Eric woke with the sound of a siren in his head. He could almost hear the blue-red splashes of light, his eyes still bleary. The sirens were from the streets and Eric walked slowly to his window. People were screaming and running east, trampling one another, running over cars, pushing children down. A dog was thrown up in the air and it landed in front of a speeding two-wheeler. The rider swerved and crashed into the bakery below Eric’s apartment. That’s when the electricity went. Eric kept his eye on the sun, as it turned an ugly shade of purple.
“Nothing is real if you cannot see it,” mother said as I came running to the bedroom, younger brother in tow, with a story of the neighbourhood. Mr. Crawley emerged from a manhole, rats clinging to his trousers and black shit on his bald head. He had been helping convicts escape from the Central Jail, nearby. The news channels blocked our entire road. An intricate maze of secret tunnels was discovered and the police were not allowing anyone down there. My brother and I decided to explore them, before they sealed it off, and bring back photographic evidence for mother lying in bed.
The Pilgrims is the second book by Will Elliott and the first in the Pendulum trilogy. It follows Eric (a down on his luck journalist) and Case (an old vagrant that Eric befriends) who discover that a small door under a bridge leads to a different world.
The story follows them as they travel across this new land of Levaal and encounters various inhabitants - human and other races. There has been a war simmering between The Castle - ruled by the (not to beat about the bush) insane Vous - and a coalition of still-free cities governed by their respective mayors. Eric and Case arrive just as the war is about to become a full battle, and it's clear that this is not a coincidence.
I'm always wary of fantasy books where people cross from this world into the world of the writer's imagination, it always seems like a bit of a fanboy's wet dream and sometimes it isn't handled well and leaves a lot of holes. Elliott does adequately well in addressing these - Eric (at least) does not cross by accident, the magic that brings them to the world allows them to speak the correct language and so on. Elliott also wisely immediately plunges the antagonists into action, revealing the wonders of Levaal rather than letting them frolic on some untouched green hillside.
The other notable deviation from this being any sort of wish fulfillment fantasy is that Levaal actually isn't very.... nice. Danger, intrigue and double dealing abound. Vous could be nominally labelled as the 'bad guy' but it's clearly described that he is doing what are bad things for what he considers the right reasons. There are no 'dark lords' here and by the same token the 'good guys' really aren't particularly good.
Eric and Case are not spared from this. Neither is a paragon on virtual, Eric has some distinct character flaws, which are made very clear to him by other characters and perhaps at least some of the arc of the trilogy will be Eric becoming a 'better' person. Case has served time in prison for murder and is an alcoholic, the latter fact makes him behave erratically at best.