Matthew Reilly's next novel, The Tournament (due out in Australia this November) is a historical thriller centered on a team King Henry VIII dispatches to an international tournament held by the Ottoman Sultan in Istanbul in 1546--narrated by a thirteen year old Princess Elizabeth, according to Reilly's latest posting at his web site.
This is not as much of a surprise as it might seem. Writers with a taste for science fiction often try their hand at a story set in the other world that is the past, and Reilly's Temple did hint at such a later course with its interweaving of scenes set in this very same era (the sixteenth century) with contemporary adventure. And Reilly has long incorporated children into his adventures, notably Holly Swain in Contest, Kevin in the Shane Scofield novel Area 7, and Lily West in the Jack West trilogy.
Still, the use of a historical setting for the entirety of the book, and the implication that Reilly will rely on a first-person narrator, do promise something different. His prior books, after all, were generally structured around his trademark fifty-page action sequences--which relied on the hurling of huge quantities of twenty-first century technology in the mix, and the use of third-person omniscient narration to get the broad view. An inventive use of clockpunk technologies (about which nothing has been said so far) might compensate for the former, but not the latter, which has me guessing that we will see a book less focused on action, and more concerned with milieu, intrigue (for which Reilly has already displayed a penchant) and even character.
In either case, I certainly plan to check it out when it reaches North America.
My Posts on Matthew Reilly
The Lone Ranger Flops
On Top Gun 2
Reexamining the Cult of the Film Star