Vox Day, His Latest Book, and the Hinterlands Imprint


When Mike Duran featured Jeff Gerke’s new publishing imprint, Hinterlands, on his blog, I must admit I was skeptical. The Hinterlands’ platform was a little off-putting, to say the least. Gerke seemed to envision a gritty Christian publishing line that secular readers might be attracted to and, through which, these worldly fantasy types might be subtly influenced by an obscured-by-grit gospel message. In addition, the first book he chose to publish is–according to his own word–a Christian [mimicry] of George R.R. Martin’s books. Even the title of this work, A Throne of Bones, resembles A Game of Thrones. And for unknown reasons, despite his lofty ideal of publishing realistic, yet evangelistic, speculative fiction for the teeming hordes of unrepentant readers, Mr. Gerke chose Vox Day to be his voice of the day. Does controversy sell, or does it come back to bite you when you bite all the wrong people? The answer, I’m sure, is yes.

Aha! you say. You’re one of those virulent feminists who hates Vox Day! I’m not, to be honest. Vox Day is just the pseudonym of a man, living in a distant clime, who has no influence over me or my life. But on a purely literary level, I hadn’t yet found Mr. Day’s talents to be equal to his claims of superior intelligence. Do pay attention to my verb tenses, please. I had always found his nonfiction articles to lack nuance, but later discovered that this lack of nuance left him open to attacks on his logic, which then created situations of counterattack wherein Day revealed how very coldly logical he was, and in a way that most people couldn’t follow. This led me to believe that Vox Day is a master manipulator, who directs the dichotomous thinking of others [most people, I’ve found, are black and white thinkers, even if they boast high intelligence. And that personality trait is exploitable]. In contrast to his nonfiction–or paralleling it, depending on how you look at it–Day’s fiction had been, at best, average.

If you’re wondering why I bothered to read Day’s latest offering–all 800 pages of it–it was owing to his challenge to me in the comments section on Duran’s blog. He told me to go ahead and rip his work to shreds as long as I was honest about it. Well, I may not be entirely honest (I’m not). But if I’m anything at all, I’m thoroughly obtuse. So I bought and read this epic tome known as Mature Christian Fantasy. To get banalities out the way, I’ll say right now that the line editing was terrible. It was so terrible it left me wondering why the author went with a publisher, since the publisher clearly had no intention of conducting line edits on the work. However, that’s a philosophical question these days: What is the sound of one word dropping?

Now that I’ve spilled all my cynicism on the page, I’ll go ahead and admit that A Throne of Bones is an above-average fantasy novel that has, in my estimation, elevated the author’s literary status. I would rate the book at four stars. I was hooked from the beginning battle scene, where Day demonstrates he can orchestrate battle in such a clear and concise way that I can understand what’s occurring on the field. I’m neither friend nor foe to battle scenes, but most of them are so poorly written that my mind sees only a muddle of figures with weapons and bloody stumps. Certainly, I’m no expert on battle, nor do I care to be. The author, then, must be the expert for me. As it turns out, VD is an expert [hey, he’s the one who uses those initials!].

He also approaches fantasy in the way I prefer it–as a scholar. I have no idea whether he’s an actual scholar, but his historical perspective is very well done. Some fantasy readers would rather read authors who create entirely new worlds/universes where they tack on creatures who are very much like humans, except not, because they’re alternate versions of our misguided selves. I prefer fantasy works that rely on an alternate version of history. This grounds the stories in the real world, but with archetypal frameworks of epic proportions. If you’re tired of me discussing archetypes on this blog, stop reading, because I’m not going to stop. Archetypes are necessary for our souls [for example, see previous post].

A Throne of Bones is epic owing to its sweeping vision of a society–in this case, a fictitious and fantastical Rome–that is both progressing and hunkering down for conservation at the same time. Balancing a collective society with individuals is nothing if not complex and nuanced. ***oh, boy, have I lost my train of thought owing to wine, dishes, children, and other sundries–on second thought, not including children who aren’t dry goods, but neither is wine*** What was I saying about the progression and conservation of society as pertaining to the individual?! And where is the soul in all of this?

The soul is in the integrity of the characters, as well as in the mixing of the fantasy world with the faith elements. Although I would hasten to add that I knocked off a star in part owing to Severa’s lack of development, the other minors and majors were stellar. Severa, in case you’re wondering, began as a temperamental young woman, who sought out the order of the goddess with the mantra “maiden, mother, crone”. This would suggest that she’s about to work her way through a transformation process, which she does–yes, from maiden to wise female ruler overnight with little to no development. I was disappointed by her. On the other hand, the two major characters–in my opinion, Marcus and Corvus–were men who resonated in their archetypal developments as warrior scholar and man of words (i.e. politician) respectively.

And why is the soul also present in the mixing of fantasy with faith? Ah, well, it’s beautifully done, except, perhaps, in the dropped plot thread of the dragon (yet another reason for the fallen star). There is no overt preaching, simply a Catholic faith that is political, corrupt, and true at one and the same time. The fantasy creatures fit: they’re skeptics or pagans; they’re extensions of the spirit and science and magic present in our world today.

There you have it. Even with chaos sounding its discordant tones all around me, I’ve managed not to tear apart VD’s novel and to be as honest as an obtuse winebibbing insomniac can be. I might scratch my head at Gerke’s–perhaps ironic?–marketing plan of “Hi, we’re Christian artists imitating secular artists,” but Gerke stepped out of this model to choose a quality first book that is a far cry from mimicry. I will, most likely, purchase and read the next book in the series, especially if Marcus is still a main character. At the end of the day, what one needs to bring heart to one’s parched modernity is a warrior scholar.

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20 comments

  1. “To get banalities out the way, I’ll say right now that the line editing was terrible.”

    The same thing happened to Mitch Bonds’s second book, for the last third of it. I suspect MLP’s notable growth curve is to blame. I’ve never talked to Jeff on a day when he wasn’t moving at light speed to keep up. Downsides of success, I guess.

    “Gerke stepped out of this model to choose a quality first book that is a far cry from mimicry.”

    Good to know. I actually didn’t much care for Game of Thrones, so if this stands on its own, I’m much more open to giving it a try.

    1. I suppose this is a good reason for an author to somehow obtain a second-sight for their own errors. That is difficult for authors.

      Yes, it stands on its own.

      1. Maybe Vasily Volsky would give you a knack for tactics, but Paula Volsky at least writes better literature than Vox Day.

        1. For a start, Paula Volsky has written a lot more works of fiction than Day has. I try to avoid that kind of review, anyway–“This is all right, but if you want good fantasy, read xyz.” Enjoying Volsky has no bearing on whether I will enjoy a book by another author. And lastly, I’m not going to read Volsky instead of Day. I will read both.

      2. Katie, Katie, Katie, I LOVE this! You did an inbredicle job! Will you make one just like it for the bed in the basement so I can use it when we come stay there!? I’m so proud I’m related to such a creative person πŸ™‚

      3. Please can someone help me? I know this is probably the wrong place to post this, but I can't find the right place, and the user forum keeps diverting to some sort of Google thing. All I want is to stop getting British (UK) stuff when I go to YouTube.com. If I wanted that I'd go to YouTube.uk ( ?.co.uk? ). The problem only started yesterday, but it's making it impossible to see stuff. I had to set up an account here just so I could post a comment to this blog, and even the "Help" section keeps putting up a little British flag in the top corner of the page. Is anyone else having this problem?

      4. Glad your are back and thanks for taking the time to comment my dear!You look rested and pretty!Mr. D and I planning a sabbatical in 2 years – will be travelling to India, Indonesia, Vietnam, ect…10 months! can not waitLooking forward to your many splendid postsAriane xxxxx

  2. Enjoyed the critique. I am a regular at the Vox site and have enjoyed and read most of his works.
    He felt that the titular precursor to Throne of Bones, Summa Elvetica, was an more ambitious attempt at the mythical and sometimes Christian world of Solenoth. I suspect you might like it; or, at least, find some folder for review. I would like to read your review of Summa should you choose to read.
    You are right that Vox loves to set traps and pounce. I have fell into a few of them though I’ve learned over the years to lurk more often than comment; just enjoy the action and the learning experience.
    At present there is an interesting and very informative debate between Vox and commenter Nate concerning inflation and deflation. It is not for the faint of heart. Both gentlemen are erudite, informed and very much above the average in intelligence. You might like it. I really cannot decide who, Nate or Vox is the better. They have different styles.
    Again thank you for the excellent and fair critique.

  3. Jill, you should be informed that Will is a longtime VP troll also known as Dan and various and sundry other names. In addition to committing inept graphic art, his hobby is attempting to convince people who like my books that they are, in fact, terrible and they should be reading the books that he suggests instead.

    Interestingly enough, based on his suggestions, he isn’t very well read. It’s a bit of a parlor sport at VP to be the first to spot him on any post there concerning books. Congratulations on your successful troll-baiting, unintentional though one would imagine it to be.

        1. Jessica, trust me…real human beings are much less of a time-waster.

          “It’s a bit of a parlor sport at VP to be the first to spot him on any post there concerning books.”

          This made me chuckle.

  4. I think this review is spot on. The way Severa was handled was poor, at best. Her transformation was neither earned nor natural. I was not as bothered by the dropping of the dragon story line though it did seem to mimic GRRM’s introduction of the Others in A Game of Thrones. Which is funny to me because I didn’t find ToB to be much like AGOT in any other way except for the chapters being broken down into character viewpoints.

  5. I’m the Dan who commented on the patriarchy post and wanted to say I’m not the Will/Dan/various and sundry identified by VD as a long-time troll. I’m going to choose another name since “Dan” which is my actual name has evidently been sullied.

  6. Hi Dave,I’m trying to generate heatmap. But an error shown ‘Error in ve2#or(&t82c0;double”, length) : vector size specified is too large’From googling, it maybe due to big dataset. Oh FYI, my dataset is from DGE which have around ~700 rowsHave u encounter this thing before??

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