My Review of Beyond Sanctuary by Janet Morris

Beyond Sanctuary Cover

Discover the tale of an intrepid immortal, his deadly shock troops and brothers-in-arms, power hungry mages, a malevolent witch and all manner of Hell spawned evil. This is “Beyond Sanctuary” by Janet Morris, a classic tale of good versus evil, interspersed with the many shades of gray that lie between the two.

This is a story of epic proportions; mages being exterminated to satisfy the near insatiable needs of the beautiful Cime, the ancient warrior Tempus doing battle with gods and demons and a danger filled journey to engage a formidable enemy and avenge the deaths of members of his beloved Sacred Band.

Morris’ exceptional skill becomes readily apparent as she fleshes out characters whose complex emotions and idiosyncrasies establish a real connection and draw you into their lives. I was especially taken by Nikodemos and the many trials he faces throughout the book. He is such a wonderfully deep and troubled warrior that I couldn’t help but root for him. Niko epitomizes what it is to be strong in both body and spirit. He takes each loss that he suffers as a failure on his part, even when it was well outside of his control. Niko struggles with these losses and begins to doubt his worth. But rather than surrender to despair he pushes himself to reclaim the balance that he has lost with his brothers and within himself. Such is his strength that he earns the respect of the Riddler, the love of one of their greatest foes and draws the attention of the Lord of Dreams himself.

Beyond Sanctuary is not a fairy tale of knights standing about in unmarred, shining armor singing songs of their undying love to silk clad princesses. This is about true warriors who fight and kill the enemy, then celebrate with well earned drink and carnal festivities. Morris’ work is filled with pitched battles, excitement and intrigue. It is a land of warring factions, wielders of dark magic, formidable fighters and capricious gods. I have travelled Beyond Sanctuary and truly enjoyed the journey.

My review of Gonji – Red Blade from the East by T.C. Rypel

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Herein you will follow the travails of a deadly swordsman whose wild Norse rage is tempered and refined by the ancient soul of the Samurai. This is Gonji – Red Blade from the East by T.C. Rypel.

Gonji tells the tale of Sabatake Gonji-no Sadowara, a Ronin of mixed Japanese and Nordic descent who roams across Europe in search of the elusive and mysterious Deathwind. Along the way he brings his considerable fighting prowess to bear as he battles evil in its many guises.

Rypel has created a wonderfully conflicted character whose internal demons are every bit as formidable as the enemies he must face during his journey. Gonji’s internal monologue would make it seem at first that he is elitist and self serving, yet every time someone is in trouble, he throws himself into the fight where his deadly Samurai skills quickly bring the conflict to an end.

Throughout the book, Gonji struggles to try and keep his honor intact while serving alongside those far removed from the concept. He routinely has to demonstrate great restraint rather than reacting to the multitude of insults and sleights. I enjoyed the way Rypel created an eastern “barbarian” who could speak multiple languages and had a wit as sharp as his killing sword.

Gonji – Red Blade from the East, the first book of The Deathwind Trilogy is an exciting read that leaves you wondering just what adventures Rypel has in store for Gonji as his quest continues in the next installment.

My review of The Reader of Acheron by Walter Rhein

The Reader of Acheron

A freed slave on a journey of self discovery, a philosophical sell sword, and a lethal enforcer all travel throughout a land where only the strongest and most cunning survive. The Reader of Acheron is a post- apocalyptic tale in which reading and knowledge have been outlawed and the populace undergoes mass indoctrination to ensure their unquestioning obedience. Drug addled slaves toil for their masters until they are no longer of use and are cast aside to become desperate killers, driven by an unquenchable desire for the very thing that has caused their demise.

I was instantly drawn to the character Quillion as he battles foes with both his sword and an intellect that is equally as sharp and dangerous. He lives by a code that is many times at odds with those he is supposed to obey, as well as the rule of law in the land. And yet he continues forward, undaunted, searching for enlightenment in a dark age. While not a slave in the traditional sense, Quillion, like many others in his time lives under the thumb of a tyrannical ruling class that suppresses their ability to think and act freely.

Kikkan is intriguing in his own right as he comes to recognize and then embrace the strength that he possesses and his right to be free. His actions are driven by pure instinct, without the intercession of educated thought or an imposed morality. Kikkan simply acts based upon his own experiences and what he feels driven to do.

The Reader of Acheron held my attention from beginning to end, and had a pace that flowed well. Walter Rhein has created not only an extremely entertaining story, but also a brilliant treatise on oppressive government, the true nature of slavery and the unlimited power of the human mind. I truly enjoyed this book and am eager for the next book in the Erafor series.