Ancient legend tells of an army of knights that will
remain sleeping until the last days.
The knights are waking up.
From the back cover: A homeless man is stalked by a pale, wraithlike creature with a mouthful of needle-sharp teeth. Maimed animals and a host of suicides cluster around a mountain in Scotland. And deep beneath the cobbled streets of Oxford, a malicious hoard besieges a hidden city.
Freya Reynolds is a university student with a touch of OCD and an obsession with myth and folklore. Daniel Tully is living rough on the streets of Oxford, waging a secret war against an enemy only he can identify. Years ago, they found themselves in a world few know is real. They have since gone their separate ways and tried to put that adventure behind them.
But the mythical world is now bleeding into our reality – a dark spiritual evil that is manifesting itself in forgotten corners of the British Isles. Alex Simpson is a Scottish police officer who specializes in hunting mythical creatures. Together, they must confront the past, the present, and points beyond to defeat the ultimate threat to humanity.
Nothing they’ve seen so far prepares them for what awaits… in The Realms Thereunder.
My Thoughts on the story:
Written by Ross Lawhead – son of Stephen R. Lawhead – The Realms Thereunder is the first book in The Ancient Earth Trilogy. The back cover hooked me. I couldn’t wait to dig into the book! A homeless man, hidden cities, myths that are real – an exciting premise!
Then I started reading and my enthusiasm gradually lessened. Mainly I found the book disjointed and somewhat confusing.
The Realms Thereunder jumps back and forth almost every other chapter between Daniel and Freya’s adventures as children and their adventures now. At the start of the book, it seemed that their modern predicaments completely outweighed their adventures as children, but toward the end, their earlier difficulties seemed much more important than what was happening to them at the moment. So much so, that the present storyline seemed more a distraction from the main plot than anything else.
I would have preferred the author divide the storylines and present all of the previous story before moving into the present. The back story felt fully developed whereas the modern story (toward the end) felt more like filler before jumping into the action that I anticipate will come with book two.
Although the premise hooked me, the actual story didn’t completely draw me in. The writing style seemed a bit heavy and overbearing at times, not engaging.
As much as I wanted and tried to, I didn’t find myself caring about most of the characters. When Daniel and Freya were children, they meandered from acting like ordinary frightened children to speaking like adults. There were several times when Daniel and Freya stepped forward and took charge of the situation in ways that I doubt thirteen year old kids who had just fallen into another world actually would. I also didn’t think that the knights they traveled with would have allowed them to take charge unchallenged.
However, I have always loved the blending of the historical, mythical, and modern and found that one of the most enjoyable aspects of The Realms Thereunder. In many cases, it read like an ancient myth or fairy tale from the British Isles, involving plenty of fantastic creatures like elves, gnomes, faeries, and the yfelgopes (don’t worry, even after finishing the book I’m still not entirely sure how to pronounce that one!)
I chuckled at Ecgbryt’s constant retelling of his days fighting with Alfred the Great against the Danes, because I always loved reading about Alfred the Great growing up. (Who wouldn’t like the King who was scolded by a peasant woman because he forgot to watch her cakes and let them burn?) Also, the idea of an ordinary policeman who hunts down mythical creatures as a secret part of his job was pretty cool!
All in all, although I felt The Realms Thereunder didn’t quite live up to the expectations produced by the back cover copy, I enjoyed reading it. Don’t expect a rapid page turner, but if you enjoy a good blend of history, myth, and modern times, you’ll enjoy a foray into The Realms Thereunder. 3 stars.
Disclaimer: In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The thoughts and opinions expressed are entirely my own.
The author’s website – Ross Lawhead
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Be sure to check out what the other blog tour participants are saying over the next two days!
Red Bissell – Keanen Brand – Beckie Burnham – Melissa Carswell – Jeff Chapman – CSFF Blog Tour – Theresa Dunlap – Emmalyn Edwards – April Erwin – Victor Gentile – Tori Greene – Nikole Hahn – Ryan Heart – Bruce Hennigan – Timothy Hicks – Christopher Hopper – Jason Joyner – Carol Keen – Krystine Kercher – Rebekah Loper – Marzabeth – Shannon McDermott – Rebecca LuElla Miller – Mirriam Neal – Eve Nielsen – Nissa – John W. Otte – Donita K. Paul – Joan Nienhuis –Crista Richey – Sarah Sawyer – Chawna Schroeder – Kathleen Smith – Donna Swanson – Rachel Starr Thomson – Steve Trower – Fred Warren – Dona Watson – Shane Werlinger – Nichole White – Rachel Wyant