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!
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