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Monday, June 7, 2010

"Rhone" by John A. Karr (Reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)

Visit John A. Karr's Official website Here
Order Rhone from Amazon Here

AUTHOR INFORMATION: John A. Karr is the author of two previous books. He writes to keep his imagination sated and has previously dabbled in the horror and medical thriller genre. His short stories have also appeared on webzines, such as Allegory, The Absent Willow Review, and Expressions. This is his first foray into the field of heroic fantasy. He currently works as an IT analyst and lives with his family in Raleigh, NC.

PLOT SUMMARY: The planet Mars is an abode for the Gods however it also has a hero that will defy both god and man. Rhone is an ex-soldier of mixed blood, more man than demon but with reserves of hellish power. He has led a peaceful life as a fisherman since his soldiering days and is raising a daughter, Enna. Returning home one day he finds Enna murdered -- or so he believes.

And so begins Rhone's manipulation by Ducain, a demigod hell-bent on ruling the heavens. After avenging his daughter's death, Rhone grieves and isolates himself in the mountains. Ducain tells him his daughter's soul is locked in purgatory but can be retrieved ... but to do so Rhone will have to free the titan who once defied Acteon the king of gods and then Enna will live again.

Rhone knows that he has perhaps no choice other than to heed Ducain and call upon his demon side to gain the weapon which Ducain needs however in the process Rhone becomes much more and will forever be etched in the annals of Marsii history.

Rhone is 386 pages divided into twenty-three chapters with a prologue and an epilogue. Narration is via Third person and features Rhone, Ducain and Enna. This book has a self-contained plot line and the epilogue hints at a sequel.

April 2, 2010 marks the Trade paperback publication of Rhone via Wild Wolf Publishing.

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: I was intrigued by the book description when John A. Karr approached us for a review. This book was featured as a dark heroic fantasy set on Mars and among his literary idols, Karr counts upon Robert E. Howard, Michael Moorcock, Karl Edward Wagner and Edgar Rice Burroughs whose works inspired this book. The blurb details made it sound very inviting and so I started it with high anticipation.

The tale begins with Rhone who is now a fisherman living in the small town of Iylan, he spends most of his time fishing and making himself inconsequential. The thing he loves the most is his daughter Enna and he makes sure that she gets all of his attention. What he does not know that because of his soldier past and his demon genes. He has been targeted by Ducain, a demigod amongst the Marsii God pantheon, a vital cog in Ducain’s plan to kill Acteon the God King and usurp the mantle of Godking. Oblivious to all of this Rhone carries on with his life and meets with his comrade Satho who is passing by his town and they reminisce about their battles. Ducain on the other hand has plans to murder Rhone’s daughter to push him to the brink of his sanity and then nudge him over to become his godslaying pawn. What Ducain doesn’t count upon is that someone else who has their own plans with Rhone’s lineage.

The tale starts off with Enna’s murder by an assassin under Ducain’s patronage. Rhone wildly escalates in to a raving weapon which is exactly where Ducain wants him. He then introduces himself as a immortal who can help him retrieve Enna’s soul from purgatory if Rhone can travel there and retrieve another object from Purgatory. This object being a weapon shaped from a meteorite which can kill even a god.

Rhone acquiesces as he sees no alternative but Ducain puts him into a coma before having him begin his journey to avoid suspicion about his plots, thus begins the journey which will make Rhone a legend upon the Marsii Continent.

John A. Karr has written a straight forward heroic fantasy which has enough twists and turns in to be enjoyable. His writing is smooth and the prose is far from being soporific. The tale though a revenge story becomes much more than what the blurb hints at. The author has mixed some SF bits and set this tale on Mars and time period is around when the dinosaurs were wiped out from the face of the Earth. The story is very fast paced and makes the reader follow through entirely.

The downside to Rhone is that there are some editing typos which might put off people however I didn’t think it detracted anything from the tale. Also, the ending which comes naturally to this tale tries to encompass a bit of what happened afterwards and that seemed a bit too much in too little space that is devoted to it.

Rhone was a very enjoyable heroic fantasy book and the only complaint I had was that the climax ended in a way that makes you want to read the next book at the earliest possible convenience. Give Rhone a try if you have like dark sword and sorcery tales or heroic fantasy, as for me this was another highly enjoyable book and John A. Karr becomes another addition to my list of authors to watch out for.


Scott said...

Didn't like this one at all. However, it really was a matter of taste of the type of story. Karr's prose and description showed he has writing talent. I would probably agree that those seeking this type of story should enjoy it.

The Reader said...

Hi Scott

I think its a personal choice when it comes to books and like you said(typed) "Its more of a matter of taste".

I distinctly enjoyed reading Rhone's story & Karr's world was intriguing enough. I'm sorry to hear it didn't do for you at all.



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