(Book 1 of The Fourth Realm)
by John Twelve Hawks
“The Traveler” begins with the life of Maya who grew up in London to become a Harlequin whose role is to protect Travelers – people who have the ability to cross over different realms with their spirit. Trained to fight against the Tabula – which has the mission of killing all Travelers – and to hide from The Grid – which is the system to which people have given up their freedom (installed CCTV everywhere, government’s ability to track information, etc.) for an illusion they believe as safety and security – Maya was given the mission to find two Travelers living in Los Angeles and protect them.
One very particular thing I can talk about this book is that it has the ability to be adapted into a film or a TV series. The author, JXIIH (Shortening of John Twelve Hawks), presents a very dynamic visualization of the different scenes and showed that every character in the book can never be forgotten as they would contribute later on in the story. At first, the story seem to focus a lot with the life of Maya from her childhood when she was being trained by her father Thorn to become a cold blooded warrior who did not care about anything but protecting a few people who were not only special for their abilities but were also threatened by the Tabula. But it shows a lot more about the world these characters are living in where everyone is thought to be in this so-called Grid which is being compared to Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon – the world became a prison where people think that they are being observed even though they are not being observed which is a really smart way to create a setting.
The idea of fate was dealt with in this novel. Maya, Lawrence Takawa, Sophia and the Corrigan brothers had situations where they were presented their roles in a world where everyone believed that Travelers, Harlequins, Pathfinders and the Tabula do not exist anymore. Maya did accept her fate eventually in this story which is rather different from what she believed she wanted which is having a normal life working in a company. She did protect a Buddhist monk before and her life was being threatened the moment she met up with her father for the last time in Eastern Europe who gave her the mission of finding the Corrigan brothers in the US.
Fate is a hard thing to accept especially it deals with something that we as human beings do not have control over. Fate would be a given with regards to our gender and race – although that is changing these days. But association with a religion, culture, political setting, status, or work/profession is something that we can change as we live in this world and Maya proved that considering her situation. Be an ordinary citizen, be a Harlequin, the novel gave that indication when she became lonely because of her so-called fate – she should have just kept a low profile and not bother with what the crazy Harlequins are up to.
I like those moments when Maya (and in certain parts, together with other characters) try to escape from the Tabula who has more access to the Grid which provides information about every individual not just their identification, name, age, gender, birthdate, etc… but the Grid is also able to monitor people through thousands of CCTVs installed in every country and track everyone’s credit card number and chequing information. The key to their escape is always change: movement from one place to another, disguising themselves, using fake IDs and false information; all of this for the sake of hiding from the real enemies, the Tabula, who has the ability to hack through the Grid’s computer systems to hunt down Travelers, their Pathfinders – people who will determine whether a Traveler is real or not – and the Harlequins.
It gave the idea that life probably won’t become static unless we move on by escaping from it through change, through adventure and through accumulating experience.
Overall, it was a good read, probably the first time I finished a 400-page book – the story was enjoying and it looked short but the flipping was what made me turned off which resulted to me finishing the whole book in around 1 month which I don’t usually do with a 250-page book which has larger page dimensions from this one which is a mass-bound paperback that I could finish in 2-4 days. Setting trivial things aside, probably when I have read the second book of “The Fourth Realm”, I will probably talk about what crossing over different worlds would mean – “The Traveler” only gave us the whole deal with spirits crossing over different realms.