Leeds Castle, England

Not so far away, just on the near side of another river, was the loveliest castle anyone could have wanted to live happily ever after in. It was just a castle, not a palace; there was nothing ostentatious about it, and it was all of stone except for the drawbridge. Yet there the hand of the invisible designer had placed his signature. The castle was clearly the kingdom’s centerpiece, its masterful work of art. And what the castle seemed to proclaim with every line and in every detail was that in this kingdom, this was where power and intelligence and beauty had finally come together to form a perfect bond. (The Kingdom on the Edge of Reality, pg. 92)

I’ve never actually wanted to live in medieval times. It sounds like a lot of hard work and dirt and not much fun. I’m pretty sure that if Jack Darcey, down-on-his luck former actor, had ever thought about it, he would have agreed, but he didn’t get a choice. He was basically kidnapped and taken off to live in the kingdom his old school chum, Albert Keane, has created in the midst of the Canadian wilderness.

That’s how The Kingdom on the Edge of Reality by Gahan Hanmer begins. Jack is surprised with what he finds. King Albert has truly created a medieval kingdom, plunked down in the forests of modern-day Canada, but completely isolated. There is the requisite castle, complete with dungeon, and a monastery. There is nothing modern, no clocks, no machine-manufactured clothing, no guns or cars. Everything is done by hand. Farmers work the land, artisans ply their trades, monks keep school and visit the sick. But no one misses the modern world. And it almost has me convinced. Maybe life would be better if we were more connected to the land, knew who made the shirt we wear, cared for our horses instead of sending the car to an over-priced garage that couldn’t get my parts in for like three weeks, if we provided our own entertainment instead of sitting in front of shiny boxes for hours on end.

I had seen bigger crowds in my time, but never one so merry and so talented at entertaining itself. Instruments appeared wverywhere, all sorts of flutes and drums and homemade stringed instruments of all sizes and shpaes, and everywhere were small circles of people who played and sang and danced. Amateur performers also gathered their crowds with juggling, acrobatics, and magic tricks. Barefoot children ran in and out of the crowds.” (pg. 214)

But it’s not all happiness and sunshine in the land, as Jack, now Sir jack, soon finds out. There’s a fight brewing, a battle that will lead to many deaths, especially with the lack of modern medicine or surgeries, and it’s up to Jack to become the hero the kingdom needs.

I loved this one. It’s a unique, imaginative story, with great characters, good and bad. There’s romance and adventure, betrayals, sexual trysts and violence. It’s a magical story, but without any actual magic. It’s also about people, and what we makes us human.

4½ out of 5 stars

Category: Fiction- Adventure

Amazon Kindle | Purchase Paperback | Website

Published April 2, 2012 by Two Harbors
353 pages

Book source: For review

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