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.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Walter Rhein, author of The Reader of Acheron. Enjoy! 🙂
Tell us a little about yourself.
Currently I’m working with Janet Morris at Perseid Press (http://www.theperseidpress.com/). It’s been fascinating working with her since she’s the author of some of the most important works of Heroic Fantasy published in the last 50 years. I’ve also got a book coming out with Harren Press (http://www.harrenpress.com/), which is an up and coming press I’ve enjoyed working with. I got my first publishing contract from Rhemalda, which has now ceased operations. Prior to that I lived and worked in Lima, Peru. For a while I was the editor of LivingInPeru.com, which was a fun gig because I got to go and do promotions for all the gourmet restaurants in Lima. These days, the best place to find me is at HeroicFantasyWriters.com (please subscribe to the email feed), or at the Heroic Fantasy group on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/groups/heroicfantasy/). A lot of my writer friends, including Janet Morris, are generally looking for insightful reviewers, so if you join and introduce yourself, you might get some offers for free books.
How did you come up with the world of Erafor?
Lima is a bit of an inspiration honestly, but so is the US. I wanted to create a world that is in a rapid state of deterioration due to a kind of overwhelming malaise that I think readers will recognize. I was also inspired by some recent classes I took to become certified as a high school teacher. I found it mind boggling that most of the tactics that are used for teaching in the US are obviously out of date and intended more for instilling obedience than a love of knowledge or learning. My two main protagonists, Quillion and Kikkan, are very much aware that there is more to the world than they are being told—and they’re very irritated that they have been misled.
Reading and writing being forbidden is a major plot point for Readers of Acheron, and it’s central theme. How vital is such a theme to modern day society?
The only advantage to oppressing reading and writing, or any kind of knowledge whatsoever, is to enable enslavement. That’s it. I wish people would consider that when various groups toss around ideas as to what concepts should or shouldn’t be taught in public schools. What’s even more funny is when people claim they want to keep you ignorant because “it’s in your best interests.” I’ve had a lot of experience with people who always screamed and yelled about how many favors they did to for me and how grateful I should be. Here’s a tip for life: people who are really doing you favors, don’t bash you in the face with it every two seconds.
Has music ever inspired a scene or story for you, and do you write with music in the background?
I don’t actually. I have never listened to music a whole lot. I’ll listen to the first chorus or so, then I start drifting off into dreamland and hours pass buy. I once did a two hour drive and only noticed at the very end that my tape (I’m old) was jammed and I was blasting crackling tape hiss at myself. If I want to pay attention to what’s coming out of the speakers, I put in a foreign language tape.
Anything coming out in the near future?
I have a humorous travel memoir that’s been primed to launch for about a year. That could be coming out in two months, or it might be another year. We’ll see. I should be finishing up the second volume of “Slaves of Erafor” before the end of the year. I assume we’ll see a January 2015 release on that. It’s going along well, but you never know, the bottom might fall out. Also Harren is re-releasing my first novel with Rhemalda, “The Bone Sword” soon. The original publication date for that was May 15, 2014, so you see how that’s going. But I expect it to come out within a month or so.
Where on the Internet can you be found?
HeroicFantasyWriters.com is good. As I mentioned before, sign up for the email feed and I’ll send out notices when I’m looking for reviewers. I do a lot of free books since I always like to launch a book with 30-50 reviews on Amazon. You can also find me at Facebook here (https://www.facebook.com/wrhein), or just send me a good old fashioned email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for having me!
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.