Mankind has always been fascinated by fire. The most spectacular and intangible of the four elements, fire holds an unmatched allure. From Vulcan, the Roman god of fire and crafting, to Kagus-tscuchi, the Japanese blacksmith god, to Logi, the Norse fire giant, fire and smithing have been worshipped and deified in almost every culture on earth.
It seems that our obsession with fire is almost hard-wired into us, a part of our genetic memory. After all, for millennia fire has been essential to our survival. Even today we use fire to cook, to heat our homes, and in various forms, to make power. Is it any wonder that we have sought to tame this strange power?We've been obsessed with fire since Prometheus got nicked for petty larceny.
Fire and flame are deeply entrenched in the fantasy genre. It doesn't take an arduous search to find fire-breathing dragons, or wizards hurling fireballs. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings gave us dragons and wizards both, and a balrog as a bonus.
The netherworld gives us devils and other fire-demons. There are myriad heroes wielding flaming swords, though David Eddings might be argued to have done it best, or maybe that's just my nostalgia talking.
It's no great surprise that it is so prevalent in fantasy; fire is rife throughout classical mythology, and can be found in myths stretching from Mexico to the Norse sagas. There are flaming swords in the Bible, and, when you get right down to it, the largest religions on our planet owe their existence to an old man having a conversation with a smouldering shrub.
One major difference is that mythology would have us worship and venerate fire whilst books within the fantasy genre tend to tell tales of fire having been tamed. Not in any traditional sense, with cooking or heating, but by truly controlling it. By harnessing its raw nature; somehow yoking the primal heart of it with shields formed of flame and spells woven from fire.
Blacksmithing is one example of this level of control, and perhaps a point where fantasy touches reality. In many ways smithing is the act of applying the power of flame to, quite literally, shape the bones of the earth. Smithing tames the very elements, bending them to our will.
My latest novel, Faithless, was an attempt to marry these two concepts, the allure of flame and mankind's need to shape and control, whilst also examining the notion of religion as a whole. It is a dark book, and I make no apology for that. Fundamentally it's the search for the truth of a religion, lying hidden beneath centuries of dogma.
Smithing features heavily in the book, as you would expect in a religion devoted to fire and forging, and I've worked hard to both keep as close to reality as possible whilst instilling a sense of wonder and mystery to the mundane.
“Now,” he told Brial without taking his eyes from the molten iron. “Fetch those tongs and reach this out for us.” He stepped back to allow Brial access and continued speaking. “You can stop now, Wynn. Come and see this. Note how the iron has taken on the colour and aspect of the flame? The heat and the power of the Father has infused the metal and now, with care, we can shape it as we will...”
There is a sense of lost grandeur, of a golden past and paradise lost, as the Forgefather has turned his face from mankind and prayers whisper unanswered into the darkness.
“Through the power of the Forgefather we created wonders this world hasn’t seen the like of since. It’s said we could spin wire thinner than a human hair, but with the strength of anchor chains. We offered up our own blood to the forges and the Father blessed them himself. His was the voice in the fire. Even those who didn’t follow the faith could hear it.”
Faithless is also about the darker side of human nature, about jealousy, and cowardice, and spite. More than anything it is about the lengths we will go to when pushed, when it comes down to you or them, and nobody is there to witness your actions except your conscience. Faithless is out now and available from Amazon I hope you'll join me for the ride.
Godblind is set to be one of the biggest fantasy debuts of 2017. Petros reviewed it here on Booknest, calling it GDAF ‘as grimdark as it gets’ and ‘may as well be the very first novel classified as such.’ And in my review, I said, that after reading it I felt like I’d gone ‘12 rounds with a grimdark heavyweight, not a debut tyro. I hurt, I’m tired, I’m scared, I want a hug – but I want more!’
To celebrate the release of Godblind by Anna Stephens we are offering 6 (!) hardcovers in a worldwide giveaway(2 parts)!
The first part (with 3 HC) takes place right here. The only thing that you have to do is comment on this post, sharing your thought about the book, Anna, BookNest, or whatever else comes in mind!
The second part (the rest 3 HC) takes place on our fb page. You can find all about it HERE.
The giveaway end on Wednesday, 21st of June, and the 6 lucky winners will be selected and announced on the following day.
Thanks for taking part!
UPDATE: The Giveaway is over! The three lucky winners are: George Evans, Londaya and Jax! Please use the contact form to give us your personal info (address etc). Thanks for joining!
One of the best parts about being an editor is getting in on the ground floor when an author is working on something truly, absolutely groundbreaking. It’s so exhilarating to be part of something someone so talented has created.
"I’d examine interpersonal relationships from another angle and I wouldn’t confine it to love and romance. Maybe I’d explore it after a “loving” relationship crashed and burned, and one or both was killed in the aftermath enough for them to see if it had really been worth it spending the last few years of their physical existence chained to each other in a dance of human misery and/or a plateau of soul-killing compromise."
-Chris Avellone, on how he'd write his ideal romance in Pillars of Eternity
I won't go into any detail on why I love Kings of the Wyld so much, if you want to know why, you can click here for my full review of the book. However, right after finishing the book yesterday, I knew I just have to do this interview. So without further ado, here's my interview with Nicholas Eames on his main inspirations and writing process on his debut, book recommendations and when you can expect the second book in 'The Band' trilogy.
If you've been following my Booknest updates, you'll probably know that I haven't shut up about this series for almost a month already. The Faithful And the Fallen by John Gwynne, it baffles me that not a lot of readers know about this fantastic epic fantasy series. Right after I finished reading Malice, the first book in the series, I decided to ask for an interview opportunity with John himself, which he kindly agreed to do. However, I made up my mind to at least finish the series first before I proceed with it because sometimes, let's face it, the last book in a series could ruin your enjoyment of the entire series altogether.
Right after I finished Wrath, I realized that notion has been kicked to outer space. Each book in the series is superior from its predecessor, you can find my spoiler-free review for each installments here on Booknest. Without further ado, here's my interview with John Gwynne, about his series, his writing process, book recommendation and what's next.
You’re used to your heroes full of muscle, swords drawn, shields raised or magic staff held before them, facing the oncoming hordes. A brave, but desperate last against impossible odds, knowing that one sword, one flaming arrow or magic missile will spell doom. Flesh can only stand so much before it perishes.
Read more over at grmatthews.com
A.F.E (aka. ‘Afe’) is celebrating the recent release of her third Darkhaven novel, Windsinger. Published by Harper-Voyager on 23 February 2017, Windsinger continues the tale of dark magic and darker political conflict that began in Afe’s previous novels: Darkhaven, and Goldenfire.
She writes for Fantasy-Faction; she’s just published her third full-length novel; she’s a part-time robin and a full-time editor; and she’s currently also rearing two children. How does she do it? Why does she do it? Read her interview with Laura M Hughes over HERE.