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.
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