by Gahan Hanmer
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
The Kingdom on the Edge of Reality by Gahan Hanmer offers a modern day medieval tale with a message of survival and hope. Hanmer takes us on an imaginative journey filled with romance, violence, and deception. I found the tale to be enchanting as it delivered a message about technology and its impact on human relationships.
Protagonist Jack Darcey is the hero in this novel. When we meet Jack, he is at a crossroads in his life. He is down on his luck and unsure which road to travel next. His old friend from prep school, Albert, sends an employee to deliver Jack to his home. Albert spins a tale about the kingdom he has created in the woods of Canada. He urges Jack to join him. Jack finds the kingdom is isolated from the outside world as a helicopter delivers him. Here he finds a kingdom complete with a grand castle. There is no electricity, a dungeon, and a monastery. He finds farmers and skilled workers to perform all sorts of tasks. The monks teach school and run a hospital of sorts. Just as Sir Jack, now a knight begins to enjoy this medieval life, conflict brews and a battle breaks out. A prediction is made that Sir Jack can save the kingdom and the tale that unfolds is fascinating and at times dark.
I didn’t love Jack, but he ultimately tries to do right. Jack really takes to this medieval life and as a knight, he truly looks out for all the people of the kingdom. His journey of self-discovery while painful was enlightening. At times I wanted to shake him and his actions annoyed me. Duke Hawke someone from Jack’s past wants to rule the kingdom. I cannot help but wonder if Albert didn’t deliberately set up this chess game. I would have liked to have seen some of the characters more fleshed out, and some of the conversations seemed awkward. The tale was filled with good and evil characters. Sadly even in this utopia; greed, jealousy, and politics still exist.
Hanmer world-building was delightful and the tale he spun interesting. He weaves a tale, all while posing the question, “Are we losing our humanity as we become more connected?” His depiction of time spent in a dungeon felt genuine and was eerie. I find this time period romantic but would miss modern inventions. While I felt parts of this tale were flawed, I enjoyed the overall story.
Kingdom on the Edge of Reality was an easy read, and I breezed through it in a single afternoon. I recommend it to fans of historical fiction and fantasy. Kingdom on the Edge of Reality is available both in paper and eBook format.
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