The Four Realms

The Four Realms - Adrian Faulkner Ernest, an old wizard, dies in mysterious circumstances. And no-one seems to care, certainly none of the wizards – except Maureen. An 82 year old woman who has long been a gatekeeper for the wizards, she’s determined that her long term companion’s death won’t be ignored and brushed aside and, stifling worries about her future as her waystation becomes less and less used, she sets off into Vanefasia to find answers. Who killed Ernest, what was he involved in and why doesn’t the Abbot care.Darwin is a half-vampire and is struggling to live a life without killing with his friend Cassidy. It’s not going well to say the least – and doesn’t get easier when they find Ernest’s notebook. A discovery that leads forces to almost annihilate vampire kind. Darwin sees this as a final chance to gain acceptance among the vampires who have so shunned him, a chance to be their saviour, to rally the broken survivors and restore their culture and people. But it’s never that easy – and Mr. West still wants the bookAnd there’s Mr. West arriving on Earth because his people need a new homeland and, as part of that, he needs Ernest’s notebook. But in trying to learn more, Mr. West is exposed to the chaotic ways of human thought with heresies like “choice” and “probabilities” and soon finds himself using… unorthodox methods.There is a lot here. In fact, even for a world building fan like me, I think I have to say there’s too much there. And that is a leap for me – I love huge worlds, I love a vast diversity of monsters and creatures. I love all the world’s mythologies together. I love to have different realms and dimensions each with their own rules and denizens and realities. I love this huge mix of vast numbers of creatures.There are limits though. And once you get to a score of obscure, single mention monsters, leprechauns, gnomes, elves, dwarfs, angels, werewolves, hell realms, magic realms, wizards, vampires and then throw in aliens as well – and you do all of that in the first book? It’s almost too much, certainly to digest at once.But I think a lot of this is down to personal taste of how the story was written. This book had 2 protagonists Maureen and Darwin. They’re not major powers. They’re not movers and shakers. They’re not really concerned with the wider world or politics or the fate of nations. They don’t care what’s at stake, the bigger picture is not only hidden from them but it’s also something they’re not particularly interested in. They’re both involved in very very personal stories with very personal goals. To me this can get frustrating because the world is so huge – and there are major important things happening in that world that the protagonists just don’t care about. Part of me is frustrated to be so on the periphery of such major happenings, to be only getting part of the story and to be only seeing this vast amazing world through the lenses of relatively insular people. It’s like taking a tour through a vast, beautiful landscape, and spending the whole time reading a book and only occasionally glancing up – the book is good, excellent in fact – but look at the landscape!The personal stories are very good, though, extremely realistic and impactful. Darwin’s desperate need for acceptance among the vampires is really well portrayed, him being torn between Cassidy’s morality and what he feels a vampire should be. There’s a lot of complexity – like him blaming Cassidy for his own failures to not be a “perfect” vampire, perhaps even his own conscience that rebels at what he feels a vampire should be. There’s his reverence for vampire culture and history which the other vampires don’t even share, an attempt to put the lost vampires on a pedestal to make them this glowing thing he wants to be part of. And his idealised version of what vampire society is like which even the other vampires are clear doesn’t really exist and they’re not remotely interested in joining. Despite numerous set-backs he constantly tries to do that one more thing that will make them accept him, let him into the fold even though it’s obvious that he will never be considered one of them.Read More