Daniel and Freya, two pre-teens who share the same birthday, find themselves stumbling into the realm of legends when they discover an enchanted doorway in an old church. Years later, though they’ve since gone separate ways, they are thrown together again as strange events prove that the adventure they shared years before isn’t yet over.
The Realms Thereunder by Ross Lawhead is a story told in two different timelines, one following Daniel and Freya on their underground adventure as pre-teens, the other describing events from their present as young adults. I really enjoyed this mechanic, which allowed me as the reader to discover the past at the same time that the present was unfolding. It adds to the sense of mystery surrounding the strange happenings in Oxford and elsewhere, because while it’s obvious that the previous journey to the underground realm of Nidergeard shared by the two friends is somehow related to what is going on in their current lives, it isn’t clear how or why until you know how that adventure ends.
In the same vein, it’s interesting to see how the characters of Daniel and Freya develop throughout the story. In their past, Daniel had embraced the adventure not only as a way to escape from a world where he was unhappy, but because he felt it was his destiny. He is more than willing to take on the mission given by the inhabitants of Nidergeard. Freya, on the other hand, wanted only to return home to the comfort of the familiar, hesitation dogging her every move. Their different attitudes directly affect the outcome of their journey, and also how they look back on it as adults. So when strange things begin happening in Oxford, where both Daniel and Freya find themselves, Daniel is once again ready to embrace his destiny while Freya would rather flee.
The Realm of Nidergeard itself, hidden in great caverns and tunnels under England, has had a hand in much of the history of that great country. Lawhead uses what seems to be a comprehensive knowledge of Great Britain to spin a convincing tale in which the modern world meets the stuff of legends, all somehow connected to this ancient realm under the feet of the unsuspecting English. Having once lived briefly in Oxford, I can certainly appreciate it as one of the settings for the meeting of worlds.
Knights, wizards, dragons, elves, trolls, changelings and even a spiritual “Black Ops” officer – all have their place in the The Realms Thereunder. A fun fantasy adventure with a rich history, I would highly recommend this first installment of The Ancient Earth Trilogy, and I’ll be looking forward to the next installment later this year.
Gillian Adams - Red Bissell - Keanan Brand - Beckie Burnham - Melissa Carswell - Jeff Chapman - CSFF Blog Tour - Theresa Dunlap - Emmalyn Edwards - April Erwin - Victor Gentile - Tori Greene - Nikole Hahn - Ryan Heart - Bruce Hennigan - Timothy Hicks - Christopher Hopper - Jason Joyner - Carol Keen - Krystine Kercher - Rebekah Loper - Marzabeth - Shannon McDermott - Rebecca LuElla Miller - Mirriam Neal - Eve Nielsen - Nissa - John W. Otte - Donita K. Paul - Joan Nienhuis - Crista Richey - Sarah Sawyer - Chawna Schroeder - Kathleen Smith - Donna Swanson - Rachel Starr Thomson - Steve Trower - Fred Warren - Dona Watson - Shane Werlinger - Nicole White - Rachel Wyant
Disclaimer: In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own.