("The Golden City" by John Twelve Hawks, Doubleday, 338 pages, $25.95).
John Twelve Hawks is a reclusive author who lives off the grid. That is no surprise, given his trilogy about a universe of parallel realms of life, where the Vast Machine, run by The Brethren, controls the industrial realm that is real to most people. This book is the last of the trio.
Popping in and out of these varied realms are the Travelers, people with unusual powers who lead the resistance against the Vast Machine and their lifetime protectors, the Harlequins, trained in martial arts and armed to the teeth.
The three books are a shout against today's new technology that, the author believes, surveils everyone and invades their privacy at all times in the real world we live in. Thus, fantasy is approaching reality.
The Golden City is the one realm purported to hold all the answers for resisting the Vast Machine by the Travelers and has long been the treasure sought by them. Two brothers, among the few remaining Travelers, are battling for control. Gabriel is the good guy, leading the resistance, while Michael has abandoned his role and is trying to take over The Brethren. Gabriel's protecting Harlequin, Maya, is lost in the dark city realm.
Whew. All of this takes place in some Fourth Realm that I don't really understand, even after reading all three books in this strange series. There exists a large number of fans out there in fantasy world readership, with 500,000 of these books in print. I hope they get more out of it all than this reader. Bizarre.
Francis Moul, Ph.D., is an environmental historian.