The Kings of Eternity
by Eric Brown
Release Date: March 29, 2011
Paperback Trade Edition; 367 Pages
Genre: Science Fiction
Source: Review Copy from San Francisco Book Review
4 / 5 Stars
1999. On the threshold of a new millennium, the novelist Daniel Langham lives a reclusive life on an idyllic Greek island, hiding away from humanity and the events of the past. All that changes, however, when he meets artist Caroline Platt and finds himself falling in love. But what is his secret, and what are the horrors that haunt him?
1935. Writer Jonathon Langham and Edward Vaughan are summoned from London by their editor friend Jasper Carnegie to help investigate strange goings on in Hopton Wood. What they discover there – no less than a strange creature from another world – will change their lives for ever.
The Kings of Eternity is one of those novels where you are drawn into the story, immersed into characters and storyline and the very human problems that develop, without fully realizing until you are so deeply involved in the novel how the author subtly weaves the elements of science fiction into it, that what you are reading is something quite different, with many technological things not seen in our world, but are accepted as commonplace as they are introduced so innocently. I've read a lot of novels by Eric Brown over the years, and it's a style that definitely works very well as you don't feel like the author is throwing the technology and other science fiction paraphenalia at you to make it look like a science fiction novel; it's woven into the novel and becomes a basic part of the novel so the reader just accepts it and moves on. I always found myself reflecting on that after one of his novels, how I could just accept everything that happens so rationally, but it demonstrates Mr. Brown's strong style of writing that he can accomplish this so easily.
Daniel, Jasper, Charles, and Edward discover something extremely unusual in a copse of woods in 1935 that changes their life forever, and as the novel progresses, we learn how these men cope with the event they discovered and how they continue to deal with it as the years unfold. I often found myself contemplating how I would deal with it myself, and I don't know if I could have done it myself, but I doubt it's a dilemna I will ever have to face in my lifetime. I don't want to say too much as it will give away an important plot point, but it certainly is life-altering, and I'm sure everyone has thought about it at one point in their lives.
Daniel Langham is an interesting character, and although he lives a reclusive lifestyle on a beautiful Greek island, he is still someone with whom readers can identify. It is obvious right from the beginning that he is hiding a secret, and that he is hiding from someone, and for me, it just makes it that much more intriguing. When he meets Caroline Platt, a woman also hiding a secret, I found their developing relationship to be interesting as it was sweet and mature, and the characters spent a lot of time discussing their lives and enjoying each other's company. I enjoyed it because it wasn't necessarily love at first sight, but a developing friendship about two people who cared about each other, and learned to trust each other through that friendship. There was no drama, and fighting, and other things that are often found in other novels and I enjoyed that tremendously.
Jonathan Langham was involved in a difficult relationship with a woman named Carla and their on-again, off-again relationship was putting strain on him as well as the stress of his dying father whom he adored. When he was summoned to visit a friend outside of London, he fled happily, only to discover a portal to another world in a copse of wood outside his friend's house which completely changed his world. What I found intriguing about this was how the blend of science fiction and history was developed so seamlessly that you didn't realize you were reading a science-fiction novel until afterward when you analyzed the events. The friendship that developed here between the four men united them for the rest of their lives as they discovered a secret that would change their lives. It was this friendship I found fascinating; the way the men supported each other and discovered traits about each other and trusted each other absolutely. It all led to a conclusion that was rather satisfactory, if a little pat.
The Kings of Eternity made me think a little bit about my life and what I would like to accomplish in that lifetime and the legacy I would like to leave behind. While I love straight-out science-fiction novels with all of the in-your-face technology, I have always enjoyed Eric Brown's novels for their subtle use of technology and alien invasions and this one is no exception. Although somewhat predictable in its plotline and the lack of double-entendre which would make the reader question what they are reading, I could easily put that aside and just enjoy the character development, the descriptions of everything around them, the atmosphere, the subtle use of technology. For those who enjoy an interesting science-fiction novel, I recommend they take a look at The Kings of Eternity.