The temples of the Forgefather have fallen. The clerics and defenders that could once be found across the nine lands are no more. Priests huddle in the great temple, clinging to the echoes of their lost religion. But the Father has fallen silent. There are none who still hear his voice.
The mines of Aspiration lie far below the temple's marble halls. Slaves toil in the blackness, striving to earn their way into the church and the light. Wynn has been sold into this fate, traded for a handful of silver. In the depths of the mines, where none dare carry flame, he must meet his tally or die. But there are things that lurk in that darkness, and still darker things within the hearts of men.
When the souls bound to the great forge are released in a failed ritual, one novice flees down into the darkness of the mines. The soulwraiths know only hunger, the risen know only hate. In the blackest depths Kharios must seek a light to combat the darkness which descends.
This is a fantastic start to a new series. I LOVED IT!
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author with no expectation of a positive review. However, I loved it so much I pre-ordered a copy as soon as I found out it was available to do so and re-read it as soon as it was released. This is my honest opinion and it is not a fake review.
Wynn is a wonderful character. I liked him a lot. He is full of anger, sadness, loneliness and despair. He is a young boy of fifteen and the son of a farmer. When drought forces his father into selling him to the church of the Forgefather, he finds himself facing danger and darkness in the mines of Aspiration beneath the temple. As the darkness and danger threatens to crush him, he struggles to find his place within it. When the opportunity to escape the mines is presented to him, he grabs it with both hands. But has he escaped the pan and fallen into the fire?
Having read the Riven Wyrde Saga, I was eager to get my hands on this book, so when the author contacted me about reading an advance review copy, I jumped at the chance. However, when I received the copy, little did I realise what a roller coaster ride I would be taking. This book blew me away!
The story starts slowly, following Wynn as he is thrust into a strange world that is dark and isolating. This is one thing that kept me intrigued. The world building is wonderful. There is mention of the world outside (like the farm where Wynn came from), but by keeping the story to the mines and temple, it focuses the reader on the immediate and intense sense of the tale. There is another character that needs mentioning here. We are also introduced to Kharios, a novice of the temple, who is learning the art of smithing, whilst trying to complete his training to become a priest of the Forgefather. The Forgefather is the god of fire and creation. However, his voice hasn't been heard by the priests for hundreds of years and the priests go through the rituals without any belief. Thus, the title of the book, Faithless.
As this book is told through the dual aspect of Wynn's and Kharios's POV, I wondered at the timelines and if these two would ever meet. However, there is a huge twist that I didn't see coming and when the epiphany struck, I was floored! I will leave you to find out as I did, what the epiphany is. This story also deals with a dark subject, sexual abuse. It is not easy to read, and it made me feel rather uncomfortable and incredibly sad at the same time. I don't know what my reaction would be if it happened to me, but I felt for Wynn, as well as the other characters caught up in it. Ossan is a vile character and that's all I'm going to say about him.
As the story unfolded, I found myself holding my breath at the intense action and danger that threatened. As I said above, by keeping the world small, the author has created a claustrophobic atmosphere and I felt like I was there, experiencing the world too. In a way, it was a relief to reach the end of the book. I felt like I was taking a huge breath of fresh air rather than the dusty air of the mines and the fires of the forges. Having said that, the book also reflects the huge amount of research the author must have done to describe the art of blacksmithing in such detail, and I applaud him as it feels like he has actual experience in it. There is also a religious aspect to this story, even though most of the priests were faithless and had no belief in what they were doing; they were just going through the motions, and corruption was rife.
I reached the end of the book with bittersweet feelings; sad that it was ending, though happy at the way it concluded. Although it doesn't end in a cliffhanger, it is obvious that there is to be another book and I am looking forward to reading it as soon as it's available.
Graham Austin-King has written an exciting, dark fantasy novel that kept me turning the pages. This book is superb! I think that this book is a lot stronger than The Riven Wyrde Saga and shows this author's growth in confidence as a writer. I love his fast paced writing style and the story flowed wonderfully from beginning to end. The characters came alive on the page and felt extremely lifelike. This author has been added to my Favourite Authors' list and will read anything else that he writes.
Although there is mention of sexual abuse, it is not explicitly shown. Nevertheless, I do not recommend this book to young children or those of a nervous disposition, as there are scenes of violence and gore (battle scenes amongst others) that could be very disturbing to some readers. However, I highly recommend this book to older teens and adults alike if you love dark fantasy novels. - Lynn Worton
inspired "Sympathy for the Devil"
Finally getting to it now that Veronica is spending the summer learning Russian.
Ban the book; build the buzz.
Had it not been suppressed for forty years it wouldn't have become internationally famous. It's a bit of a mess. There's the love story of the Master, a writer, and Margarita. They're both inconveniently and unhappily married to other people, as apparently everyone was in the twenties. Don't worry, the useless-except-as-plot-devices spouses aren't in the book. The Master has written a moving novel about Pontius Pilate which no one will publish, a theme introduced early in the book: it is unacceptable to even consider that Jesus might have been a real person. This novel within the novel presents Pilate as being forced by law and politics to sentence Jesus to death, but far from washing his hands of the job, he strives to save him, to reduce his suffering, and to respect him after the crucifixion. I liked the Master's book and wouldn't have minded more of it.
Eventually the book settles down and concentrates on the suffering of the Master, but the first third of the book is devoted to satirizing Moscow's literary and theatrical (think vaudeville) world of the 20s. Not since Dante has a writer so indulged a desire to mock and punish. If these characters aren't real people I hope they're only thinly veiled ones, because otherwise they are too shallow to bother with. Their sins are mostly about getting a better apartment, which in an overcrowded urban environment is no sin at all.
Knowing that this was the inspiration for "Sympathy for the Devil" I had high hopes going in for that character. Jagged and Richards did more and did it better than Bulgakov. He doesn't get to do much, he's just a man who is too old for in unpleasant job, but too decent to leave the hard work to someone else. His staff are all less powerful and less competent, but they seem to derive some pleasure from the business of pointing out folly in humans. Not much fun, really, considering what one might do, but a bit in the end.
There is some real fun when we finally get to Margarita: girlfriend gives it all over to being a witch, but it turns out that being a witch is also not as much fun as you might think. Bulgakov 's damned are a parade even he finds to tedious to recount.
The book does have a happy ending, for some bleak Russian notion of "happy". No doubt it was fun to write, but the titular characters don't have much agency, and the structure deprives the book of any real momentum until half way through, so even though I did become familiar with Russian names, overall it wasn't very rewarding. I wanted to love it: it features an oversized talking black cat, but even those bits were joyless until the last sixty pages.
Maybe the Soviets only suppressed it for being slow, and dull, neither instructive nor entertaining. Or maybe I should quit trying to read Russian fiction, since I never end up liking it. Or both.
Edited to correct typo
Wow! I can't think when I last read a farce, let alone enjoyed one. Probably it was Noises Off. It's difficult to maintain the suspension of disbelief in a text; in a play or film the pace of the action doesn't give one time to consider just how silly, how contrived, how unnatural the whole exercise is. And because Frayn is very skilled, he keeps one from dwelling on how absurd it is, while never forgetting for an instant just how absurd it is.
I don't think I actually laughed out loud, but I loved every silly minute of it.