Denver Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Club
The Traveler (2005)
The Fourth Realm trilogy - Book One
Vintage books paperback
cover art and design by Henry Steadman
cover photograph by Michael Prince/CORBIS
480 pages (left)
jacket design & illustration by Michael J. Windsor
(front cover shown, cover is a wraparound)
464 pages (right)
10 Wow! Don't miss it
8-9 Highly recommended
5-6 Mild recommendation
3-4 Take your chances
1-2 Below average; skip it
0 Get out the flamethrower!
U Unfinishable or unreadable
- Skipped or no rating given
John Twelve Hawks - The Traveler
When The Traveler came out, I thought the hype about the author living "off the grid" was just for publicity. Now I believe it. After reading this, I am convinced the author is a paranoid schizophrenic, in need of serious clinical help.
As a reader I can handle his paranoia, but what I can't stomach is his sneering attitude toward everyone who doesn't share his delusional worldview. If you choose to enjoy your life with your family, well then you are a contemptible chump - you ought to be living alone in a log cabin, in perpetual fear that They are watching.
Through fiction, Twelve Hawks gets the chance to set up a scenario where his paranoia is justified, but in The Traveler he utterly fails at this. He presents us the Tabula, a secret organization that has been gathering power for thousands of years. And in all that time, what have they done with the tremendous power they have accumulated? Not a goddamn thing. Nobody in the Tabula tells me where to live or how to work or what to do or whom to do it with. What terrific restraint! I would gladly vote for any of these guys for public office.
Similarly, Twelve Hawks totally fails to justify the importance of the "travelers." He asserts that their experiences in other worlds makes them powerful, dynamic leaders, but the two travelers we see onstage are nothing of the sort, nor are they significantly altered by traveling to other worlds. It is very apparent by the end of the novel that the "travelers" are merely a McGuffin to set up lots of chase scenes and gratuitous violence.
The characterization is awful throughout, especially Maya, who is meant to be a very sympathetic character, but strikes me simply as a bloodthirsty psychotic.
Twelve Hawks' prose is very weak. The most glaring weakness is in his descriptions, which are either bland or nonsensical and sometimes both at once: "Rain hit the pilot's Plexiglas windshield with a cracking sound, like little pieces of mud."
This is really bad stuff.What do you think? Your comments are welcome. Please send them to