Many Coloured Realm

Title: Many Coloured Realm
Author: Anne Hamilton
Genre: TeenKid, Fantasy
Copyright: 2010
Ranking: Very Good
LibraryThing: Title:Many Coloured Realm ISBN:978-1-9211633-06-5 (Add Book)
Type: Owned
Read: 2010-08-29

1 nice girl, 2 bad boys, 3 tortuous tasks, 4 strange ambassadors... after that, it's hard to keep count. Dozens of elves, hundreds of goblins, legions of demons - all converging on the colourless world ruled by the goblin king. Can Robby and Chris discover the goblin king's name and rescue Stephen before time runs out?

  • (14) Many Coloured Realm completed H Start:2010-8-27 End:2010-8-29
    need to read this before WorldCon

This is that which used to be known as "Tumbl'tower", published at last.


I read an early draft of this decades ago, and it's been delightful re-discovering my favourite bits all over again, such as Robby's first encounter with Mayerling.

The curtains were whipped aside. "Death to the Perpetration of Evil!" came a triumphant shout. A dagger sliced past her, missing by a hair's-breadth as the youth wielding it diverted his aim at the last possible moment. "You are not the Lord of Degeneracy!" he exclaimed, as it hit the wall. Robby stared. The youth was tall, his eyes twilight-hued and his face as smooth as alabaster. His hair was quite like Neil's, except that it rippled brightsilver instead of greysilver. His brows tilted in puzzlement. "Who are you?"

"I'm Robby," she said, recovering from a momentary shock. "Who are you?"

"I am Mayerling the Bright, son of Caesarea the King of the Elves, and I have come to visit death upon his enemies." The elf prince pulled a long sword from the swinging scabbard at his side. "Where is the fiend?"

"Fiend?" Robby stared. Mayerling's fine clothes were torn and hung on him, but he wore them with an air of dignity and there was a regal look in his eyes.

"The goblin king," Mayerling snapped. "The Torturer. The Foul Pestilence who wages war with peace-loving elves." He raised his sword and leaned forward, the tip almost resting against Robby's throat. "Tell me," he insisted, his ivory-smooth features assuming a cold expression.

"I don't know." Alarmed by the look of suspicion in Mayerling's eyes, Robby shook her head. "Truly I don't. I only just got here."

"Are you an Ambassador?"


"Then I shall take you hostage." Mayerling withdrew his sword with a flourish and plunged it into the floor. His hand rested on the jewelled hilt. "But do not fear. I will treat you courteously. I am an elf and we are not uncivilised."

This story may remind people of "Labyrinth" (though it was written long before); not just because of a Goblin King and goblins and a quest to save someone, but because of the theme of the foolishness of taking things for granted, of things not being as they seem. But Labyrinth is almost straightforward compared to this novel. There are layers and layers, and so many things are backwards and sideways, not just the laws of gravity. And yet they make sense when you think about them a bit more.

"I'm so glad we've got a penguin who can see in the dark," said Chris.

"Dark?" said Artemys. "You've got a strange idea of dark. Nothing can see in the dark. Because in real dark, there's no light at all."

Darkness, light, shadow, faith, strength, weakness, fear, courage, even the nature of "niceness"; none of these are necessarily what they seem. The author is well aware of the conventions of fantasy, and is happy to challenge them in subtle and not so subtle ways. That isn't the only way in which this novel is different, but I have to admit that it is my favourite aspect of it. On the surface, this is just another children's fantasy novel, with a villain and a quest, but neither the villain nor the quest is quite what you think it is.

On top of all that, there are so many little inventive touches, everything from the flying penguin, to the deadly thimblethorn immurements, to the Island of Sanctuary where time stands still; the kingdoms whose time all passes at different rates, and the perils of Relativity.