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(The Balance #1)

3.53  ·  Rating details ·  96 ratings  ·  27 reviews
Isiah is having a tough time. The Devil is making his job very difficult. Samuel Harrigan is a murdering low-life who used ancient black magic to escape a deal with the Devil. Now he's on the trail of a crystal skull that he believes will complete his effots to evade Lucifer. But Lucifer wants Samuel's soul for eternity and refuses to wait a second longer for it. Now Isiah ...more
Paperback, 259 pages
Published 2011 by Gryphonwood Press (first published 2006)
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Self published in 2006 by Alan Baxter (AHWA Member and all around nice guy) and rereleased in 2008 by Blade Red Press
ISBN-13: 978-0980578201

On starting to read this offering I was filled with dread as deus-ex machina seemed ingrained. In a modern day setting, gods, devils, and characters with superhuman powers were everywhere, with our protagonist, Isiah, chief among them.

A 400 year old tool of a vaguely described entity called “The Balance”, Isiah struggles to maintain the status quo
J.F. Penn
Dec 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thrillers, horror
I read fiction to relax and escape, and prefer a rollicking, fast paced adventure novel, and Alan delivers on that in RealmShift. I enjoyed the supernatural themes and religious comment that was intertwined with the gory action. The character of Isiah is complex and I love the idea of the gods being sustained by faith.
Dec 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017
Whilst not a genre I regularly read in (supernatural horror) this was nevertheless an enjoyable read. I enjoyed the battle between good and evil and the concept of a higher power that oversees and maintains ‘balance’ in the world.
I read this on my Kindle and felt there were issues with the formatting that annoyed me. Particularly when we changed to another characters story but there was no break in the text to indicate that the scene with character A had ceased, and we were moving to character B
colleen the convivial curmudgeon
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 05, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dark-fantasy
RealmShift is the first of Alan Baxter‘s novel-length works that I have read. Having previously published his short fiction, I knew first-hand how talented he is. RealmShift confirmed to me that his abilities in long fiction are equally tight.

Not generally a big fan of dark fantasy, I put all my prejudices aside and dived in. It was a gripping and interesting tale right from the beginning; and the construct was nicely delivered.

RealmShift tells the story of Isaiah and Samuel Harrigan, in a race
Karen Field
RealmShift is a mixture of genres, but it’s mainly horror. It reminded me of some of the Anne Rice books I read years ago – as in theme, not actual storyline. There are vampires, immortals, evil humans and tons of killer instinct, which always means blood and guts are sure to follow. Luckily, that doesn’t bother me.

Of course, there’s lots of swearing too. I’m not one for swearing, but I found I didn’t really have a problem with it in this setting. The characters are mainly male and they swear li
Anne-sophie Olsen
I just can't understand why I haven't run into this book more often in my journey through the realms of dark fantasy. This must be a classic or at the very least a cult classic.
Isiah is an immortal human employed by the mysterious Balance to well... to balance things out. The world in which this takes place is very similar to our own, but every religion, no matter how small, is real. The deities and their mostly evil opposites exist and can influence the world and their respective followers. Ma
Dannielle Line
Dec 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Questioning the orders of a higher power is not part of Isiah’s agenda, but even he finds it difficult to believe a soul as disgusting and vile as Samuel Harrigan’s is worth saving. Would it be so bad to let Satan have him? Samuel believes himself clever enough to cheat the Devil. All he needs is the crystal skull recently discovered in a remote part of the Central American jungle and he’ll be immortal and beyond Satan’s reach. Isiah’s been to Hell and back more than once, but as secrets are rev ...more
S.B. Wright
Feb 18, 2011 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Richard Harrison
Oct 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Not too bad but didn't quite live up to its promise. Found the characters a bit on the light and sketchy side and everyone seemed to have a bit of a common voice which is weird when the characters include a serial killer, a journalist, an immortal wizard and Satan. The pacing was a bit off, too when there were a number of repeated confrontation scenes and then the end happened all at once a bit too quickly.

Still, was enjoyable for what I paid (I got a free electronic copy from Alan's website) a
Oct 26, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
RealmShift is a difficult story to classify. It is a well-written dark fantasy with a detailed cosmology that feeds heavily into the plot, but the characters populating the story are less important than their purposes to facilitate plot continuity, which makes me hesitate to recommend it.

The plot revolves around Isiah, an immortal tool for the Balance, which facilitates change within the world by maintaining order between good and evil. Humans unknowingly create their own realities with faith,
Lyn Haines
Dec 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
'Control a person's beliefs and you control the very essence of their being.'

I was just settling into the 'urban fantasy vigilante demon hunter vibe' when Alan Baxter took a surprising transcendental shift to the left, then a plot twist the right and seamlessly delved into ancient Mesoamerican mythology whilst engaging in philosophical discussions regarding the nature of belief.

Realmshift really is an action adventure with a difference.

Highly recommend!
Jason Franks
Feb 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Alan Baxter's first novel, RealmShift, is a smart, action-packed
multi-genre epic: dark urban fantasy, thriller, noir and horror, all
rolled seamlessly together.

In a world where every god and demon from every culture is exactly as
real as its followers believe it to be, Isiah is an immortal enforcer
for the Balance, a meta-deity that polices these strange and contrary

The story here is quite straightforward without being simple. The
Balance tells Isiah what it needs to happen early on in the bo
Tracy Riva
Apr 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are some people’ whose heads you really don’t want to be inside and dark fiction author Alan Baxter is one of those people. In Realm Shift Alan Baxter takes you from blood sacrifices to the varied realms of hell and back again, battling demons, gods and Lucifer himself in a gore fest that makes your head spin.

Not only does Baxter spin a tale of life on the dark side, he questions, quite soundly, the basis for all religions, modern and ancient, treating all with the same irreverence and off
Kylie Fox
Mar 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
Imagine if everything you believed in, everything anyone believed in was real. All of the Gods and Goddesses; heaven and hell, all of it. Imagine that if you believed it enough, the tooth fairy and the Grinch and a pink, fluffy Easter Bunny existed.

Imagine that they were real because you believed in them. Such is the world created by Alan Baxter in RealmShift.

Baxter creates an original, but very plausible, alternative to how we view religion. Everybody’s right! There is no one true god, only the
Chris Bauer
Jan 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Alan Baxter is one of the hosts of a favored podcast "ThrillerCast" and I've read several of his short fiction pieces in the past. I've always enjoyed listening to his perspective on different writerly topics and finally made the time to read "Realmshift" after all this time.

I'm very glad I did.

The work itself is a very unique match up of urban fantasy combined with major mythological elements. The protagonist is an agent of Balance, dedicated to keeping the scales even between good and evil, wh
Phillip Berrie
Nov 26, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
A while ago Alan Baxter gave away eBook versions of his Isiah duology as part of a promotion for the Thrillercast podcast that he hosts with American thriller author David Wood. In preparation for reading Magesign I decided to re-read Realmshift (I'd already picked up and read a physical copy of Realmshift at local Australian con).

It's still a damn good read and more so when in retrospect you start to think about what the author tries to achieve with his main character, Isiah.

Isiah is an immort
Jen Brubacher
While journalist Katherine Bailey investigates a crystal skull discovered in Guatemala, a psychopath is intent on killing her companion, and Isiah--an immortal of sorts, an angel of sorts, and also slightly human--must save a blood mage's life so he can fulfill his destiny and save Katherine's life.

There's a depth of mythology in this book and a lot of great action. All realms are covered, from earth to Hell. Satan makes an appearance (not slick and clever but a real demonic Beelzebub) as do man
Eliza Bentley
Feb 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book on the train. For some reason, it really suits train reading. It's about an immortal-ish being, Isiah, who goes about fighting demons and trying to restore balance to the belief systems of the world. I really Ike the ideas of religion in this book - humans believe something strongly enough, and it is real. Your deity, whatever that may be, exists because you believe in it. As an atheist myself, I don't believe in any deities. But I do believe in having faith. Believing in someth ...more
Dave Kearney
Feb 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Alan Baxter’s Realmshift (The Balance #1) is an intriguing read that is well worth a look.

It’s the story of Isiah, a powerful magician and agent of a spiritual entity called The Balance, who is charged with protecting a murderous scumbag from the Devil (no less), and preventing a chain of events that would destroy all humankind.

With its supernatural themes this story was right up my alley and while it contained some horrific elements (I haven’t read much horror), it wasn’t gratuitous and served
Aug 26, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Disclaimer: I received this book from a first-read giveaway.

I honestly didn't know what to expect of this book given the blurb on the Goodreads page, but I was not disappointed. Though the whole deal-with-the-devil concept is a bit overdone, Alan goes a different way with it by explaining that the people of the world and their beliefs shape gods (much like Gaiman and a few others).

(view spoiler)
Dan Dobler
Mar 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing story!

This is one of those stories where the author apparently combined a lot of research into religions, history, culture, and archeology to write an amazing story. I really liked his development of the main characters and the continual balancing act of deities. However, I wasn't really fond of his loose portrayal of the spiritual world and faith and beliefs, etc. I have a strong spiritual side and that is where that comment comes from. However, Baxter did an amazing job of writing a gr
Sep 17, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty good dark fantasy/horror. If it had been cut down a little, I'd have liked it more. I did like that the villain was bad, unredeemable. I liked some things about him, but Sam was bad to the core. Some authors would be tempted to make him a likable guy, but he wasn't. Sometimes it is black and white.
Alan Baxter
Jun 10, 2010 added it  ·  (Review from the author)
This is the new Gryphonwood Press edition of RealmShift.
Jan 20, 2014 rated it did not like it
Overly complicated plot and world introduced too quickly, before I could even care about the characters.
Aug 22, 2014 rated it it was ok
Representation of POC was woeful, gratuitous rape scene, overwritten hell scene, white writers should never use the n word.
Mike Bond
Simple yet entertaining fantasy.
rated it it was ok
Feb 15, 2014
rated it liked it
Nov 24, 2016
Lynda Button
rated it it was ok
Jun 08, 2015
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Alan Baxter is an award-winning British-Australian author who writes dark fantasy, horror and sci-fi, rides a motorcycle and loves his dog. He also teaches Kung Fu. He lives among dairy paddocks on the beautiful south coast of NSW, Australia, with his wife, son, dog and cat. He is the author of the dark urban fantasy thriller trilogy, Bound, Obsidian and Abduction (The Alex Caine Series) published ...more

Other books in the series

The Balance (2 books)
  • Magesign (The Balance, #2)