Rhemalda Publishing on Facebook. Seemed like an interesting publisher, so I "friended them" or "liked them" whichever it is...
Anyway, that led me to Walter Rhein's book, "The Bone Sword".
I saw the release of the book and didn't take the plunge to buy it. Then I read some reviews online. After reading the reviews (not 100% positive), I thought, I owe it to myself to read this book. Even the "bad" reviews made the book sound good.
So, I got a Kindle for Christmas (yay!) and the first book I bought was "The Bone Sword".
I had a bit of reluctance when I first opened the book. I think Rhemalda qualifies as a small press publisher and I have bought books from small presses before and been a bit disappointed. I was also a bit nervous for Walter Rhein. I had communicated briefly with him via Facebook and he had asked for my honest feedback of the book when I read it. I was afraid my honest feedback might be negative. So, I allowed myself, for just a moment, to lower my expectations when I started reading "The Bone Sword". I quickly realized that I had lowered my expectations prematurely and without cause.
As I read, I began to think things like "Oh, that was cool!" and "Well done!" and "This could actually be a good book". I was only slightly wrong...it's not just a good book. It's a damn good book!
I really liked the characters. The characters are all very unique and feel very "real". The primary good guy in the novel is a total bad ass. His name is Malik and I could easily see him as the basis of a series of books like Conan. As a matter of fact, the book put me in the mind of Robert Howard only set in a much less barbaric setting. Even the bad guys are really cool. Without offering any spoilers, I loved the bad guy who had a penchant for torture. I loved Malik's nemesis. I even really liked the corrupt nobleman and I was a bit disappointed when he died without getting to see more of him. Good bad guys really make a novel for me and Rhein did not disappoint!
One thing that I particularly loved was the plot twists that caught me off guard, but seemed to really fit well in the story. The story was, in no way, predictable, but it also fits together really well.
The world building was well done. One definitely gets the sense that the setting is fully established and has a rich history before the events of the story and will continue to have an ongoing saga after the close of the last chapter.
A note on magic - fantasy stories typically have magic and this one does too, but it is done to perfection. It's not a common thing. People are scared to death of it and no one understands exactly how it works (though it is clear to the reader that there are certain "rules" guiding the magic). Couldn't have been handled much better in my opinion.
Were there any negatives? Minor. It wasn't a perfect book, but the imperfections were extremely slim. A clunky sentence here and there, but that might just be Rhein's "voice".
One very pleasant surprise - the book was essentially devoid of editing errors to my eyes (I'm not an expert but I usually catch at least 2 or 3 even in books by big publishing houses).
One thing I loved was that in the beginning of the book, even the hero (Malik) seems a bit disdainful of "common" people. So does the Earl and the Priest. I began to wonder if the author felt similarly. By the end of the book, however, Malik's perceptions of common people has really changed. Such a change is so essential in a character. I hope, if we are fortunate enough to see more of Malik, then the changes will persist. Some authors, when they realize they have a good hero for a series, begin keeping their characters static in an attempt not to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. I personally think this is a mistake, but that's a rant for another day.
Sorry for the really long post today...here's the bottom line.
If you like a good fantasy story, and you like cool heroes and well defined characters set in a believable setting, then go buy a copy of "The Bone Sword". I cannot imagine how you could be disappointed.