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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Mini-reviews: The Brotherhood Of The Wheel and Nightwise by R. S. Belcher

Official Author Website
Order The Brotherhood Of The Wheel HERE
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Six-Gun Tarot
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Shotgun Arcana
Read The Route To Golgotha by R. S. Belcher (Guest Post)

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: The Brotherhood Of The Wheel is the first book in the Brotherhood series and technically the 2nd book in the world of the Nightwise. One of the main protagonists of this book JimmY Aussapile had a cameo in last year’s Nightwise and the events of this book happen after Nightwise. Though both books standalone from each other, if one reads them together, we get an idea about the massive mythology and world building that the author seems to have undertaken.

TBOTW begins with many separate threads, the first one being Jimmy Aussapile, we learn that he’s a Templar in the Brotherhood and on the track of serial killer who might have taken his most recent victim. Another thread introduces us to Hector “Heck” Sinclair, an ex-marine biker who anger issues and PTSD have lead him into fights and the usual jail time. He struggles to reconcile his violent nature with biker MC past and must learn to accept his heritage. The third POV is from Lovina Hewitt, A Louisiana State Police investigator who is looking for some missing kids and finds her path intersecting with that of Jimmy. Lastly there are a group of young adults who are travelling through Kansas and whose path a person who could spell the end of the world will intersect.

Confused much? Believe me the start of this book takes a while to introduce each POV character and their background stories. The book’s pace falters for this and it can be a tad frustrating as the author seems to emulate GRRM by laying down stories which don’t seem to have any connection to each other. But then Rod Belcher is a master of creating dark worlds, terrific characters and superb mythos as evidenced by his Golgotha series. This world is no different, we are shown that the US highways are patrolled by a band of brothers that is made up of truckers, state cops, Bikers and other such random people and these descendants of the Knights Templars keep the roadways and an unsuspecting populace safe from paranormal cretins and worst of human and inhuman depravity.

This story takes its dark roots seriously and the author judiciously mixes factoids and urban legends to create a tapestry that is both intriguing and horrifying. Rod Belcher has two series running in this world and already discerning readers can see the cross-pollination occurring. I would love to know if this world ties in with the Golgotha series and if so what is truly happening? The story has quite a horror bent to it and the author does his best to up the creep factor. The characters are three-dimensional and each of them come with their own flaws. I loved how all of them were introduced especially the core cast. I’m sincerely hoping we find out more about each of them.

The only flaw for me in this book is the slow start as the story takes about 60-70 pages to finally kick in, but once it does. The story takes creepy turn after the other and the author makes sure to up the ante with every new twist. I think that this book heralds the start of a special species and one that I plan to follow to its eventual conclusion.

Order Nightwise HERE

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: I've really enjoyed R. S. Belcher's Golgotha series and so when this book was announced as noir urban fantasy, I knew I had to read it. This book is a tad difficult to describe and even more to summarize my feelings about it. The best way I can think of blurbing it is Constantine meets Dresden Files meets Angel Heart (in an oblique sort of way)

Laytham Ballard is our sole narrator who is also the mojo man and the subject of a whole host of legends. He's resurrected the dead at the tender age of ten, fought and escaped the Mosquito queen's clutches & even knows where the Philosopher's stone is. He's also a redneck from West Virginia who forged a legend that is dark and alluring at the same time. He's a loner who goes from place to place and leaves his mark with his occult magic.

He gets called for a last favor by his dying comrade, who then asks him to track down a war criminal named Dusan Slorzack. Unable to say no, he finds that there's more to Slorzack's disappearance than simply wanting to go off the grid. Forced to dig deep within his knowledge and contacts, Laytham will have to use all his wits in trying to locate and kill Slorzack but he doesn't know that powerful forces are protecting his quarry and they are hunting him in return,

This book is very much a noir look through an urban fantasy lens. Laytham Ballard is a bastard of a person and an obnoxious character who admits it openly. However it's to the author's credit as he masterfully showcases his thoughts and past, which humanizes him quite a lot. He's a hard man who has made some hard choices and he doesn't apologize for being that way. The book also talks about a lot of urban legends and drops some intriguing hints about Laytham’s past. The story also deals with a lot of intriguing facts about the US currency and banking system and I loved how the author explored this aspect and yet managed to tie it all in and it made sense in the end.

Nightwise is a hard story that reminded me a lot of old noir stories and even though it is a urban fantasy, it makes no bones about its influences and ends on a strange note. The story ends with a couple of threads open for the sequel. I can’t wait to see what new avenue the author explores in the sequel and where Laytham lands.


Anonymous said...

I bought Brotherhood of the Wheel, based on the review, and then bought everything else he's written. And now I have to wait for him to write something else.


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