Review: The Chronicles of the King’s Tramp by Tom DeHaven

So here’s my first book review. All the books reviewed here are books I just finished reading, either on my own (mostly fantasy, writing books, etc) or as part of the International Book Club, (more literary fiction). I got pretty eclectic book tastes, though I write mainly fantasy fiction. It’s good, though, to read a vast selection of both fiction and non-fiction. It helps you as a writer overall.

But for my first book, I’m going to choose a trilogy I’ve been reading all through August:Tom DeHaven’s Chronicles of the King’s Tramp–Walker of Worlds, The End-of-Everything Man and The Last Human. Not exactly an oldie, since it was written during the 80s, but I had this on my shelves for a long time…I think since high school.

I don’t know if Tom DeHaven’s written anymore fantasy novels after this series, but I can tell he’s a thriller writer. That said, I have to say that DeHaven breaks every single writing rule in the book.

He switches points of view, sometimes in the middle of sentences. He uses many cliches, lots of telling, but no showing. His tenses aren’t consistent. He uses parenthesis a lot. A lot of his chapters end at cliffhangers (at the EoE Man, the book itself ends on a cliffhanger). There’s a lot of supporting characters–I guess one could be considered a main characters, or perhaps there are several main characters. Hard to tell. Some storylines do not get resolved. One-shot characters appear and disappear without so much as a mention to what happened to them, and the ending, to me, felt abrupt, rushed to its chopped off end with a lot of plot threads still loose.

And yet, you know what? I really had a lot of fun reading these books.

I think I know now why there are so many people extolling the virtues of The DaVinci Code while so many writers hate it. If the Walker series got published today, I doubt it will be in the same form it’s in now. But it would still get published. Why? Because it had a great story to carry it through. Somehow, DeHaven makes us care about a bunch of people who are connected one way or another to each other as they get pulled into another world by a Rambler named Jack and his girlfriend/wife who turns into a hornet. There’s Peter, who I guess is the main leader of sorts, a sleezy journalist who gets his memory back after living as a bum on the streets, Jere Lee, a bag lady,Monica, the girlfriend of a billionaire, Herb, the chauffeur of the millionaire, Gene, the millionaire who only wants to watch TV all day long and who’s father in law brings in people to try out experimental drugs.

Anyway, they all get pulled into a different world where Jack must tell his king about a mage who’s creating a golem that is supposed to break into the fourth world, where ‘the Last Humans’ are known to exist and will destroy all worlds. And as Jack walks to put an end to the mage, the people basically tag along with him.

Now that I wrote all of that down, the story doesn’t sound that great, doesn’t it? But still, it’s mainly the character of the people who are interesting. For all intensive purposes, Peter is a class-A jerk, whom everyone liked better when he had his memory erased as a bum. Money, your typical airhead blond beauty, gets moxie and is even delighted when a magical Art Prince turns her into a hideous creature (and what happens to him? Who knows…he just sort of disappears). I really liked Jere Lee, a woman who has only her pride left and gets a second chance in life going to another world. there’s also other characters that are in the other world, but frankly I don’t feel like delving into them all.

I think the appeal of this book is that although it’s classified as Fantasy, it’s more of a speculative nature. People can speak a whistling language. A chair-bound king who can snatch rumors from the air. Creating magic by adding up several large sums in your head and visualizing shapes. An albino midget who lives jumps from consciousness to consciousness. DeHaven makes it all work.

Like I said, the third book somewhat fizzles out while the first book starts out strong. If you want a nice, cheap easy read though, I think this is a fine book. Light on seriousness, a dose of comedy and funny situations to boot. And strangely enough, I really enjoyed watching him break the writing rules. Rather refreshing.

Rating: Three 1/2 Ramblers out of Five for the entire trilogy, and I’m glad that if I want to visit a world, I can just pick up a book, not letting my fingers turn into claws and then slashing the fabric of time and space.