Part 1 of 4 can be read here.
This is the second in a series of four blog posts on the works of R.S. Belcher and the world-building that can be found in them. The specific element that will be looked at during these blogs is his use of references to deepen the world and make it feel as a more lived in place. The previous blog discussed Six-Gun Tarot, his first book set in Golgotha. This blog will be focusing on his latest story, The Brotherhood of Wheel.
To briefly summarize the premise of Brotherhood of the Wheel (BoW), its essentially an urban fantasy set around the idea that the Knights Templar never stopped doing their jobs and still exist. The Knights Templar, who protected crusaders and travelers crossing between the Middle East and Europe, have continued to do so and now protect travelers on America’s interstate system. This includes truck drivers, state troopers, motorcycle gang members and various others who work in secret to protect travelers from all the spooks and specters (both human and inhuman) that can prey on wayward travelers.
As discussed last time, one of Belcher’s best skills is dropping little references to groups and events that happen outside of those in his books to create an ever deeper world. In BoW there are lots of these sprinkled throughout. First, on the level of events readers are given brief glimpses of past events and past battles that have led to the events of the present. These events include past encounters that the main character, Jimmie Aussapile (who is awesome), has had in his years of being a member of the Brotherhood of the Wheel. One of the biggest of these is a past encounter that Jimmie had with a place called Metropolis-Utopia and what that place is. While this location is mentioned in the first chapter, his past experiences with it are left open for much longer both deepening the feeling that Jimmie has history of doing this and offering sequels an opportunity to further delve into those stories.
There are also plenty of groups mentioned in this book that are secondary to the Brotherhood of the Wheel. These groups include the Finders, the Zodiac Lodge, and groups with long-standing relationships with the Brotherhood of the Wheel. While some of these groups are encountered in this book, others are not. Again, this offers Belcher both a basis on which to introduce new groups in later books and they also provide Jimmie with a history. Jimmie has encountered these groups before and his relationships with them have impacts on how he acts and how people view him. In the first chapter, Jimmie’s knowledge of the Finders and the Zodiac Lodge further prove to a peripherial character that he has some larger significance and that he is in the know about things that should be secret.
Overall, both of these skills create a world that feels real. It has a history and its aware that while the action of the book goes on, that there are other things happening off in the dark. This provides a realism and offers Belcher an opportunity to expand his series in a brilliant fashion.
Ultimately, I recommend BoW for anyone that loves Urban Fantasy or the show Sons of Anarchy. If you haven’t read it yet buy it from your neighborhood book store or wherever you buy books or check it out from your public library. It’s completely worth it. I’ll see you next time as we talk about Shotgun Arcana.
Update: There is a good chance that I’ll be posting a blog in the interim that acts as a book review for a book I recently got from Netgalley, A City Dreaming by Daniel Polansky. I’m really excited for this book and I’m hoping to do a big Urban Fantasy blog after these and it’ll probably be included in my thoughts in that alongside Nightwise and Brotherhood of the Wheel by R.S. Belcher and Drake by Peter McLean (which I also really want to talk about at some point).
The Wheel Turns.*
*Read Brotherhood of the Wheel…It’ll make sense.