Monsters, Relics, and Dangers Unknown – The Kollrheim Realms Chronicles Book 1, by S,M. Atherton

Review by Mack Hassler

The cover of monsters, hells and dungeons undiscovered by s m aberton.Once the storytelling is done in Monsters, Relics and Dangers Unknown, this first volume of “The Kollrheim Chronicles,” Emerick, who will be the warrior savior for the Princess of the Golden Kingdom of Kollrheim, has barely begun his long and dangerous sea voyage.  Atherton’s large-sized hero seems modeled, in my opinion, on the sly and canny Odysseus returning home after the wars to free his wife Penelope from suitors who think he is dead.  And of course, rather than the legendary Homer the teller here is a mother and housewife in the town of Gwinn near Marquette.  Except for the Norwegian sound of the name for her “Golden Kingdom,” Atherton is hardly grounding her work in the “realism” of U.P. literature.   Also, she does not open with a poetic preface that begs “to sing” her story.  She uses a spare and fast-moving prose, and she tells us right at the start of her book  how much she has loved to read tales of this sort and now has simply determined to make one.  Nevertheless, these Chronicles of hers resonate with Homer and with the similar voyages of Aeneas in Vergil “to found the race of Rome.  A real literature of epic voyaging, in my opinion, must contain this resonance.  So I find Atherton very interesting.

Atherton uses nice echoing of episodes from Homer and by implication from Vergil.  Mostly I love Vergil’s poem The Aeneid best, probably because I can get through some Latin easier than Greek.  And Dante too thought Vergil was his master in his own great Christian epic.  But an echo that seems to resonate in both poems and that Atherton does a nice job with is the episode of the Sirens, in which the call of the wonderful and sexy singing lures Emerick and his men (he has a couple of women with him too) to forget their mission and just to rest with sex and drink.  But a true voyager must have a serious sense of purpose and must not be distracted by mere pleasure.  Aeneas has to leave the lures of Dido and move on to found the race of Rome.   Atherton handles this echo well, just as she does many others.

In addition to Homer and Vergil, which are essentially secular, the great religious voyage in our tradition is the trek of Moses leading the Hebrews out of Egypt and to the Promised Land of Isreal and to Jewishness out of which emerged Christianity.  All very serious writing that involves real characters, heroes and heroines and real choices and real drama.  Now we have a U.P. writer who has devoted herself to adding a new set of journeys and adventures to the tradition.   She wants to write about larger issues and life heroes and heroines with swords and muscle and wit, absent all modern technology and problem-solving.  I think this is a fine start for her Chronicles, and we look forward to the sequels.  I think she has learned the sober sense of mission that a voyager must have, and I have great hopes for her to continue sailing. Also, note that all these warrior survivors  are left to wander after great Wars.  The Trojan War for Odysseus and Aeneas.  We continue to have similar conflicts in our world.  We need the great voyages of the survivors.  A housewife in Gwinn may have set herself a fine writing project.

Monsters, Relics, and Dangers Unknown (The Kollrheim Realms Chronicles Book 1), by S,M. Atherton (Wishful Words Publishing, Monee IL 2023) 264 pages, pbk, $14.99.


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