A bit late to the party with this one, what with the aforementioned small child who was birthed last week. But the little guy is sleeping now and I already took a dad-nap so I’m going to cram in as much work as I can.
This time I’m going to throw down the Back Of The Book not out of laziness, but because Kings of Eternity by Eric Brown has a Big Question going for it which frankly will make talking about it a bit hard without ruining it.
1999. On the threshold of a new millennium, the novelist Daniel Langham lives a reclusive life on an idyllic Greek island, hiding away from humanity and the events of the past. All that changes, however, when he meets artist Caroline Platt and finds himself falling in love. But what is his secret, and what are the horrors that haunt him?
1935. Writers Jonathon Langham and Edward Vaughan are summoned from London by their editor friend Jasper Carnegie to help investigate strange goings-on in Hopton Wood. What they discover there – no less than a strange creature from another world – will change their lives forever.
What they become and their link to the novelist of the future, is the subject of Eric Brown’s most ambitious novel to date. Almost ten years in the writing,The Kings of Eternity is a novel of vast scope and depth, yet imbued with humanity and characters you’ll come to love.
So the Back Of The Book here says a bit less than usual and I didn’t realize that until typing it out. I suspect the person over at Solaris Books writing that summary had the same trouble dancing around the same Big Question I’m going to have. I was drawn toKings in part because of the cover, frankly. If you click that Goodreads link above and check out the cover, it gives you a pretty good hint about the “goings-on in Hopton Wood.” It shows a man dressed in 30’s suit and fedora dwarfed by a gaping blue portal to another world. This is the kind of novel where you really can judge a book by its cover as it shares almost as much information as the back cover.
Kings is a little bit of a departure from the usual stuff I read. It’s really a character study on the two Langhams, the one in the 30s and the one in the 90s. For the first 150 pages or so, almost half the book, there is very little overtly science fiction about Kings. The first page and a half, then almost nothing until the 150 mark. I never found myself struggling to get through the book though. The writing and the characters are compelling enough to pull me along the pages.
Speaking of the hard to speak about Big Question… It’s what ties the two tangents and the two Langhams, grandfather and grandson, together. I figured it out around page 100, well before the book actually tells it to me. There’s still enough going on to keep me reading as it’s not the only Big Question, just the one that makes it really, really hard to talk about the book without ruining it.
I enjoyed this book, but I can’t be completely fluffy rainbows about this little review. There’s a very important side character who gets killed in one of the more actiony scenes and the book never really takes any time to dwell on it. He’s not the protagonist, but has strong ties with the Langham of that tangent so a little bit of dwelling should have been in order once the characters had time to pause. The guy’s death was “Eh, he was at peace with himself” and onto the next paragraph.
In all reality, it was probably longer than that one short line, but it felt that short and left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth, even five days after finished. The short little sentence is truthful, that particular character was at peace with himself, but still. Dwell a little bit. Some sort of closure before moving on would have been appreciated.
But don’t let that make you think I didn’t enjoy Kings. It’s got some very intriguing Big Questions and satisfying answers to them. I wouldn’t pick this one up if you’re looking for an action heavy sort of thing, but as an in depth character piece, Kings is well worth the read.