The Four Realms
Good – A fun read with minor flaws. Maybe read an excerpt before buying.
A sex scene, references to sex and prostitution.
Half-vampire Darwin stumbles across a corpse on the streets of London, and in a pocket discovers a notebook in a mysterious language. Divided between human ethics and vampire bloodlust, Darwin finds himself both condemner and saviour of a race who’ve never considered him one of their own… Now, he must try and lead the survivors to sanctuary in New Salisbury before Mr West completes his genocide of the vampires in his quest to obtain the book…
Maureen Summerglass is eighty-two years old, a prisoner in her ramshackle home. She is afraid to let people enter in case they discover the oak door in her cellar. Threatened with homelessness and retirement from her job as a gatekeeper between worlds, Maureen breaks protocol when the death of a close friend is covered up… and enters the city of New Salisbury to search for his missing notebook. There, she discovers a world unlike the one of myth and fairy tale she imagined, and instead one of black market economies, brand names and tuk tuks. As she investigates, not only is she in extreme danger, but discovers she may be the first human female able to use magic…
When trolls and wizards meet the London streets, you get THE FOUR REALMS. This book manages to marry these conflicting flavors of classic and urban fantasy without missing a beat. The Dexter-esque anti-hero Darwin took awhile to win me over, but I was invested in elderly, unappreciated Maureen immediately. Though style of story telling is not my usual cup of tea, the action flowed fast enough to sweep me away.
Ultimately, it is that style issue that lowers my rating to 3 bats. The central problem in this book, with the peripatetic flashes back and forth between Darwin and Maureen, was that THE FOUR REALMS had an interesting plot but many characters that I didn’t get attached to. The plot was enough to get me through to this end, but without an emotional investment, I have no motivation to read on to book two (and though no sequel is listed, THE FOUR REALMS is structured as a series opener). Some of the most well developed pieces of the book center around the machinations of the different warring factions and magical theory, and I would highly recommend THE FOUR REALMS to anyone who wants a twist on the usual sword and sorcery.
With the political agendas flying fast and furious, the poor beleaguered Darwin and Maureen were bloodied (but unbowed) by the fallout. Fans of THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY or the Secret Histories books by Simon R. Green will probably enjoy this a lot more than I did. THE FOUR REALMS is an adventure with atypical protagonists. I like how Faulkner isn’t afraid to let his characters keep some of the the flaws and limitations that make them unique, even as they grow.
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