Rifter Book 2: Servant of the Crossed Arrows by Ginn Hale

Title: Rifter 2: Servant of the Crossed Arrows
Author: Ginn Hale
Buy link: Amazon.com
Publisher: Blind Eye Books
Genre: Fantasy M/M
Length: Novella (130 pgs PDF)
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

A guest review by Kassa

Summary Review: The second part carries on somewhat obscurely but with a fabulous twist at the end.

THE BLURB:

The Rifter is a ten-part serialized novel by award-winning author, Ginn Hale. The first episode, The Shattered Gates, was published on March 8, 2011.

When John opens a letter addressed to his missing roommate, Kyle, he expects to find a house key, but instead he is swept into a strange realm of magic, mysticism, revolutionaries and assassins. Though he struggles to escape, John is drawn steadily closer to a fate he share with Kyle—to wake the destroyer god, the Rifter, and shatter a world.

THE REVIEW:

For those unfamiliar with the title, this is book two of a ten part serialized fiction piece by Ginn Hale. I’ll be reviewing each book as they come out and any new readers should start at the beginning (here). While I will attempt not to include any spoilers, my reviews will assume that the readers are familiar with the characters and concepts and simply speak about that particular book in the series.

 

Servants of the Crossed Arrows is a heavily plot orientated book. There is a brief but thorough summation at the start of the book to remind readers where the series left them. This should refresh readers’ memories but new readers should start at the beginning of the series.  In the first book, numerous characters were introduced and the setting loosely sketched while the plot was all over the place with so much going on in so many directions. Book two settles down quite a bit and focuses on what I assume are the two main characters in the series.

 

The first 90 pages highlights John. John is the grad student and something called a Rifter that stumbled into an alternate fantasy world with his two friends. Picking up where he left off John is faced with a dilemma when he learns about a planned ambush. He decides to warn the other party in hopes of gaining aid for him and his friends – who have been living, mostly slowly dying, in the woods for the past year. This sets off a chain of events that leads to what will become John’s new life, or so I think.

 

The plot surrounding John carries along steadily. There is not much further development to the secondary characters and everyone pales against the vibrancy and urgency that John exudes. However the book offers some thick story progression to sink your teeth into. There are connections upon connections made and these are important. There are several seemingly random minor characters and details offered but as I soon came to realize, these are all very essential. I’d stress to pay particular attention to the names and details offered during John’s part of the story as the reason becomes evident during Khalil’s part of the book.

 

The second part deals with Khalil and this is perhaps the most frustrating aspect of the book. Khalil is suffering from a confused memory so the reader is also confused. After he performed a blood ritual and got lost within the fantasy realm, two years have passed. Khalil can’t remember what he was doing or why and suddenly the details become fuzzy and convoluted. Khalil is actually in the future – or a future compared to John who is either in the past or present. If it sounds jumbled it’s because it is and this makes reading very difficult. The details never match up – even if you adjust for the advance in time – so I’m not sure if this is an inconsistency, a mistake, or merely part of the story.

 

I spent the last 50 pages confused and frustrated trying to understand what was going on with Khalil and how his experiences fit a larger picture. Once again it is so early on in the series that the overall plot, which I suspect is vastly complex, is too large to fit into the novella space provided. Book two builds on book one and the very nice twist at the end of book two promises that these details will converge soon enough and make more sense. So if you find yourself somewhat as frustrated as I was, stick with it. I have the utmost faith this will pull together.

 

The writing is once again exciting and the fantasy world really comes alive. It’s incredibly vast and textured with many obscure references that no doubt each have a place. I like that the plot is careful and thoughtful, although I wish it was easier to follow in some places. I unfortunately didn’t enjoy the second half of the book as much as the first. The twist at the end is very exciting though and sets up what I hope to be a fast paced third book. I honestly can’t wait for it to come out. Definitely pick this up now, don’t wait!

 

 


17 comments

  • I finally read book 2!!!

    I was a bit annoyed after book 1 because I got frustrated when Khalil and John got seperated and I couldn’t see how on earth they would get back together. Liked book 2 a lot more because there was much more direction and purpose. I am still on board and more hooked than I was after book 1.

    Reply
  • Thanks for the review Kassa, I am a huge fan of this writer, but the decision to split one story into many pieces annoys me so much, I cannot adequately express how much :(. I will of course eventually buy it when all the pieces are out, but it is so very frustrating to wait for that lol. But I guess since I know that ending the book in cliffhanger would annoy me ten times more, I would rather wait when I can read the end right away.

    HATE cliffhangers so very much 🙂

    Reply
      • Heee, I guess I do. Kassa, I hope my rant did not come off as if I directed it ar you? It was directed at cliffhangers in general and specifically that I cannot read the story by the writer I love from the beginning to the end :).

        And yes, while I know that serial fiction has its roots in the past (Dickens, Dumas, etc did that), if I wanted that, I would read newspaper which does it. When I get a book, I do not want it to stop in the middle. I am still pissed at Jim Butcher for how he ended book 12 of Dresden files lol. Of course it is also because that I am a reader who very often flips to the last page first 🙂

        Reply
        • Oh not at all, I can totally understand how you feel. I dislike cliffhangers too and tend to get on series that do that. So I know where you’re coming from (especially with Dresden Files. Damn you JB!).

          In this case I can let it go because I knew going in each novella would be a cliffhanger. So with that expectation ahead of time I can get over my issues. Plus the stories are so GOOD! You really get sucked in.

          If you can wait and will read 1000+ pages at once definitely do it. I just hope no one gets intimidated by the length (like I would be) and then miss out.

          Reply
  • Hey Kassa,

    I think I said this before, but my favorite thing about reading the original MS of this was to finish the last page and then immediately read the entire thing again and find all the clues I missed the first time. (ha!)

    Reply
    • I know that feeling! I actually read this book twice and then tried not to beg for the 3rd part immediately. This is a series I’ll easily want to start over the minute I finish. But I felt that way about Lord of the White Hell too.

      Reply
  • Kassa

    The writing is once again exciting and the fantasy world really comes alive. It’s incredibly vast and textured with many obscure references that no doubt each have a place

    I think the above should make any fantasy reader continue this series, despite the confusion around Khalil and the other frustrations in Book 2.

    We all trust Ginn and I’m sure she will pull this off. I’m anxiously waiting for your assessment of Book 3.

    Reply
    • I can’t wait to read book 3. Like you said fantasy readers should be able to overlook the problems, especially with such a fabulous ending that catapults you back into “OMG i want more now!” feeling.

      Reply
  • I finally caved and subscribe the whole series sometime back. Looks like I better wait till the whole thing is complete to get the feel of the story or I might start WTF every single chapter

    Reply
    • I think you’ll be ok honestly. There are a few scenes where you might scratch your head but you can keep up. It’s more a feeling like you’re missing how it all fits together than being totally lost.

      Reply
  • I love Ginn’s world building and like you wonder if the complexity is too much for these short bursts of story. But I am still ‘in’ because I want to know what happens to John as he grows through his naivety. I want to know what decisions he will make what actions he will choose. I want him and Khalil to find each other. I worry about the betrayals that are possible along the way. So I am glad for more story to look forward too. Having said that I think I would only take on a serial format with an author like Ginn, whose work I know and trust.

    Reply
    • Oh I think there are going to be some heavy betrayals but I trust Hale and will go where she wants to take me. I do think the story is a mite too complex for this serial idea but we’ll see how it pans out. Fingers crossed!

      Reply
  • I got the series because she’s a hell of a writer……but I think after reading the first one, I just may wait for 2-3 more parts to come out before I continue reading.

    Like you, I’m sure it will all make sense once it’s all out there. And I’m sure it will be an amazing story!

    Reply
    • Well I’m not sure reading 2-3 will help much. It’s a huge plot that arcs over the entirety of the story. I think just go with it and trust it? this would usually drive me nuts but the writing is so good I can do it.

      Try reading the next 2 together and see if it helps.

      Reply
    • well it might be helpful to read several in a row as it cuts down on the confusion but I think overall you’re just going to have to trust the story to eventually make sense.

      Reply

Please comment! We'd love to hear from you.