The Pilgrims
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The Pilgrims

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by Will Elliott

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Eric Albright is a twenty-six-year-old journalist living in London. That is to say he would be a journalist if he got off his backside. But this luckless slacker isn’t all bad—he has a soft spot for his sometimes friend Stuart Casey, the homeless old drunk who mostly lives under the railway bridge near his flat. Eric is willing to let his


Eric Albright is a twenty-six-year-old journalist living in London. That is to say he would be a journalist if he got off his backside. But this luckless slacker isn’t all bad—he has a soft spot for his sometimes friend Stuart Casey, the homeless old drunk who mostly lives under the railway bridge near his flat. Eric is willing to let his life just drift by…until the day a small red door appears on the graffiti-covered wall of the bridge, and a gang of strange-looking people—Eric's pretty sure one of them is a giant—dash out of the door and rob the nearby newsagent. From that day on Eric and Case haunt the arch, waiting for the door to reappear.

When it does, both Eric and Case choose to go through…to the land of Levaal. A place where a mountain-sized dragon with the powers of a god lies sleeping beneath a great white castle. In the castle the sinister Lord Vous rules with an iron fist, and the Project, designed to effect his transformation into an immortal spirit, nears completion. But Vous's growing madness is close to consuming him, together with his fear of an imaginary being named Shadow. And soon Eric may lend substance to that fear. An impossibly vast wall divides Levall, and no one has ever seen what lies beyond. Eric and Casey are called Pilgrims, and may have powers that no one in either world yet understands, and soon the wall may be broken. What will enter from the other side?

Pilgrims is no ordinary alternate-world fantasy; with this first volume in The Pendulum Trilogy, Will Elliott's brilliantly subversive imagination twists the conventions of the alternate-world fantasy genre, providing an unforgettable visionary experience.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Elliott kicks off his Pendulum Trilogy in this less-than-gripping fantasy. Eric Albright, a journalist specializing in overly-emotional reports of lost pets, notices a red door in an underpass, and when his curiosity leads him to force it open, he finds himself in another world, Levaal. Complete with mages and other magical beings, the realm is 500 years past "the War That Tore the World," and the reporter finds himself pitted against its tyrannical ruler. Elliott offers incoherent explanations for basic questions like how Albright is able to communicate with Levaal's residents. Efforts to make Albright sound hip fall flat; his social icebreaker technique of retelling Batman stories is labored. Rapid shifts in tone leave the reader's head spinning: a few pages after a character clowns around with fearsome creatures, there's a grim rape scene. The half-hearted world-building, and dull lead and plot, won't convince many readers to line up for the second volume. (Mar.)
Kirkus Reviews
The first entry in the Pendulum fantasy trilogy, from the author of The Pilo Family Circus (2006). Eric Albright, an apathetic 26-six-year-old London journalist, writes a column his colleagues consider to be a joke. His only friend, Stuart "Case" Casey, is a drunk who lives under a nearby railway bridge. One day, while on his way to play chess with Case, a small red door appears under the bridge. To Eric's surprise, a gang of weirdos emerges and robs the nearby news agent. When the door later reappears, Eric and Case go through and find themselves in Levaal, a land dominated by a huge, white, dragon-shaped castle. The castle's proprietor, Lord Vous, has ambitions to transform himself into an immortal. Vous dreads the Shadow, a being he believes haunts him and which might not even be real. Vous' chief servant is the Arch Mage, the most powerful of a group of wizards who, if they overuse magic, risk cooking themselves from within. Only a handful of Free Cities are not yet under Vous' control, and luckily, Eric and Case fall in with a band of warriors who resist Vous' growing power. In Levaal, Eric and Case are known as Pilgrims, for reasons unclear, though they can understand the language of all the peculiar creatures that live there—such as the Invia, mysterious beings resembling angels. One of the Invia gives Case a magical necklace and asks him to go spy on Vous, which, in exchange for a drink, he's happy to do. Where is this going, and does it all add up? Answers are uncertain; the characters talk the talk but don't have a real presence, and the narrative is mostly aimless. Still, it's inventive enough, not to say puzzling, and sets forth in prose of great clarity; this may be enough to tempt readers to return for future installments. Not altogether convincing but it has its charms.
From the Publisher

“The author's not only a superb craftsman and character-builder, but a consummate storyteller, so that each good-against-evil clash appears fresh and engrossing.” —Kirkus Reviews
Library Journal
Journalist Eric Albright doesn't have a lot going for him in his life, which might explain why, when a door suddenly appears in a train underpass, he ventures to the strange world that appears on the other side. Eric and Case, his homeless friend and underpass dweller, travel to Levaal, a pocket world between worlds, and become dangerously embroiled in the local conflict between a power-mad wannabe god and the free cities that are opposed to him. VERDICT Fast-paced action and vivid descriptions of the magic-wielding creatures help propel this fantasy, the first volume in Elliott's(The Pilo Family Circus) "Pendulum Trilogy," although the characters never quite soar off the page. The portal fantasy always has great potential, giving the reader a fish-out-of-water view of a new imaginative world, but it has been done better by authors such as Kim Stanley Robinson and Stephen R. Donaldson.

Product Details

Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date:
Pendulum Trilogy Series , #1
Edition description:
First Edition
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.60(d)

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

WILL ELLIOT's debut novel, The Pilo Family Circus, co-won the Aurealis Award for best horror, won the Golden Aurealis for best novel, and the Australian Shadows Award. The Pilgrims is the first title in Elliott’s visionary fantasy, The Pendulum Trilogy. Elliot was born in Brisbane, Australia

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Pilgrims 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
TheIndigoQuill More than 1 year ago
See full review @ The Indigo Quill . blogspot . com I can be accused of judging a book based on the genre it’s from. Fantasy is one of those genres for me. Apart from a few exceptions and classics, fantasy is one of those genres that is littered with busty elves and all powerful Gandalf knock-off wizards and talking dragons acting out one trope after another with shameless regularity. The beauty of The Pilgrims by Will Elliott is that he uses a lot of the same set pieces that make up trashy dime-a-dozen fantasy, but his vision and imagination make it seem like this is the first book I have ever read with wizards and talking dragons.  The scope of the world he invents and the depth of the characters immediately draws you in to the story. As expansive and detailed as the characters and setting are, Elliott never fails to keep you tightly focused on the individual details of the world and the personalities of the characters without getting bogged down with colorful and drawn-out descriptions. Most fantasy novels use pretty much the same system of magic, and it almost always ends up getting overblown and ruining the plot in one way or another. One of the greatest pieces of praise I can give Elliott is that his system of magic and casting is all his own. Some of the finer elements as to its mechanics aren’t revealed until the second and third books (yes it’s a part of a trilogy), but from the beginning you can tell it is something different than what you are used to reading about. The plot revolves around a young, normal man named Eric and his homeless, alcoholic friend Case. They find a door to another world and when they enter (with little more than a handgun that Case pilfered) they come to realize they may have been a bit too hasty jumping into a world very different from their own. They find themselves in a world of magic and unbelievable beauty juxtaposed by remarkable cruelty. Their arrival comes at a time of upheaval and civil war in the land of Levaal. In no time at all they are forced to fight for their lives in a war that is not their own. Eric and Case try to find their feet but find themselves at the center of everything. From homicidal mages to horrifying creatures, a mad king to hidden foes, they have their work cut out for them before things even get really dark. It pains me to give such an incomplete description, but any more could steal the journey away from any would-be readers.  I will just go ahead and say that this is one of the best books I have read all year (aside from the second book in the series that I’m currently reading). It isn't an intricately wrought Pulitzer contender, or a classic work of literature. The Pilgrims is, quite simply, an enjoyable, well thought-out, interesting story. I am saddened to hear that Will Elliott has distanced himself from the series after the completion of the trilogy. He has said that it isn’t the type of fiction that he should be writing and I can totally see where he’s coming from. His other works are of a deeper and more personal timbre and I can understand him feeling that his evocative voice is wasted on this brand of fiction but what might be his gain is certainly a loss for the genre. I found myself being really drawn into caring for the characters and what happens to them. The world and the setting are equally intriguing and interesting. I never once felt that I was being sentenced to sitting through yet another ”Portal to a fantasy realm”, “fish out of water” carbon copy. The story felt fresh, gritty and real without losing the sense of fantasy and adventure that you expect from a fantasy novel. The only criticism I can really give stems from the fact that this trilogy so far (again I am still on the second book, Shadow) seems like it is one long book cut into three parts almost arbitrarily.The ending of The Pilgrims doesn’t resolve as much as I would have hoped before picking up right where it left off in Shadow. Normally this wouldn’t be such a bad thing, but the second two books are increasingly hard to find in the U.S., especially in E-book format (legally). I would hope that wouldn’t turn anyone away from giving it a try though, because The Pilgrims and The Pendulum Trilogy this far are extremely worthwhile reads for any sci-fi, fantasy, or general fiction fan. Younger readers should avoid, because of some very adult content and violence. This shouldn’t be a follow up to Lord of the Rings as a bedtime story. When the kids are asleep, put on your wizard cap and your reading lamp and read yourself a bedtime story you’ll enjoy.