Welcome to week four of the new author profile feature on the blog. This week, I want you to say hello to Walter Rhein. To explain how Mr. Rhein ended up on the blog, I need only quote from his bio: “Honestly, I read fantasy to see people get their heads chopped off, so basically the conflict of The Bone Sword is pretty personal. People get their heads chopped off.”
With an attitude like that, I knew Walter and I would be friends. Say hi to Walter Rhein.
Books by Walter Rhein
Deserter on the Run Malik emerges from the swamps of Plaiden seeking only shelter, food, and the time necessary to take the chill from his bones. But after a barroom brawl lands him in trouble with the local authorities, he flees to the mountains with two orphaned children who have the power to heal.
Pursued by the vicious Father Ivory and his Nightshades, Malik and his charges become the center of a grassroots movement that quickly blossoms into a full-fledged revolution. Their problems are compounded when news of their exploits draws the attention of Malik’s former Captain, a swordsman of legendary prowess who will not stop until Malik and his followers are dead.
As the final battle approaches, Malik must face both his inner demons and his former master in a duel that will determine the fate of the free people of Miscony.
Find The Bone Sword on Amazon
Cross-country skiers are hearty folk. The compulsion to race marathon length distances in sub-freezing conditions requires an eternally optimistic and fiercely independent spirit. The fear of blinding snow or paralyzing cold does not deter them, and it has been said that skiers do not merely laugh at adversity; they are completely oblivious to its existence!
America’s greatest cross-country ski race is the American Birkebeiner, or “Birkie” for short. Every year, thousands of people journey from all over the globe to Hayward, Wisconsin, for a world-class celebration of life, winter and the competitive spirit.
Prior to the race, local participants find themselves in the throes of a unique and natural euphoria. They thrill at the prospect of participating shoulder to shoulder with elite international competitors in a wild race through the great Northwoods wilderness. It is the common person’s Olympic ideal! It is Birkie Fever!
Far more than just a severe case of pre-race jitters, Birkie Fever is an adventurous compulsion that fuses with your very essence and forms an integral part of your innermost being. It is the catalyst for a fundamental joy of life that gives you the courage to expand your dreams and the strength to achieve them!
“Beyond Birkie Fever” is the story of how America’s magnificent cross-country ski marathon can expand your horizons and be the gateway to experiences beyond anything you’d ever hoped to imagine!
Find Beyond Birkie Fever on Amazon
Excerpt from THE BONE SWORD
Malik heard dogs baying in the distance. He grabbed a lowhanging tree branch and swung himself over a muddy ravine.
He was moving quickly now, as quickly as his fever and his
exhaustion would allow.
The dogs were after him.
“Damn,” he muttered under his breath as he slipped on a muddy patch and fell to one knee. For a moment, nausea and weakness assaulted him and he had a difficult time forcing himself back to his feet.
The rain had mercifully stopped earlier that day, but Malik almost wished for it back now. It wasn’t easy for a dog to track in the rain. Even the humid air that boiled up from the droplet-covered woodland should have proved an almost insurmountable challenge for all but the very best animals. Still, without question, the dogs after him had been getting closer over the last few hours. That led Malik to conclude that for the Earl of Miscony to have such animals— presuming his involvement— he must be a nobleman of no small clout. The fact that those animals were currently employed in Malik’s pursuit indicated that the Earl’s relationship with Bertrand the oaf had been significantly more than idle boast.
“Damn,” he said again. It was another piece of information in a long list of items entitled “things I wish I’d known before I killed somebody.”
Bertrand the oaf.
Bertrand the blow-hard.
Bertrand the dead.
“Damn,” Malik said again, “Bertrand’s death will be mine as well.”
Despite his delirium, Malik was able to make good progress through the woods. The trees weren’t the same as those of Camden where he had received his training, but the principals were inherently similar. Look for water, look for mud, hide your scent, leave false tracks. Malik had done all these things; still the dogs pursued.
In his hand he carried a small throwing dagger. It was one of three that remained in a sheath that had been designed to carry ten. That was the problem with throwing daggers, he thought ruefully, sometimes you couldn’t stick around to retrieve them.
As he knifed through the forest, he whittled on a piece of hard oak. The task distracted him slightly from his progress but it wasn’t an idle pastime. He was carving a thin spike about two inches long, and arming it with long barbs on either end.
The spike was just about finished when he noticed a rustling movement in the leaves. Barely looking up, Malik sent the dagger spinning into the foliage. The target produced a tremendous squealing and thrashing sound that Malik pounced upon like a tiger. Pushing away a branch, Malik found himself gazing at the contorting body of a squirrel. The throwing dagger was lodged deeply in its tiny body. In one deft motion, Malik picked up
the creature and quickly killed it. Then he was off running again with the squirrel, the dagger, and the spike all in hand.
The noise of the squirrel set the dogs off baying again and that, in turn, got Malik’s heart pumping. He wasn’t one to panic, for he had a long experience of taking great risks and having them turn out in his favor, but he wasn’t above admitting that he was concerned.
Dogs tended to concern anybody.
Especially dogs as good as these appeared to be.
With a few quick, practiced motions, Malik skinned his prey and squeezed the blood onto the ground. He didn’t care how well the hounds were trained, the smell of blood would excite them beyond control.
He carried the squirrel for a few hundred meters, leaving a wide blood trail until he was sure the air would be sufficiently full of the smell of death to drive the hounds crazy. He then sheathed his dagger and proceeded to insert the wooden spike sideways into the squirrel’s flesh. The sharpened points on either end of the spike stuck out of the carcass in an obvious fashion, but that couldn’t be helped. It wouldn’t matter anyway, no dogwas going to withhold its death clamp when the smell of blood was in the air.
Dropping the squirrel to the ground, Malik continued to run. For a moment, he felt strangely bad. Killing people didn’t bother him all that much. Most of the time it was obvious who had it coming and who didn’t.
In fact in many cases, as with Bertrand — and this in spite of all the trouble it had cost him — it made Malik feel worse to let certain oafs live.
But killing dogs was a different matter, and that was the source of his temporary chagrin. He didn’t like using his intellect to defeat an opponent before it even had the chance of a fair fight.
He wiped his face with his hand and forced the thoughts away. This was no time for such counterproductive thinking. Although he had nothing against dogs in general, the dogs after him now were his enemies. They’d kill him if they got close, and their deaths would be justified, as would their masters’. It didn’t matter what the conflict was or who started it.
Once something was trying to kill you — or eat you, in the case of the dogs — any response was justified.