Denver Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Club

The Traveler paperback 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)

Doubleday hardcover
jacket design & illustration by Michael J. Windsor
(front cover shown, cover is a wraparound)
464 pages (right)
The Traveler hardcover

From the flaps of the Doubleday hardcover:
       A world that exists in the shadows of our own.
       A conflict we will never see.
       One woman stands between those determined to control history and those who will risk their lives for freedom.
       Maya is hiding in plain sight in London.  The twenty-six-year-old has abandoned the dangerous obligations pressed upon her by her father, and chosen instead to live a normal life.  But Maya comes from a long line of people who call themselves Harlequins -- a fierce group of warriors willing to sacrifice their lives to protect a select few known as Travelers.
       Gabriel and Michael Corrigan are brothers living in Los Angeles.  Since childhood, the young men have been shaped by stories that their late father was a Traveler, one of a small band of prophets who have vastly influenced the course of history.  Travelers are able to attain pure enlightenment, and have for centuries ushered change into the world.  Gabriel and Michael, who may have inherited their father's gifts, have always protected themselves by living "off the Grid" -- that is, invisible to the real-life surveillance networks that monitor people in our modern society.
       Summoned by her ailing father, Maya is told of the existence of the brothers.  The Corrigans are in severe danger, stalked by powerful men known as the Tabula -- ruthless mercenaries who have hunted Travelers for generations.  This group is determined to inflict order on the world by controlling it, and they view Travelers as an intolerable threat.  As Maya races to California to protect the brothers, she is reluctantly pulled back into the cold and solitary Harlequin existence.  A colossal battle looms -- one that will reveal not only the identities of Gabriel and Michael Corrigan but also a secret history of our time.

Read for group discussion on January 28, 2009

How we each rated this book
Dan - Amy 5 stack of books 10   Wow! Don't miss it
8-9  Highly recommended
7    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
Cheri - Barb -
Aaron 1 Cynthia -
Jackie - Ron 4
Jennifer 5.5

Aaron's Commentary   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

John Twelve Hawks, a pseudonym, is a reclusive author.  He is also known as J12H or JXIIH to his fans.

The Fourth Realm trilogy
The Traveler (2005)
The Dark River (2007)
The Golden City (2009)

John Twelve Hawks - Wikipedia
Official site of John Twelve Hawks
The SF Site Featured Review: The Traveler
The Traveler by John Twelve Hawks - Official review
Shotsmag Reviews - The Traveller by John Twelve Hawks

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This page was last updated November 25, 2009