Tangled Yarns

Tangled Yarns

Monday, April 9, 2012

Review of The Kingdom on the Edge of Reality by Gahan Hanmer

Publisher: Two Harbors Press
Release: April 2, 2012
ISBN: 9781937293642

Blurb: Sometimes it's funny how fast things can change, and sometimes it's not...

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 to 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 thoughts:  My first thought...is I need to hand this over to my SCAdian cousin. (If you don't know what what that means...here's a link.) The premise of this book is at once very novel and very familiar. Familiar in the 'Oh look, I've fallen into a different time" had been done before...but the manner and tone of this book are different from the others I've read. The writing has a strange blend of formal and informal that works very well considering the way past and present are, and are not melded. *laughs* Ok...that's a very confusing statement, isn't it? 

It's no wonder that poor Jack is a bit befuddled as he learns his way around. 

I do try to not reference other authors when I do a review...but in this case, I have to say that this book pleasantly reminds me of Charles De Lint's work. Not in that it uses old legends in new ways, because it doesn't reference myths in that manner. It creates its own, and  the atmosphere of the work has that dreamlike quality to it. And yet it's just reasonable enough, honest enough about the painful edges in life to feel plausible. 

I love the fact that the life in the past is not entirely romanticized. While there is a great peace to be found in 'unplugging' from the chaos that we have created in today's society...there advantages to modern life, which we see a nod to.  And yet...some things don't change. The dilemma Jack faces is as simple as a bully. Power can be abused in any age. A villain is a villain in any time. And defeating one is never as simple as we'd hope. 

All in all, I enjoyed my trip to the edge of reality, and I hope you take the time to visit as well.