Book Review: Reign of Four (Book 1)

Book Cover from Amazon

One of the most famous quotes about March is “Beware the Ides of March“. Ides being the middle of the month (every month, not just March), usually the 13th or 15th. I thought I would review a story on legacies, monarchies, and court intrigue created by pulp writer Jake Bible – you can find my author spotlight on him: here.

Reign of Four: I (Book 1) by Jake Bible


Millennia ago, planet Helios held a grand technological civilization. But the Cataclysm tore the land apart, and the survivors were forced to flee to the Six Stations, the artificial planetoids that orbited Helios. It did not take long for their society to devolve into a virtual medieval world, with barely enough technology to survive the harshness of life in space.

Out of this culture arose a line of monarchs called the Reign of Four. Alexis Teirmont was the First. He was a visionary, a warrior and a tyrant who was not immune to egotism, cruelty, and revenge. He would change the very fabric of the System. His reign would be remembered throughout history for both the good–and the bad.



I was at page 152 of 200 when I quit. This well-written book in the fantasy epic tradition is set in a science fiction environment. Brutal battles, vicious executions, harsh language, court intrigue, action, family, women second-class citizens (as appropriate for a culture based on upper arm strength for battle and work and a desperate need of children because of high death rates), etc.

This series has been compared with RR Martin’s Games of Thrones and Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga series.

So I get why I didn’t really like the books. I just don’t do epic fantasy – the court intrigue and maneuvering, the sex scenes, explicit language and cursing, and brutal battles of mass combat – however well written and Mr. Bible does write well – just are not my taste. Usually because epic fantasy covering generations lack Hope; one cannot truly hope when one’s duty is to keep the dynasty marching on. While the stories may focus on an individual, the true focus is the rise and fall of society over time.

In many ways the best part of the book is that the danger against the individuals and the dynasty is really dangerous (battle, environment, intrigue). Urgency and control of agency for the monarchy drive each decision.

Mr. Bible does create a complicated world with stations and religion and social structure. Book III of the Reign of Four looks particularly intriguing. I think I will actually like the third Alexis. I haven’t liked either Alexis I or II – the first a man with vision but a cruel temper possessing him and the second a man possessed by weakness with only one area of steel. Just people I could not identify or sympathize with.

Because I didn’t like the focal characters, the language, how women are treated, and I have a hard time believing how the social structure stabilized for dozens of generations (a common device in epic fantasy), I gave up reading the story. I can see this book appealing to many people though.