Ruler of the Realm

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Fairly Positive

In Brief: Middling adventure story. Background of family breakup including a lesbian affair and a younger girlfriend. A few faintly disturbing descriptions. Loyalty and heroism among young characters.

Author: Herbie Brennan

Series: Faerie Wars

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Published in: 2006

Age Range: Young Teens

Period: Contemporary

Setting: The Faerie Realm

Genres:  AdventureFantasy


  • Henry Atherton is a 14-year-old boy involved with the affairs of a faery world, parallel to ours.
  • Pyrgus is one of the Princes of the Faeries, headstrong and heedless but nonetheless loyal to his friends and his sister.
  • Mr Fogarty is a retired physicist turned bank robber who now holds the post of Gatekeeper of the Faery Realm.
  • Holly Blue is the Empress of the Realm and Pyrgus' younger sister. She and Henry are somewhat in love with each other, but she takes her responsibility to the Realm seriously.


Henry is captured by aliens and then turns up in the Realm only to be part of a plot to capture Holly apparently with a view to mating with her while possessed by a demon. Meanwhile Lord Hairstreak is forming an alliance of Faeries of the Night with a view to overthrowing the Empress.


A readable court intrigue and adventure story, best read after you've read at least one of the other books in the series. (But that's often the way with series; you either have to leave the reader to take the initiative, or you have two characters with an involved dialogue early on telling everyone else what happened).

Nearly all the action takes place in the Realm of the Faeries, with just a short section involving Henry visiting his father only to discover a young girlfriend in the shower. He then appears to be abducted by aliens and is missing for three days after which he returns to his Mum to find that her girlfriend has also moved in.

A couple of fleeting descriptions felt slightly off-key. When Henry is abducted, there is an examination-by-aliens sequence when his body is sprayed and then his bottom and genitals are inspected. (And no other part of his body). There's no explanation for why this is. In contrast, there's a later exchange between Henry & Blue when he explains that the Demons are going to force them to have a child together. That sequence does have the merit of forming a part of the plot and their conversation has an appropriate gravity. Later Pyrgus rides in a new kind of carriage which, to ease you on long journeys, squeezes your bottom at intervals. Neither this nor the earlier abduction reference is outrageous, but both seem gratuitous. Add to that the incidents in earlier books of a camp concierge and an intelligent worm inserted in the host human's bottom, and there's a faintly sleazy residue.

Pyrgus had never seen a Goblin Guard before. This contingent was the traditional grouping of five - four male, one female, all dressed alike in one-piece silver jumpsuits and thick-soled silver boots. They were demons in their original unshifted form, grey-skinned, large-headed and with enormous jet-black eyes. Not one of them stood much highter than his waist, but they were by far and away the most dangerous createres on the surface of the planet. They gambolled forward on spindly legs like playful monkeys, chittering with the sound of clacking lobster claws.

Wednesday 15th August 2007