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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fast and slow
Having seen this recommended in the Financial Times for summer reading I thought I'd take a punt on it, and I wasn't disappointed.

The story is well told, and I enjoyed the narrative device of having two narrators. Thinking back I had no preference for either but as the story switched between them I resumed the relationship easily enough as the main characters...
Published on 25 July 2011 by M D Espley

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing.
This starts out really well with an opening chapter that HG Wells would be proud of. Alien contact in Victorian England. The narrative flips between nearly present day and the Victorian era and the writing style cleverly changes with this. The Victorian sections actually feel as though they were written in this era!
The problem is this flips in the middle and...
Published on 22 Aug 2011 by Sammy Birch


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fast and slow, 25 July 2011
This review is from: The Kings of Eternity (Kindle Edition)
Having seen this recommended in the Financial Times for summer reading I thought I'd take a punt on it, and I wasn't disappointed.

The story is well told, and I enjoyed the narrative device of having two narrators. Thinking back I had no preference for either but as the story switched between them I resumed the relationship easily enough as the main characters are very likeable, possessing the necessary frailties to make them lifelike and realistic.

The story does have a pace to it, but there is an element that it takes a little time to warm up, and whilst that seems contradictory, it is only later on that you can appreciate the background.

Only once or twice does the author seem to 'pull' at a situation rather than let the story tell itself but all in all it is a good read.
Enjoy
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Got better and better as you read it., 31 July 2011
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This review is from: The Kings of Eternity (Paperback)
A very enjoyable story which seemed fragmented at the start but became more cohesive as the chapters went by.

I thought the period feel of the characters came through particularly well, which added a balance between the time lines periods portrayed. You could tell by the writing which period you were in which helps draw you in to the story.

Not "hard core" SF, but possibly better as it could expand the readership beyond those that only tend to read SF, quite clever Mr Brown.

The ending clearly leaves room for sequels. If you haven't read any Eric Brown, this is a good intro.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent novel from a writer who's at the top of his game, 29 Mar 2011
By 
Mark Chitty (North Wales) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Last year I read a half dozen books by Eric Brown, and he very quickly became one of my favourite authors. It wasn't like I hadn't read anything by him before, I had all of his Solaris releases up to that point, but after reading the final Bengal Station book, Cosmopath, in late 2009 I knew I had to track down some of his other work. Eric Brown is the kind of author that can write about very human traits, crafting his stories to deliver an emotional and personal experience. The fact that he writes SF is all the better, but he doesn't force the ideas and technology on to you through his stories, and while they are an integral part to the plots they do not dominate them. It's a style that is very successful, and goes to show just how skilled he is at telling a story.

Why, you may ask, am I telling you this. It's quite simple really: The Kings of Eternity is another typical Eric Brown novel, one that uses an SF staple at its core, yet tells the story through its characters. The cover may suggest interplanetary travel, alien worlds and intelligence, and perhaps even that sense of wonder that SF is known for, but what you will find within the pages of The Kings of Eternity is more personal, but thoroughly science fictional.

The Kings of Eternity is split into two very distinct sections, one focusing on writer Daniel Langham and his secluded life on a small Greek island during 1999 and the other on Jonathon Langham, Edward Vaughan and brothers Jasper & Charles Carnegie in London and the English countryside of 1935. Daniel Langham is a writer who enjoys his privacy, always conscious of people trying to get close to him for an exclusive interview or whatever else he suspects them of. And that is the case when Caroline Platt comes into his life, changing his outlook and once again falling in love. In 1935 Jonathon and Vaughan are also writers, and after a summons to the estate of Jasper Carnegie they discover something beyond wonder that will change their lives, forever.

What struck me when I started The Kings of Eternity was very much the non-sf feel of the book, the characters and the writing. With one small exception you could have been fooled that you were reading a non-genre novel up to 60 or so pages in, and then once the science fictional element comes into play it's there, but sometimes you actually forget it is. Eric Brown has crafted characters that you genuinely want to care about, are interested in their lives and how they deal with the everything that is thrown at them. This is not something that happens in many genre novels where characterisation often takes second place to Big Ideas, but Brown has been bucking that trend for a long time now - The Kings of Eternity is a prime example of a writer at the top of his game.

Daniel Langham comes across very much as the lonely writer desperately trying to keep his privacy, but there is a deeper layer to this that is not immediately apparent. From his early encounters with strangers he is obviously paranoid about something, and this aspect of his past is explored more as the novel progresses. When he meets Caroline he is at odds with himself - his paranoia means he must know she isn't just after the usual stuff, but he desperately wants to ignore this and take things as they come. It's an interesting view into his character that also throws up other trust issues he has, and it's dealt with just right. The times we follow Daniel are the shorter sections for the most part, but they add a much to the story and, in the end, it's clear why.

Jonathon Langham, also a writer, lives in 1935 London, able to live decently off his craft. His relationship with Carla, a stage actress in London, is an on and off affair, not quite leading to a full partnership. But Jonathon's jealousy is his downfall and he can't even see her talking to another man without the beast rearing its ugly head. With his father also ill his friendship with Edward Vaughan and Jasper Carnegie that leads him away from London is just what he needs, and the discovery of a portal from another world in Hopton Wood is only the start. While Jonathon's life in London shows much of his character, it's the events in Hopton Wood and Cranley Grange that are the start, and focus, of The Kings of Eternity.

Because both narrators are writers the prose flows very well, the descriptions of their surroundings, the events that they are part of and their story in general are conveyed in such a way that you don't so much as read the novel but simply absorb the story. Sometimes a book can have this readability factor that makes you want to plow through it and get to the end, but the opposite is true for The Kings of Eternity. I didn't want it to end, and even though I was desperate to read more and more in each sitting I rationed myself to the novel, not wanting to come to the final page. However, the end did come and I was left wanting. I did not want The Kings of Eternity to be anything other than what it was, I just wanted more. Perhaps this is selfish of me, but it is rare that a book delivers such a story that I felt deprived when it ended.

I can't say that I highly recommend The Kings of Eternity because that's not true - I believe that this book is a must-read. It's the kind of sci-fi book that is accessible to non-sci-fi readers, but it is equally one that veteran readers of the genre will enjoy. Excellent.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing sci-fi, 14 May 2012
This review is from: The Kings of Eternity (Paperback)
The Kings of Eternity is a very readable and well-written novel with a clever narrative device that keeps the reader intrigued for most of its length. The weakest portions are probably the actual science fiction trappings - aliens and space portals seem a little incongruous against the story of two writers - one in 1935 and one in 1999, although the central concept is a good one. This is also one of those rare novels which should have been longer as I felt the author could have explored the central situation further (I'm being circumspect to avoid spoilers!)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Kings of Eternity, 17 April 2012
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This review is from: The Kings of Eternity (Kindle Edition)
The Kings of Eternity I could not put the book down ! Its worth a read you can get a sample free.
Enjoy .
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A powerful novel & all too short, 20 Oct 2011
By 
J. Shurin "carnivore" (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Kings of Eternity (Paperback)
The Kings of Eternity (2011), by Eric Brown, is a tale of divisions. The primary, narrative separation is between the years 1935 and 1999. In the former, two writers are summoned from London to help an editor friend out with "strange lights in the woods". In the latter, a reclusive author on a remote Greek island decides whether or not to open himself up to making a new friend.

Of course, there's also everything in-between.

In 1935, one of the writers is Jonathan Langham. He's got a vaguely promising career in front of him, a vaguely satisfying relationship with an actress and a vague sense of purpose that's somehow wrapped up with his dying father. His relationship takes a turn for the worse (oh, actresses!) so when his slightly bonkers editor calls and asks him out to the country, Jonathan jumps at the chance. He needs a break and the run of the brandy bottle - the chance of a mystery is an unasked-for bonus.

And, flaky as the editor is, there is indeed a mystery in Hopton Wood. Every eight days there's a strange sort of light show in the woods. As Jonathan and his friends trek out (slightily boozily) for a viewing, they take in far more than they expected. The light show seems to give glimpses of other worlds - and if it can show them, maybe they can reach them as well...

In 1999, Daniel Langham, grandson of Jonathan, is a famous novelist. His piles of bestseller money help fund his isolated lifestyle on the island of Kallithéa. He works to a very strict routine. He writes in the morning, eats his meals at the same cafe every day and sips a beer while watching the stars at night. Occasionally he's disturbed by tabloid journalists, but he's always been able to run them off. At the start of the book, his comfortable routine is disturbed by a new neighbor, an artist named Caroline Platt. Against his better wishes, he's drawn to her. He also has a new admirer - a porcine English stalker with a little too much insight into his life.

What Eric Brown does so very, very well is divide the narrative even further. Mr. Brown makes the brave sort of narrative decision that I've grown to expect from someone like China Miéville: he follows the wrong guy. There are, for lovers of explosions, a few token action scenes, but they're not much, and they're used almost entirely as means to push the plot along.

The Kings of Eternity is all too brief. It is a thoughtful, provocative book that sets up a bigger story than it has a chance to tell. It accomplishes a great deal, but only by eliding some of the most meaningful parts. Mr. Brown's choice to focus on the human drama rather than the space opera is an insightful one, and that alone is cause to recommend the book. Beyond that, it is a surprisingly calm and fluid read, gracefully skimming over the years with the same detachment displayed by its immortal protagonist. If my regret is that this book was not longer, it is a very good book indeed.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eric Brown at his absolute peak, 20 April 2011
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This review is from: The Kings of Eternity (Paperback)
I've enjoyed all of Eric Brown's books so far, never rating any of his work at less than 4 stars. This one's a definite fiver though....
This is a bit of a departure from the other novels of his that I've read, but I loved it from the first page. It's a nice idea to jump between two separate time frames with each chapter, especially as you can see the stories moving ever closer as you progress through the book.
It's novels like this that make me glad to be a book-worm, and not being force-fed the drivel on tv these days.
I honestly cannot recommend this book highly enough. It's a must-read.
Only one very tiny, picky point. You can't see the constellation of Orion in the Northern hemisphere summer. It's on the other side of the sun from us!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, 5 April 2011
By 
Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog "Falcata T... - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Kings of Eternity (Paperback)
Having been disappointed with the last Eric Brown release I really was hoping that this one would get back to a wonderfully woven title in much the same way that Engineman was. What unfurled was a modern interpretation as War of the World's meet modern thriller. It is cleverly written, the characters feel like the type of people that you can hang out with and share a beer or two and finishes off with a touch of romance backed by a wonderful story arc. Add to this a great understanding of pace as well as enough hooks to keep you glued and this is perhaps one of Eric's better releases. Whilst for me it won't out do Engineman it might well help fans forget the last release (Guardians of the Phoenix) as they relish this one to the last page.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing., 22 Aug 2011
This review is from: The Kings of Eternity (Paperback)
This starts out really well with an opening chapter that HG Wells would be proud of. Alien contact in Victorian England. The narrative flips between nearly present day and the Victorian era and the writing style cleverly changes with this. The Victorian sections actually feel as though they were written in this era!
The problem is this flips in the middle and switches from an adventure type story into a a gentle pastoral treatise on immortality. Whilst very well written and engaging it feels like two different books. If I had known what the second half would be like I would not have started it.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Plodding, turn-of-the-last-century style sci-fi., 22 April 2012
By 
Willy Eckerslike (France) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Kings of Eternity (Paperback)
I was looking forward to this novel after thoroughly enjoying the nave charm of Helix. I was destined, however, to be disappointed. While Helix harked back to the classic Sci-Fi of the 50's and 60's, Kings of Eternity could easily have been written by H.G. Wells or Jules Verne. While the undisputed ancestors of the genre, science fiction has progressed far beyond its fairly modest infancy and, in all honesty, their works are heavy going these days (it's a bit like Dickens - brilliant stories but really hard to read...). Kings of Eternity lacks pace, the narrative is stodgy, the characters are monolithic, the dialogue stilted and the science fiction element is almost non-existent. I'm sad to say that I skip-read great chunks of the novel in the hope that I'd get to an interesting, clever or original bit but it never happened.

If you like your science fiction nave, simple and old-fashioned, then Eric Brown is your man. If, on the other hand, you like your sci-fi hard, original, thought provoking and operatic then steer clear. I'm afraid I didn't enjoy it at all, but then, it would be a dull world if we all liked the same thing.
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