Andrew Klavan’s Another Kingdom is a mystery novel set in both the real world of LA and the fantasy world of Galiana. Austin Lively, a screenwriter trying to find success in Hollywood, has just been fired by his agent for his latest lackluster screenplay. What already starts off as a rough day is thrown into chaos when Austin steps through a door at an LA office building to find himself in a castle tower. He’s standing over the dead body of a gorgeous medieval dressed lady with a bloody knife in his hand. Immediately shocked, Austin wonders if he’s in an extremely vivid nightmare or suffering an illusion from a brain tumor. Austin will transport in and out of this new world and LA while he attempts to make sense of the events surrounding him.
Austin learns this fantasy world he’s been thrown into is called Galiana. A name that is oddly familiar to him. Back in LA, he searches his records for mention of this name and discovers that he once began writing a review of a book named Another Kingdom, which tells the story of palace intrigue and conspiracy in the land of Galiana. But for some reason, Austin never finished his critique of the novel so he’s left not knowing what the story told. Realizing that this book will help him answer questions about the other world he’s repeatedly being thrown into, and how he was falsely framed for murder, he begins a search for the book Another Kingdom. But Austin’s search for this book is not alone, and he quickly realizes other malicious actors also intend on retrieving this book, perhaps for some power it holds. Austin must survive in the fantasy world of Galiana, and when thrust back into LA, he must continue his search for Another Kingdom and survive this world as well.
Andrew Klavan cleverly uses both Austin’s character, the depressing state of Hollywood culture, and the adventures of Galiana to share themes of bravery, free will, purpose, and even the false promises of globalism. Austin feels lost. He’s a failure who can’t make it in Hollywood and is not even writing screenplays that interest him but ones he thinks will catch him money. Forced into making decisions that his life depends on in another world, such as escaping a terrifying sewer monster or fighting off a fierce castle guard, Austin realizes he does have worthy qualities, like courage, that he can bring out of himself. He’ll use his new skills in this world to escape or defeat his new enemies coming after him in LA.
The phrases, “I’ll go my way”, and “Let wisdom reign” are code words Austin hears in Galiana used by allies of the noble but exiled queen. The previous queen was overthrown by a revolution promising to solve all the kingdom’s problems. With a phrase like “I’ll go my way” used by the heros of Another Kingdom, Klavan suggests that courageous people are those who think for themselves and buck the demands of the mob. Austin Lively will realize that going his way is not just for the fantasy world of Galiana, but for his homeworld of LA and modern society’s obsession with group conformity.
The reader will find more similarities between the fantasy world of Galiana and the real world of LA. The villain of Galiana, Lord Iron, receives fake adulation while the people mask their fear of him. And back in LA, the billionaire philanthropist Serge Orosgo, who we learn has ulterior motives, is praised and idolized due to his power rather than his real worth or character. The events Austin encounters in one world, will give him skills to solve problems and see issues clearer in the other.
If you enjoy mystery, thrillers, fantasy, or all of these, you’ll find much to enjoy in Another Kingdom. The book is the first in a trilogy. If you’re like me, and a fan of Andrew Klavan’s podcast, you may quite enjoy Another Kingdom too, if nothing more than for it’s important moral themes cleverly entwined with an engaging thriller.
Another Kingdom by Andrew Klavan
© 2021 Thomas Wright