This review was previously published in the BSFG Newsletter.
The Golden City
Author: John Twelve Hawks
Page count: 488pp
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin
Have you ever wondered what has happened to Dan Brown lately? Fear not. I am about to reveal all . . .
The bumph that came with my review copy declares “John Twelve Hawks lives off the grid, and only his agent knows who he really is. He speaks through a digital voice changer so as not to reveal his true identity!” Well, sorry to disappoint Corgi, but I think I know the mysterious identity of the writer. I’d be tempted to put my life savings on it that Mr Twelve Hawks is in fact Dan Brown of The Da Vinci Code fame.
Apparently, The Golden City is the long awaited conclusion to the Fourth Realm Trilogy. In John Hawk’s creation, there are six realms, or worlds. A Traveller can cross over these worlds unaided by the technology required by us mere mortals. Tagged as a “riveting blend of high tech thriller and fast paced adventure”, the novel finds Traveller Gabriel attempting to find his beloved Maya, a Harlequin, or assassin, who has become trapped in a deadly alternative reality. At the same time, his brother and fellow Traveller Michael, aligned with the shadowy Brethren, follows his own path to power. It smacks a little of Charles Stross’ Merchant Princess series meets The Da Vinci Code with a dash of Kane and Abel. Which brings me to my earlier point. We have;
A sinister religion – Check
Freaky assassins – Check
Hidden rooms – Check, and;
Lots of French that it is assumed the reader automatically understands
Now here’s the clincher; excessive and unnecessary info dumping. This has long been a technique employed by Mr Brown, and not always to good effect. Unfortunately Mr Twelve Hawks uses the same technique far too much and in the strangest instances, to the extent that it almost feels that there are two writers at work here, making the novel disjointed. Whilst I accept the novel does rattle away at a rapid pace, I had intense difficulty connecting with the characters. The only character that really breathes is Mr Hollis, who is somewhat intriguing, with the rest of the ensemble cast coming across like bland bit players. As such, this is a tricky book to rate, but I will say this. It isn’t a particularly bad book, and if you’re a fan of the Trilogy or Dan Brown it’s worth a look. However, if like me you are new to Twelve Hawks, spend your £7.99 on a writer who really knows his genre.