John Twelve Hawks delivers a lackluster conclusion to the Fourth Realm trilogy, after the great start with The Traveler, and less impressive The Dark River. In his author’s note, Hawks feels he has explored his world to the fullest and explained everything he needs to, and while some questions are always apparent at the end of a series, The Golden City leaves readers asking a lot of questions and “What abouts?”
Hawks does a good job of clueing in the reader on who’s who, as it’s been a couple of years since the last book. The quick rundown: there are Travelers who are able to travel beyond our world into other realms and have existed for a very long time; the Tabula is a group seeking to kill all Travelers and wipe them out; Harlequins are specially trained people appointed to protect Travelers. The Tabula now seeks to complete the Panopticon, which will allow essentially total control and world domination by the Vast Machine. Gabriel, one of the last Travelers, along with his Harlequin, Maya, must work to put a group together to stop the Tabula and bring down the Vast Machine once and for all.
Hawks addresses and resolves the story of the Vast Machine and the Panopticon, meanwhile the “Golden City” of the title is only briefly visited in one of the realms, while in another is a strange place previously visited in The Dark River better known as Hell, while in yet another realm there exists a strange culture of people who consider themselves gods because they have computers and their own Panopticon in place, while the rest of society are simple peasant folk. With no doubt more realms to be discovered, Hawks provides an entertaining simple story in The Golden City, but leaves a large universe relatively unexplored.
CLICK HERE to purchase your copy from Bookshop Santa Cruz and help support BookBanter.
Received these today. Coronets and Steel has one of those covers that you just can’t take your eyes off, for cheesiness and curiosity. Golden City is the conclusion to the trilogy from John Twelve Hawks, after Travelerand The Dark River.
John Twelve Hawks returns with The Dark River, the second of the trilogy, after The Traveler, in the Fourth Realm series. We last left off with Gabriel on the run from the Tabula with his Harlequin, Maya, having just sabotaged the Tabula’s quantum computer system which was part of the Virtual Panopticon: the Tabula’s effort to create a worldwide system to watch and know what everyone is doing all the time. The Dark River continues the story of this dystopia in our near future as the Traveler fights for survival while the Tabula fights for domination.
The Traveler is a person who can travel to another realm, learning from these others worlds, he or she returns with a heightened knowledge that they can pass onto others. They have existed for millennia; many famous people in history are believed to have been Travelers, including Jesus Christ. Then there is the Brethren, or the Tabula as they are known to Travelers, who are out to kill all the Travelers and have done so since the beginning. Except in the modern age the true power of the Traveler has been realized by the Tabula and they wish to capture Travelers and use them for their own gain. Finally there are the Harlequins, a secret group who have existed just as long, whose sworn duty is to protect the Travelers.
Gabriel and his brother Michael are Travelers. In the first book of the series, Michael was captured by the Tabula and has now become one of them, an enemy to Gabriel. So as the Tabula are both working on the Virtual Panopticon and looking for the Traveler, Gabriel discovers that his father – a renowned Traveler – is alive and goes to England to search for him. He finds his father’s body on an island near Ireland, barely alive, while his father’s consciousness is in another world, another realm. It is now up to Gabriel to travel to this other realm, the First Realm – better known as Hell – to find his father and bring him back. At the same time they must not forget about the Tabula who are desperately looking for them, using every means necessary.
The Dark River furthers the plot along, but falls short of offering up any shocking realizations or reveals, feeling more like a chapter in the great saga of the Fourth Realm series. It ends on a cliffhanger leaving the reader wondering how the enigmatic John Twelve Hawks (which is seems like a possible pseudonym) will complete the epic and growing series with just one more book to go.
If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.
This book actually generated quite a bit of buzz before it was released last June and I had it recommended to me by a few people saying that it was in the vein of Stephen King, and since I’m a fan I would probably enjoy this. I managed to get an ARC through the bookstore I used to work at and then it sat on my shelf for about six months until I picked it up and decided to start reading it last week. I finished it about four days later after pretty much eating it up. I would describe it as akin to a Michael Crichton techno-thriller with some plenty of sci-fi mixed in. After getting about a hundred pages into it I was even wondering if Crichton much just be working on this same book currently because of its similarities with his story lines, the main difference being that this was a little slower and the characters had more depth to them. After finishing this book I realized that this has certain elements that Crichton would never put in his books, making this an enjoyable original piece of fiction. If the Matrix trilogy had originally been made into a book trilogy and done by a good writer, it would’ve been something like The Traveler.
The book is set near to the present day or perhaps twenty or thirty years into the future. The world is pretty much like it is now, except for being a little more high-tech and with better gadgets. There is a group of people known as Travelers who have the unique ability of being able to leave their bodies and travel to other worlds or realms. They have existed for many thousands of years, Jesus and Mohammed are thought to have been Travelers. There is a group of people known as the Tabula whose job it is to eradicate these Travelers by whatever means necessary. They have also been in existence for a long time. Then there is a group called the Harlequins whose job it is to protect the Travelers in every way possible; again they have been around for a very long time.
In the present it is thought that no Travelers are in existence anymore, having been wiped out by the Tabula, while the Harlequins have been reduced to very small numbers. Our main character is the daughter of a Harlequin whose father is soon killed in the book and while she had renounced her duty as a Harlequin, due to the small number of these people still alive, she has been summoned to become a Harlequin once more, because two offspring of a Traveler have been found alive in California. The Traveler’s gift is usually passed down through genes, though this is not certain. It is her job to find those two brothers and keep them safe. The Tabula also know of the existence of these two brothers, but their modus operandi has changed dramatically. They no longer wish to kill the Travelers, but to harness their powers. The reason being that using past Travelers they have been in contact with another race living in one of the other realms that the Travelers go to, and this race is vastly superior and more intelligent and has been sending them new inventions and technology such as creating quantum computers that can measure how Travelers pass into these other realms, as well as being able to send additional matter into these realms. So they want to use the Travelers as guinea pigs to work with this new race.
This the setting of the book with a lot more details than I have given and features great chase scenes and amazing fights. The Harlequins are taught from when they are children how to fight with different weapons. At the same time the Tabula basically have the Internet, all technology, the government, police, etc. under their control. So their world has its similarities to that of The Matrix, as well as to Stephenson’s Snow Crash and Gibson’s Neuromancer; and I also saw a lot of Blade Runner in the book too. With the world in its current state, it’s not surprising that a book like this has been written. The good thing is that apart from being a really great read, it is the first book in a trilogy and hopefully unlike the Matrix trilogy, it will not doom itself to an ugly death before one is half way through the second book.
Interestingly, the author John Twelve Hawks is very much a recluse who apparently has never met with his agent, has been working on the book for a long time, and has never owned nor has he ever watched any TV. So there are some thought-provoking possibilities to keep in mind, along with some strange websites that have been created for the book, though it almost seems as if some of them were created before the book came out, which is just plain weird.
If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.