Synopses & Reviews
Gabriel and Michael Corrigan are two young men living just beneath the glittering surface of life in Los Angeles. Since childhood, the brothers have been shaped by stories that their father was a Traveler–one of an elite group of prophets able to attain pure enlightenment. The Corrigans, who may have inherited their father’s gifts, have always lived “off the grid”—that is, invisible to the intricate surveillance networks that monitor people in our modern world.
Thousands of miles away, Maya is attempting to lead a normal life in London. The attractive twenty-six-year-old designer wants to ignore the fact that she comes from a long lineage of Harlequins–a band of warriors pledged to protect the Travelers at all costs. When Maya is summoned to Prague by her ailing father, she learns that Gabriel and Michael have just been located in California. The brothers may represent the last surviving Travelers, and are in desperate need of protection. Maya is reluctant to be drawn into the solitary, destructive life of her ancestors, but she has been trained to fight since she was a young girl.
Also searching for the brothers is Nathan Boone, a disciplined mercenary working for the Tabulas–ruthless men who are determined to inflict order on the world by invisibly controlling its population. Boone and the Tabulas fear the power of the Travelers, and for generations Tabulas have hunted them down. When Maya flies to California in search of Gabriel and Michael Corrigan, a colossal battle looms that will reveal a secret history of our time.
In this stunningly suspenseful first novel, reminiscent of George Orwell and Philip Pullman, John Twelve Hawks has created a vividly imagined world that runs parallel to our own. Moving at lightning speed from the back alleys of Prague to the underworld of Los Angeles to a guarded research facility in New York, THE TRAVELER goes beneath the surface to give us new insights on history and our own lives.
"Twelve Hawks's much anticipated novel is powerful, mainstream fiction built on a foundation of cutting-edge technology laced with fantasy and the chilling specter of an all-too-possible social and political reality. The time is roughly the present, and the U.S. is part of the Vast Machine, a society overseen by the Tabula, a secret organization bent on establishing a perfectly controlled populace. Allied against the Tabula are the Travelers and their sword-carrying protectors, the Harlequins. The Travelers, now almost extinct, can project their spirit into other worlds where they receive wisdom to bring back to earth wisdom that threatens the Tabula's power. Maya, a reluctant Harlequin, finds herself compelled to protect two nave Travelers, Michael and Gabriel Corrigan. Michael dabbles in shady real estate deals, while Gabriel prefers to live 'off the Grid,' eschewing any documentation credit cards, bank accounts that the Vast Machine could use to track him. Because the Tabula has engineered a way to use the Travelers for its own purposes, Maya must not only keep the brothers alive, but out of the hands of these evil puppet-masters. She succeeds, but she also fails, and therein lies the tale. By the end of this exciting volume, the first in a trilogy, the stage is set for a world-rending clash between good and evil. Agent, Joe Regal. (June 28)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[T]he author, a gifted storyteller, makes this surreal and vaguely supernatural good-versus-evil story entirely believable....The pace is fast, the characters intriguing and memorable, the evil dark and palpable, and the genre-bending between fantasy and thriller seamless." Booklist
"Twelve Hawks has created a solid thriller drawing on global situations, high-tech products, and eerily familiar views of spirituality. Although numerous characters are introduced, the steady pace of action continually speeds the reader forward." Library Journal
"[T]he book's leaden, repetitive ridiculousness soon becomes irksome, especially the incessant and self-serving insistence that any of us living 'on the grid'...is a mindless sheep. Perhaps we should flock to a worthier book this summer. (Grade: C+)" Entertainment Weekly
Moving at lightning speed from the back alleys of Prague to the underworld of Los Angeles to a guarded research facility in New York, The Traveler goes beneath the surface to give us new insights on history and our own lives.
In this stunningly suspenseful first novel, reminiscent of George Orwell
and Philip Pullman
, John Twelve Hawks has created a vividly imagined world that runs parallel to our own. Moving at lightning speed from the back alleys of Prague to the underworld of Los Angeles to a guarded research facility in New York, The Traveler
goes beneath the surface to give us new insights on history and our own lives.
A world that exists in the shadows of our own.
A conflict we will never see.
One woman stands between those determined to control history and those who will risk their lives for freedom.
Maya is hiding in plain sight in London. The twenty-six-year-old has abandoned the dangerous obligations pressed upon her by her father, and chosen instead to live a normal life. But Maya comes from a long line of people who call themselves Harlequins a fierce group of warriors willing to sacrifice their lives to protect a select few known as Travelers.
Gabriel and Michael Corrigan are brothers living in Los Angeles. Since childhood, the young men have been shaped by stories that their late father was a Traveler, one of a small band of prophets who have vastly influenced the course of history. Travelers are able to attain pure enlightenment, and have for centuries ushered change into the world. Gabriel and Michael, who may have inherited their father's gifts, have always protected themselves by living "off the Grid" that is, invisible to the real-life surveillance networks that monitor people in our modern society.
Summoned by her ailing father, Maya is told of the existence of the brothers. The Corrigans are in severe danger, stalked by powerful men known as the Tabula ruthless mercenaries who have hunted Travelers for generations. This group is determined to inflict order on the world by controlling it, and they view Travelers as an intolerable threat. As Maya races to California to protect the brothers, she is reluctantly pulled back into the cold and solitary Harlequin existence. A colossal battle looms one that will reveal not only the identities of Gabriel and Michael Corrigan but also a secret history of our time.
Moving from the back alleys of Prague to the heart of Los Angeles, from the high deserts of Arizona to a guarded research facility in New York, The Traveler explores a parallel world that exists alongside our own. John Twelve Hawks's stunningly suspenseful debut is an international publishing sensation that marks the arrival of a major new talent.
About the Author
John Twelve Hawks lives off the grid. This is his first novel.
A Conversation with John Twelve Hawks
Author of THE TRAVELER
Q: THE TRAVLER evokes a variety of films and books–everything from George Orwell to the Matrix. Where did you take your inspiration from?
A: George Orwell is a favorite writer of mine and I liked the first Matrix, but the creation of the novel goes much deeper than that. When I sat down to write THE TRAVELER I didn’t think about being published. I simply wanted to understand the world around me. Sometimes the best way to find the truth is to create a fiction.
Q: Can you describe the differences between the three main character types in the book: Travelers, Harlequins, Tabula?
A: Travelers are a small group of people who have the ability to send their spirit to other worlds. The Harlequins are an ancient order of warriors who defend the Travelers. The Tabula is an organization that believes that mankind is a tabula rasa — a blank slate that can be scrawled with their ideas. They are determined to destroy the Travelers. These three groups are fictional but their struggle takes place within a very realistic environment.
Q: Is John Twelve Hawks your real name?
A: I wasn’t given the name John Twelve Hawks at birth. It’s an adopted name — just like the names the Harlequins chose at a certain time of their lives. This name has great personal significance for me, but it’s not relevant to understanding the book.
Q: One of your characters, Gabriel, lives “off the Grid,” avoiding detection by what you call the “Vast Machine.” Can you explain what you mean by this and why you yourself have chosen to live this way as well?
A: For me, living off the Grid means existing in a way that can’t be tracked by the government or large corporations. The Vast Machine is the very powerful — and very real — computerized information system that monitors all aspects of our lives.
I live off the Grid by choice, but my decision includes one factor that is relevant to the publication of THE TRAVELER. I want people to focus on the book itself and not on its author. The typical “personal slant” of most media arts coverage trivializes the power of ideas — and there are a great many provocative ideas in this novel. Everyone who reads THE TRAVELER is going to be entertained by an exciting story. A smaller group is going to be inspired to see our computerized world in a new way.
Q: How do you correspond with your publisher and how do you plan to correspond with readers?
A: I have never met my editor or any of the staff at Doubleday. I talk to them using a satellite phone or we communicate through the internet. I haven’t really thought about how I’m going to answer reader questions but it will probably be through a non-traceable website.
Q: Your message in the book about the end of privacy in our society is frightening. How much of what you portray is true and how much is pure invention?
A: It’s all true — based on years of research. Email messages are scanned by a program called Carnivore and programs linked to surveillance cameras use algorithms to identify you instantly. Some of the facts in THE TRAVELER — such as the description of the new “computational immunology” program developed by the Royal Mail in Britain — have never been described in any book.
Q: What, if any, suggestions do you have for people who are concerned about identity theft, the Patriot Act, phone and internet surveillance and other invasions of everyday privacy? Some of your characters agitate against the Vast Machine. Would you advise this?
A: This first step is to be aware of what is going on. Most of us have given up our privacy without even knowing it. At some point, we need to express our opinions to our elected officials. The growing power of the Vast Machine is actually not an issue that is tied to a particular political party. A traditional conservative like former Georgia Congressman Robert Barr is on the same side of the privacy issue as the ACLU. The most important thing is that we not succumb to the baseless fear that is used to justify our loss of personal liberty. People objected when the government proposed something called the Total Information Awareness system: a computerized program that would track virtually all of our electronic transactions. When the name of the program was changed to the Terrorist Information Awareness system — just one new word — all the criticism vanished.
Q: The settings in the book are captured in vivid detail–the Charles Bridge in Prague, the California desert, the back alleys of East London. Was travel a big part of your research?
A: My agent once asked me how long it took me to write THE TRAVELER and I answered: “All my life.” I didn’t do any particular research for the locations in the novel. I simply drew on the memories of different places where I’ve visited, lived or worked. Virtually all the locations in the book are real. For example, there is a system of abandoned missile silos in Arizona and Jeremy Bentham’s dead body is on public display at University College London.
Q: The scenes of violence in the book also seem very real — not Hollywood fantasies.
A: I studied martial arts for several years and have fought both in tournaments and on the street. Maya and the other Harlequins have been trained since childhood to fight, but they’re not super human; they can be hurt or killed. Readers have told me that they’ve found the scenes of violence in THE TRAVELER to be incredibly exciting because they’re not sure what’s going to happen. This duplicates my own experience creating the book. Every time I began to write a scene that involved fighting I had no idea if my characters were going to survive.
Q: Family seems to be both a blessing and a curse in the novel. As Maya says: “Damned by the flesh. Saved by the blood.” Care to elaborate?
A: It was only after I finished the first draft of THE TRAVELER that I realized how many of the characters are haunted by their fathers. Maya loved her father, Thorn, but he also destroyed her childhood. Gabriel and Michael Corrigan thought that their father was killed by the Tabula, but now there are signs that his ghost is alive. A crucial secondary character named Lawrence Takawa changes his entire life in honor of a father he has never met.
Q: At one point in the novel, your protagonist Maya explains that there is a secret history of the world, a history of “warriors defending pilgrims or other spiritual seekers.” Do you believe this? What do you think is the role of faith in modern society?
A: There has been a continual battle throughout history between institutions that try to control our lives and those visionaries who emphasize the value of the human spirit. Right now, there’s a determined attempt to reduce all human behavior to biochemistry. If Joan of Arc was alive today she’d be put on Prozac. Faith can give us a larger perspective on our own lives as well as the world that surrounds us.
Q: You seem to combine Eastern religion, mysticism and new age spirituality in your discussion of Gabriel’s education. The novel also suggests that Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, even an obscure Rabbi from Poland may have all been Travelers–which begs the question: What (if any) is your religious affiliation?
A: When I was in my twenties, I was an atheist and proud of it. Now I believe in God and pray every day but I’m not a member of any organized religion. Travelers are guided by teachers called Pathfinders and I’ve dedicated the trilogy to my own personal Pathfinders. I’ve had several and they’ve included a Catholic priest, a Presbyterian minister, a scholar who was an orthodox Jew, and a Buddhist monk. I’m not going to minimize the differences between religions but they all have one thing in common: they teach the power of compassion and encourage that quality in our own hearts.
Q: This is the first book in a trilogy. Any hints for readers about what they can expect from Books Two and Three?
A: In Book Two, a tough Irish Harlequin named Mother Blessing will enter the story; she’s already forcing her way into my dreams. Expect some surprises involving Maya, Gabriel, and the Tabula mercenary, Nathan Boone. I’m not manipulating these characters to fit a plot. They seem to have their own ideas about what they want to do.