Realmgolds by Mike Reeves-McMillan is an other-world fantasy with original and unusual world-building. The title of the book comes from the title in the fictional culture for a head of state. A “gold” is a member of the wealthy elite (the society also has “silvers” and “coppers,” meaning exactly what one would expect), and some golds are government officials at various levels (Localgolds, Countygolds, etc. on up to the Realmgold). The society also includes an admixture of human and quasi-human persons: dwarves, gnomes, centaurs, and beastheads. The official policy is equality and tolerance, but a “human purity” movement exists that rejects the rights and equality of quasi-humans. The movement is associated with a rebellion against the existing authority in the nation of the main character, Determined, of which he is the Realmgold.
The story is a weaving of political intrigue, battle, social protest, and romance, with the interaction between Determined and Victory, the brusque, capable, no-nonsense Realmgold of his southern neighbor (a more centralized, wealthier, and more advanced nation) being at the heart of the plot.
All in all, it’s a great story idea and a wonderfully-crafted plot. The execution, unfortunately, left much to be desired from my perspective. The book could have been about twice as long, with more time given to character development and action alike, and even more so it could have — and I think should have — been written more intensely and with greater reader immersion. Much of the time, I felt like I was reading a newspaper account of great events after the fact, rather than living through them. The story deserved a greater intensity of feeling. Even though most of it was written from the point of view of Determined, the central character, and even though Determined went through a hurricane of change and turmoil, from budding romance to revolution and reconquest, his emotions seemed a bit washed out. This story deserved to be painted in day-glo. Instead, it comes across as pastel.
As I’ve seen in the past with Mike Reeves-McMillan, the technical quality is superb. This is one independent author who understands the importance of good editing and formatting. Errors are all but nonexistent. Other indie writers can use his work as a standard of excellence to strive for in that regard.
Despite which, I found Realmgolds disappointing after my enjoyment of The City of Masks by the same author. I hope that he takes this critique to heart and that future efforts on his part show greater depth and intensity, as the products of his fertile imagination deserve.
Realmgolds can be found and purchased on Amazon.