The Far Kingdoms

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Almaric Antero has grown up the spoiled and indulged son of a wealthy merchant in the capitol city of Orissa. Before long his excursions into the seamier side of life force him out into the traditional “finding,” or search for new trade routes to benefit his family and the stagnating Orissa. He sets out with his companion Janos Greycloak in search of the mythical Far Kingdoms—lands from which wondrous goods have sometimes been said to originate, but whose existence has never been confirmed. With the reluctant blessing of the Evocators, greedy sorcerers who effectually control the commerce and thus the government of Orissa, the companions set out. Eventually, after many adventures, several starts and stops and restarts, and after encountering many strange adversaries of both the magical and garden variety, they reach their goal, only to find that in spite of the wondrous culture of the Far Kingdoms, the people are no different, no more good or evil than those of Orissa.

Although the characters of Janos and Almaric are engaging, there are disappointments that plague this book. Of these, perhaps the most glaring is the sense of disconnectedness. Events and characters occur accidentally or coincidentally. The authors consistently introduce characters, settings, and objects that appear and then disappear, without any particular impact on the advancement of the plot. For example, after Almaric’s opening fiasco with the beautiful Melina, she disappears, never to be heard from again. In the end, why do the authors introduce Omerye? Except as receptacles for Almaric’s lust (presented, incidentally, in a rather juvenile and bad romance novel form), these women are absolutely insignificant, yet readers become distracted while waiting to learn of their significance. Though the prose of THE FAR KINGDOMS is engaging, the hodgepodge organization is quite dissatisfying.