RealmShift

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Author: Alan Baxter
Barcode/ISBN13: 9780982508749
Imprint/Brand: Gryphonwood
Release Date: Jan 2010
Format: Trade Paperback
Series: Samuel Harrigan 01
Number of Pages: 259
Weight: 428 grammes
Price $AUD: $19.95
Categories: Book
Urban Fantasy
Horror

Isiah is having a tough time. The Devil is making his job very difficult.
Samuel Harrigan is a murdering lowlife. He used ancient blood magic to escape a deal with the Devil and now he's on the trail of a crystal skull that he believes will complete his efforts to evade Lucifer. But Lucifer wants Samuel's soul for eternity and refuses to wait a second longer for it. Isiah needs Samuel to keep looking for the crystal skull, so he has to protect Sam and keep the Devil at bay. Not for Samuel's sake, but for all of humanity.
RealmShift is an engrossing Dark Fantasy thriller; a fascinating exploration of the nature of people's beliefs and their effect on the world around them. Magic, action and intrigue, from dank city streets to the depths of Hell and beyond.

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Review by Michael Wilde:

Comments, rather than a review:
I really did enjoy it. Good except for the swearing. A good idea and a good yarn. Better than Matthew Reilly's first novel (Conquest), and Alan Baxter should be picked up by one of the major publishers.
I've ordered the sequel with Infinitas, for when it is released.

Review by Chris Maric:

In the last few years there has been an ever increasing interest in humanities faith and man’s relationship with religion. This has become even more apparent with the plethora of books being published that deal with the subject. So much so that bookshops are now creating new sections in their stores to accommodate them.
RealmShift, by Alan Baxter, is a novel that sits on the outer edge of the aforementioned genre and drops into the SF and Fantasy genres to spice things up.
Essentially the story is based around Isiah, a once mortal man who has now become a kind of middleman between us mere mortals and those that reside on the other side of the ‘RealmShift’. Be them angels, demons, gods or the Devil himself. Isiah is tasked with guarding a very unsavoury member of the human race to his destiny in the deep South American jungle, for if he doesn’t succeed in getting the mortal to achieve his predestined objective, a chain reaction will ensue ending in the downfall of mankind.
Essentially, what you have is a very fast paced action novel complete with supernatural skills, plenty of martial arts, colourful characters and enough suspense to keep the pages turning into the small hours. However, besides the fantastic screenplay that this novel could easily be adapted to, it’s the plot's underlying thread within the action that sets the story apart.
Isiah, being trapped as an immortal human in a kind of Highlander purgatory must learn to accept his place within the hierarchy and come to believe that everything happens for a reason, whether it's good or bad. This also throws in a brain twisting little paradox – with the central character at the mercy of the forces beyond the RealmShift, he learns more about the ‘system’ at work. However, as he takes Samuel, the wickedly evil mortal (who is the crucible in the coming battle to save the world) across the globe to meet his fate, he imparts certain knowledge about his own relationship to gods and religions. Everyone has the choice to believe in what they wish and if enough people believe in something, it will come true. So the eternal conundrum, I believe, that RealmShift poses is that if Humanity really is in charge of its own fate then it's completely up to us to do what we believe is right since we create everything ourselves.
Without giving too much more away, RealmShift works brilliantly on all levels, as an action novel, as a divine expedition, as a dark fantasy and as a great example of character development within the two key players.
It concludes with a feeling that you have reached the edge of a cliff in a speeding car and come to a direct stop just before the lip, which is perfect as apparently a sequel will soon be on the way.

Review by Michael Fridman:

We get launched straight into the action: the semi-protagonist must locate and guide a perfect example of the scum of the earth and ensure that he fulfils his "destiny", which involves being in a Guatemalan jungle in a certain point in space-time and killing a second scum of the earth before this second scum of the earth kills a third person who incidentally is not the scum of the earth.
Sounds simple, and if that was all there was it would make for a rather bland thriller.
Except that the semi-protagonist is essentially an unpaid employee of an unnamed Force that is the source of all things. And according to the book, our world is essentially driven by our thoughts - our beliefs and convictions can create reality, whether this is manifested in the use of magic or the literal existence of every type of deity that anyone's imagined. Such a host of deities can be hard to manage, which is why there is the need for employees (like our semi-protagonist) to maintain some kind of balance in worldviews, beliefs and the deities which are the waste products of these beliefs. Essentially, I couldn't help comparing the worldview in RealmShift to the movie Constantine. However, RealmShift has none of the crappiness of Constantine...
Hope I haven't given too much away...
Told in a way that's action packed (almost in a comic book style), the book gets its appeal through its reflections on the less fantastical aspects of our life like religions and society. It takes the piss out of the absurd aspects of many a belief system without being dogmatic or following some new-age motivational trend followed more for the purpose of selling books than for substance.
Not everything in the book works, but it's a great ride which shan't disappoint. The novel has elements of both a good sci-fi/fantasy/thriller AND the more literary novel of ideas. Admirers of both should be able to enjoy this heartily.
A great first published novel by Baxter!

Review by Adam Bales:

When you see that a book is self published, it doesn't fill you with confidence. So, I picked up Realmshift when I had a few spare moments to fill. When I put it down, I found I didn't want to - it had hooked me.
Realmshift tells the story of Isiah, an immortal who is the agent of an entity called the Balance, which attempts to ensure that no religion dominates all others. A woman who will help preserve a tribal religion is in danger but, to save her, Isiah must protect a cruel man from the rage of Lucifer.
The book is always on the move and it explores an interesting mix of mythologies which makes it a rich novel. It is not the sort of book that will win awards and shows signs of being a first novel but, for all that, it is an enjoyable read.