Maya has been raised by an elite warrior class known as the Harlequins – but their kind are dying, having been systematically hunted and exterminated by the Tabula, a secret organization seeking a world order. The Harlequins are the sworn protectors of Travelers – mystics, healers, and leaders of mankind who have the ability to travel between the dimensions of reality and are the true enemy of the Tabula their desired world order. The last known Traveler is long dead and Maya seeks a normal life as an ordinary citizen. Her father begs her help on a mission, seeking a pair of brothers who just might be Travelers. The Tabula are wired into the world’s surveillance systems and secretly pull the strings behind most world powers and they know.
Maya is a truly fascinating character who is wonderfully presented. Conflicted, hurt, lonely, and deadly – this isn’t the life she wanted. The other ‘good guys’ are equally interesting and rounded, while the ‘bad guys’ seem just a bit too cliché and uninteresting.
Though the summary above sounds rather SFF, the framework of The Traveler is all spy and techno-thriller. The standard approach to introducing a heroine and her environment is taken, but written with skill enough to not matter – after all, this is a book for the masses, and we’ve come to expect certain things.
The constant and complete surveillance of the world created, where governments seek to control and eliminate true freedom, makes this book the 1984 of a post 9-11 world. Personal freedom is assaulted and destroyed, and the visionaries, the most human of us all, hunted to extinction. The underlying views are neither subtle nor preachy, and they are certainly exaggerated to an extreme that is all the more scary because it rings true. Secret organizations seeking to rule the world aside, the implications and truth sink in and would make the Lone Gunmen cry.
The Traveler garnered lots of attention, maintaining a presence on the international bestseller lists when released in 2005. The attention was largely focused on the paranoia of the book and the author himself, whose identity is not publicly known and who advocates a life ‘off the grid’. Of course if you aren’t interested in all that nonsense mentioned above, it is a very good action-adventure-spy-techno-thriller written with more skill than one usually finds.
The Traveler picks and chooses from numerous genres and delivers a truly entertaining book, meaty with paranoid echoes of the real world. The first entry in the Fourth Realm Trilogy is followed by The Dark River, which I look forward to reading, and you should too – 8/10.