Imagine a future where technology and knowledge has been lost, reading and writing is forbidden, and slavery has become common. That is the world of Erefor in Walter Rhein’s novel, The Reader of Acheron.
Rhein paints a grim world of physical and mental oppression through the eyes of the two main protagonists: Kikkan, an escaped slave; and Quillion, a freelance mercenary who has secretly taught himself to read. They soon find themselves caught in between a political struggle between those who wish to bring knowledge and enlightenment back into the world and to end slavery, and those who seek to keep such knowledge in the hands of an elite few. Rhein brings multiple dimensions and depth to all the important characters and even to a few not-so-important ones, and he has dialogue mastered so well that most times speaker attributions aren’t even required to know who is saying what.
While a couple subplots are left open for later books in the series, the main plot of this book, and its twists, are wrapped up neatly. It was an enjoyable read from start to finish, and I didn’t want to put it down…nor wait for the sequel.
Best to read while listening to: The soundtrack to Braveheart with a dash of the Resident Evil soundtrack.