The Realms Thereunder

( 23 )

Overview

Ancient legend tells of an army of knights that will remain sleeping until the last days. The knights are waking up. A homeless man is stalked by a pale, wraithlike creature with a mouthful of needle-sharp teeth. Maimed animals and a host of suicides cluster around a mountain in Scotland. And deep beneath the cobbled streets of Oxford, a malicious hoard besieges a hidden city. Freya Reynolds is a university student with a touch of OCD and an obsession with myth and folklore. Daniel Tully is living rough on the ...

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The Realms Thereunder

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Overview

Ancient legend tells of an army of knights that will remain sleeping until the last days. The knights are waking up. A homeless man is stalked by a pale, wraithlike creature with a mouthful of needle-sharp teeth. Maimed animals and a host of suicides cluster around a mountain in Scotland. And deep beneath the cobbled streets of Oxford, a malicious hoard besieges a hidden city. Freya Reynolds is a university student with a touch of OCD and an obsession with myth and folklore. Daniel Tully is living rough on the streets of Oxford, waging a secret war against an enemy only he can identify. Years ago, they found themselves in a world few know is real. They have since gone their separate ways and tried to put that adventure behind them. But the mythical world is now bleeding into our reality—a dark spiritual evil that is manifesting itself in forgotten corners of the British Isles. Alex Simpson is a Scottish police officer who specializes in hunting mythical creatures. Together, they must confront the past, the present, and points beyond to defeat the ultimate threat to humanity. Nothing they’ve seen so far prepares them for what awaits . . . in The Realms Thereunder.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“[A] fantastically compelling novel mixing the best of fantasy, adventure, and intrigue.”
—C.J. Darlington, TitleTrakk.com; author of Bound by Guilt
 
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781598599862
  • Publisher: Oasis Audio
  • Publication date: 9/6/2011
  • Series: An Ancient Earth
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 5.40 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Ross Lawhead

Ross Lawhead studied screenplay writing for film and television at Bournemouth University in England. He is the co-writer and penciler on the !HERO comic books and graphic novel. Ross lives in Oxford, England.

 

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Read an Excerpt

THE REALMS THEREUNDER


By ROSS LAWHEAD

Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2011 Ross Lawhead
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4016-8660-4


Chapter One

Oxford Is Not Safe

1

Eight Years Ago ...

FOUND!

Manhunt for missing kids ends in Scotland.

Daniel Tully and Freya Reynolds, the two schoolchildren who went missing 72 days ago, have been found near Kilmarnock, in East Ayreshire, Scotland. Alex Simpson, the son of a farm owner, discovered them yesterday at 5:04 p.m. Both were covered in mud and displayed signs of severe shock and were disturbed mentally but were otherwise in good health when examined at St. Bride's Hospital by Peter Tavish, MD. No statement has yet been made by the children. A joint statement by the parents and the police describe themselves as "joyful and relieved" at the return of the children, who will be driven to Glasgow to undergo further examination.

Daniel Tully, 13, and Freya Reynolds, also 13, went missing on a class trip to a church in Abbingdon in the British Midlands over two months ago. Criminal experts are at a loss to explain. (continued on page 5)

2

Now ...

Daniel Tully sat unmoving and unnoticed—just another gargoyle on Broad Street. A paper cup in front of him held fifty-six pence in small coins and there were two pounds in his pocket. That meant either a proper meal or a bed in the night shelter. He really wanted both. He could try blagging his way into the homeless café—the Gatehouse—even though he was too young at only twenty years old. That would give him a meal and he could buy the bed and keep the fifty-six pence for tomorrow.

"Spare change, mate?" he asked a pair of business trousers.

The legs continued without breaking stride. Two other pairs of legs coming the other way stopped in front of him and he looked up.

Two girls, students, stood in front of him and one of them was digging around in her purse. She hastily fished out a couple of coins—her friend gazing sourly at her all the while—and dropped them into his cup.

"God bless you," Daniel said. "Both of you, God bless you."

They hurried away, the sour one berating her friend for—what, exactly? Daniel sat stoically until they dashed between the columns of the Bodleian Library. Then he leaned forward and inspected the latest windfall. There looked to be seventy-eight pence now. That meant she only gave him twenty-two.

Sighing, he got up, shouldered his overstuffed rucksack, and started walking to St. Michael's Street. The bodies in front of him shifted, opened, and closed in their usual manner. And through the ebb and flow, a figure was suddenly revealed and then hidden again—a small, lean, heavily tattooed figure that walked with an animalistic gait, wide and lurching.

Daniel froze, his heart racing. He pushed his breath out in a low whistle, his hand instinctively rising and clutching at an object hanging under his jacket along his rib cage. He gripped it so hard that his knuckles went white.

With an effort he opened his fist and started walking again.

He strode quickly this time, weaving deftly through the crowd, trying to close the gap between himself and the tattooed head. He still had not caught sight of it by the time he stood underneath Carfax Tower, the intersection of the town's busiest foot traffic. He stood, turning slightly as he rapidly scanned the faces of those approaching from four directions, hoping—but dreading—to see the squat, hairless head.

Underneath Carfax Tower was another homeless man selling magazines—Scouse Phil. Daniel approached him with a nod. "Alright, Phil?"

"Eee, our Dan. How's yourself?"

"Yeah, not bad, not bad. You ain't seen a short bloke, kind of thin, shaved head, tattoos, that kind of thing? Passed by about ten minutes ago?"

"That who you were looking for over there? Can't say I've seen him that recently, but yeah, I've seen him about. Tattoos all swirly like, but with lots of edges. Nasty business he is. Largin' himself up, throwin' it around like God Almighty. Violent. Got thrown out of the Gatehouse a few times. You got business with him?"

"Not as such. He was at the Gatehouse? He's on the streets? Where does he hang out?"

"Dunno. I've seen him a few times around the canals down near Hythe Bridge Street. Doesn't keep regular with any company I know. Independent like."

"Name?"

"Don't know a name. Best left well alone in my opinion. Wide berth, Danny, wide berth. Listen, if it's some horse you want—"

"Nah, see you around, Phil. Cheers."

"Cheers, then. Be well."

Daniel turned and joined the crowd. A glance up at the clock tower showed the time to be twenty to five. The Gatehouse would be open now. He stroked his beard and turned his feet in that direction.

It was the busiest time of the day. People crisscrossed in front of him, ducking into shops, doing after-work errands before going back to their homes and dinners with their loved ones. Groups of tourists—students on school trips, all of them with matching yellow backpacks—stood in clusters outside the fast food restaurants, yelling at and flirting with each other. And for the second time that day Daniel caught a glimpse from within the swarm of faces of someone he recognised.

He stopped in his tracks. "It can't be ..."

He turned and looked at the sea of people. She wasn't there anymore; the tide had closed. Lurching forward, he ducked into Ship Street, a long, narrow, fairly empty side road. There were two people at the far end and a solitary one walking away from him. This person was young—his age—female, slender, with black hair that was tied up loosely—and she carried a bag that looked to be bulging with books. A student, then. One hand dangled at her side and he could see that it was a light creamy brown.

He found his voice and shouted, "Freya!"

She didn't turn around or even break her stride but kept walking. He shouted her name again.

"Freya, come back!"

Without turning around she broke into a run, sprinting away from him.

He chased after her. He was only halfway down the street when she had reached the end, and by the time he finally made it to Turl Street, she was out of sight.

For the second time that day—that hour—he stood bewildered, searching the faces in the crowd. He wasn't surprised that she ran. If she was a student, then it may not be too hard to find her again, but what did it mean? First one of those creatures, and now Freya—two people he'd nearly given up ever seeing again. The fingers of his right hand stroked the edge of a notebook that was tucked in his jacket pocket. He would have to record these incidents later. No time now.

He retraced his steps and cautiously approached the Gatehouse, spending a futile ten minutes trying to convince the lady at the door that he was over twenty-five when they both knew he wasn't. In the end he asked for a plastic bottle he had to be filled with water and then he went across the street and waited, slunk against a low brick wall. He passed the time by trying to get his nerves under control but was unsuccessful in doing anything more than slowing his breathing.

The Gatehouse closed at six, its patrons trickling out singly or in pairs. If the tattooed man was in there, Daniel knew that he would be noticed but almost certainly not recognised. He hoped that would be enough of an edge.

Fewer and fewer people were coming out now and Daniel was about to get up himself when the tattooed man appeared. He got a good, clear look at him this time. Hairless, dressed in a loose-fitting T-shirt and black leather trousers. It didn't look like he was carrying any weapons except perhaps a knife in his pocket. Swathes of ink covered his body so broadly it was possible to think that he was naturally blackish-blue with only patches of white. His face was lumpy and swollen in the way that a continual scrapper's usually are; his features doughy and slightly formless. His lips were curled into a thin, cruel line and his ears were ragged, torn. He wore sunglasses that comically humanised him, like a dressed-up pet; for there was now no doubt in Daniel's mind about the creature's true identity.

It walked towards him on the opposite side of the street. Although Daniel couldn't see its eyes, it must have spotted him, though it gave no sign. It continued walking and turned the corner.

"Okay, okay ..." Daniel rose and followed but kept to his side of the street. He didn't know how ruthless the creature would be, how heedful of public places it would be, so it was best to keep his distance for now.

He caught sight of his quarry again as it turned down George Street, towards the canals that led to Jericho. Daniel followed, lagging far enough behind to keep the thing in sight, not caring if he was seen. Although it never turned or threw a glance behind, it knew it was being tailed.

The sky had dimmed but it was not yet dark. This was a time of the day that excited Daniel, but he willed himself to stay calm. He tried to turn that nervous energy into a taut, controlled tension and awareness. If it was to be now, then it was to be now. Whatever must follow, must.

He stepped into the doorway of a boarded-up corner shop to quickly adjust his clothing. He unzipped his coat so it was just done up about an inch and hung loosely together in front of him. He pulled his arm out of its sleeve, which he tucked into its outer pocket. Shrugging and hunching forward, he tucked his forearm into his stomach and gripped the handle of the thin, cold object that hung at his side.

If he walked carefully enough, he'd give the impression of having both hands tucked into his jacket pockets. It wouldn't fool anyone who looked closely, but it would do for someone who was only giving him the briefest of looks.

Stepping out from behind the abandoned shop, he saw the shadow creature crossing the bridge ahead of him, still en route to the canals. He walked as quickly as he could without giving himself away, briskly crossing the street and cresting Hythe Bridge.

He was just in time to see the thing take a right turn along the canal, passing through a cycle gate. It took him some time to get across, due to traffic, and when he did, the tattooed man was nowhere in sight.

He slowed his pace and scanned the area. The canal ran just a few feet to his left. Houseboats were moored intermittently along the side, and to the right was wild scrubland, not very deep, but thick enough with brambles and tall grass to adequately hide someone in this low light undetectably. Right now Daniel's best shot was to keep himself out in the open and wait to be attacked. He kept walking.

"Steady," he whispered. "Steady now." As he inched forward, he tried to hide his fear, but then decided that it would be better for the one hunting him if he didn't hide it. He tried to keep his breath even.

The seconds dragged on until he heard, with a relief that nearly chilled him, a faint scuffle on the path behind him. He turned carefully, keeping his left shoulder most visible, and saw the creature standing off at a distance of about thirty feet. It had discarded its sunglasses and T-shirt and was crouching on the footpath, half naked and wreathed in shadows, leering at him.

"Lonely little light," it said. "Dim light, faint light. All alone in a city of one hundred and fifty thousand. A fraction so infinitesimally small, it's hardly worth expressing. Statistically insignificant, equivalent to nothing."

Daniel wanted to reply, to try to deflate its gloating pride, but he was depending on the creature's conceit to survive the fight—he had to play the role of unsuspecting prey. He set his jaw and narrowed his eyes, bracing himself for the attack.

The thing opened its lips in a sneer, revealing teeth sharpened into spikes. "It has been eighty-one days," it said, "since I've had a decent meal." It raised its hands to show that it gripped two spring-loaded knives in its hands. "Eleven and a half weeks; one thousand nine hundred and forty-four hours. I will savor you, I guarantee."

It licked its lips and then broke into a low, frantic run. Daniel crouched, waiting for it to leap. It had to leap; they always leapt. If it didn't leap, he wasn't sure of his chances.

Daniel crouched even lower as the creature drew closer, and just when he thought it was too late, it pounced nearly twice its own height up into the air where it arced perfectly, on course to land right on top of him.

He waited until it reached its peak, perfectly silhouetted against the evening sky, and then with a smooth, lightening-fast motion, Daniel's right arm came up through his open jacket, grasping the hilt of a sword with a wide blade just a few feet long. It stuck in the air, unwavering, perfectly placed to pierce the creature's chest as it fell.

The thing had only a fraction of a second before it descended upon the blade. Its eyes widened in surprise while its mouth was still twisted in hate. As the sharp, thin metal penetrated its torso, the beast spasmed and dropped its knives. In a smooth movement Daniel brought his left hand up and struck the creature on the pelvis, using its own momentum to carry it up and over his head, flipping it over onto the pathway behind him.

It fell squarely on its back, and as it fell, Daniel moved his arm in such a way that his sword was pulled automatically out the thing's chest. He held it poised for another strike but one was not necessary. There was a gaping, steaming wound in the thing's chest that gurgled and spewed thick, black lifeblood. Its throat worked, desperately trying to breathe. Its eyes gazed distantly into the sky.

Daniel kicked it in the head with his foot and then crouched down, pressing his left hand on the side of its skull and putting his mouth near the creature's tattered ear.

"Listen to me carefully," Daniel said in an even, clear voice. "If, when you reach the dark, smoky pit where you will surely burn in unending agony, you are able to send a message to your friends through whatever infernal back passages exist, tell your vile brethren this:

"Oxford is not safe."

He stood and with his free hand grabbed his slain victim's leg, dragging the body into the tall grass, far enough so that it almost certainly wouldn't be discovered until the next day, if not much later. Once hidden he bent and slit its throat, just to be certain. He wiped his sword as much as he could on the weeds around him—he'd have to go into a toilet somewhere and clean it more thoroughly when he had the chance—and replaced it in its sheath underneath his shirt. Then he went back and kicked around the dirt and gravel on the footpath to mask the blood.

All that done, he walked briskly back the way he came, feeling himself still glowing with adrenaline and triumph. Not too far from where the killing took place, he found the thing's discarded T-shirt and sunglasses, which he casually kicked into the dark waters of the canal. Then he stepped out onto the busy pavement and the flickering yellow light of the street lamps, which were just coming on.

When the body was discovered, he thought, they would not be able to identify it, "it" having no identity. The weapon that made the wounds upon the body was odd enough to be unique, and unknown to anyone but himself, so no one could possibly connect him to it. The business looked fairly airtight.

Still, it was prudent to keep a low profile the next few days and perhaps steer clear from the night shelter, where enquiring minds usually dropped by at some point. His stride broke slightly as he recalled that he had talked to Scouse Phil about the thing, and he chided himself. But there was little he could do about that now.

A man coming towards him on the pavement fixed an odd stare at Daniel's forehead as they passed, and then quickened his step. Daniel slowed and put a hand up to his face, then held it out.

Blood. Not his, but the creature's.

He turned to the wall and rubbed every inch of his face with his palms, drying them in his hair, until he judged that he had probably removed as much of it as he could, or at least smeared it to a thin red film. Yet another reason to find a stall in a toilet soon.

Then he had to find a place to sleep that night.

Then he had to find Freya.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from THE REALMS THEREUNDER by ROSS LAWHEAD Copyright © 2011 by Ross Lawhead. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 23 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 24 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 14, 2011

    Another Fine Addition to the Fantasy Canon

    The first book of the Ancient Earth trilogy, The Realms Thereunder, is also author Ross Lawhead's debut novel. It creates a well-thought out plot that alternates between two worlds, the world of present day Oxford and the timeless realm existing under the earth. His protagonists, the drifter Daniel Tully and the OCD student Freya Reynolds are on a quest to discover the source of the increasing evil that is manifesting itself in horrible and unsettling ways. Though comparison with Lawhead's father, author Stephen Lawhead is inevitable, one should try to read Realms for its own merits, which are many. A well-written and engaging read full of dark alleys, evil and malignant creatures, memorable characters and travel between alternate realities, it maintains a good pace and enough interest to hold this inveterate and opinionated reader of good fantasy captive. The Realms Thereunder is a blend of ancient and modern day England and draws heavily from the country's rich store of history and myth, creating a compelling landscape across which the author spreads his story of interweaving realities. For an exciting distraction from your own reality, I would heartily recommend this book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 28, 2012

    A stonking good story! Original and Slightly more sophisticated

    A stonking good story! Original and Slightly more sophisticated (and
    somewhat more complicated) than most run-o-the-mill stuff out there.
    Lawhead employs a fine sense of observation, backed up by a real feel
    for Old English history and legends to create a unique and original
    fantasy rooted in the age of Alfred the Great. The result is refreshing
    and interesting and, at times, very touching. What fun! Bring on Book 2!
    I'm a fan

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  • Posted March 13, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    When I got The Realms Thereunder, I read the first page and it d

    When I got The Realms Thereunder, I read the first page and it didn't click.

    To be honest - I am not sure what was wrong with me at that moment.

    When I picked up the book again, not only I've read the first page - I could not put the book down! Reading late into the night, reading at lunch with my co-workers watching me (because we have a little kitchen and one table...), reading on my way to work... Well, you get the idea.

    Past and present are ingeniously entwined into a tale that can be easily placed on the same shelf as the Chronicles of Narnia, Skin Map, and Inkheart. Daniel Tully and Freya Reynolds, former classmates and fellow adventurers, have to embrace their past experience and once again journey into the unknown to help the world survive against the evil that is rising. Daniel is full of anticipation, Freya is full of fear, yet together they make a great team.

    The plot is packed with action and yet Ross weaves a story-line that includes philosophical and theological discussions about the battles familiar to each and every one.

    "People can go anywhere," Swiðgar said. "But are they where they want to be?"

    Sometimes it takes something supernatural to get us thinking about the real reality of life. In our busyness of life, do we pay attention to what we have or simply take everything for granted? Do we really need to be transplanted into another world to see what we've got?

    I highly recommend this book to all those who like to plunge into the unknown reality of other worlds that exist right here next to us.

    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2012

    I knew the experience I had was this book was not new to me. And

    I knew the experience I had was this book was not new to me. And I was not really all that much surprised when I found out that Ross Lawhead is actually Stephen R. Lawhead's son--who's novel, The Skin Map, also had an interestingly complicated plot that needed more than half-minded reading.

    It can get easily confusing, what with the onslaught of terms and creatures, basically a whole new world underneath the surface we have come to know. Discovering what and how life in this world is like is an experience that you should discover for yourself, so I will not be divulging anything about it. All I can say is that, you really need to get into this novel with your undivided attention so as you can learn to appreciate the realms thereunder.

    The characters are also very interesting mostly for their imperfections. The idea of making them twenty-something young adults haunted by their past adventures into another realm, I think, was a more effective approach than if they would've started out as teenagers. Although not always easy to relate with (at least for me), I found it quite easy to sympathize with their plight/s.

    More than entertaining, this book is also a journey of adventure and discovery for me. I could not wait to get back and see what else there is for me to learn and discover.

    I got a free copy of this book to review from Booksneeze. Thanks!

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  • Posted February 19, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    A new blend of fantasy fiction!

    Ross Lawhead has taken his first step in fulfilling a fantasy-genre fictional based storyline that I will no doubt have to read the next book called The Fearful Gates according to the advertisement at the conclusion of this book, even though his blog site states that The Hero's Throne is book 2 so on that part I am a bit unclear which will come out first.

    In The Realms Thereunder, the first book in the Ancient Earth series, he has a great storyline that you can relate to regarding a secret history of England and the sleeping Knights who protect the realms of ancient Earth before, during and after of any evil doing. I found myself immersed in this book for the first few chapters. I found the characters of Freya and Daniel to be compelling and well written. However, after the first 4 to 5 chapters I found myself being confused on the storyline where Freya is once in a chapter with Daniel and 2 other knights, then is all of a sudden pregnant and has a different story line altogether. I found myself disconnected with how it switched from past to present, one realm to a different realm and one story to another very distracting! I found myself being very confused between which part of the story line I was at and had to skip either back or forward to find myself figuring out where I should be.

    Better time frame negotiation and chapter development should be given to better straighten out the story as most readers I feel would be very confused in this book. I feel like Ross who although has a great storyline, needs to define the chapters and stories within stories to better give understanding of where each character is at. I think that while he definitely has a great premise for storytelling, I was let down on many occasions trying to figure out where the characters were going or coming from. Chapter formatting and development needs to be well written and chronological instead of fragmented the way this book is structurally put together haphazardly.Now don't get my wrong, some readers may love the way this book is written but since I process my thoughts logically, I found myself getting lost in what was happening several times through this book and had to go back and re-read sections to see where I might have missed something.

    I would rate this book a 3 out of 5 stars for The Realms Thereunder by Ross Lawhead.

    For Ross’s first book however, he has a strong writing ability that will hopefully bring more fluidity and structure to his next series of books to come. It's also difficult to not be compared to your father's books and writing styles when you are just starting out as an author. Yet he has been published and I am quite confident that his books will only get better as he continues to write. I received this book compliments of Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy for my honest review.

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  • Posted November 26, 2011

    A Slow Start to the Ancient Earth Trilogy

    My husband and I have long been fans of Stephen Lawhead. So when I saw that his son Ross was releasing a debut novel, I couldn¿t wait to get my hands on an advance reading copy. The Realms Thereunder is the first book in what is planned as the Ancient Earth Trilogy (Thomas Nelson, 2011; ISBN 978-1-59554-909-0). In all fairness, I have to preface this review by saying that I wasn¿t always a fan Stephen¿I never could get into the Dragon King trilogy. Truth be told, I tend to favor his historical fiction more than his sci-fi and fantasy. But Stephen¿s writing got better as he matured, and I hope the same will be true of his son. Lovers of Middle Earth, pay heed. The portions of The Realms Thereunder that are set in the fantasy world of ¿ancient earth¿ seem very much patterned after Tolkien¿s imaginary world. When Lawhead describes elves, gnomes, trolls, changelings, and other magical creatures, as well as the underground world of Niðergeard, I can almost see the Lord of the Rings movies playing in my head. Imitation is the highest form of flattery, so it¿s pretty obvious who the author reads and admires. The story starts slow and centers around two main characters. Freya is a student at Oxford University; Daniel lives on the streets of Oxford and does his best to survive. Seemingly opposites, the two are linked by a childhood secret that stems from their mysterious disappearance years before. Readers discover where the children disappeared to in the ¿Before¿ sections. Everything begins in a cathedral archway and then things get complicated. The pair awaken sleeping knights, meet an ancient wizard, and set out on a quest to defeat the forces of evil. Since returning to this world, Freya has been trying to convince herself that it never happened; Daniel has spent his years trying to return to Niðergeard. The two find themselves in serious danger once again when Daniel is pulled off to Elfland and Freya is held captive within her own mind (I have to say, this story element reminded me a bit of something out of a Charles Williams novel). The action does pick up a bit near the end, but then the book Another element to the story, which I believe will prove to set up the next two books in the trilogy, is the character of Alex Simpson. Alex is an interesting bloke who fights against the forces of darkness with a sword¿a really big sword. Much like special forces or black ops, he spends most of this book hunting dragons in the Scottish highlands before coming to the aid of the two protagonists. I¿ll be interested to see where Lawhead takes Alex¿for some reason, my mind conjures images of St. George meets the Highlander. Overall, I like the concept of this story. Much of Ross¿s Celtic mythology echoes that of his father. In reality, however, the back and forth between ¿Before¿ and ¿Now¿ was confusing, as were the shifts between Oxford and the Scottish Highlands. Being that this is a trilogy, Lawhead has two more books in which to make all of this clear for readers. I, for one, am game to keep reading and find out where the story takes us.

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  • Posted November 1, 2011

    its ok

    The book is okay, not the best I have read recently, certainly not the worst. Might be okay for a book club discussion,for young people.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 4, 2011

    Great Freshman Novel

    I am a sucker for mystical portals. Trans-dimensional gateways, secret entrances, and other-worldy thresholds draw me like a nerd to Star Wars. The Realms Thereunder is full of hidden doorways to fantastic worlds.

    Though this is his freshman work, Ross has the imagination and the ability to pull you into a tale like a seasoned author. He gradually reveals a legendary existence that sits just below the surface of the 'real' world. The story follows unlikely, albeit flawed, heroes drawn together by an Unseen Hand. The first chapter had me wanting more and that desire grew as I entered deeper into the book.

    I found it easy to get lost in the Realms Thereunder, which is the key characteristic of a potent story. The Realms Thereunder becomes a mystical portal that allows you to leave this world for a little while and travel to magical places.

    If there is any criticism in the book it comes in the flow of the narrative. I feel like there were portions of the book Ross was in love with and it shows in his writing. But a few small sections felt labored, almost like Ross didn't quite know what to do with his characters. Being a UK citizen Ross does know his Great Britain folklore but he may be trying to put to many mythical beings in the novels 374 pages. In reality, I'd rather have too many dragons, trolls and gnomes rather than not enough.

    I look forward to book two, The Fearful Gates, due out in 2012. I am thrilled to say that another Lawhead has entered my bookshelves. I hope he writes many more novels so that he has a shelf in my office all to himself.

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  • Posted October 4, 2011

    A Unique, but Slow Read

    The Story: Where were you 8 years ago? Where are you now? How did the events 8 years ago effect where you are now? Where you in a church with your school group and a door opened in the back of the sanctuary? A magic door. It lead to a cave where you were met by two knights from the days of King Arthur. They speak a strange and foreign tongue that somehow you understand.

    This is what happened to Freya Reynolds and Daniel Tully 8 years ago and they are still living with the effects. Daniel as a homeless man is fighting an evil only he knows exists and Freya (diagnosed with OCD) is studying myths. They haven't seen each other since then... until now. When they stumble across each other, they come to a hard conclusion.

    My Thoughts: This book was unique. But, I found it to be lacking in come places. The whole jumping from one time to another is kind of hard to read. Each chapter has a "8 years ago" part and a "now" part. Swapping back before between these two really slowed the pace of the reading. That and the very different names and unique plot, made it a slow read.

    There was nothing terribly offensive in this book, but I am giving it a 3 because I don't think I would really recommend it to someone or re-read it. HOWEVER, this might change when the sequel comes out in 2012. Maybe it'll get better. I'll let you know!!!

    Score ~ ???
    Violence ~ 2
    Indecency ~ None
    Language ~ 1
    Age Appropriateness ~ 12 and above

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  • Posted September 19, 2011

    Was not overly please

    Well I have spent a lot more time then usual reading this book by Ross Lawhead. This is a book I got for free threw Booksneeze. When I read about this book coming out I was super excited and couldn't wait for the book to arrive in the mail. I started it right away and after the first chapter I slowed down. The Idea of the book is wonderful but it is not written out very well at all.

    This story is about two young kids that go exploring during a school field trip and get lost. Very lost, in fact they don't show up again for years. they find a room with enchanted knight's and go off on an adventure to save another world. sounds wonderful but the book is difficult to get threw.

    It jumps from present to past and never really lets you know when that is happening. Some chapter's begin in the future and end in the past. The story takes a long time to get to where it can possible make sense, pretty much the end of the book is where everything starts to click. I would say that the Author spent way to much time trying to help draw a picture in my head. There was sooooooo much detail about locations and not the story. I would give this book two stars our of five.

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  • Posted September 13, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Great Book!

    Eight years ago thirteen-year-olds Daniel Tully and Freya Reynolds disappeared while on a class trip to a church in Abbingdon in the British Midlands. Months later they returned home, but the teenagers kept quiet about what really happened to them. Fast forward to the present time, Daniel Tully is living on the streets of Oxford and is being stalked by a wraithlike creature with sharp teeth, and he kills the creature. He's been keeping track of the reports of maimed animals and many suicides that have occurred around a particular mountain in Scotland. He worries that his worst fears have come true.

    Freya Reynolds has been living with OCD while she attends college. She has become obsessed with mystical creatures and folklores. Soon she is reunited with her childhood friend, Daniel, and they both must return to the mystical world, a hidden city underground. A war is coming against an enemy the world has never seen. With the help of a Scottish police officer, Alex Simpson, they must confront their past in order the defeat the upcoming evil.

    Knights, crazy creatures, and hidden cities are what you'll find in this full-length novel by Ross Lawhead. Don't let the fact that the book is considered Christian pull you away from reading this book. I don't read much fantasy, but I couldn't put the book down. The main characters, Daniel and Freya, will stay in your mind long after you have finished reading. With all the vampires, witches, and werewolves novels coming out every month, it is nice to read an original, creative novel. Do you know what is great? This is only book one of the Ancient Earth Trilogy. I can't wait for the sequel to come out next year.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2011

    The Realms Thereunder

    Hello, there! I've just received a new book from booksneeze, "The Realms Thereunder" by Ross Lawhead. Before I get started, however, I must say that I received this book for free from the booksneeze blogger program from the Thomas Nelson publishing company, and I am under no obligation to give this book a positive review. Everything I say is how I legitimately feel. Now, on with the show! This was a fairly good book, well written and the plot was formed well. However, a lot of the book felt to me to center around the fantastical, mythical side of things. And that is something that I generally don't like. The book was well written, however, and I'm trying to write an unbiased review. So I think that, all in all, it was a very good book. I shall give it a solid four out of five stars. I would honestly suggest this book to anyone who finds the unknown, science fictional realm interesting. I know of a few people in my life who would enjoy this book. In fact, I have a certain little brother who loves this kind of stuff, and I do believe that I've just acquired his birthday present. ?

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 13, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Good story but too many descriptors

    This is a long book that could have been shorter and still told the story had the author done less descriptions. I found his descriptions to be distracting from the actual telling of the story. The characters were interesting and varied and the story was good, but the flow was interrupted constantly by descriptors. I didn't really care how everything looked and what color the walls were as much as I cared if Daniel and Freya were going to make it out of the tunnels and back to the safety of home.

    I realize that fantasy is full of strange names, places and events and that I expected. I enjoyed the story, but found the way it switched from past to present and between reality and fantasy a bit difficult to follow at times. This is the first in a series and so the ending is not the ending.

    This author weaves a world below our own that is interesting and multi-faceted. Good and evil fight for a foot hold in that world so they can take over ours. I think that I enjoyed the story more when I would skip the large amount of description and pick up on the story and the character interactions. This book is a good one, I just would prefer less filler and more guts. 4 stars for the story, 2 stars for the descriptions so a 3 star review total.

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  • Posted September 12, 2011

    Packed with action, a Heart Pounding read.

    My Review: I have a feeling that Ross Lawhead will be the next big thing in the Christian Fantasy market. In The Realms Thereunder, Mr. Lawhead writes a heart-stopping tale of epic proportions, intricately woven, and overall masterfully done.


    I wasn't sure how much I would like it, because it is so different from what I would usually read. But being a huge fan of a Mr. Stephen R. Lawhead, and the fact that this is his son convinced me to give it a shot. And I certainly wasn't disappointed - far from it! I was blown away by the how well written and how well plotted it was. Yes sir, Mr. Ross Lawhead is one to watch out for.


    The book follows two characters, both very robustly written, Freya and Daniel. Now here's the twist, it follows them at two different times. The past and the present. Eight years before, Daniel and Freya got swept into an underground battle between good and evil, to save the underground kingdom of Nithergard. Now in the present time they are being hunted down by the same evil forces that they tried to defeat eight years ago. Occasionally this book reminded me of Narnia or Lord of the Rings Trilogy and the classic fairy tale, but all remixed and recharged in a whole new way. Oh, and this book has some pretty awesome knights! Just thought I'd add that :)


    My favorite character was Daniel, maybe because his (present day) adventure was easier to follow along with, whereas Freya's (present day) tale was really creepy.


    This book was pretty hard to put down and definitely had me returning to it throughout the day. I was a bit disappointed that the theme was more of a battle between good and evil, and not as distinctly Christian as I would prefer. But God was mentioned a few times, mostly indirectly, but it's obvious that Freya and Daniel are in a spiritual battle against the devil. I was a little put out with the book because it was over so soon, and because it ended with a cliffhanger of sorts. I feel like it was just the beginning, and the real adventure is coming in the next two books. And if the next two book were released already, I would be at the bookstore right now purchasing them.


    So overall, I would highly recommend this book for all you adventure lovers out there, and I have a feeling that this will be a hit with teen boys. My brother was eyeing this book, while I was reading it with devious intent (LOL). I think that fans of Stephen Lawhead, and action-adventure, fantasy fans, will really enjoy it. Just to warn you that some of the scenes were pretty violent, not to bad if you don't pause to think about it too long. I made that mistake. But this is a book that will captivate your attention and take you to epic dimensions in other worlds. Thanks!



    Final Rating: 4.5 out of 5.




    Thanks so much to Thomas Nelson Publishers (Booksneeze) for giving me this review copy free of charge in return for my honest review.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 11, 2011

    Dark and Depressing

    Underground. That is where an evil city has slept from the dawn of time. Just waiting for the opportunity to snatch unsuspecting people from the country above it. When two children, Daniel and Freya, disappear during a field trip, they are taken to the odd world, filled with mystery, intrigue, evil, and darkness. Eight years pass, and they are forced once again to return to the world they once thought they had conquered. Will they win? Only time will tell. But until it does, they will have to fight for their lives, and against their evil opponents.
    I disliked this book. While it was an interesting thought for a book, it was not well executed. It was disjointed, and extremely difficult to understand. They would go forward, then back then forward then forward some more, extremely confusing. When I requested this book, I thought it would be a nice Christian fantasy book, however I saw very few mentions of God, if there are any at all. Not only this, but the book itself was terrifically depressing. Who was evil and who was good? The lines were blurred. Overall, this book was a confusing read that was dark, depressing, and overall, dreadful.


    This book was given to me by Thomas Nelson in exchange for an honest review.

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  • Posted September 9, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Fantasy, suspense, drama

    The British Isles is the setting for this beginning book of Ross Lawhead's new "Ancient Earth Trilogy." Freya and Daniel haven't had much contact with each other for the last few years, but circumstances have conspired to bring them together to fight evil once again. While Freya doesn't really want to get involved again, Daniel has been fighting all along. As they awaken two sleeping knights, Freya finds she can't say no and they all travel to Nidergeard. There is much for them to learn. At the same time, evil, unearthly creatures are showing up all over the place seemingly stalking Daniel and Freya. Why? What is the importance of these two young people? With the help of the knights and a policeman named Alex Simpson, Freya and Daniel work to free the world of the menace. Will they be able to save the world from this evil enemy?

    I really enjoyed this book and found that the story line and character development were very good. It is very involved in spots, but that makes the story more alive. The mythology helped fill out the story. The heroes and villains are very believable and I found myself wanting to yell warnings to the characters sometimes. I received my free copy from the Book Sneeze program and thank them so much. I can't wait for the next book!

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  • Posted September 9, 2011

    Love it

    This is the first book of The Ancient Earth Trilogy by Ross Lawhead.

    First of all am not really a fan of fantasy fiction and I find that fantasy novel are hard to follow and relate to. What made me request this book was the synopsis sounded great. Well, am happy to say this book did not disappoints me.

    Initially, I find that it was rather hard to for to start reading this book as there are several stories being revealed simultaneously. It was rather confusing for me

    However, once I have grasps who is who in the story and what timeline the story being told, I found that it's a really exciting book to read. Still, I finds the constant flash back was a bit disturbing.

    The positive side is that there were a few unexpected twists in the story. I love that in a book.

    I found that the characters are well developed. It was really heart warming to see them showing concern for each other well being.

    Although this book is classified as Christian novel, am glad it's not preachy sort. In fact, there were a few instances where some crude language are spotted. In my opinion, this can't be help as that was what being called in that situation.

    After reading this Book 1, I hope to be able to read the other two books when they are published.

    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2011

    Cool Book

    On a school field trip Daniel Tully and Freya Reynolds decide to go exploring when they find a vanishing arch. What they find is a room with a horn and two lifeless knights, but when Daniel blows the horn the knights suddenly awake and the arch disappears. They then realize that in order to return to England they must leave with the knights to their city, but when they reach the knights' city they discover that the city is under siege. They must help the knights stop the creatures from destroying the mythical world. They return to England after almost 3 months. 7 years later creatures from the mythical world are arising, something has gone wrong, Daniel and Freya are needed once more in The Realms Thereunder.

    I absolutely enjoyed this book, the story was definitely great. I can not wait for the second book to come out next year, there was only one thing I really didn't like about that book which was the fact that it did not have an actual ending, it was more a question mark, I guess the author did this on purpose so that the reader would get the next book to find out what happens. Most series are like that, but this one was different because it fills you in on everything that is happening, but then you wait for the climax to occur and that is where the book ends. Overall it was a great book though and I do recommend it to anyone who wants an interesting story, I rate it 4.5 stars.

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  • Posted September 5, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A Fantasy Adventure Of Good Versus Evil

    Ross Lawhead in his new book "The Realms Thereunder" Book One in The Ancient Earth Trilogy published by Thomas Nelson introduces us to the world of Nidergeard.

    There is a land beneath Great Britain where visitors do not go. While on a school trip both Daniel Tully and Freya Reynolds were taken there and, in an effort to prevent the two worlds colliding the two are sent on a quest. Now eight years later it is happening again and both Daniel and Freya are needed to stop the mythical world from taking over ours.

    I think Ross Lawhead has done a great job of taking lots of old British mythology and weaving all of them into his novel. There is much to learn about Nidergeard and the sleeping knights who are there to protect it when the need arises. "The Realms Thereunder" is a fantasy adventure where the battle for good and evil has never been so important. The freedom of our world is as stake and we cannot afford to lose. This is a page turning thriller as the war of light against darkness rages. In these pages there is much to learn of mythology and, I think, Mr. Lawhead has taught us well. I recommend this book highly!

    If you would like to listen to interviews with other authors and professionals please go to Kingdom Highlights where they are available On Demand.

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    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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  • Posted August 30, 2011

    The Realms Thereunder by Ross Lawhead

    The Realms Thereunder is the first book in a new trilogy, The Ancient Earth, written by Ross Lawhead. The story is about Daniel Tully, and Freya Reynolds when they were thirteen years old they went missing on a class trip to a church in Abbingdon in the British Midlands. After 72 days of being missing they were found near Kilmarnock, in East Ayreshire, Scotland. No one knows what really happen to them when they went missing, only they do. They found themselves in a world that few know is real and since then they kept it a secret. Now, eight years later they've moved on from that and gone their separate ways. Freya is a university student with an obsession with myths and folklore. Daniel, a homeless wanderer, plunge back into a renewed crusade in Nidergeard, the city in the mystical realm. But now, it is time they come together because the mythical world is colliding with their world. With the help of Alex Simpson, a Scottish police officer who specializes in hunting mythical creatures, they must help each other defeat the evil that threats the peace. The only way to truly do so is find the army of knights again, who have been asleep for over a thousand years. The story is told from two perspectives: eight years ago when they were children and now when they are adults. At first it took me a few chapters to get use to the jumps but once you do it's easier to put everything together and understand the importance of their past and the present. That's pretty much the only thing that bother me but other then that I enjoyed the book. I love fantasy, mythology and adventure stories and this is the first time I've read something that contain British folklore. I reviewed this book as part of the booksneeze blogger book review program and received a free copy of the book for my honest review.

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