Title: The Reader of Acheron
Author: Walter Rhein
Genre: Heroic Fantasy / Adult Dystopian
Publisher: Perseid Press http://www.theperseidpress.com/
Book One of the Slaves of Erafor series: Reading is forbidden, and the penalty for non-compliance is a life of slavery enabled by the forcible administration of a mind rotting drug. Yet, there are those possessed of the will to seek illumination. Kikkan, a former slave on the run, and Quillion, a mercenary and self-taught scholar. Together they seek out a small band of rebels living in hiding who offer the promise of a better world. Their leader is a mysterious figure known only as The Reader of Acheron.
Imagine a world where reading is prohibited and anyone caught reading or in possession of books is sentenced to a life of slavery, forced to take a controlling substance which pretty much turns slaves into zombies. It’s my worst nightmare and unfortunately, this future is closer than we think.
Kikkan is a slave when we first meet him. His owner treats him well and doesn’t force him to take the zombie drugs. But Kikkan is still someone’s property and in a moment of rebellion, he forces his own freedom. He’s on the run but doesn’t know where he belongs, torn between two worlds.
Quillion is a member of the local militia and in need of freedom of his own. He and his buddy (Cole) strike out on their own. They happen upon a farmhouse and discover a roomful of treasures: books. Quillion confesses to Cole his ability to read letters and sentences but has yet to comprehend what he’s reading. Quillion reveals the man who taught him to read was none other than the Reader.
Both Kikkan and Quillion are on an epic journey of self-discovery and the power of reading. Both will face conflicts and everything they believe will be tested. It’s not until their paths cross that we finally understand what it means to be truly free.
This is my first book I have read by this author and I must tell you how much I enjoyed it. He’s a terrific storyteller who weaves philosophy into the story without the reader realizing it. After reading a passage, I had to stop and think about what just happened while contemplating how I’d handle the situation. The scenes with Kikkan were powerful and emotional because the author immerses the reader into the mind of a slave. Rhein strips away pretense and you’re left with raw emotion. Well done!
The characters were realistic and original, which is a feat in today’s publishing market. I connected with each of the characters and found it fascinating to see each one’s morality play out.
When I finished the book, one question echoed in my head: does the banning of reading make society better or worse?
My answer is clear: without books and improving one’s mind, society is much, much worse.
I can’t recommend this book enough! This should be read in every high school classroom and by every adult so we ensure this post-apocalyptic future never comes to fruition.
Quillion. I loved his thirst for knowledge and determined to improve his reading skills so that he can understand the meaning in each story. His attempting to read classic literature was a treat for me. He’s a cautious man but knows there’s someone out there who can help him.
“It is the most dangerous weapon in the world. It can play tricks on you. It can drive an unconquerable warrior to take his own life. It can dupe a competent leader into a course of action that will spread death and destruction among his charges. Unless the mind has been disciplined it will consume you.”
My Rating: 5 stars
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Walter Rhein was born in Wisconsin. After earning a degree in English Literature, he moved to Lima, Peru where he lived for close to a decade. While in Lima, he worked as a writer, translator, editor and English teacher. He still maintains a web page about Peru at StreetsOfLima.com. In 2009 he returned to Wisconsin with his wife because he missed the snow and sub freezing temperatures. These days he can often be found lurking on the Heroic Fantasy group on Facebook, or at HeroicFantasyWriters.com. To contact Walter for interviews or speaking engagements, write: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Reviewed by: Mrs. N