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The Traveler (Fourth Realm Trilogy, Book 1) Hardcover – June 28, 2005

3.5 out of 5 stars 347 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Twelve Hawks's much anticipated novel is powerful, mainstream fiction built on a foundation of cutting-edge technology laced with fantasy and the chilling specter of an all-too-possible social and political reality. The time is roughly the present, and the U.S. is part of the Vast Machine, a society overseen by the Tabula, a secret organization bent on establishing a perfectly controlled populace. Allied against the Tabula are the Travelers and their sword-carrying protectors, the Harlequins. The Travelers, now almost extinct, can project their spirit into other worlds where they receive wisdom to bring back to earth—wisdom that threatens the Tabula's power. Maya, a reluctant Harlequin, finds herself compelled to protect two naïve Travelers, Michael and Gabriel Corrigan. Michael dabbles in shady real estate deals, while Gabriel prefers to live "off the Grid," eschewing any documentation—credit cards, bank accounts—that the Vast Machine could use to track him. Because the Tabula has engineered a way to use the Travelers for its own purposes, Maya must not only keep the brothers alive, but out of the hands of these evil puppet-masters. She succeeds, but she also fails, and therein lies the tale. By the end of this exciting volume, the first in a trilogy, the stage is set for a world-rending clash between good and evil.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

First in a projected trilogy called The Fourth Realm, The Traveler impressed all critics. Twelve Hawks presents big ideas about free will and determinism, good versus evil, social control, and alternate dimensions, all while impressing with knowledge ranging from the New Testament to string theory. Although reviewers compared the novel to the films Kill Bill, Star Wars, and The Matrix—with echoes of authors Dan Brown, Stephen King, George Orwell, and Michael Crichton thrown in—they called it wholly original. Given its complexity, the author (a mysterious entity living "off the Grid" who’s unknown even to his agent and editor) could have fumbled anywhere. But he didn’t, from the sophisticated plot to the compelling heroine. If you’re "happy with the status quo, you’d probably regard the novel as hippie/trippy New Age Nonsense," notes the Washington Post. For everyone else, the "novel’s a stunner" (People).

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.


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Product Details

  • Series: Fourth Realm Trilogy, Book 1
  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; First Edition edition (June 28, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 038551428X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385514286
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.3 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (347 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #394,311 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Kevin Joseph VINE VOICE on July 7, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Yes, there has been a lot of marketing hype regarding the hyper-anonymity of Mr. John Twelve Hawks who, like his countercultural characters in "The Traveler," has supposedly decided to live off "the Grid" and avoid exposing his precious identity in a post-9/11 world where the government has increased its surveillance of citizens under the guise of anti-terrorism paternalism. And yes, one could engage in an endless debate over whether this book is best labeled as speculative fiction, techno-thriller, urban fantasy, or science fiction.

But these issues, while perhaps interesting topics of discussion, are ultimately much less relevant than the fact that this is a highly entertaining thriller, with a premise that will appeal to fans of "The Matrix" franchise and an anti-control theme that will resonate with conspiracy lovers and Robert Heinlein readers. Heinlein once wrote that "political tags - such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth - are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire." Mr. Hawks's work fully embraces this same theme as well as the Aldous Huxley-ish viewpoint that science without mysticism is ultimately meaningless.

In the tradition of the best thriller writers, the author manages to avoid the pitfalls common to many first-novelists, juggle multiple points of view, and keep the pages turning with cliffhanger chapters. He also writes with a direct, unpretentious style that aids in the suspension of disbelief and fits well with the technology-laden world he has created. And his characters, particularly Maya and Gabriel, have more depth than the cookie-cutter heroes common to books of this sort.
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Format: Hardcover
The author (whoever he or they might be) knows the conventions of the genre, though I wonder whether the genre this is meant for is really film or print. There's been a tremendous amount of publicity around this book. I even wonder how many of the ecstatic reviews posted are from publicists. Certainly the people determined to make this into a product like Harry Potter or The DaVinci Code are at least as diligent -and perhaps as powerful - as the Tabula who run the world in the book.

The set-up for the story is pretty good. The author postulates the six realms of Buddhist teaching (gods, demi-gods, humans, animals, hungry ghosts, hell) as real places coexisting in the universe. The realm we live in is the human realm, fourth in the numbering system used by the author. OK, an interesting spin on the many realities idea used so well by Philip Pullman in "His Dark Materials".

Our world is controlled by a secret society and the events in the news are staged to keep us ordinary folk distracted and diverted while the people who really run the show do - well we don't get to learn what they actually do except know people who can do things for them everywhere and try to stamp out the Travelers, who are able to do out-of-body travel to the other realms and then come back with insights that make people less like sheep, and the Harlequins, who don't write Romance novels as you might think, but are instead extraordinarily trained and dedicated fighters who protect Travelers. Sort of The Matrix and a few others.

In the time covered by this book, the bad guys have changed their strategy with the Travelers.
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Format: Hardcover
Is the Traveler by John Twelve Hawks the best thing since sliced bread? No. Is it an incredibly original plot? Definitely not. However, it is still a page-turner and combines all of the derivative elements others have noted into a satisfying adventure/martial arts/sci fi novel.

The main protagonist, Maya, is a Harlequin, although a reluctant one-- she has been trained to devote her life to protecting Travelers, people who can shift into alternate universes. However, she doesn't really want to be a Harlequin, but she is forced into it by her father's death. She takes on her assigned duty of protecting Gabriel and Michael because it is her duty, not because of any emotional affection she may have for either of them.

When Michael is captured by the opposition, who want to use him for their own nefarious purposes, she focuses her energy and her fighting expertise on protecting Gabriel. She stubbornly tries to focus on the mission while he just as persistently tries to focus on the human side of things-- demanding that Maya take risks in order to save friends or intervene when a group of road warriors terrorize a waitress and her father at a roadside cafe.

Yes, the symbolism of Michael and Gabriel hits you rather heavily between the eyes (think archangels, folks.) However, I still enjoyed the book. There's nothing wrong with derivative fiction if it's done well and if the author puts his or her own twist on it. John Twelve Hawks accomplishes this in The Traveler, and I look forward to reading the next book in the series.
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