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The Traveler: A Novel
by John Twelve Hawks

Published: 2005-06-28
Hardcover : 464 pages
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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 ...
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Introduction

(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.

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Excerpt

XCERPTPRELUDEKNIGHT, DEATH, AND THE DEVILMaya reached out and took her father's hand as they walked from the Underground to the light. Thorn didn't push her away or tell Maya to concentrate on the position of her body. Smiling, he guided her up a narrow staircase to a long, sloping tunnel with white tile walls. The Underground authority had installed steel bars on one side of the tunnel and this barrier made the ordinary passageway look like part of an enormous prison. If she had been traveling alone, Maya might have felt trapped and uncomfortable, but there was nothing to worry about because Father was with her.It's the perfect day, she thought. Well, maybe it was the second most perfect day. She still remembered two years ago when Father had missed her birthday and Christmas only to show up on Boxing Day with a taxi full of presents for Maya and her mother. That morning was bright and full of surprises, but this Saturday seemed to promise a more durable happiness. Instead of the usual trip to the empty warehouse near Canary Wharf, where her father taught her how to kick and punch and use weapons, they had spent the day at the London Zoo, where he had told her different stories about each of the animals. Father had traveled all over the world and could describe Paraguay or Egypt as if he were a tour guide.People had glanced at them as they strolled past the cages. Most Harlequins tried to blend into the crowd, but her father stood out in a group of ordinary citizens. He was German, with a strong nose, shoulder-length hair, and dark blue eyes. Thorn dressed in somber colors and wore a steel kara bracelet that looked like a broken shackle.Maya had found a battered art history book in the closet of their rented flat in East London. Near the front of the book was a picture by Albrecht Durer called Knight, Death, and the Devil. She liked to stare at the picture even though it made her feel strange. The armored knight was like her father, calm and brave, riding through the mountains as Death held up an hourglass and the Devil followed, pretending to be a squire. Thorn also carried a sword, but his was concealed inside a metal tube with a leather shoulder strap.Although she was proud of Thorn, he also made her feel embarrassed and self-conscious. Sometimes she just wanted to be an ordinary girl with a pudgy father who worked in an office - a happy man who bought ice-cream cones and told jokes about kangaroos. The world around her, with its bright fashions and pop music and television shows, was a constant temptation. She wanted to fall into that warm water and let the current pull her away. It was exhausting to be Thorn's daughter, always avoiding the surveillance of the Vast Machine, always watching for enemies, always aware of the angle of attack.Maya was twelve years old, but still wasn't strong enough to use a Harlequin sword. As a substitute, Father had taken a walking stick from the closet and given it to her before they left the flat that morning. Maya had Thorn's white skin and strong features and her Sikh mother's thick black hair. Her eyes were such a pale blue that from a certain angle they looked translucent. She hated it when well-meaning women approached her mother and complimented Maya's appearance. In a few years, she'd be old enough to disguise herself and look as ordinary as possible.They left the zoo and strolled through Regent's Park. It was late April and young men were kicking footballs across the muddy lawn while parents pushed bundled-up babies in perambulators. The whole city seemed to be out enjoying the sunshine after three days of rain. Maya and her father took the Piccadilly line to the Arsenal station; it was getting dark when they reached the street-level exit. There was an Indian restaurant in Finsbury Park and Thorn had made reservations for an early supper. Maya heard noises - blaring air horns and shouting in the distance - and wondered if there was some kind of political demonstration. Then Father led her through the turnstile and out into a war.Standing on the sidewalk, she saw a mob of people marching up Highbury Hill Road. There weren't any protest signs and banners, and Maya realized that she was watching the end of a football match. The Arsenal Stadium was straight down the road and a team with blue and white colors - that was Chelsea - had just played there. The Chelsea supporters were coming out of the visitors' gate on the west end of the stadium and heading down a narrow street lined with row houses. Normally it was a quick walk to the station entrance, but now the North London street had turned into a gauntlet. The police were protecting Chelsea from Arsenal football thugs who were trying to attack them and start fights.Policemen on the edges. Blue and white in the center. Red throwing bottles and trying to break through the line. Citizens caught in front of the crowd scrambled between parked cars and knocked over rubbish bins. Flowering hawthorns grew at the edge of the curb and their pink blossoms trembled whenever someone was shoved against a tree. Petals fluttered through the air and fell upon the surging mass.The main crowd was approaching the Tube station, about one hundred meters away. Thorn could have gone to the left and headed up Gillespie Road, but he remained on the sidewalk and studied the people surrounding them. He smiled slightly, confident of his own power and amused by the pointless violence of the drones. Along with the sword, he was carrying at least one knife and a handgun obtained from contacts in America. If he wished, he could kill a great many of these people, but this was a public confrontation and the police were in the area. Maya glanced up at her father. We should run away, she thought. These people are completely mad. But Thorn glared at his daughter as if he had just sensed her fear and Maya stayed silent.Everyone was shouting. The voices merged into one angry roar. Maya heard a high-pitched whistle. The wail of a police siren. A beer bottle sailed through the air and exploded into fragments a few feet away from where they were standing. Suddenly, a flying wedge of red shirts and scarves plowed through the police lines, and she saw men kicking and throwing punches. Blood streamed down a policeman's face, but he raised his truncheon and fought back.She squeezed Father's hand. "They're coming toward us," she said. "We need to get out of the way."Thorn turned around and pulled his daughter back into the entrance of the Tube station as if to find refuge there. But now the police were driving the Chelsea supporters forward like a herd of cattle and she was surrounded by men wearing blue. Caught in the crowd, Maya and her father were pushed past the ticket booth where the elderly clerk cowered behind the thick glass.Father vaulted over the turnstile and Maya followed. Now they were back in the long tunnel, heading down to the trains. It's all right, she thought. We're safe now. Then she realized that men wearing red had forced their way into the tunnel and were running beside them. One of the men was carrying a wool sock filled with something heavy - rocks, ball bearings - and he swung it like a club at the old man just in front of her, knocking off the man's glasses and breaking his nose. A gang of Arsenal thugs slammed a Chelsea supporter against the steel bars on the left side of the tunnel. The man tried to get away as they kicked and beat him. More blood. And no police anywhere.Thorn grabbed the back of Maya's jacket and dragged her through the fighting. A man tried to attack them and Father stopped him instantly with a quick, snapping punch to the throat. Maya hurried down the tunnel, trying to reach the stairway. Before she could react, something like a rope came over her right shoulder and across her chest. Maya looked down and saw that Thorn had just tied a blue and white Chelsea scarf around her body.In an instant she realized that the day at the zoo, the amusing stories, and the trip to the restaurant were all part of a plan. Father had known about the football game, had probably been here before and timed their arrival. She glanced over her shoulder and saw Thorn smile and nod as if he had just told her an amusing story. Then he turned and walked away.Maya spun around as three Arsenal supporters ran forward, yelling at her. Don't think. React. She jabbed the walking stick like a javelin and the steel tip hit the tallest man's forehead with a crack. Blood spurted from his head and he began to fall, but she was already spinning around to trip the second man with the stick. As he stumbled backward, she jumped high and kicked his face. He spun around and hit the floor. Down. He's down. She ran forward and kicked him again.As she regained her balance, the third man caught her from behind and lifted her off the ground. He squeezed tightly, trying to break her ribs, but Maya dropped the stick, reached back with both hands, and grabbed his ears. The man screamed as she flipped him over her shoulder and onto the floor.Maya reached the stairway, took the stairs two at a time, and saw Father standing on the platform next to the open doors of a train. He grabbed her with his right hand and used his left to force their way into the car. The doors moved back and forth and finally closed. Arsenal supporters ran up to the train, pounding on the glass with their fists, but the train lurched forward and headed down the tunnel.People were packed together. She heard a woman weeping as the boy in front of her pressed a handkerchief against his mouth and nose. The car went around a curve and she fell against her father, burying her face in his wool overcoat. She hated him and loved him, wanted to attack him and embrace him - all at the same time. Don't cry, she thought. He's watching you. Harlequins don't cry. And she bit her lower lip so hard that she broke the skin and tasted her own blood.Excerpt taken from The Traveler by John Twelve Hawks Copyright 2005 by John Twelve Hawks. Excerpted by permission of Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

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Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

AUTHOR Q & A

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.

From the Hardcover edition.

Book Club Recommendations

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
 
 
  "The Traveler"by gilency (see profile) 10/08/11

This book is Matrix meets 1984 so if you are a science fiction, conspiracy fan then you will like this book.

 
  "Sometimes gets a bit metaphysical--not my type. I enjoyed it more than I thought I wuold though."by SusanMZ (see profile) 03/03/07

 
  "Great action/suspense novel that isn't too entrenched in science-fiction."by wooperts (see profile) 03/02/07

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