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The Three Secret Cities is Matthew Reilly's fourteenth novel, and the fifth story to feature Jack West Jr as the main protagonist. It serves as the sequel to The Four Legendary Kingdoms.

SynopsisEdit

HELL HATH NO FURY LIKE FOUR KINGDOMS SCORNED. THE HUNT FOR JACK WEST JR HAS BEGUN.

A SHADOW WORLD BEHIND THE REAL WORLD

When Jack West Jr won the Great Games, he threw the four legendary kingdoms into turmoil.

A WORLD WITH ITS OWN HISTORY, RULES AND PRISONS

Now these dark forces are coming after Jack... in ruthless fashion.

THAT IS REACHING INTO OUR WORLD... EXPLOSIVELY

With the end of all things rapidly approaching, Jack must find the Three Secret Cities, three incredible lost cities of legend.

It's an impossible task by any reckoning, but Jack must do it while he is being hunted...

SummaryEdit

Three days after the end of the Great Games of the Hydra, the minotaur King Minotus begins organising his people to begin clearing up the various bodies and wreckage left around in the Underworld. However, one of his teams sent to the Great Bend of the Fifth Challenge report that one of the mysterious silver coffins is open, and when Minotus arrives the reporting crew have been slain by a bronze humanoid figure with a large beak instead of a face. When Minotus responds that he does not understand when the it speaks in a strange language, the bronze figure begins attacking the minotaurs.

Meanwhile, an unknown man whose face is half-covered in a medical mask approaches a group of mercenaries to request that they assist him in taking vengeance against those who have wronged them, wanting Jack West Jr, assassinated, and for Lily West and Alby Calvin to be kidnapped and brought to him alive. These mercenaries, a group which has existed for over 2,000 years and call themselves the Knights of the Golden Eight, agree to take on the assignment once the person has paid their price.

It has now been a few days since Jack and his ragtag group have returned to the West farm from the Underworld. In that time the recent events have explained to Zoe, Iolanthe Compton-Jones has departed to gather a few important items from the Hall of Royal Records before going in to hiding from her brother Orlando, Pooh Bear and Stretch have gone back to Dubai, and Mae Merriweather has been asking Anthony "Hades" DeSaxe on the Four Kingdoms' impact on the world. Also, Zoe has explained what she, Julius and Lachlan Adamson and their colleague David "Nobody" Black discovered in their investigation of the archway in the Mariana Trench with Thoth writing on it.

Hades receives a message from his butler, who warns him that two heirs have taken up the roles of Kings for the Kingdoms of Sea and Sky since their predecessors were slain during the Minotaurs' assault, and now the entirety of the Four Kingdoms have decided to strip Hades of his role as King of Underworld and his assets. In addition, for being unable to secure a King of Kings to receive the Mysteries to get humanity through the next two trials of the Super-Ancient Beings and for siding with Jack, the Four Kingdoms are setting upon him their enforcer, known as the Slave King, to imprison him as punishment.

Hades explains that the Mysteries are instructions for overcoming the next two trials of the Super-Ancients, known as the Trial of the Cities and the Trial of the Mountains, and shows the group a photo of a papyrus written by the last King of the Four Kingdoms to have received the Mysteries, Zeus, containing information on the trials. The Trial of Cities, it transpires, will require three weapons known as the Three Immortal Weapons to be empowered at the Three Secret Cities of Thule, Atlas and Ra to be empowered before a ritual occurring on a certain celestial date. Ones of these weapons, known as the Helmet of Hades, is kept by Hades in a vault in his New York apartment. In order to secure the Helmet, Jack, Zoe, Lily, Alby, Mae, Hades and Sky Monster head off in the Sky Warrior to New York, while E-147 is left at the farm to look after Roxy and Ash.

En-route, Hades receives a few more messages, one of them from Minotus, who warns of the bronze figure's attack before being cut off, and another from the Slave King, who is revealed to be Hades's younger brother Yago DeSaxe. Hades tells the group that the other two Immortal Weapons are the Sword of the Rock, which has been held by the Kingdom of Land for over a thousand years, and the Trident of the Sealords, in actual fact a mace and long-missing. Regarding the silver coffins, Hades was warned by his father never to try to open them and to stay out of their occupants' way when it comes time for them to emerge but he had little idea of what was truly inside them. Once Hades explains the difficult relationship with his brother, Alby shares his findings on when the Trial of the Cities has to be completed. The "rising of the Sagittarius over the sun", will occur in a week on December 1st, a celestial event in which the Sagittarius A-star near the center of the universe will bombard the Earth with harmless radio waves. The path that the Hydra galaxy cleared behind it on its initial course towards Earth will allow the radio waves a clear shot at the planet, and it seems that when these waves reach Earth they will somehow know if the trial has been competed or not.

Upon reaching New York, Jack, Lily, Mae and Hades head for the vault in Hades's penthouse at the top of the Saxony Tower. In addition to the Helmet, the vault contains a tablet depicting the Three Immortal Weapons, and Hades tells them that the tablet is part of the Altar of the Cosmos, where the trial's final ritual must take place. Lily translates the undamaged sections of Thoth text on the tablet; first is about the weapons, the second indicates the order that the weapons must be empowered at of the Three Cities. However, assailants attack the building, forcing the group to leave the Helmet and escape into a panic room, where they see on the monitor that the group is led by Orlando, accompanied by Cardinal Ricardo Mendoza and the blood-antiquities dealer Sunil "Sunny" Malik. As they prepare to take away the Helmet and tablet, they are overheard discussing the potential location of the Trident, rumours suggest that it is in Poseidon's tomb near the city of Atlas; Orlando's cousin Lord Hardin "Sphinx" Lancaster is noted to be one of the three Trismagi who watch over the Three Cities, specifically the keeper of Atlas, so he may know where the Trident is exactly.

Once Orlando and his entourage depart, Jack and the others try to leave, only to come face-to-face with Yago and his team. Yago is uninterested in hearing his brother out, however the confrontation is complicated by the arrival of a pair of V-22 Opreys controlled by the Knights of the Golden Eight. Their leader, known as Jaeger Eins, uses the building's PA system to inform them of their mission, telling Yago that he can take Hades but not Jack or the others, and Yago is surprisingly quick to accept the deal. The Golden Eight's V-22s open fire on the building, and Jack, Mae and Lily are able to escape to a construction building on a crane Zoe positions for them. The V-22s then fire at the construction building and cause it to topple into the Hudson River, however Jack and the women are prepared with breathing equipment and escape to meet up with Alby. Unable to confirm Jack's death and knowing he likely survived, Eins calmly resolves that the Knights of the Golden Eight will have to draw them out to try again.

In response to the attack in the Underworld, Pooh Bear and Stretch arrive to find that Minotus and his people have finally managed to trap the bronze man, but only after it has slaughtered over 100 minotaurs. Believing that the automaton is speaking in Thoth, they call Lily, who confirms it and translates: "Are you my Master?". Recalling from the Zeus papyrus that one of the rewards to the King of Kings was an army of these Bronzemen, Jack questions if he made the right call preventing Orlando from receiving the Mysteries, and tells Stretch and Pooh Bear to do what they can to prevent or slow the hundreds of silver coffins that remain unopened from causing further mayhem.

Though they have lost Hades, Jack decides that the team's next move is to follow a note from the Zeus papyrus, in which "the journey to the Three Secret Cities begins at the end", which he takes to mean the Altar of the Cosmos. As it is believed that the Fraternal Order of St. Paul has a rubbing of the full tablet at the Gallerie dell'Accademia, the team starts heading towards Venice to find it. In the meantime, they are to research the Immortal Weapons, Secret Cities and the Altar, as well as determine where Hades has been taken and who the Knights of the Golden Eight are. Mae believes that they a group of assassins with no true allegiance to anyone, even the Four Kingdoms, and that their typical fee is a large section of land or even countries. Wanting more information on them, Jack reaches out to his new ally, Scarecrow, and while the U.S. Marine hasn't heard of them, he believes he knows someone who might.

In their research, Jack's team manages to reach some conclusions regarding the Three Cities. Thule is believed to be in an icy region somewhere north of the British Isles, and is paired with the Sword; in Thoth, "the Great City of Ra" is spoken as Do-Ra-Do, therefore Ra is most likely El-Dorado, which goes with the Helmet; and Atlas in in fact one of the many names for the lost city of Atlantis, and is linked with the Trident. As they note each city is guarded by more of the bronzemen and decide to tackle finding Thule first, suddenly all TV channels around the world are hacked simultaneously. The culprits; Eins and the Knights of the Golden Eight, who show off Jack's photo and warn him that he cannot escape from them before cutting the transmission. Out of their depth and needing someone with inside royal knowledge, Jack contacts Iolanthe, who agrees to meet them. With the tablet rubbing still a priority, Jack decides to take Lily, Sky Monster and Alby with him to Venice while Zoe and Mae are to meet with Iolanthe. However, as Iolanthe tries to secure texts on the Altar, she is captured by Orlando.

Once they arrive in Venice, Jack and Lily use a submersible to sneak into the Accademia, and soon find the rubbing of the tablet. When Lily translates it, it reads that whoever opens the first city, Thule, will require comrades at Ra and Atlas as well because unlocking the first City unlocks them all at once. The pair are then confronted by monks from the Fraternal Order of St. Paul, or as they are truly known, the Order of the Omega, who study the nature of the Omega Event. Their leader informs them that the Golden Eight had deduced where they were going and requested the monks hold them until they arrive. Indeed, three of the Knights parachute down into the museum, while their water-capable Hercules lands on the canal outside. Jack and Lily escape the monks, and soon they, Alby and Sky Monster begin trying to flee through the canals. However, Sky Monster is shot in the arm and Alby is separated from the others; knowing the Knights want him alive, Alby pleads for his friends to escape, which they reluctantly do with the promise of finding him later.

Meeting up with Julius (Lachlan now having a family and therefore commitments), Zoe and Mae head to the rendezvous with Iolanthe at St. Michael's Mount where the Hall of Royal Records are located. However, the trio spot Orlando, Mendoza, Malik and an unknown young woman departing, and head for where the group emerged. They soon finding themselves in a dungeon where Iolanthe, her hair shaven and face cut and bruised, is being tortured. Freeing Iolanthe, they gather up the notes she hid before her capture and leave to meet up with Jack, Lily and Sky Monster in London.

A few months before they were taken to the Underworld, Jack visits Lily in California. Lily asks Jack his opinion of Alby being more than a friend. Jack approves since he knows Alby is loyal to her. A few days later, when Alby joins them for lunch, he asks why Jack does the things that make him a hero. Before he answers the question, Jack decides that Alby and Lily are old enough to write letters or emails to be read by him upon their deaths should something ever go wrong, showing them Wizard's own email. Later still, Alby asks Jack if he thinks Lily would go out with him if he asked. Though he knows the answer given Lily's recent question, Jack suggests they only way for Alby to know is to ask her himself.

After the two groups meet, Iolanthe identifies the woman in Orlando's group as Chloe Carnarvon, her former assistant who knows just about everything she does, and reveals the Knights of the Golden Eight's headquarters at Aragon Castle, but the location of the Royal Prison of Erebus, where Yago has taken Hades to, is unknown to her. Iolanthe explains the process for empowering the Immortal Weapons involves retrieving an unusual blue gemstone from each City, and her belief that the final ritual on the Altar will require a sacrifice. As for the locations of the Secret Cities, she only knows Thule is in Iceland, but Iolanthe informs the team that Sir Francis Drake had visited all the Cities on behalf of Queen Elizabeth I and noted their locations on the inside of his yet-unfound coffin.

As they prepare to come up with a plan to meet with Nobody and find the coffin, the Knights intercept the TV feeds again. Eins demonstrates how far the Knights are willing to go to draw him out, displaying feeds of Lachlan and his family being blown up, followed moments later by Sky Monster's parents, to Julius and Sky Monster's horror. Eins requests Jack and Lily go to the Westminster Bridge or watch more friends and loved ones die, and has a tank start opening fire around the Thames. Jack and Lily elect to meet the Knights, while their friends pledge to back them up. However, the Knights are able to capture Lily, while Jack ends up being captured by Yago.

Meanwhile, Orlando, Mendoza and Chloe arrive at the entrance to Thule, where the Trismagi keeper of the City, Sir Bjorn, greets them and leads them inside. Unaware that his actions will initiate the trial at all of three of the Cities, Orlando opens the doorway with the Sword of the Rock. The group gaze upon Thule, located beneath a mountain and shaped in a funnel, with the City's vault located down an abyss. Orlando leaves Mendoza and his Swiss Guards to make their way down to the vault with the Sword, while he intends to go to Atlas to check on Malik's progress in locating the Trident of the Sealords, and Chloe will take the Helmet of Hades to Ra. Once his allies are gone, however, Mendoza and his men hear the united voices of the army that has awakened from silver coffins like the ones in the Underworld to guard the vault, just as it is happening at Ra and Atlas.

Jack is brought by Yago to a mine in a desert, and they descend deep underground to a cavern where Erebus is set. Several prisoners, among them Hades, are half-encased in a material Yago refers to as liquid stone, derrived from greystone powder which the mine excavates, and when even a few molecules of the powder interacts with water it sets it into stone. Jack is half-entombed in this way and then put against an entire wall-full of these entombing stones, known as the Wall of Misery. During his first night, Yago brings Sphinx of the Trismagi to see Jack for himself before he sets off to meet with the man who employed the Knights of the Golden Eight. Soon Yago reports Jack's capture to Orlando and the two new Kings of Sky and Sea.

Meanwhile, Lily is brought to the Knights of the Golden Eight's base at Aragon Castle, where Alby has been caged, and they are soon joined by the one who hired the Knights; Dion DeSaxe. It transpires that Dion did not die when Alby shot him back in the Underworld, but his cheek has been torn open and causes him much pain. After leaving the Underworld he requested Sphinx's help to hire the Knights, with Sphinx giving them a Greek Island he owns with the promise that Dion will give them land he will inherit once he is accepted as the new King of Underworld. Now Dion intends to slowly torture Alby to death for injuring him and make Lily watch (Jack's imprisonment at Erebus was a compromise made with Yago before the confrontation in London). Suddenly Julius arrives at the castle, seeking revenge for Lachlan's death. Though he kills two of the Knight's squires and two of the Knights, he is quickly subdued and Eins cuts off his left hand before dropping him into the sea below to drown. Dion also cuts off Alby's hand, just as Sphinx is informed that Orlando is headed for Atlas, and so he prepares to take Lily with him as a "prize". Before she is taken away, Lily calls out to Alby to declare her love for him and Alby does the same.

After some research, Zoe, Mae and Iolanthe determine that Erebus is located within an Algerian mine, and so Zoe meets up with Pooh Bear and Stretch so that they can free Jack. Though they manage to infiltrate the Erebus cavern, Yago and his men surround them before they can free Jack. Luckily, help arrives completely unexpected when a man drops down from an all-black Sukhoi into the mine-shaft and takes down all of the guards single-handedly. Introducing himself as bounty hunter Aloysius Knight, he explains that he is an old friend of Scarecrow's, who after seeing the TV feeds of the events in London called in his favour with Knight to help Jack. Once they set Jack and Hades free from their slabs, Jack asserts they're going to rescue Lily and Alby, but before the group departs they imprison Yago on the Wall of Misery.

Shortly after Dion has been officially crowned the new King of Underworld, he and the Knights prepare to continue Alby's torture, only for Aragon Castle to come under attack, as Jack's team drive supertankers into the castle while Knight's pilot Rufus provides support in the Black Raven. Dion and the Knights of the Golden Eight flee, but not before dropping Alby's cage. Fortunately he is rescued by Pooh Bear and Stretch, and Alby tells the team that Sphinx has taken Lily.

At the Orinoco Delta in Venezuela, Mae, Iolanthe and Nobody are searching for Drake's coffin in Nobody's submersible support vessel, the Betty White. Just as they find the coffin in the Spider submersible, a Brazilian Navy destroyer arrives and sinks the Betty. Snatching from Drake's coffin a parchment with the co-ordinates to the Three Cities, Nobody takes the curved lid of the coffin and fills it with air, and he, Iolanthe and Mae swim away from the destroyer and take the Betty's still-operational float-plane. Once they send Jack the co-ordinates the trio start making their war to Ra. Jack heads to Santorini with Knight and Rufus, where some quick research suggests Poseidon's tomb is there. Once he gets the co-ordinates, Jack decides to send Pooh Bear, Stretch and Sky Monster to Thule to make sure that if Orlando's people there fail then to empower the Sword then they can try, while Hades, Zoe and Alby head to a safe-house in Rome to research where the Altar of the Cosmos is.

Jack and Knight find and enter Poseidon's tomb, but just as they find the Trident of the Sealords they are confronted by Malik and his men. However, as they attempt to take the Trident they set off the tomb's trap system; it fills with water, and starts rising towards a pair of tablets on the ceiling made of greystone powder, which threaten to turn the water to stone and entomb everyone. Malik and his men end up caught in the trap while Jack and Knight barely manage to escape with the Trident. At the same time, Alby's research leads him to realise that the Altar of the Cosmos is in fact a chamber within the Rock of Gibraltar.

On the morning of the day the ritual has to be completed, Lily, being held at Sphinx's mansion on the Moroccan coast (ironically with the Rock of Gibraltar just barely in sight), is brought before Sphinx himself. He informs Lily that the mansion is in fact part of the entrance to Atlas, which once had five great dams holding back the Atlantic Ocean until they broke and flooded. Sphinx admits to once knowing Lily's birth father and convincing him to sire an heir, and reveals that his father was the elder brother of Orlando and Iolanthe's father, and so while he should have inherited the title of King of Land after Carnivore's death, his timid father abdicated the right to his brother, leading to Sphinx becoming the watchman for Atlas. The punishment for failing the trial, meanwhile, is the exposure of six large deposits of Gorgon stone powder into the oceans, which would begin a domino-effect of drying up all sources of water the world-over, turning the Earth barren (Jack figures this out at the same time with Knight's help). Sphinx adds that because Jack upset the balance of the Four Kingdoms with his actions in keeping Orlando from receiving the Mysteries, he now has an opportunity to take the world for himself, which Lily will play a part in before she dies.

Around the world, the various teams arrive at the Three Cities to empower the weapons. In Thule, Mendoza's men have slowly been whittled down over the last few days as they are unable to pass a set of silver automatons. Pooh Bear and Stretch arrive and the confused Bjorn allows them to pass. Mae, Iolanthe and Nobody arrive at the entrance to Ra, where that City's watchman, Sir Inigo Defenestra, allows them through, and spot that Chloe's team has the same problem as Mendoza's. Jack and Knight arrive at Sphinx's mansion, but the Trismagi watchman has Lily hostage, and claims he will give her back to Jack if he empowers the Trident and returns it to him. As they reach the bronze and silver guardians, Jack recalls a translation regarding the Three Weapons on the tablet and figures out that the Weapons are the key to getting past them. Jack uses the Trident to command the guardians to keep away. Iolanthe and Nobody take the Helmet from Chloe, and the guardians cannot see the one who wears it. Stretch and Pooh Bear take the Sword from Mendoza and use it to slay the guardians. With that, all are able to reach the vaults of the Cities and empower the Immortal Weapons by adding the mysterious blue gem to them. Unsurprisingly, Sphinx, Mendoza and Chloe betray the members of Jack's team, taking their respective weapons before heading out to rendezvous at the Altar with the Four Kings. Sphinx cruelly cuts off Jack and Knight's oxygen tanks while they are still underwater, and then departs with Lily.

As they rest in Rome, Alby and Zoe watch a news report on the events of the last week, with the additional report that the Fraternal Order of St. Paul, or rather the Order of the Omega, has vanished. Alby presumes they are going to prepare for the final trial before the Omega Event, the Trial of the Mountains. Looking through some of the remaining documents they took from Aragon Castle, Alby finds a suitcase filled with documents belonging to Dion, most regarding the transfer of assets from his father. However, Alby discovers a file citing that the ritual at the Altar does require a sacrifice, and for generations the Four Kingdoms have have been planning to use an Oracle of Siwa, which means for the Trial of the Cities they are planning to sacrifice Lily.

Accompanied by the Knights of the Golden Eight, Sphinx leads Lily inside a hidden chamber within the Rock of Gibraltar, where they are joined by Orlando, Dion, Chloe, Mendoza and the two new Kings of Sea and Sky. Though Orlando proclaims that he can now truly earn his right as the King of Kings, Sphinx stabs him while Mendoza and the Knights kill the two new Kings and their guards. Believing that Orlando is not capable of leading them following the mistakes he has made, Sphinx, Dion, Chloe and Mendoza are betraying him to fulfill the ritual themselves. Lily, her spirit broken with the belief that Jack is dead, offers no resistance as she is lain in a shallow pool of the Altar with the Helmet and Trident, and gazes up at the visible stars as Sphinx plunges the Sword down.

Jack and Knight, having managed to find an alternate source of air in a sunken plane and raced to Gibraltar, arrive some time later to find the pool encased in solidified liquid stone with the Three Weapons and strands of Lily's hair jutting out. Jack weeps for Lily, and Knight leads the distraught man away, informing Jack's teammates around the world that the Trial of the Cities has concluded, at the cost of Lily's life. As they fly away in the Black Raven, Jack looks at the email Lily had written for the event of her death. In it, Lily recounts that she is glad she was raised by Jack and the other members of the team, and how she knows how much she meant to Jack and that all he has done has been for her. Knowing that her death might break his spirit and make him want to give up, Lily has written that she wants Jack to keep on fighting. Jack, finished reading his daughter's letter, vows to keep on fighting in her memory.

A few days later, while Jack and Zoe grieve, Alby, Pooh Bear and Stretch return to the chamber within the Rock of Gibraltar so that they can retrieve Lily's body and give her a proper burial. While Stretch and Alby keep watch, Pooh Bear chisels away at the hardened liquid stone around Lily, but when he clears away the stone around her face he is surprised by something and, happily, asks his friends to call Jack immediately.

CharactersEdit

Jack's Main TeamEdit

Other AlliesEdit

Orlando's TeamEdit

Other AdversariesEdit

Knights of the Golden EightEdit

OthersEdit

Mentioned-Only CharactersEdit

Historical FiguresEdit

AnimalsEdit

  • Labrador (Domestic dog - Canis lupus familiaris)
  • Poodle (Domestic dog - Canis lupus familiaris)

Huntsman SeriesEdit

GalleryEdit

TriviaEdit

  • During The Three Secret Cities, Iolanthe notes Elizabeth I had a diary recounting that she and Roger Ascham went to a chess tournament in Constantinople, though the events there were unrecorded. This fits with Reilly's novel The Tournament, revealing it is set in the same fictional universe as the Huntsman and Scarecrow series.
  • This is the first novel not to include Jack's falcon Horus; after the events of the previous book she was left at a recovery shelter by Stretch and Pooh Bear following her being shot by Iolanthe's men, and was brought back to the farm before the novel's end. During the events of this novel, Horus is likely still recovering.
  • In the back interview with Reilly, he notes that he had considered calling the novel "The Three Immortal Weapons" before settling on "The Three Secret Cities".
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