“Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.” Is a line said by Michael Corleone in The Godfather 2, this means that in order to defeat your enemies, you must truly know who they are. This was the case of Jack West Jr. in Seven Ancient Wonder by Matthew Reilly, Jack West’s main rivals for a struggle for worldwide power were a former ally, Cal Khallis, and his former mentor, Colonel Marshall Judah, both of whom he fought alongside during the Gulf War. Throughout the numerous encounter with his rivals, Jack West also learns the value of family. In his coalition of minor nations, their fate rests on a 10-year-old girl. This girl just happens to be the daughter of the Oracle of Siwa, who was capable of reading ancient languages. Leading up to the events, family had brought the group closer together.
“‘Daddy . . . no!’ Lily yelled. And suddenly, amid all the mayhem, all the pouring sand and the turning of the cage, time stood still for West.” (Reilley, 507) For a brief moment, this touching moment allowed West to flashback to when he saved Lily from dying. This gave him the motivation to clear his mind and calm himself down before proceeding. “I… Am … Not… Going… To… Die… I am not going to let her down. Clarity returned… And it hit him: Brave men don’t panic. They remain calm in the face of danger.” (507) Prior to this, the Israeli Sayeret Matkal had sent troops over to capture a piece of the capstone at the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. The Israelis and the coalition encountered a quicksand trap, and they sent West and another man down. The other man immediately panicked, and rushed into a random cage, sealing his fate. On the other hand, with the help of Lily, Jack West managed to figure out the solution. “According to the map, the correct exit door was the one directly opposite her door. Lily, West realized, was his advantage. Most tomb robbers would not leave someone behind in the entry doorway.” (508) Lily’s words had saved his life, if he panicked, he could mistakenly choose the wrong gate, leading to his demise.
“A small price to pay for salvation.” was a line Thanos had once said, meaning sacrificing one small thing for the greater good of more things yet to come. 10 years before the wide-scale search of the Giza capstone, the wife of the Oracle of Siwa gave birth to a boy, who was immediately taken and raised by the European team. As the Europeans triggered a lava flow into the shrine, with the intent of burning the body of the wife. However, unbeknownst to the Europeans, the mother had also given birth to a daughter, this was Lily. With time running out, West had to make a fateful decision, to sacrifice his arm to save both himself, his mentor and Lily, or to keep his arm but die with the baby and his mentor.“Can you build me a new arm, Max?…”“Jack. If you get us out of here, I promise you I’ll build you a better arm than the one you were born with.” (128) Knowing that he would lose his arm, he requested his mentor, Wizard, to build an arm to replace his old arm. This shows the great lengths Jack West would go to save Lily and the people he cared about. Some might say he only cared about Lily because of his greed for Australia’s world domination. However, West sees Lily’s enthusiasm for ballet and takes her for a surprise. “Hey, kiddo. Want to go out for a surprise?’…The surprise was a private plane trip to Cape Town and a visit to a performance of The Nutcracker Suite by the South African Royal Ballet.” (188), this showed how West, above all the preparation and stress, cared about nurturing Lily and allowing her to follow her passion.
At first, the representatives of each country barely knew each other. However, the raising of Lily had brought them closer together. “It was not uncommon to see seven crack commandos frantically upturning chairs, couches or hay bales trying to find a giggling little girl who could disappear seemingly almost at will.” Because of the team raising Lily up like one big family, Lily grew very fond of all of them “But the soldier she bonded with most was Zoe’s brother, Liam, call-sign Gunman… With Lily, though, he just clicked—… They watched movies and read books together. They played the video game Splinter Cell endlessly in dual-player mode… And so, gradually, the team became a family—a family centred around the protection and nurturing of one little girl.” (174-176)
However, all good things come to an end. As soon as the mission started, the team was hit by hardships and losses. For Lily, the most tragic blow was the death of Gunman, whom she had bonded so close to for 10 years. “Lily… You know something. You’ve been the best friend I’ve ever had in my life. You were always way smarter than me, but you always waited for me, were always patient with me. But now I have to do something for you—and you have to let me do it. Just promise me, when the time comes, you do what you were put on this Earth to do. And remember me, the dumb grunt who was your friend. I love you, little one.” (433)…“The bullet passed right through Big Ears’s skull, exploding out the other side and he fell instantly—crumpling like a marionette whose strings have been cut.” Despite the travesty of losing her closest friend, she also aids Wizard in coping the loss of his own wife, Doris. “I’m sorry about Doris, Wizard,’ she said with a seriousness that belied her age. She died saving us,’ Lily said. ‘Telling us to get away. She gave her life so that we could escape.” (640) This shows how much family is valued in this novel, as the team watches Lily grow up, and maturing as a young girl.