Bookmarks Issue: 

A-The Dark RiverPart George Orwell and part Matrix, the middle volume of John Twelve Hawks’s Fourth Realm trilogy reprises the efforts of Gabriel Corrigan to stay "off the grid"—that is, to avoid the many ways that government and corporations track people these days—and to save the world. Gabriel, a Traveler capable of shifting realms (there are six of these planes of existence, and we live in the fourth), and Maya, a Harlequin protector chosen at birth to guard Travelers with her life, battle Gabriel’s brother, Michael, and The Brethren (think Big Brother with better weapons), who plot to take over the world through some frightening invasions of privacy. When Gabriel transports himself to the First Realm—a reasonable facsimile of Hell—things look bleak for the good guys.
Doubleday. 384pages. $24.95. ISBN: 0385514298

SFFWorld 3.5 of 5 Stars
"I thoroughly enjoyed the kick off novel to this trilogy, The Traveler, when it was published two years ago, so I was looking forward to the continuing saga of Gabriel Corrigan and those connected to him. … The Dark River is a satisfying novel in its own right, and a satisfying continuation of [the] Fourth Realm trilogy." Rob H. Bedford

January Magazine 3 of 5 Stars
"The Dark River sometimes reads like the novelization of a film, descriptions written in a shorthand that stands in for vivid, living prose. … Much of [The Dark River]is derivative, not subversive, a mishmash of competing ideas and philosophies.." Patrick A. Smith

New York Times 2 of 5 Stars
"While [the series’ first book] The Traveler foretold a world of frightening high-tech menace, The Dark River deals in cherry-picked religious constructs and slightly enhanced versions of existing wonky phenomena. … With any luck Mr. Twelve Hawks, whose blunt fervor remains undiminished, will get himself off autopilot and rejoin this fight with renewed vigor." Janet Maslin

Critical Summary

To say that John Twelve Hawks—the pseudonym of the popular and reclusive author of the Fourth Realm trilogy—struggles under the burden of his success with the 2005 best seller The Traveler ( 4 of 5 Stars Sept/Oct 2005) might be a bit of an exaggeration. Still, The Dark River tends to lack the punch and originality of the earlier novel. True to Twelve Hawks’s vision, however, the second installment has enough gee-whiz moments and intense fight scenes to keep readers going—particularly those who enjoyed the first book. Some new revelations late in The Dark River will certainly fuel the finale. Here’s hoping Twelve Hawks still has a few tricks up his sleeve.