Review: The Kingdom Beyond The Waves - Stephen Hunt

Tuesday Jul 27 2010
by Michael

One of the first books which I wrote about for this newsletter was the genre-defying Court of Air, Hunts' first offering in his Jackelian series. The Kingdom Beyond the Waves, which sees the return of several characters from the first book, evolves mostly around the adventures of Professor Amelia Harsh, the magically enhanced archaeologist in search of the 'mythical' utopia of Camalantis. Harsh, who has a brief cameo in the first volume, while not presenting as sympathetic a character as Molly Templar, the female protagonist of the first book, is neutral enough that she certainly does nothing to prevent the reader from enjoying Hunt's anti-heroes, (his best characters in my mind), or his villains, who if not original, are certainly well-written.

Like Court of Air, despite the publisher’s fondest hopes, this novel is not a book for children. The themes and allusions in this book are clearly better suited for adult readers than young ones, particularly those who have no idea of what Communist Russia was like, and what the difference between the theoretical and practical applications of that particular political theory. Hunt also relies a great deal on the reader having read Court of Air, for at least some background on his very complex world and its idiosyncrasies.

That being said, the misclassification of this series does not in any way diminish the potential for enjoyment that the books present. Kingdom Beyond the Waves, rather than having the same strong political messages as the first, is more of a Indiana Jones/Ian Fleming style adventure, including steam powered robots, vigilantes, treasure hunting, and (unsurprisingly due to the title), submarines.

There have been two more released in the UK, with a fifth to follow, and if the rest of this series follows along the same lines as these first two books, it is going to continue to be an excellent option for those of our readers who enjoy the more fantastical premise in their reading.

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