“The Realms Thereunder” is an exciting and fascinating book of inspirational fantasy by the son of Stephen Lawhead, Ross Lawhead. The story centers around two young adults who vanished several years prior to the present only to resurface to a world that is now filled with danger. Daniel lives as a homeless waif, wandering the streets of Oxford looking out for the reappearance of vile creatures who inhabit an underground world filled with gnomes and trolls and “yfelgopes”.
Freya is trying her best to put the past behind her and her obsession with doorways and portals underscores her bad experiences from the past. For, both young adults disappeared into an underground labyrinth with ageless knights who battle a growing evil that threatens to destroy the world. And they did so simply by walking through the wrong opening!
Daniel and Freya traveled with the knights to the underground kingdom of Nidergeard. There, they meet the almost immortal sage, Ealdstan the Ancient who revealed that they alone could stop the coming war with his nemesis, Gad. The book weaves back and forth from the present to Daniel and Freya’s experiences in the past.
Freya is soon fooled into thinking she has joined a band of fighters preparing for the coming invasion and thus is neutralized. Daniel falls through another portal into a fairy land where he must commit a vile crime in order to return to our world in time to stop the coming evil forces.
The Sleeping Knights were a really fascinating and engaging feature of the story. I loved this aspect of ancient knights reawakening to defend the world against evil. I kept recalling the old knight in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” looking Indiana in the eye and saying “You chose wisely.” And, Ross Lawhead chose wisely. What great characters were these knights!
At first, the device of shifting back and forth between the present and the past was somewhat jarring. But, as the story progressed this feature was actually compelling as the story threads both reached a climax at the end of the novel. Well done.
“The Realms Thereunder” is well written and its fantasy worlds well realized and developed. The inspirational elements are toned down and, frankly, I would not call this book “Christian Fiction”. It functions well as a book in the secular world as well in the Christian fiction world. The reader will not be disappointed at the travails, trials, and triumphs of its two young adults. I can’t wait for book two!
Author’s Web site – http://www.rosslawhead.com/blog/
http://ofbattlesdragonsandswordsofadamant.blogspot.com/“> Gillian Adams
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