Pentrehafod School Report
On a recent visit to Pentrehafod School, Bryce was interviewed by pupils for the BBC School Report.
A review from www.gwales.com, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council.
There are two clear sections to Rhamin. In the first, we follow Rhamin himself, the pack leader, a remarkably large and strong black wolf, as he tries to do the best for his pack, struggling with a drought, the threat of nearby men, and his half-brother Solin’s jealousy and resentment. In the second half, with Rhamin absent (for reasons I won’t go into, so as not to spoil anything), we turn to the younger Rasci’s story, as he becomes by default pack leader. Rasci has dreams in which he can talk to Ben the young farmer’s son. This wolf-to-human contact becomes very important for the survival of the pack.
While Rhamin is a sympathetic and admirable character, I enjoyed Rasci’s story in the second half of the book even more. Rhamin is strong, wise, and pretty much always right. Rasci is the pack joker, who finds himself unintentionally leader when he stands up to Solin, the story’s main villain. Rasci struggles with the pressures of responsibility, the strangeness of his psychic connection to Ben, and his potential romance with new wolf Roxanne. While I liked Rhamin very much, Rasci’s doubts and flaws made him easier to identify with.
I can see why the publishers have chosen the eye-catching cover, but don’t be misled into thinking these wolves are threatening creatures from horror. While there are vicious wolves, Rhamin is a book of clear heroes and villains and most are noble and brave characters you come to care about very much. In the same way, there are good and bad humans, and they are well portrayed, too, but it is the wolves we identify with. (Ben and his sister are charming, believable young children, and it would be great to see a sequel where Ben is closer to the age of a teenage reader, who could then identify more both with the humans and with the wolves.) While Rhamin isn’t at all a horror story, there is a lot of fighting and violence involving wolves, humans, mountain lions and bears. Bryce Thomas is particularly convincing when it comes to action and fighting scenes.
Although Rhamin is described as a children’s book, it is a long and busy novel, full of action and event, and a child might need to be a sophisticated reader to enjoy it. I’m sure lots of adults would also find themselves caught up in the warm characterisation and the action, particularly the thrilling rescue and battle at the climax. I look forward to seeing what Bryce Thomas will write next.