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The Wrath of the Lizard Lord, by Jon Mayhew, Bloomsbury, RRP£6.99, 263 pages

Jules Verne’s Captain Nemo is an enigmatic figure, a passionate anti-imperialist, cultured, affluent and misanthropic. Little is revealed about his early life other than that he was formerly Indian royalty: Prince Dakkar of Bundelkhand.

Following the trend of writers filling in the blanks of famous literary characters’ youths, Jon Mayhew has turned his attention to Nemo as a boy, first in The Eye Of Neptune and now this, a sequel.

Set in 1815, The Wrath of the Lizard Lord is a rip-roaring, gung-ho adventure yarn that starts off at a sprint and rarely relents. Every chapter ends on a cliffhanger, with Dakkar seen plunging to a certain doom more than a few times. The Nautilus, sea monsters, Napoleon Bonaparte, fossil hunter Mary Anning, and a subterranean world very much like that in Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth all feature in a tale that should keep even readers with the shortest attention spans gripped.

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