Reader Reviews

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Review by Nigel (080603) Rating (7/10)
Review by Victim (280403) Rating (8/10)
Review by Chrissi (010202) Rating (8/10)

Review by Nigel
Rating 7/10
Contest is Matthew Reilly's first novel that he self-published after it was turned down by numerous Australian publishers.

I tried to view the novel as if I hadn't read his others and to be honest I can see why it would put the more mainstream publishers off. The subject matter doesn't really sit happily with any particular genre. Its main premise is pure Science fiction. A galactic contest, the Presidian, is held every 1000 years to determine the greatest warrior in a fight to the death. Seven contestants engage in mortal combat until only one remains. The story however is pure action/adventure, which holds you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end.

The human contestant, Dr Stephen Swain, has been chosen for his intelligence and combat skills. This for me was the biggest problem with the plot. I'm sorry, but there are going to be hundreds more suitable contestants with the combination of IQ and combat skills than the rather 'nice' Dr. Swain. For me, his choice as the most suitable human warrior is probably the hardest thing to believe.

The reader of this novel will, however, more than likely have read other Matthew Reilly works and as such will really enjoy the novel. As Matthew himself says, this story laid the foundations for Ice Station and the character Scarecrow... and as such it is a very firm foundation indeed.

I wouldn't recommend this if you haven't read a Matthew Reilly before. A much better starting point would be Ice Station. If you are already a Matthew Reilly fan then Contest is a must read... see where it all began.
Nigel (8th June 2003)

Review by Victim
Rating 8/10
This was the first one written, self published, etc., but the third one that I have read - (Temple and Area 7 are the other two)

Due to time constraints I have not had much opportunity to submit anything for a bit so excuse me if I'm rusty ;-)

It is also about two weeks since I read it!!! I won't give you a description of this, in terms of a synopsis, coz it can give too much away, and I can't remember the characters names anyway...

I didn't realise at first that this was MR's first book, until I read the preface; he gives some very encouraging advice to aspiring writers, and in quite a nice way.

For a first attempt this is awesome, if a little far fetched (maybe...)

However, there is something about it! It is like being on a plane going down the runway; you get in, sit back and relax then - whoosh, not just fast, but ACCELERATION! Relentless page turner - No, I just didn't realise what the time was, or anything biological like that... Gripped totally. Read It!
Victim (28th April 2003)

Review by Chrissi
Rating 8/10
Ah, I hear you say, is this the same Matthew Reilly that did Ice Station, and yes, it is. This was his first novel and although it has been tweaked for this release, you can tell that it is one of his stories. The action is fast, and although it is rather more out of this world, it still has that characteristic good man against the odds type subplot.

I do not understand why he had to publish this himself, if I were an agent, I would be only too pleased to have books like this land on my desk, and although I appreciate that it will not be to everyone's taste, there are surely readers that appreciate the type of story that we are coming to expect from Mr Reilly.

It's a novel that leaves you unsure as to where the story is going, opening as it does with a doctor in a hospital. When things start to go a little pear shaped, and you get to an explanation, it is a rather strange sort of naive science fiction, but that is not the point, the point is the story, which is very good.

Contest is basically a good read, so if you liked Ice Station, Area 7 or Temple, then give it a go, you will be as amazed as I was that someone thought this unworthy of publication.
Chrissi (1st February 2002)

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