The Exile's Violin by R. S. Hunter

On Books: The Exile’s Violin


The Exile's Violin by R. S. Hunter

R. S. Hunter’s The Exile’s Violin begins on a continent not unlike Europe, in a city not unlike Paris, in a year not unlike 1910, where everything is steam-powered and gang violence is so ubiquitous that even children carry small arms. Jacquie Renairre is the high-school-age daughter of an antiques dealer. When her family is murdered, Jacquie devotes herself to finding and punishing the people responsible. But when the trail takes her to the highest echelons of political power, she will become involved in forces more powerful than she could possibly imagine.

Ultimately, intense world building makes The Exile’s Violin a success. Between exotic cities and frozen factories, Jacquie and her sidekick Clay seem to move through a world that is at least half travelogue. Readers will enjoy the meticulous details of each locale, particularly during the many dramatic battle scenes.

Despite this, it’s hard to ignore the wild plot. A few too many major conveniences magnify the unfortunate predictability of most of the major points, including, alas, the conclusion. Readers will see every shot before it hits home and nothing will come as a surprise. Readers looking for a quick but immersive steampunk action read may not mind this. The whiz-bang battle scenes and lush settings are more than enough to make The Exile’s Violin enjoyable. The holes in Jacquie’s and Clay’s back stories are easy to forget as the pace ramps up.

R. S. Hunter, author of "The Exile's Violin."

R. S. Hunter, author of “The Exile’s Violin.”

Though large swaths of Jacquie’s early life are missing, the second half of the book builds her into a pretty decent, though young, action hero. Her self-centeredness and immaturity are in keeping with her age and motivations, and the author does a decent job portraying these as the trappings of youth. Young female readers may find her appealing, though it would have been good to see her character develop a little more. Clay added much to Jacquie’s character, to the extent that he almost outshone her in certain scenes. His motivations are never spelled out, but it’s obvious enough that from their introduction he is fascinated by Jacquie, possibly even in love.

For readers most interested in atmosphere and a quick, uncomplicated read, The Exile’s Violin is a fine choice. Science fiction readers will appreciate it at least as much as fans of gaslight fantasy.


The Exile’s Violin: Book I of the Tethys Chronicles
R. S. Hunter
Hydra Publications (December 2012)

Anna Call is a librarian and educator. She holds degrees in both creative writing and information science. After working in the private sector for a number of years, she returned to public librarianship in March of 2012. She currently works for a small rural library on the North Shore of the greater Boston area. Her interest in speculative fiction and film is rooted in the work of Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov.

Anna writes for both Isotropic and The Big Brown Chair. She currently lives in Salem, Massachusetts.

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