Book Review: The Realms Thereunder: Book 1 of the Ancient Earth Trilogy, by Ross Lawhead
A fine beginning to a thrilling tale.
The Realms Thereunder is the first book in a compelling new trilogy written by Ross Lawhead. Having long been a fan of his father, Stephen R. Lawhead, I was curious to read Ross’ work. I certainly was not disappointed.
Complicated, but compelling are the words that come to mind in trying to describe the book. It features the adventures of Daniel Tully, a homeless young man, and Freya Reynolds, an Oxford University student. Eight years previously, they disappeared from a school field trip in England and entered Nidergeard, an underground world where there is a battle raging between good and evil. Daniel and Freya have not seen each other in several years. But now they are being drawn back together to finish the adventure they started previously.
On the surface, the book is a thrilling tale of science fiction and fantasy. On that level, it certainly does not disappoint. Under the surface, it tells the struggle between good and evil. The characters who are good try to carry out their task with both honor and integrity. The characters that are evil use manipulation, deceit, and violence to try and thwart Daniel and Freya.
Swidgar, a knight from Nidergeard, who helps Daniel and Freya describes the choices that face each person and how they impact not just ourselves, but the world as well.
“Such is the universe,” Swidgar resumed. “A vast multitude of spheres all spinning and dancing in the most intricate and bewildering patterns. At the right time, and in the right place, when the spheres are close enough, a man can step from one to the other, as easily as crossing a brook.
“So it is vitally important to be aware of those times of ‘evening’ in your life,” he said gravely, “and to consider carefully which path you decide to take, for the path will change not just you but your entire world.”
Modwyn, another character in Nidergeard, explains to Daniel and Freya the nature of the spiritual battle we find ourselves in.
“The battle against darkness is not our battle alone. Whether that darkness be within him or without, it is a war that man has fought since first he awoke. It is the most sublime battle in the universe, and it brings freedom to whoever fights in it, to whatever effect. Although our suffering may be greater than another’s, so also is our blow against the oppressor, and our victory and reward the sweeter. For this reason we were placed in this life to fight, and we are fighting as best we can. It may be dark now, and it may be darker henceforth. Our strength may leave us, but what we achieve will not be insignificant, and it will not be unnoticed. The greater the toil in our agony, the greater our glory at the last.”
A great beginning. I can hardly wait for Book 2.
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