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Uncharted: The Fourth Labyrinth
The Fourth Labyrinth
Information
Author Christopher Golden
Language English
Publisher Del Rey
Publication date October 4, 2011
Pages 352
ISBN 978-0345522177

Uncharted: The Fourth Labyrinth is an action-adventure novel set in the Uncharted series that was released on October 4, 2011. The novel was written by Christopher Golden. According to a spokesperson for publisher Del Ray, "It's a standalone adventure, intended to not impact the continuity of the game stories. It's not necessarily a prequel or a sequel."

Summary

Nathan Drake has been called to New York City by Victor Sullivan. Sully's old friend, a world-famous archaeologist, has just been found murdered in Manhattan. Dodging assassins, Drake, Sully, and the dead man's daughter, Jada Hzujak, race from New York to underground excavations in Egypt and Greece. Their goal: to uncover the astonishing discovery that got Jada's father killed. It appears that a fourth labyrinth was built in another land and another culture - and within it lies a key to unmatched wealth and power. An army of terrifying lost warriors guards this underground maze. So does a monster.[1]

Plot synopsis

Ecuador

The book opens at the conclusion of Nate's last job - successfully stealing the Staff of Ayr Manco from Ecuadorian drug runner Ramón Valdez, and at the same time rescuing Alex Munoz (the daughter of the mayor of Guayaquil, who plans to fight the drug runners) from her captor. Both these deeds earn Nate substantial payment, but as he flies back to America he receives a call from Sully asking him to come to New York as soon as he can - to help Sully investigate a murder.

New York

Nate meets up with Sully, who explains that his old friend Luka Hzujak, an archaeologist with controversial theories, has been murdered. The authorities have no idea who killed him, but his daughter - and Sully's god-daughter, Jada - might know why. Three months ago, Tyr Henriksen(CEO of weapons company Phoenix Innovations) tried to get Luka involved in a project, using Luka's wife and Phoenix employee Olivia Hzujak(Jada's 'wicked stepmother') to persuade him. Shortly before his death, Luka quit working for Phoenix, but continued working on the project by himself. He told Jada it was the key to a priceless treasure, and that he had to stop Henriksen getting it. Jada wants to solve the mystery, and Sully wants to make Luka's killers pay, which is why he called Nate. Nate agrees to help on the spot.

Sully takes Nate to the apartment where Jada is hiding, afraid to speak to the police, and it turns out she remembers him from one of the dozen or so times Nate met Luka. Apparently he used to be cuter. Back on topic, Jada explains what she remembers her father mentioning - connections between King Midas, alchemy and labyrinths. She's been researching those connections, and come across the name Dr Maynard P Cheney, an expert on ancient labyrinths putting on an exhibition at the local museum - on labyrinths.

Nate, Sully and Jada head to the museum to follow up this lead, and a grumpy graduate student, Gretchen Welch, shows them up to Cheney's office - where they arrive seconds after Cheney was stabbed to death. Nate is unable to find any sign of the killer, so he persuades Gretchen to tell them what Cheney found out. It turns out Luka visited Cheney, and they discussed a connection between the labyrinth on Crete (the one with the Minotaur) and another labyrinth recently discovered in Egypt, where her brother Ian is one of the project managers. Cheney had also discovered evidence that both labyrinths were designed by Daedalus, as well as references to the Minotaur, and that Luka had believed he knew the location of a third labyrinth. Before they depart, Gretchen agrees to call her brother and persuade him to help them.

Jada suggests talking to Olivia, saying she's sure her stepmother is somehow involved, but Nate suggests searching Luka's apartment - but by the time their taxi arrives, the entire building is in flames. The three of them are pursued away from the scene by a black SUV full of gunmen, who Nate manages to loose in the back streets. To avoid any more violence, the group takes a circuitous route out of the city, collecting a few belongings and false papers, before travelling to the dig site in Egypt, which Luka visited shortly before his death.

Egypt

Arriving in Egypt, one of Sully's contacts (a man named Chigaru) provides them with a vehicle and weapons before they head to the hotel. They search the rooms Luka stayed in on his visit, and find his journal concealed in the air conditioning unit. It contains notes and maps, along with much of Luka's speculations about the labyrinths. It confirms Luka believed the three labyrinths were all designed by Daedalus, and that each labyrinth had a custodian (a Mistress) who would receive tribute in the form of honey in the 'honey chamber'. There is also the note that Henriksen is not interested in the first three labyrinths - but wants the treasure in the Fourth. Sully comments that it's food for thought, and for the questions they'll ask Ian Welch when they meet him that night.

It turns out that Gretchen's brother is more than willing to answer their questions over dinner, confirming that Luka's theories fit the evidence they've found at the dig. He also confirms that the Mistress of the Labyrinth is separate from the Minotaur, and that she received more tribute than all the other Gods combined (each labyrinth is dedicated to a specific God - the labyrinth in Egypt, for example, is dedicated to Sobek). Ian believes the honey the Mistress was given was, in fact, gold. The evidence uncovered suggests Daedalus paid his workers in gold from a stockpile at the centre, but at the same time the story of a group of thieves who entered the labyrinth tells that there is no gold - or any trace of Daedalus - in the labyrinth. The tablets further mention monsters guarding the labyrinth, but the discussion is interrupted by the arrival of Olivia Hzujak. She claims that she is wracked with grief over Luka's death and is afraid that Henriksen will kill her too, but Jada refuses to believe her and stalks out of the restaurant when Nate and Sully invite her to sit and talk. Nate follows - and finds Jada under attack by suited men with guns. In the ensuing fight, hooded ninja-like assassins appear and kill the suited men, whispering to Jada before they vanish 'go home'.

Olivia disappears in the confusion, and Nate, Sully and Jada return to their hotel. The next day, they meet with Ian at the dig site as they arranged early the previous night. He is careful, as the expedition now has a new sponsor - Tyr Henriksen and Phoenix Innovations have taken over funding the dig, and Henriksen himself is being given a tour of the site by the expedition leader. Ian knows they will take some time before entering the labyrinth, so he takes the trio straight to the centre. While they investigate, Malissa Corrigan (another archaeologist) shows Ian a recent find which suggests the Mistress would pass the honey she received on to the protector of the labyrinth - possibly a monster in the 'secret heart'. Nate examines a semi-unearthed vase, and triggers a trap. He is caught by the belt before he falls into a deep pit, but his accident reveals on the wall a hieroglyphic representation of a Minotaur.

Exmaining the shaft, Sully spies a faint light at the bottom, which means there must be more chambers beneath them with another way in. They soon discover the proper entrance under the altar in the centre of the room, and reveal a malformed skeleton lying at the top of the stairs down, trying to claw its way out. The growths on the skull, and the fake horns it's wearing, lead to speculation that this may have been the Minotaur. The archaeologists are unwilling to cover for Nate or Ian's actions, so Nate, Sully, Jada and Ian descend alone. They discover three further chambers, each representing a different labyrinth and dedicated to their respective Gods - Sobek, Dionysus (the Knossos labyrinth) and Poseidon (the Third labyrinth).

Nate is uneasy, sure he's hearing and seeing things in his peripheral vision, while Ian establishes through ancient texts in the Poseidon Chamber that the third labyrinth is on the island of Thera. The island was destroyed in a volcanic eruption, and exists today as the archipelago of Santorini. Sully points out that the only dig on Santorini is the excavation of the Minoan settlement of Akrotiri, believed by some to be the remains of the legendary lost city of Atlantis. Ian identifies a reference to the village of Therasia on Santorini, and asks to come with them, since he's pretty sure he's fired for letting them come down here.

Sully then also sees movement and hears whispers, and then the hooded assassins that saved Jada outside the restaurant burst into the room. Ian is seized and dragged away, but Nate, Sully and Jada manage to escape to the main chamber - where Henriksen and Olivia are waiting. Jada pretends to be glad to see Olivia, and convinces her to let them go outside for some air. Henriksen gives a veiled offer to bribe Nate, but Nate rebuffs him and goes outside to Jada. They immediately go to their car and leave, intending to get to Santorini as soon as they can.

Santorini

Using Ian's discovery and Luka's notebook, they find the entrance to the third labyrinth beneath a medieval fortress close to the village of Akrotiri. The journal also provides the clue to a safe route through the labyrinth, but Nate can't help noticing that the walls are decorated with a curious flower motif. Eventually, they find a space where the path has collapsed - earthquakes have opened up fissures and rents within the island, allowing the sea to flood into certain chambers, as well as barring the path forward. Nate, Sully and Jada turn back, intending to find another way to the centre - and walk right into Tyr Henriksen, Olivia and some hired muscle.

Henriksen has been following them since Egypt, and when accused of murdering Luka is surprised, and denies it. He claims to believe it was a message like the one the hooded assassin whispered to Jada - 'go home'. Furthermore, he admits that Olivia's charade about being afraid of him was a ruse to find out what they knew. When Nate refuses to partner up with him, Henriksen forces them to lead him to the centre at gunpoint. They are interrupted by the arrival of the hooded assassins, who manage to seize Sully and drag him away like they did with Ian. Nate and Jada immediately begin to pursue them, with Henriksen and Olivia following them as well.

Nate and Jada make it to the central chamber, having lost the hooded assassins. They discover another secret complex beneath the altar, as there was in Egypt, but this labyrinth has four chambers where in Egypt there were three. Two of the chambers have collapsed into a sea cave, but one of the survivng chambers is dedicated to an unknown Chinese god, but clearly indicates that the Fourth Labyrinth is in China. Henriksen catches up with them, and offers them a deal: Sully may be alive - if the hooded men wanted to kill him, they could have easily done so - but Nate and Jada's best chance of finding him again is to work with Henriksen. Nate agrees to settle their differences later, and Jada reluctantly acquieses.

Olivia examines the Chinese chamber, and deduces that the decorations represent Chinese hell, or Diyu - which was also said to be a maze of many levels. Where better to hide gold and treasure than hell itself? Their academia is interrupted by a rumbling from above - the hooded assassins have detonated explosives in the medieval fortress, sealing them within the labyrinth. Nate, however, is certain there's another way out. Nate heads back to the sea cave where the other two chambers collapsed, and goes on alone to find an underwater way out of the labyrinth, stowing his clothes and equipment in Henriksen's waterproof pack. He successfully locates a way out to the sea, and everyone escapes.

After escaping the labyrinth, Nate and Jada agree to continue with Henriksen, and they fly to China. On the way, Olivia shares Henriksen's research with them - Daedalus was a con-man who went to kings and priests claiming to be able to transform base metals into gold, and offered to build them an impenetrable treasury in the form of his labyrinths. Once they moved their treasure to the centre of the labyrinth, Daedalus would steal it and move on to his next target.

When Daedalus died, his nephew Talos took over the con and ordered the treasure moved to the Fourth Labyrinth which was under construction in a region which would become modern-day Nanjing. Talos apparently used slaves to construct the Fourth Labyrinth, and refers to them as the 'Protectors of the Hidden Word'. Meanwhile, research into the flower motif on the walls of the third labyrinth reveal the flower in question to be White Hellebore, a poisonous flower. They are interrupted as the plane begins to shake, and they discover that the co-pilot has used one of the daggers used by the hooded assassins to kill the pilot. Once he realises what he's done, his face goes blank and he slits his own throat.

China

Drake manages to land the plane safely at Nanjing, and they are forced to rely on representatives from the Norwegian and American embassies to get the Chinese to release them. Eventually they are released, and begin searching Nanjing for a possible location for the Fourth Labyrinth. Nate realises it will be somewhere nobody has dug yet, and a call to a contact in London, Margaret Xin, pinpoints such a location as the Mausoleum of the first emperor of the Ming Dynasty, known locally as the 'treasure mound'.

Henriksen hires two squads of mercenaries and, using data provided by Xin, they find the entrance to the labyrinth, where Nate spots flowers growing on the walls. They look like the pictures of White Hellebore he saw on the plane, but somehow different. They push on into the labyrinth, following tracks left by sledges used to haul the gold from the other labyrinths to the centre. Pausing to rest in a cave decordated to look like Diyu - with carved demons and torture devices - they find a mural of the Mistress of the Labyrinth presenting seven slaves with a chalice. There, Olivia executes a hostile takeover, revealing that the mercenaries are loyal to her. She reveals that she ordered the fire at Luka's apartment and the gunmen chasing Nate, Sully and Jada. She is about to order Nate, Jada and Henriksen executed when the hooded assassins attack, creating enough confusion for them to escape.

When they are safe, Henriksen reveals what he's been searching for all along, gleaned from tablets discovered at the labyrinth of Knossos on Crete. Modern White Hellebore is actually a different species, as true White Hellebore went extinct millennia ago. However, Henriksen believes the flowers on the walls are the only surviving bastion of White Hellebore in the world. Daedalus and his followers possessed a secret way of using the flowers to create a solution which would, when drunk, render the drinker docile and obedient - ripe for brainwashing. Sometimes the solution would trigger mutations in the drinkers, causing them to transform into Minotaurs when the process of creating obedient slaves went wrong. This 'honey' also had another name - the Hidden Word, which means the hooded assassins are an order based on Daedalus' original slaves, who have continued abducting people through the centuries to protect the labyrinth - they are the Protectors of the Hidden Word.

Henriksen wanted to sell this mind-controlling drug to the highest bidder, but he believes Olivia would enjoy having politicians and presidents as her puppets, so he agrees to help Nate and Jada stop her. They continue toward the centre, and soon come under attack from five Protectors on the bank of an underground river. Henriksen shoots one dead, and as he falls and they see his face, they realise he was Ian Welch. Another Protector goes to strangle Nate - and Nate sees that it is Sully.

Nate and Sully fall into the river, where they fight, and Nate manages to knock Sully unconscious and drag him to the bank while Jada and Henriksen deal with the other Protectors. They help carry Sully further into the tunnels, and soon reach the central chamber. Jada goes to open the passage beneath the altar - and a Minotaur charges out and attacks them just as Sully begins to wake up and Olivia and the mercenaries arrive.

The distraction is enough for Nate, Jada, Henriksen and the disorientated Sully to slip past the Minotaur and into the secret heart of the labyrinth, where they find three tombs, Daedalus' gold treasure and the last Mistress of the Labyrinth ministering to a dying Minotaur. The Mistress orders her few guards to kill them, and they fight long enough for Olivia and the last mercenary to arrive, having killed the younger Minotaur. The mercenary kill the last few Protectors, but the Mistress strikes back and kills Henriksen before being shot in response.

Olivia appears half-crazed from the younger Minotaur's attack on her, and laughs as she beholds the gold decorating the walls of the chamber. She picks up a gold statue of a Minotaur - which triggers a trap, flooding the secret heart of the labyrinth. Sully, now back to his old self, pulls Jada to safety while Nate tries to get to Olivia - only for the older Minotaur to seize her and drag her beneath the water to drown with it. Nate flees to safety, and with Jada and Sully vow to stop anyone else from finding the White Hellebore. He presumably burns it all so that the flowers can never reproduce and as such no more of the drug can be made.

Epilogue

In the aftermath, Nate, Sully and Jada attend Luka Hzujak's funeral in New York, and after she thanks Nate and Sully, she departs to speak with her other relatives. Sully thanks Nate for not giving up on him, but Nate brushes it off. Smiling, Sully begins to tell Nate about his friend Massimo, whose cousin has just quit being a Cardinal at the Vatican. The thing is, Massimo's cousin took something with him when he left - a record of the missionary Andres Lopez's journey to Peru, which includes the location of the lost city of Paititi. Sully says that if anyone was going to find that city, he'd rather it were them. Nate shrugs. What the hell.

Trivia

  • The weapons provided by Chigaru are a SIG P250 for Jada, and FN-57s for Nate and Sully.
  • The epilogue hints at another book or story that takes place after this one however it is unconformed.

References

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