Today is going to be a different sort of Friday, as I'm doing a book review instead of a blog post. Have no fear: Friday's post will be up tomorrow…
On this auspicious day, we're looking at a brand new fantasy novel like you have NEVER before read…
The Kingdom on the Edge of Reality
Welcome to Albert Keane’s beautifully designed medieval kingdom nestled in a completely isolated river valley in the Canadian wilderness. Peaceful, happy, and prosperous, it takes nothing from the modern world, not so much as a single clock.
There is a castle, of course, and a monastery. There is even a pitch dark, rat-infested dungeon – because you simply have to have one if you are trying a rule a feudal kingdom!
Farmers work the land, artisans ply their trades, monks keep school and visit the sick, and nobody (well, almost nobody) misses the modern world at all.
So why has Jack Darcey – actor, wanderer, ex-competitive fencer – been tricked and seduced into paying a visit? And why hasn’t anyone told him that the only way to leave is a perilous trek across hundreds of miles of trackless wilderness without a compass or a map?
Because a tide of fear and violence is rising from the twisted ambitions of one of King Albert’s nobles, and Albert’s fortune teller believes that Jack could turn the tide – if he lives long enough.
My Review: 3.5 Stars
To call this book "unusual" would be an understatement. It's like all the classic portal fantasy (person from this world ends up in another world), but without the portal. Instead, the main character is transported to "another world" established in the wilderness of Northern Canada. An intriguing setup, I must admit.
Unfortunately, the book falls a bit flat from Page 1. It stars out with some interaction with a sheriff that made no sense at all, and the book continues on VERY slowly for the next chapter or two. There's none of that "jolt" or "rush" to make you interested, so I had to force myself to keep reading. The story has no real cohesion at first. It sort of jumps from one plot thread to the next without taking any time to dwell on each.
It takes way too long for the main character to end up in the "fantasy world", and even longer for any story to build. The main character's backstory is done in an amateur fashion, using an info dump rather than adding bits and pieces throughout the book.
There are quite a few punctuation and grammatical errors, and the occasional tense switch makes it very hard to read. It's hard to differentiate between flashbacks/back story and the present tense, as there is nothing to indicate any sort of change. The writing comes off a bit stilted and hard to follow.
That being said, I have yet to read a better description of fencing and sword-fighting. When the character first picks up a sword (he fenced in school but hadn't for years), the description of getting the feel and heft of the blade is masterfully done. It goes on for a few paragraphs, and it is highly complex without being dry. Absolutely well done.
The book started out slow and had a few issues, but it ended well enough. The ending was perhaps a bit cliché, but I felt satisfied when I closed the book.
Here's a Taste:
As we approached the castle I was struck once again by the same feelings I had experienced when I had seen it from a distance. The castle beckoned to me; it made me want to own it and live there. But owning a castle had never been one of my dreams. I knew nothing about castles and had no particular interest in them. So why should I covet this one? It made me wonder whether the designer, Joel Mason, had conceived it with that effect in mind, weaving something irresistible right into the architecture.
Our procession poured over the drawbridge and under the portcullis into a great courtyard where even more people were waiting for us. A cheer rang out from the crowd that startled birds into flight from every battlement. Albert turned in his saddle to acknowledge the cheering, and it made me feel sad about my drifty life. I knew no crowd anywhere would ever welcome me that way.
On the steps of the castle was a small group of nobles who also looked glad to see Albert. As we were dismounting, one of the noblemen held up a hand to me in greeting; it took me only a few seconds to recognize him as another acquaintance from my prep school days. We had never been particularly close, nor did I remember him being close to anyone else; back then, he seemed to find everyone and everything equally ludicrous. But he had been a good person to hang out with when I was taking life too seriously, and I was glad to see him now.
About the Author:
Born into a family of actors and painters, Gahan Hanmer naturally gravitated toward the arts. As a youth, he was not an exceptional student or much of an athlete, but he received satisfaction and appreciation from the work he did on the stage, which began when he was eight years old. Under the guidance of his uncle actor Marlon Brando, Gahan developed his talent exclusively as a theater artist, working with many inspired teachers and directors.
In the classical theater Gahan played soldiers, princes, kings and gods, along with beggars, villains, criminals and madmen. Trained in the Stanislavski ‘method’, living truly in the skins and minds of these characters, he absorbed what each of them had to teach him. But life in the theater is a kind of sacrifice; there is little or no money in it. He left the theater and came back to it many times. He wandered, stumbling through life, searching for he wasn’t sure what, supporting himself in a variety of occupations. The real world was his teacher then.
Later in life, when he had outgrown his need for the world of the theater and began living a more normal life, he began to try to organize some of what life had taught him in a novel of romance and adventure. Every night, after his two daughters were in bed, he became the main character in a perilous mythical journey and recorded it as it unfolded in his imagination. Years later, rewritten and revised many times and finally pruned and polished, the result was The Kingdom on the Edge of Reality.
Find the book on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Kingdom-Edge-Reality-Gahan-Hanmer-ebook/dp/B007GDUFVI/
Read Gahan's thoughts on his website: http://thekingdomontheedgeofreality.com/thekingdomontheedgeofrealitybooktour.htm