An epic tale about a Hollywood nobody whose mission is to become a hero – unwilling and unlikely. It’s the first in a trilogy and set in LA but also in an alternate realm, the titular universe where the Forest King sends a big rat with a woman’s face to rescue our dislocated protagonist from prison – and an enraged ogre, an affable executioner / interrogator, and a shit monster. Yes, a monster made of excrement. The protagonist, a 30 year old aspiring screenwriter, is Austin Lively. He’s tossed back and forth between LA and the fantasy land, Galiana. Faced with a quest in each of these realities, he finally begins to think they are related.
It’s not your typical book. Engrossing, with all sorts of mythical characters like nymphs and fairies, but in LA, drunken has beens, desperate actors, and of course, the rich and powerful – Hollywood’s elite. The cast of characters is substantial, and I’ve listed most of them below. I thought the book was straight forward but shared the book with a young relative of mine who said it was “too political.” That surprised me as I thought the cultural commentary was spot on. Your results may vary.
I love this story and the distinct, realistic characters. At least, they’re pretty realistic in LA. However, Galiana, the other realm in which the protagonist is intermittently transported to without warning throughout the book, is more of a Narnia – esque place. But the events there are terrible, even horrifying.
I loved this book. I read it three times. And I think, for me anyway, the point is we have to live well – like knights on a quest – and appreciate the pure, true, and beautiful. We have to reject selfishness, and perhaps the self-centeredness of the modern age. Whether you want to put a more political spin on it is entirely up to the you, gentle reader. 5/5
List of characters (partial)
A reader – “story consultant.” Austin Lively. (read by Michael Knowles).
Candy – his boss
Ken – Candy’s assistant
Kitten Face, Billiard Ball – thugs tailing Austin.
Sean Gunther – author, who submitted request for Another Kingdom the novel within the novel. Wrote ONE great novel.
Ellen Evermore, mysterious author of Another Kingdom, the novel within the novel
(Henry Quint – head of Mythos entertainment)
Serge Orasgo, multi-trilionaire – owns Global Pictures.
Austin’s brother —- Richard Lively – senior Fellow at the Orosgo Institute Think Tank and renowned author.
Austin’s parents —-
Father – Psychology Chair at Berkley
Mother – Sociology professor at Berkley
Austin’s sister —- Riley Lively. You-tuber, vlogger, conspiracy theorist extraordinaire.
Eastrim, the capital city of Galiana, with Lord Iron in control
Netherdale – home of Lady Betheray
Austin Lively (of course) His mission in the fantasy world, “To find the queen’s talisman and deliver it to Emperor Anastasius. So that he knows to return from the Eleven Lands and restore her to her throne.”
“No fighting men of brave heart and right belief”
Lady Betheray Netherdale, formerly a lady-in-waiting to Queen Elinda
Lady Kata Palav, also a former lady-in-waiting to Queen Elinda
Lord Winton Iron Netherdale
Sir Aravist Tem, captain of the guard
Queen Elinda, the wise queen who was deposed from the throne by militants (known in LA as Ellen Evermore)
King Tauratanio and Queen Magdala
Dest (?) Austin’s horse, not named in this novel.