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The Dark River: Book Two of the Fourth Realm    by John Twelve Hawks order for
Dark River
by John Twelve Hawks
Order:  USA  Can
Doubleday, 2007 (2007)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Alex Telander

John Twelve Hawks returns with The Dark River - the second of a trilogy, after The Traveler - in the Fourth Realm series. The first episode ended with Gabriel on the run from the Tabula with his Harlequin Maya, having just sabotaged the Tabula's quantum computer system which was part of the Virtual Panopticon: the Tabula's effort to create a worldwide system to watch and know what everyone is doing all the time. The Dark River continues the story of this dystopia in our near future as the Traveler fights for survival while the Tabula fights for domination.

A Traveler is someone who can travel to another realm. Learning from these other worlds, he or she returns with a heightened knowledge that they can pass on to others. They have existed for millennia; many famous people in history are believed to have been Travelers, including Jesus Christ. Then there are the Brethren, or the Tabula as they are known to Travelers, who are out to kill all the Travelers and have done so since the beginning. Except, in the modern age, the true power of the Traveler has been understood by the Tabula, so that they wish to capture Travelers and use them for their own gain. Finally there are the Harlequins, a secret group who have existed just as long, and whose sworn duty is to protect Travelers.

Gabriel and his brother Michael are Travelers. In the first book of the series, Michael was captured by the Tabula and has now become one of them, an enemy to Gabriel. So as the Tabula are both working on the Virtual Panopticon and looking for him, Gabriel discovers that his father a renowned Traveler is alive, and goes to England to search for him. He finds his father's body on an island near Ireland, barely alive, while his father's consciousness is in another world, another realm. It is now up to Gabriel to travel to this other realm, the First Realm better known as Hell to find his father and bring him back. At the same time he must not forget about the Tabula who are desperately looking for him.

The Dark River furthers the plot, but falls short of offering any shocking revelations, feeling simply like a chapter in the great saga of the Fourth Realm. It ends on a cliffhanger leaving the reader wondering how the enigmatic John Twelve Hawks (obviously a pseudonym) will complete this epic series, with just one more book to go.

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