Recommendations for SFF Authors of Various Identities

SFF Authors of Various Identities

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The Last Page by Anthony Huso

The Last Page


House Spirits to Keep You Company

House Spirits to Keep You Company



Interview with Brian Staveley

Brian Staveley is one of the breakout authors of the past few years. His ‘Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne’ series has a ton of admirers from all around the world and their consensus is that each book has been better and bolder than the last. Inevitably then, the third book in the series, The Last Mortal Bond, is one of this year’s most anticipated books and fans are dying to find out what happens to our three imperial siblings within it. Charlie Hopkins, Fantasy-Faction’s foremost Staveley fan, was able to catch up with the author this week, the week of the book’s release, and talk to him about the trilogy now that it is completed. Here’s the result!

EmperorsBladesHow does it feel to be done with the series?

It reminds me of the feeling I used to get after doing a long, exhausting, gorgeous climb. On the one hand, all you want is to be back up on the rock, moving over the stone, finding the right line, the right rhythm, testing yourself against the cliff. On the other hand, holy shit does it feel good to be back on the ground, alive, beer in hand, looking up at the route your just climbed from the comfort of a $10 folding chair.

What was your greatest challenge in wrapping up the trilogy?

My own preconceptions. I had ideas, when I started out, about where each character’s plotline would lead, about how the various elements of the piece would snap shut, mousetrap-like, in the final instalment. For a long time, I kept trying to write toward an ending that I’d conceived years earlier, an ending that the books had evolved well beyond. When I finally let go of that, everything started to fall into place. Characters found their own way. Events had a momentum of their own, momentum built up over the first two books—I just had to follow it.

The Providence of Fire (cover)I always had a sense in the first two books that things might turn out okay for our little dysfunctional family despite the betrayals, assassination attempts and Kaden becoming a void of emotion. Would it be fair to say that TLMB signals a change and that rather than restoring the previous order the character’s goals are more along the line of ‘save what you can’?

One of the hallmarks of epic, in my mind, is that the events of the book mark a fundamental break with everything that comes before. The world before the events of an epic and the world after are fundamentally different places. Think about the Iliad, for instance. The heroic code governing the Greeks when they set sail for Troy is all but destroyed by the end of the poem. The characters of any epic are forced to grapple with these tectonic changes. The people they were in the opening pages, their hopes, beliefs, and goals, are utterly inapposite to the world they find themselves inhabiting, Much of the tension of an epic comes from this: the fact that the world, in certain crucial times, moves so fast that people much change themselves too quickly—viciously, even—or be destroyed.

Last-Bond-USThis is much darker and more violent than the previous two books, especially in the bedroom/base of a tree/concealed dry creek bed. Was this step up in raw brutality the result of the empire reaching breaking point and the effects it had on the characters and/or were you just relishing the chance to explore that side of your writing.

The darkness in this book definitely springs from the characters themselves. They are not the same people we met in The Emperor’s Blades, and while their ontogeny echoes, at least in some cases, the larger political situation, when I’m writing a scene, I’m usually thinking more about emotion and psychology than I am about any kind of theme. It sounds as though what you’re really asking in this question, at least in part, is about some of the sex scenes that appear in the book—I know that some early reviewers have raised eyebrows at the way the eroticism plays out. Without spoiling anything, I can just say that it seemed to make sense that people who grew up carving away their own emotion or fighting eyeless monsters deep underground might express and explore sex in ways that might be less-than-universal.

The-Emperors-BladesYou finally unleash the Kettral on your readers, giving us a swathe of aerial battles and also a detailed look at the hierarchy and social relationships that exist behind closed doors. Tell us a bit about how it felt to explore that particular part of the Annurian Empire and how you came up with those fight scenes.

One of the things I wanted to explore, from the very start of the series, was the notion of modern special forces—highly trained small teams with individual combat specialties—in a fantasy context. The Emperor’s Blades set the ground rules for the organization, but due to the nature of the story, we see more of the training than the culmination of that training. I always knew I wanted to go back and see what these characters could do when the gloves came off. It doesn’t hurt that some of my favourite characters from the series are Kettral—it was a pleasure giving them the screen time they deserved.

One thing I loved was that characters like Gwenna and Triste became as important to the fate of the world as any one of the three siblings. Gwenna in particular really bridged that gap between supporting character and protagonist. Was this always the plan or is it something that evolved along with the story?

A very unexpected evolution that seemed, in retrospect, inevitable. One of the aspects of traditional fantasy that has sometimes frustrated me is the way in which everyone—the characters, the writer, the readers—know from the opening pages which characters, things, and events are going to matter to the story. Rarely do we experience life in that way. It’s hard to know, when a new person wanders into our orbit, whether they’ll prove central or peripheral. I wanted to write a story that reflected that fundamental uncertainty. Once I set out to do that, characters like Gwenna and Triste were inevitable.

Providence-of-Fire-Brian-Staveley-390x600The Flea is one of my all time favourite characters and has garnered many fans among your readers. You’ve mentioned before that Pyrre is one of your favourite characters to write. Are these two our best hope of seeing more of this world?

There are a lot more entry points to the world that I’m excited to explore. I can almost guarantee a Pyrre book at some point, as well as a Flea book. These won’t be the only two, however. There are other continents in this world, other polities, other players, and other threats, some of which are mentioned in passing in this opening trilogy. Plenty of characters die in The Last Mortal Bond, but many are left alive, and I’m afraid that I don’t plan to set them up for lives of ease and tranquillity.

You’ll be at Worldcon this year doing a panel discussion with the likes of Sam Sykes and Peter Clines on weapons, tactics and strategy. Is this your first Worldcon and are you excited about the panel and who you are appearing with?

It’s my first Worldcon, and I can’t wait; the panel itself should be great fun, especially given the other people on it. I’ll be doing a brief tour up the west coast afterward, hitting some cities where I’ve never read before, and I’m eager to get the chance to meet some new readers and bookstore owners.

loggoblin_storyfullYou gave us another taste of your imagination with The Log Goblin . What’s next?

I’m working on a stand-alone novel in the world of the Unhewn Throne right now—a shorter book, single POV, first person. You’ll recognize the central character. It’ll be out early next year. I’m thrilled to have signed on with Tor for four more books, so I’ll be keeping busy. I’m also planning to do a novella with; I’ve never worked at that length before, so the challenge is appealing.

Thanks so much for your time and answering our questions and we hope that The Last Mortal Bond is a huge success.

Thank you!

Mortal-BondThe trilogy that began with The Emperor’s Blades and continued in The Providence of Fire reaches its epic conclusion as war engulfs the Annurian Empire in Brian Staveley’s The Last Mortal Bond

The ancient csestriim are back to finish their purge of humanity; armies march against the capital; leaches, solitary beings who draw power from the natural world to fuel their extraordinary abilities, maneuver on all sides to affect the outcome of the war; and capricious gods walk the earth in human guise with agendas of their own.

But the three imperial siblings at the heart of it all – Valyn, Adare, and Kaden – come to understand that even if they survive the holocaust unleashed on their world, there may be no reconciling their conflicting visions of the future.


One Comment

  1. […] It reminds me of the feeling I used to get after doing a long, exhausting, gorgeous climb. On the one hand, all you want is to be back up on the rock, moving over the stone, finding the right line, the right rhythm, testing yourself against the cliff. On the other hand, holy shit does it feel good to be back on the ground, alive, beer in hand, looking up at the route your just climbed from the comfort of a $10 folding chair… Continue reading ? […]

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