Monday, March 24, 2014

Book Review: The Reader of Acheron, by Walter Rhein

In the process of creating my newly released novel, Uprooted, I've been reading fantasy fiction by alot of other authors, so I'll occasionally highlight some of these novels in reviews.

I saw a bumper sticker today. It read, “I think, therefore I am dangerous.”

Walter Rhein’s The Reader of Acheron is a compelling tale about “dangerous” men in a culture where reading and thinking among the lower classes is actively discouraged by the ruling class.

Part way through you realize this isn’t a typical fantasy setting. The old civilization has fallen, to be replaced by a tyrannical class of elites who rule over a frightened population of illiterates and drug-addled slaves. It’s a society whose stability rests upon a foundation of ignorance. Those who won’t remain in the dark become threats.

And yet, it’s not that simple – a secret twist lurks in the background.

There are four or five major characters. Each is tantalizingly fleshed out. Two main heroes – one a slave, one a soldier – each suffer under their own burdens of servitude, and each fights back by seeking both freedom and awareness.

I most enjoyed the main character named Quillion. He’s a clever, crafty, “chaotic good” figure whose methods are unorthodox and inscrutable (he reminds me of Mel Gibson’s character in the “Lethal Weapon” movies). I laughed when I got to the line, “This wasn’t the first time in his life of questionable acts that he wondered if he’d made a fatal error.” That’s the essence of what makes Quillion an entertaining, catalytic element who keeps the reader flipping pages to find out how he’s going to get out of his latest fix.

I could not identify so well with Kikkan, the slave. This is partly because his motivation and drives are so relatively simple. Yet he also exhibits a high degree of sophistication in his thinking and actions at other times. By the end of the book it feels natural, but the dissonance was a bit jarring early on.

This is a professionally done work that compares favorably with books you’d find on the shelves of your local bookstore. I had remarkably few editing niggles, and they didn’t detract from the story at all.

Rhein’s craft draws you in. His writing is atmospheric, portentous, descriptive, ironic, emotive. He gives clever attention to human nature and the nature of authoritarian government, and even bureaucracy. It’s a thoughtful book with a lot to say about philosophy and politics.

And by the end you know the adventure has only begun, which perfectly builds the reader’s anticipation for the next volume in the series.

To purchase The Reader of Acheron, visit

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Uprooted Has Been Published!

In case you hadn’t noticed my giddy Facebook postings, I wanted to let everybody know that I’ve finally published my very first novel!

It’s called Uprooted: Brothers of Orinthia, Book 1. It’s available on Amazon in both Kindle format, as well as in print-on-demand paperback format for those who prefer to be able to hold a book in their hands (that’s me, though I’m getting used to Kindle).

So far, I have confirmed readers in the US, the UK, Germany, India and Australia! This may be old hat for experienced authors, but for a first-time novelist it’s quite a thrill to watch.

No, so far sales are not going “gangbusters” – I’m not planning my retirement yet. It’s hard to break into the market without a strong surge of initial sales, plus some positive reviews. I’ll get into how you can help me with that in a minute! :)

Uprooted ( - is book one of what’s planned as an epic series. Here’s what the “dust jacket” (the Amazon description, anyway) says:
Two brothers stumble upon the macabre scene of an old murder. Who was this man? Why was he killed? They find answers to the mystery soon enough, and it rips them away from their comfortable rural home. They must run for their lives, pursued by malicious forces, thrown into a world of competing magical and conventional powers, uprooted from everything they’ve known and held familiar.

This is author Edwin Hanks’ first full novel, and the first of two series – the Brothers Subseries, fantasy thrillers about two young boys coming of age, and the Orinthia Series which draws them and dozens of others into a larger storyline of magic, romance, faith, politics and intrigue.

It’s a series about regular people in irregular circumstances. Ordinary heroes who aren't of noble blood. Highborn heroes who are real people underneath. Opponents vying against one another for victory, each believing their cause is just.

This epic series is faithful to the traditions of high fantasy while upending many of the clichés of the genre.
I still mean to publish a blog post about some of my “pet peeves” in fantasy writing, which I’m trying to avoid. Clichés, overdone motifs, etc. Let’s just say Uprooted is my answer to a lot of those clichés – like the “golden boys” who don’t know they’re the prophesied saviors of mankind, or the impending end of the world, or even the hand-wringing evil guy in the “black hat.”

For those who are curious, here’s more about the book, and the series that shall follow:

• It’s part of a genre called “epic fantasy” or sometimes “high fantasy” – ambitious stuff like The Lord of the Rings, or The Wheel of Time.
• It’s a “coming of age” story primarily about two brothers, but that doesn’t mean it’s merely a “young adult” novel – it’s meant for general adult fantasy readers.
• Most of my characters have roles to play in events that are much larger than they are – these are regular people caught in irregular situations.

There are no “golden boys” here. These boys are a lot more like me and you at their age. Maybe a little (a lot?) more mature, but that was normal in older ages. Given a challenge, they will still rise to it, using the talents at their disposal. But they’re still just regular guys. And some regular girls to go along with them!

I’m already writing the sequel, and a number of the other stories that will go along with the broader series. My intent is to fully flesh out the world with a variety of stories from different (often opposed) points of view. Many of these will be linked with each other and will end up funneling into the climactic final “subseries.”

And if you don't live in the USA, your country-specific Amazon store should have the book too (the Kindle, at least). Just take the URL given above and replace the ".com" with your "dot-whatever" (, etc.) and you'll find it. Or you could just type "Uprooted Hanks" into the search.

Just a reminder, dear readers and fans, of two things:

1) if you wouldn’t mind spending a couple (or a few, if you want the paperback) dollars to help me out, every sale helps build me toward those coveted “Best Seller” lists on Amazon. Just being there increases visibility and helps sales – your purchase of either the Kindle version or the paperback edition will really help me out.

2) Another thing that would really help me is positive reviews! If you can take a few moments to say a few words, or even to just give me a star rating, that’s going to go miles and miles toward helping me find new readers. Honest reviews are great! Honest positive reviews are ten-times better!

Once more – thank you for all you’ve done to support and encourage me!

Author Edwin Hanks

p.s. One more thing: Here’s a sneak peek at the regional map I’m using for the world of Orinthia. I’m planning a full blog on this soon, but this may serve as a teaser.