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July 21, 2005

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The Traveler

Out with The Traveler. Recycled plot makes book seem a tad tired.

by Robert Greene

The Traveler, by John Twelve Hawks, Doubleday, June 2005, 464 pages.

The problem with reading a lot is that everything you read goes through a filter made up of everything else you have read. Or watched.

You can’t help it. This book reminds you of that book. This sentence reminds you of another author’s writing style. Well, John Twelve Hawks’ much-anticipated novel, The Traveler, reminded me of a lot of things, to the point where it all seemed pretty old hat.

The Traveler is the story of two brothers with mysterious powers — one falls in with the good guys, one is seduced by the bad. It’s also the story of a family responsibility, handed down to a generation that doesn’t really want it. It’s the tale of warrior woman who, despite her training, learns to care and love. And, of course, it is also the story of the Big Bad, a shadowy group with a social-control agenda and seemingly unlimited resources.

I’ve read this book before, possibly several times, with different characters, different setting and with slightly different motivations. If you have watched the Star Wars movies, you know the plot well yourself.

The two brothers, Michael and Gabriel, are “Travelers,” like their father, born with the ability to send their soul out of their bodies and into different worlds. While in these worlds, Travelers get some perspective on the ills of humanity and come back with advice. According to Hawks’ book, most of the world’s inspirational leaders (think Ghandi, Thomas Payne, etc.) are Travelers. Perhaps Martin Luther King Jr.’s “mountaintop” was actually another world.

Defending these Travelers throughout human history (Peter, after all, took up a sword when Jesus was taken by the Romans) are a group of warriors called the Harlequins. Trying to kill the Travelers is a shadowy group called the Tabula. The Tabula apparently wants to take out the Travelers because they introduce an element of chaos and free will into societies that the Tabula believe should be well-ordered and controlled. For example, ours.

Gabriel and Michael might be the last of the Travelers. Their guard, Maya, who has the hots for Gabriel, might be the last Harlequin. When Michael is taken by the dark side of the For ... Tabula, it seems all is lost and the very small army of good must circle the wagons, rally the flag and attempt a rescue. But does Michael want to be saved?

The Traveler is interesting at times but the book’s plot was a lot fresher a dozen or so incarnations ago.