Blind Eye Books, $14.95, ISBN 978-1-935560-26-5
Fantasy, 2013 (Reissue)
His Sacred Bones is the conclusion of Ginn Hale’s series The Rifter, which had all been released digitally for some time earlier. Needless to say, if you have never read any of the previous books, but wish to get into the series anyway, you should read the books in order. I try to avoid giving away too many things in this review, but I can’t promise that I won’t slip up now and then, so you’ve been warned.
So, crap happened by the end of The Holy Road, involving two people whom our hero John Toffler claims to be the people closest to him, but that’s okay, John has his boyfriend Ravishan by his side going all “Senpai, I cannot live without you because you are my everything!” so he displays a lack of urgency in wanting to save those people he left behind. He spends some time getting more power upgrades, and then his boyfriend gets into trouble, and he goes into Hulk mode. John is practically a god by now, so all his enemies last a few paragraphs at most before he stomps all over their rear ends. He gets his boyfriend, the end.
Is this a fantasy series or a romance? For a romance, I suppose I can live with it, even though I’m not comfortable with some of the choices the author made regarding John. But as a fantasy with a “save the world” theme, His Sacred Bones is pretty much a dud in terms of payoff.
The author’s primary mistake is making John so powerful that, as I’ve said. the end bosses in this story could only last a few paragraphs at most before being taken down by his awesome powers. Is this supposed to be exciting?
Also, John is not just the blandest turd to the point that I start calling him Senpai Turd Boring-sama, he is both selfish and vapid here. I am briefly intrigued by the villains – briefly, because they certainly don’t last long, snort – because they have some human motives behind their villainy. John, on the other hand, is pretty much a standard hero of those fantasy pulp fiction in those old days – the standard strapping white guy from Earth landing on some distant alien world to get the love interest and be hailed by the natives as the savior of the universe – so I can only roll up my eyes when he insists in one scene that he has “lost” things too in this story. Like what? His clingy hapless boyfriend getting stolen from him? In a series where people had been forced to kill their own mothers to save a sibling or had lost both husband and child before being forced to undergo a hideous and painful physical transformation, the man who came here, got a boyfriend, and became hailed as a god-like thing insisting that he too has lost many things in life has me rolling up my eyes. Also, John has a way with motivating heroic speeches. When he is confronted by that person who has lost both husband and child, he tells her that, hey, it sucks that she has lost a lot of things, but she doesn’t have to be evil and such. Boy, someone please frame those words and send them to the homes of those poor and starving people in the world. Bitter, angry, feeling that there is nothing worth living for? IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE LIKE THIS. So says a perfectly formed man oozing superpowers, who is only missing his boyfriend, to a villain who has lost everything.
And when another villain accuses John of caring only for his boyfriend, he’s right. Despite John’s protests, despite him once a while remembering that many people will die if the villains’ plans succeed, he is focused only on saving Ravishan. Even the last chapter and the epilogue is all about how these two are so happy together. Considering that these two are the blandest examples of a stereotypical “senpai and his damsel in distress kohai“ romance, I can’t care less about them.
If I have my way, the entire series would have been a comic series instead. That way, the superficial setting can be made better with a visual component and the main characters’ lack of personality could be somewhat excused by the nature of the medium. I’d have also marketed the whole thing as a romance. In its current form, as a supposedly epic fantasy series, the fact that the two blandest turds get a happily ever after after the hero curb-stomped the most interesting characters while acting like he’s more tragic than them, and the fact that the whole series boils down to portraying the love of these two boring turds over everything else as the cause we should all support… no, that’s way too boring for me.