By: Dan Fitzgerald
Genre: Sword-Free Fantasy, Romantic Fantasy
Intended Age Group: Adult
Publisher: Shadow Spark Publishing
Content Warning: Consenting adult sexual content
“To these fish, the water is one world and the air another. Who is to say which world is more real? There are a thousand worlds, a thousand realities, but they are all connected. They are all one…You will come to see this too, given time and experience.” Dan Fitzgerald, The Isle of a Thousand Worlds
The Isle of a Thousand Worlds is a beautifully written novel that explores the mind and body connection, the physical and emotional connection, and delves deep into the metaphysical. The Wierdwater Confluence Duology is very unique in the way the novels are connected. In most duologies, the second book is often a direct continuation of the first. The Living Waters explored the natural world, the mystery of the beings inhabiting the Living Waters, the understanding of interconnectedness and acceptance. There is one book exploring the world around us, and the Isle of a Thousand Worlds focusing on the inner self, emotional connections, and the pleasure of sex and love. While the majority of the characters in The Isle of a Thousand Worlds we met in The Living Waters, we are introduced to several new and important ones. The novels are linked by two characters, Gilea, who was a main character in The Living Waters, and Patia, an alchemist that Leo and Sylvan met briefly when the swirling water had stolen her quicksilver, a necessary ingredient for her tinctures. It is Gilea and Patia who are the main protagonists in the The Isle of a Thousand Worlds. At the end of the Living Waters, Gilea parted temporarily with Temi, whom she fell in love with, to expand on her practice of meditation, leading to the metaphysical world of The Caravan. We find out that Patia is heading for the city of Ronatai to find the alchemist who has supposedly discovered the Universal Tincture, which would lead to access of the Isle of a Thousand Worlds. While Gilea continues her studies with her mentor Amini, Patia meets another alchemist in Rontaia, Gero, and the two them begin a partnership in both making tinctures and spiciness, as Mr. Fitzgerald would say.
I loved so many aspects this book. There are two strong female protagonists in Gilea and Patia. The exploration of the metaphysical world is so detailed, so calm, and soothing, it made me want to meditate (and given my personality, it’s something I’ve never tried). Patia is simply an amazing character. She is straightforward, holds nothing back from Gero as to her tincture making abilities, and certainly lets him know. She knows her business as well as he does, and will not be held back because she is a woman. Gero sees this in Patia and comes to respect and care for her. Patia is sexually free, and makes no apologies that she has had quite a few lovers. As she and Gero work together, their relationship evolves to both business and pleasure. I must admit that it has been quite some time since I have read a book with explicit sexual scenes. It’s not because I object, it’s simple that the books I have read did not have them. Needless to say, I was curious as to how this would be handled. Second reason I loved this book was the sex. Why? Kudos to Mr. Fitzgerald for having two people in their sixties having a sexually satisfying relationship. They are older, they are described physically as being older, and they are not perfect. They are totally relatable. I absolutely loved this choice. With the exception of a few novels, far too often it is the young, “perfect” couples in a romantic relationship. For explicit sex, rarely would we see an older couple. Yes, older people have sex. Older people enjoy sex as much as younger people. I felt with Patia and Gero, they were very much in tune with each other. With age comes experience, and it showed in these scenes. It’s important to note that they were neither forced nor there to shock the reader. They flowed naturally from the close bond that Patia and Gero developed. I found it to be quite beautiful.
“Patia, I love you. I”… “I know it sounds ridiculous, a man like me, at this age, falling so completely for someone he’s only just met, but-”
“I love you, too, idiot.” She kissed him gently her head growing light as the unaccustomed emotion spread through her. She had been with many men before and had been very fond of a few of them, but she had thought herself immune to this ridiculous societal notion.” Dan Fitzgerald, The Isle of a Thousand Worlds
Gilea and Temi are equally in love. Another wonderful aspect is the LBGTQIA+ representation int the book. While we do not see much of Temi until later, Gilea is able to connect with her through her mediations, and their love blossoms just as beautifully. The relationship that Gilea shares with Amini is equally lovely, the latter serving as both mentor and friend. She guides Gilea through her meditation and access to the Caravan. She is a gentle soul and cares deeply for Gilea. It is Amini that senses the threat to the Caravan and Thousand Worlds and trusts her completely to help her. Their relationship is also a highlight in the book.
“Gilea’s attention returned slowly as Amini’s gently presence surrounded her like a cloak.
“It’s time we return, for now.”
“So soon? It feels like we just got here”
Amini smiled, cupping Gilea’s cheek with ther warm, wrinkled hand.
“Most people tire after a short while on their first trip…Close your eyes and follow me.” Dan Fitzgerald, The Isle of a Thousand Worlds
What is the Caravan? It is what Gilea, using a tincture, accesses with her meditation; a metaphysical realm, but feels just as real as the physical world. Once accessed, one can travel through the Caravan to different cities, communicate over distances, and when strong enough, manipulate parts of it. There are crossroads to other cities, but Endulai, where Gilea trains, is the center of the Caravan. Much is conducted in the Caravan, but access is through using an alchemic tincture, or just meditation when the mind is strong enough. Patia and Gero are searching for the Universal Tincture which would allow access to the Caravan and The Thousand Worlds to anyone. Someone is trying to stop it, and will do so at any cost.
The pacing and prose were excellent. The narrative flowed smoothly, often one chapter focusing on Gilea, the next on Patia. Some chapters were very short, others longer. It worked perfectly in terms of the reader getting to know the story of both Patia and Gilea, and how they will come to intersect. The meditative parts of the novel were beautifully written, and we were brought into Gilea’s mind and everything she experiences. The gentleness of Amini and the love of Gero were two brilliant additions to this novel and duology.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Isle of a Thousand Worlds. There were so many wonderful intricacies in it. The difference in the duology was a unique choice. The Living Waters focused on the world around the characters, while this novel explored the mental and physical connections. The strong female protagonists of Gilea and Patia as the focus works exceptionally well. Gilea focused on the mind connection the Caravan and the Thousand Worlds, while Patia, the alchemist, focused on access through a Universal Tincture for all. Patia and Gero’s love story were a highlight for me in this book for several reasons. The explicit sex flowed with the prose, and was in no way gratuitous. It grew from a physical connection to love. I think that explicit sex scenes can add to the narrative of a story, as it did here. It was natural, and an even better choice to have an older couple. It made them very relatable. If fantasies can have wars, blood, gore, slavery, poverty, and a host of other not so pleasant things that also make the story what it is, why should explicit sex not also add to the story? I love all types of fantasy and read my share of war and gore, so this novel was a breath of fresh air. The characters are very well-developed and again it was wonderful to have LBGTQ representation in Gilea and Temi. The Isle of a Thousand Worlds is an amazing follow-up to The Living Waters. Its focus on both the metaphysical and physical connections between the characters made for a unique and truly enjoyable read. I highly recommend both The Living Waters and The Isle of a Thousand Worlds.
Summary (from Escapist Tours)
The alchemy of the heart distills the body’s desires.
An aging alchemist seeks the key to the Universal Tincture said to unlock the Thousand Worlds of the mind, but she never expected to solve the riddle of her hermetic heart.
A meditation acolyte travels the mystical social media known as the Caravan and finds that the Thousand Worlds lie just below the surface, if she can only learn to see the space between the stars.
This steamy romantic fantasy explores the confluence of the physical and the metaphysical through the commingling of bodies and minds.
Now, for Mr. Fiztgerald, he would describe his book as No Swords, No Deaths, Just Magic & Sexy Times!
Find out more about Dan Fitzgerald on his website: https://www.danfitzwrites.com/
Purchase The Isle of a Thousand Worlds on Amazon
Purchase The Living Waters on Amazon
Purchase Publisher Direct (signed copies): https://shadowsparkpub.com/dan-fitzgerald/#weird
Review of The Living Waters