Walter Rhein’s The Bone Sword mixes the grittiness of sword & sorcery with the miraculous wonder common in heroic fantasy, and he does so in a smooth way. While the main protagonist is clearly a good guy, he’s still rough around the edges and willing to do what it takes to win, both in sword fighting and in strategy.
Jasmine, however, ends up stealing the show and actually is the character whose shoulders the fate of an entire kingdom resides on. Her character growth, more than any other character’s, was what kept me reading. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel the same about her brother, Noah. He felt more “tacked on,” and I had a difficult time feeling any sympathy for him, even during the torture scene. I felt he needed a little bit more personality to him.
The villains, with the exception of one, were primarily archetypes; however, I still found them interesting. I’ve never had problems with authors using archetypes, especially when said archetypes work within the context of the story being told. And Rhein uses the archetypes well in his attempt to display the problems inherent in a feudalistic civilization, where a small handful of people often have far too much power over the rest.
Overall, The Bone Sword is a fun, compelling read with just the right kind of pace for such a tale.
Best to read while listening to: the soundtrack to Excalibur along with a few instrumentals by Epica.