The King of the Old Ones has unleashed chaos on the world. Around the globe famine, natural disasters, exploitation ravage the civilised world. The only possibility of salvation lies with the Five, The Gatekeepers. These are the five teenagers, each endowed with a supernatural power who, in a previous incarnation defeated Chaos. To succeed they must be together. But they have been scattered; one may even have turned traitor. How is it possible that they will be able to meet and face their enemy when they must travel to the King’s citadel, Oblivion?
How do you complete a sequence of five books in which the first four each introduced new characters all vital to the plot; a plot in which adrenalin packed action is unremitting? If you’re Anthony Horowitz, you produce a 600 page blockbuster.
This is a bold book. Horowitz follows each one of his five protagonists as they struggle for survival and journey towards their goal overcoming dangers and personal trials on the way. Though it helps if the reader has followed the action through all the preceding books, Horowitz includes enough background detail to ensure that there is no difficulty in understanding what is happening or why. As a result, the story can seem quite slow moving at times, though there is plenty of explosive action to counter this and reward perseverance.
It is also a very bleak book. The author tackles themes of global warming, political corruption and economic dictatorship. Adults are seen as having brought the world to its knees; salvation and hope lies with the young. This is not new territory, nor can Oblivion lay claim to great originality in its themes. Here is the story of the saviour/hero with his companions, one of whom will betray him. He will face temptation and despair before confronting the final challenge. This is the archetype, but Horowitz manages to give Matt and his four companions distinct and recognisable characters. The villains however, are all unremittingly nasty, and rarely more than stereotypes. It is in his imagining of Oblivion and the apocalypse that Horowitz paints an extraordinary and terrifying picture of what could happen if the extreme situations he has described come to pass. This ethical undercurrent gives added weight and though it may seem rather obvious to the adult, will be less so to its intended audience.
Horowitz is a great storyteller, and while not everything in Oblivion works, nevertheless, this is a fitting conclusion to ‘The Power of Five’ sequence and will delight fans who waiting for its appearance.