A Reduction of Men

Fiction - Fantasy - Epic
443 Pages
Reviewed on 10/29/2021
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Author Biography

Jason C. Dykehouse grew up on the Jicarilla Apache Nation in northwestern New Mexico during the 1970s and 80s. After a stint in agriculture in Minnesota, he completed an undergraduate degree in Religious Studies with a minor in Anthropology from the University of New Mexico. For two years he taught religion, ethics and theater at a United Methodist mission school in Española, New Mexico, where he met his wife, Pamela. They completed master’s degrees at the Divinity School at Duke University. Jason subsequently earned a Ph.D. in Religion from Baylor University with a concentration in Hebrew Bible. His published scholarship includes a reconstruction of a treaty betrayal of Judah in the late Iron Age, a work on seventeenth-century religious nonconformity, Roger Williams and Seekerism, and numerous entries in the New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible. He has received awards for his contributions in the fields of religious studies, theater, and education. He teaches middle school theatre and reading in Corpus Christi, Texas, where Pamela is Senior Pastor of First United Methodist Church. They have two adult children, Caleb and Eliana. He is currently seeking a literary agent and is working on the sequel to A Reduction of Men.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite

A Reduction of Men by Jason C. Dykehouse is a speculative fantasy set in an alternate historical world and revolving around one Mister Oshka Hyggens, who unwittingly makes a name for himself at perhaps the most inopportune moment possible. The cartography provided appears pretty straightforward until Dykehouse begins to slowly peel back the layers. Territories are partitioned with intimations regarding parallels to war, conquest, and colonialism. Hyggens lands somewhere in the center. He is like the terrifyingly calm eye of a tornado, his reticence having been shaped by grievous losses in his youth that juxtapose his service to the 'civilized' League States. This is a true journey into the unknown with one menacing twist...it is not entirely unknown to Hyggens.

Jason C. Dykehouse's writing finesse and style are evident on every page of A Reduction of Men. We know as the story starts that Hyggens has some baggage. The guy is a toe-scrunching mess and while he does his best to wallflower himself away, that's never going to happen when you are front-page news. He swiftly becomes “...that’s that Hyggens—that man from the Rim...” I cannot compliment Dykehouse enough on every aspect of this story. The dialogue is witty and authentic, the narrative is intelligent, and the world-building with nautical and urban life, carriages and expedition crews, the dangerous Rim, and a sea that swallows unwelcome intruders is incredible. The bonus though is the humanity of Hyggens himself, if we can call it that. The mystery of what happens only works because Hyggens is an enigma himself. And Hyggens is exactly as Dykehouse has made him, making A Reduction of Men worthy of an expansion.

K.C. Finn

A Reduction of Men is a work of fiction in the epic fantasy genre. It is suitable for the general reading audience and was penned by author Jason C. Dykehouse. The book follows a young man named Hyggens who has been trapped in an uncharted desert and is keen to go home at the first opportunity. Unfortunately, a military force is heading into the same part of the world. Despite their reservations about his stability, they’ve decided he’s the perfect person to go with them. Dangerous people are found across the desert who Hyggens never wants to have to meet, but it seems he will be given little choice in the matter.

Fantasy on this scale only works based on the quality of the world-building that the author has done before even starting the first draft. Here we see the first of Jason C. Dykehouse’s many talents as a fully fleshed out and realized world unfolds for the reader with every turn of the page. It is consistent, considered, and beautifully described in the book’s prose, making each passage a delight to read. Hyggens is an intriguing character who sits at the center of this universe. The audience will relate to and enjoy but never fully be able to trust him, which is exciting in itself. A Reduction of Men is a beautiful piece of fiction that compelled me to keep reading with every turn of the page. The plot is full of exciting twists and turns as we join the complex Hyggens on a journey he’ll be eager to forget in this exquisitely crafted world.

Asher Syed

Jason C. Dykehouse pens a whole new realm for the world of fantasy thriller in A Reduction of Men. The intrigue starts with two survivors of an attack that happened in a territory shrouded in secrecy—the Rim—as they are intercepted for interrogation following the incident on orders of the Conclave. People have died under strange circumstances in a hostile, untamed land, and the League has questions. The League also has a motive, and survivor Oshka Hyggens, the main character who is now a person linked to a suspiciously rising dead body count, does not have a choice when he is put at the forefront of a lethal and traumatic expedition that takes him back to the Rim.

A reader places a lot of trust in an author when we select their new fantasy novel and accept the offer of an adventure from scratch. Jason C. Dykehouse was not a name I knew and A Reduction of Men was not a book I'd heard of, and investing time in learning a completely new system in a foreign world was a gamble. I'm happy to report it paid off. Dykehouse's style is like a diamond of the first water. The setting is historical with transportation and technology that is early 19th century but believable in a science-fantasy world. Dykehouse chooses to narrate Hyggens' story in an objective voice and it is one of the best uses of this point of view I've read so far. The tension in a first-contact build-up is exciting and intense. There are subtle religious undertones that heighten in tandem with the climax that I did not mind but not everyone will enjoy. Overall, a great read. Recommended.

Rabia Tanveer

A Reduction of Men by Jason C. Dykehouse is an epic fantasy that will keep you up until you get to the end. Oshka Hyggens is perhaps the most misunderstood person in the region, yet people still fear him. To outsiders, Hyggens is a dangerous man that needs to stay away from innocent people, but they have no idea that he is just as afraid. Living in the uncharted desert region changed Hyggens and he vowed never to go back. But when he is needed to train and help a military force to prepare before entering Hyggens’ personal hell, he knows he cannot refuse. The realm they want to enter is dangerous and filled with deranged people who kill first and think later. Hyggens swore never to go back, but it looks like he will have to go back and this time he may not get the chance to leave the terror behind.

A Reduction of Men is a descriptive, emotional, and entertaining novel that keeps readers hooked until the end. While there are plenty of characters, Hyggens stays front and center in the minds of readers. Hyggens is indeed the focus of the story, but it was the world-building that drew me in. The descriptions are vivid, they are alive, and they paint an image in the minds of readers to transport them right beside Hyggens. Author Jason C. Dykehouse created a perfect connection between mystery and war with plenty of action and drama. Hyggens is strong and vulnerable at the same time. While his expertise and his resilience are his biggest strengths, his reluctance to face his fears makes him human. I love his character and how fluid he is. He is complicated and that’s what makes him believable. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel.

Vincent Dublado

A Reduction of Men is a novel made gripping by an uncharted region called the Rim Interior. Author Jason C. Dykehouse takes you to a startling place that gives deep meaning to his tale, a place that changes the life of Oshka Hyggens. His ordeal has been publicized in the Copper Times Extra. It reports that he is one of the two survivors from an expedition into the Rim Interior. Three other expedition members had died from hostilities within the Rim. A second-hand report reveals evidence of a city within the Rim. Hyggens has been requested to tell authorities what he knows about the so-called Orangemen of the Rim Interior, whether they are an organized and complex civilization. Even if he recommends that all League States stay away from the Rim Interior, they still plan to launch their exploration and request him to join as an advisor. But Hyggens just wants to go home and stop talking about it.

The strength of A Reduction of Men is that it employs its premise to a larger purpose: It is a meditation on the boundaries we are willing to cross in the exploration of new territories and the need to satiate our curiosity in discovering what we don’t know, either out of fear or self-interest. In our lives, we often take chances, and at the heart of Jason C. Dykehouse’s tale is a lingering question: Why would Hyggens go back to a place that has broken him? Dykehouse has created the Rim as a fantastic hook and the story’s master image. It is out there, paved with dangers, yet it is very inviting to many. It encourages us to reflect on the demands of necessity and the inevitability of things that can go wrong. A Reduction of Men is a thought-provoking tale.