The Kingdom on the Edge of Reality
by Gahan Hanmer
Paperback: 360 pages
Publisher: Two Harbors Press
Genre: Fantasy, Action, Adventure
About the book:
Welcome to Albert Keane’s beautifully designed medieval kingdom nestled in a completely isolated river valley in the Canadian wilderness. Peaceful, happy, and prosperous, it takes nothing from the modern world, not so much as a single clock.
There is a castle, of course, and a monastery. There is even a pitch dark, rat-infested dungeon – because you simply have to have one if you are trying a rule a feudal kingdom!
Farmers work the land, artisans ply their trades, monks keep school and visit the sick, and nobody (well, almost nobody) misses the modern world at all.
So why has Jack Darcey – actor, wanderer, ex-competitive fencer – been tricked and seduced into paying a visit? And why hasn’t anyone told him that the only way to leave is a perilous trek across hundreds of miles of trackless wilderness without a compass or a map?
Because a tide of fear and violence is rising from the twisted ambitions of one of King Albert’s nobles, and Albert’s fortune teller believes that Jack could turn the tide – if he lives long enough.
Seamlessly blending medieval and modern elements, The Kingdom on the Edge of Reality serves up a heady brew of action, humor, romance and satire in a kingdom set apart in time and space where reality is the dealer’s choice.
About the Author
In the classical theater Gahan played soldiers, princes, kings and gods, along with beggars, villains, criminals and madmen. Trained in the Stanislavski ‘method’, living truly in the skins and minds of these characters, he absorbed what each of them had to teach him. But life in the theater is a kind of sacrifice; there is little or no money in it. He left the theater and came back to it many times. He wandered, stumbling through life, searching for he wasn’t sure what, supporting himself in a variety of occupations. The real world was his teacher then.
Later in life, when he had outgrown his need for the world of the theater and began living a more normal life, he began to try to organize some of what life had taught him in a novel of romance and adventure. Every night, after his two daughters were in bed, he became the main character in a perilous mythical journey and recorded it as it unfolded in his imagination. Years later, rewritten and revised many times and finally pruned and polished, the result was The Kingdom on the Edge of Reality.
It is very difficult to think while you are galloping, especially over rough terrain. Why was I chasing her? I didn’t know. What did I expect to achieve? I didn’t care. I was just a crazy centaur chasing another crazy centaur across the crags of the timeless past.
I chased her across the meadow, but she disappeared down another trail. I chased her down the trail and saw her plunge into the trees. I chased her through the trees, and when she splashed across a stream I splashed after her. Now we were back at the meadow, and I chased her in the opposite direction. We were both wet from the stream and whiplashed from the branches. Was she planning to go streaking through the auction?
No, she veered onto the trail toward the waterfall, and suddenly I was gripped with fear. It was not a good place to be reckless. The trail there turned into a twisty and steep dirt road that switchbacked down through a narrow canyon to the bridge in front of the waterfall. I knew it well, for it had made a hair-raising course for a Flexible Flyer when the snow was deep. On a galloping horse it would be suicide.
“Jenna, don’t! Jenna, no!” I knew it was too late. At the top of the grade, I reined in sharply and looked down. Her horse was out of control. It was too steep to stop, and she would never make the last turn before the road curved down to the bridge. Far below were the big boulders of the streambed.
Someone was screaming now. Was it me? No, it was Jenna screaming at her horse, screaming Cassie up to top speed, lashing the animal with her voice. She was lying low on the withers, one hand tangled tight in Cassie’s mane, the other arm gripping the horse’s neck. Suddenly I saw what she had in mind.
On the other side of the canyon the road jutted out from the hill. Jenna was going to try to make it across the gorge. It was all up to the horse now. I saw Cassie break a quarter stride as she measured the distance. She knew what she had to do to survive.
Please God give that horse wings, please God don’t let her fall, please God, oh please God, please! The horse was in midair now, straining every nerve, the forelegs reaching out, the hind legs tucking up, all time compressed into one second, one beat of my heart. Now a rasp of rocks spun out into the gorge as the hooves found a few inches of purchase on the other side. Cassie was stumbling, went almost to her knees, caught herself and stood up straight, stamping in the road. Jenna was still lying flat against the horse’s spine, her hand tangled in its mane.
Slowly she sat up, slowly she rolled a leg over and slid to the ground. Dropping to the grass, she wrapped her head up in her arms.
When my heart stopped pounding so desperately, I rode the short way back to the meadow and retrieved Jenna’s clothes. Then I picked my way along the road past the bridge, and tied Pollux up near Cassie. Jenna accepted the clothes and pulled them on without comment or coyness.
“I’m sorry if I frightened you,” she said finally. She seemed annoyed with herself.
“I’m glad you’re all right, Jenna.” “I have to do things like that. I can’t help it.” “You did that on purpose?”
“Well, no, of course not. But throwing my clothes off, behaving wildly . . . It’s just that life gets so boring sometimes, don’t you think? And when you try to liven it up, things often end badly. Why is that?”
“I don’t know, Jenna. I don’t know anything about life, except that it’s easy to get it all screwed up, even with the best intentions.”
“Do you think I’m crazy?”
It was not the answer she was expecting. “Oh? Well, I’m sorry I asked.”
“I think everybody’s crazy. I don’t see any way around it.”
“But you don’t think badly of me?”