“The Reader of Acheron” by Walter Rhein

This is Dystopian Action Fantasy with a thread of philosophy running through it. Not enough to slow the action down, just enough to give the plot deeper meaning and intensify the conflict.

The characters are interesting, but not exceptionally so. Quillion, the soldier-philosopher, is likeable but not lovable. The freed slave, Kikkan, is the most interesting of the bunch, but due to his stunted intellectual development, does not particularly appeal to the reader. The rest are the standard group of minor villains and spear-carriers one would expect in this genre.

The strength of the writing is in the suspense. There is consistent conflict, and this author knows how to nurture tension in every small moment. The overall story arc is smooth, with action causing effect, which builds to further trouble. However, a lack of deep connection with any of the main characters prevents this tension from really affecting us.

Individual characterization is a problem. A “lean warrior,” one moment is a “stout northerner,” later on. Quick point-of-view slips make it difficult to distinguish the differences between the main characters and to decide how we should react to them.

Likewise, the world building is sufficient but hardly entertaining. The social setting is a world that bans literacy, which is key to the conflict. Other than that, the story takes place in a post-apocalyptic void, with ruins of the old society available when needed for the plot, but little other description.

A solid example of the genre, lacking outstanding flash or emotional connection. This is an ARC, so I cannot comment on the editing.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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