Another Kingdom by Andrew Klavan
A gal from my book club recommended this book, and I enjoyed the escapism it offered. This book began as a podcast and has an episodic feel to it. The author also makes political satire videos, and those undertones are present in the book.
“Austin Lively is a struggling, disillusioned screenwriter whose life is suddenly changed forever when he opens a door and is unwittingly transported to a fantastical medieval realm. Austin finds himself wielding a bloody dagger while standing over a very beautiful and very dead woman. Bewildered and confused, he is seized by castle guards and thrown in a dungeon. Just when he beings to fear the worst, he is suddenly transported back to reality in LA.
Stuck between dual realities—charged for a murder he doesn’t recall in one and running from a maniacal billionaire who’s determined to kill him in another—Austin’s monotonous life has become and epic adventure of magic, murder, and political intrigue in both the New Republic of Galiana and the streets of Los Angeles, California.”
Austin Lively is a standard Hollywood never-was living in his successful brother’s shadow and trying to keep his conspiracy-obsessed sister out of trouble. Too burned out to strive for career success but not seeing other options, his monotonous life devolves into chaos when he is launched to another world. Through his cynical, average-Joe eyes, the epic adventure is at first ridiculous, but as he grows into the hero he needs to be, it becomes more meaningful.
Another Kingdom falls squarely into the category of plot-driven novel. Klavan cuts between high-action plotlines in each “kingdom,” keeping the reader engaged throughout. Danger and intrigue fill even the spaces between the lines. Quick-paced and exciting, this book is easily digested.
The narrating voice is the novel’s main strength. From page one, readers are immersed in Austin Lively’s perspective. His cynical view colors his descriptions of even mundane aspects of life, and within a paragraph I felt as if I’d known Austin for years and could predict his reactions.
In keeping with the tight-pacing, the author’s writing style consists of short, simple sentences, most of which begin with “I.” An overabundance of “suddenly” is peppered throughout. While you don’t have to think hard to read the prose, it lacks aesthetic appeal.
Extreme feminists may find his descriptions of women offensive—he often praises their beauty, “softness,” and femininity. I found it quaint, so much so I checked the publication date to see whether this book was written fifty years ago. Nope. 2018. Guess Klavan is just a traditionalist.
Another Kingdom’s quick-paced, danger-filled plot and unique concept is the perfect escapism book. While the prose lacks artistry, it is easy to read.
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