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‘Beyond The Shining Portals’ is an Alternate History/SFF novel.
The opening half of the story takes place in an alternate but familiar world. First, in a water-filled London either side of New Year’s Eve, 1793-1794; second, in a dark, purple-hued Edinburgh during Halloween, 31st October, 1969, and finally in a house in Cornwall with mathematically impossible dimensions in the summer of 2023.
Jack Brennan climbs through the shining portal in the Temple Tavern in Fleet Street; Luuk Van Buren leaves Edinburgh via the back bedroom of a flat in Cowgate during a party, and Elektra sneaks past her uncle in his travel shop in Boscastle.
By the mid-point of the book, Jack faces catastrophe. He is a runaway factory apprentice, pursued by bounty hunters and the marines. And he has an urgent question that must be answered to save his brother’s life.
Van Buren has been brought back from the dead for the one hundred and fiftieth time. But the one hundred and fiftieth-first iteration has a problem. The iterations have always been a source of advice and experience but now, lurking amongst them is a stranger, a potential enemy.
Elektra has a sunny disposition, but soon, she will discover she is a half-life girl. Close to the end of the book, she learns tha she has been designed to seek out a demigod, a dynatoi, and kill him. Elektra is the first self-aware half-life girl.
Far away, beyond the shining portals, lies a world called the Vault of Heaven. On its highest peak is the Librarium, and within the Librarium is the Oracle. Pose a question and it will tell a dream-like story in answer. But the road there is dangerous, and an eclectic crew of magical misfits, with their own questions to ask, coalesce around the three main characters.
Michael Basilicus leads the antagonistic forces. He appears in Jack Brennan’s London as a mysterious and charming Greek shipping line owner. But the charm is a veneer. He is a killer. He kills in London and appears in Edinburgh and kills again. Michael Basillicus is a dynatoi. He and his kind have ruled humanity behind the scenes for millenia. Michael Basilicus himself is 20,000 years old.
The dynatoi have identified Jack as an anomoly. They suspect Jack was hidden in 18th century London by their enemies, the Maiden Orders, to protect the child. The dynatoi destroy anomalies as potential threats but even they cannot kill someone before he is born.
Lying in wait for the band of magical misfits, hidden in the caves beneath the Vault of Heaven, is the demon, Sargeant Malachi Swivel, accompanied by his men. In the Oracle Room itself, lurks the blood-red venomous spider, Rosebud. And, of course, there is the dynatoi, Michael Basilicus. Michael Basilicus plans kill Jack in the Vault of Heaven.
Why I recommend this book: The above description by the British author of this unusual, well-written fantasy should whet the appetite for anyone who likes to read something different in this genre. It will keep your interest as you travel through many perils with those in the story. My favorite part is near the end (spoiler-free): “…some universes could be measured in decades or centuries, like the Tolkienian universe. All were part of the Motherlode. Intuits and creatives like Monsignor LeClef could feel the resonance of other universes close by. They expressed this in storytelling, books, music, plays and artwork…” Yes! I love this idea of sub-created worlds existing and reachable through whatever artistic portal is chosen to bring them into this world. This is just the first book in a trilogy, so stay tuned for more and enjoy the ride!
Check out Charles N. Palmer’s other books too.
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Do you want to read this book? It should be out soon!