Today I am interviewing Adrian Tchaikovsky, author of the new epic fantasy novel, Redemption’s Blade, first book in the After the War series.
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DJ: Hi Adrian! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Adrian Tchaikovsky: Hi there. I’ve been writing novels for ten years now, which means I’m just starting to accept that I’m no longer ‘the new guy’, I started as a fantasy writer with my Shadows of the Apt series but have also taken a lateral step into the neighbouring territory of SF, particularly with Children of Time.
DJ: What is Redemption’s Blade about?
Adrian: So, you have an epic fantasy world, as you might expect. The various quarrelling little nations come under threat from the Kinslayer, a murderous, spiteful demigod who basically wants to ruin everything for everyone as comprehensibly as possible. A small band manage, at great cost, to sneak into his fortress and do him in. And then what? The Kinslayer’s down, his armies are still mostly around and all those little nations so recently united in their purpose are starting to come apart and remember why they didn’t like each other in the first place. Into this melting pot comes Celestaine, Kinslayer-slayer, who’s been at war ten years and is trying to make something worthwhile of the rest of her life, specifically undoing some of the more egregious acts of cruelty the Kinslayer perpetrated.
DJ: What were some of your influences Redemption’s Blade and the series?
Adrian: The easiest answer to that is “the entire fantasy canon to this point.” A little like a previous book of mine, Spiderlight (that readers who enjoyed Blade may also like), I’ve tried to make the book simultaneously a good fantasy epic in its own right, and also something of an interrogation of fantasy stereotypes and tropes. What does happen after the Dark Lord falls? Not all cakes and ale, according to this book. So the basic set-up, the Kinslayer and his war, consciously owes a great deal to Tolkien, but the point of the book is to ask the big question: What happens next?
DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers with sympathize with them?
Adrian: Celestaine is the lead, and she’s basically a hero crippled by what she sees as the world’s expectations of her. She’s run ragged by a sense of duty, very hard on herself, and everything becomes a source of guilt. Part of that guilt is because her two travelling companions at the book’s start are Yorughan, members of the Kinslayer’s warrior elite, who turned coat to help her kill their former master. This pair are Nedlam, who is a big, uncomplicated bruiser and one of the more good-natured characters in the book, and Heno, who has been a death-mage and torturer in his time and is a far more complex character. And there’s Kul, whose people Celestaine is supposed to be helping, a prince born to a winged race who’s spent ten years as a slave in a mine after having his wings cut off, and is understandably bitter about it and justifiably doubtful about Celestaine’s ability to help. Plus a whole supporting cast, especially my personal favourites Dr Catt and Dr Fisher, a pair of gleefully amoral lawyers, physicians and collectors of magical paraphernalia.
DJ: What is the world and setting of the After the War series like?
Adrian: I had something of a privilege here, in that I’ve started off a world that other writers, poor bastards, will now be stuck with. My approach was very much to create a world much, much larger than the story it contained, a living world that felt like it could be lived in, and had space for many more stories. There are lots of nations, sects and cultures in the book, as Celestaine & co travel from place to place – both from the defending side in the war, and also from the attackers Amongst the defenders we have people like the Arvennir who were shaping up to be the conquering bad guys until the actual Kinslayer turned up, and who are run by a bunch of warrior orders with terribly genteel names. Or there’s the port of Ilkand, which was your wretched hive of scum and villainy before the war but is now run with a very firm hand by a military temple. The main thing about all these places and people is that they’re still in emergency shut down. Ten years of war has wrecked all the old systems that made the world work, and everyone is just now creeping out of the wreckage to see what can be put back together. Like one review has said, it’s a world with PTSD.
DJ: Tell us about your magic system?
Adrian: This is a world where there were gods, and the gods sent down demigods to help along the mortal races. But one of those demigods was the Kinslayer and he squirreled away some races for his own amusement, to turn them into his slaves. The Kinslayer had colossal power, some of it personal and the rest from artifacts he stole or created. There are a lot of magical items in the book, many of them the stock in trade of Drs Catt and Fisher, and much of the magic is concerned with investing items (and entities) with power. Plus the Kinslayer also summoned giant crab monsters from another world, so there’s that.
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing Redemption’s Blade?
Adrian: This was actually one of my most fun writing experiences – the book just unreeled very easily and I especially enjoyed the bickering and banter between the characters – Heno and Nedlam and Celestaine, for example, or the ever-suffering Ralas the bard, and especially the prodigiously wordy Dr Catt and his dour sidekick Fisher.
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
Adrian: Hopefully they’ll want to follow the world and characters to the next book, which is Justina Robson’s Salvation’s Fire.
DJ: Did you have a particular goal when you began the After the War series? I is only the first book, but is there a particular message or meaning you are hoping to get across when readers finish it? Or is there perhaps a certain theme to the story?
Adrian: The series is going to shared between many authors, so I couldn’t have a long term goal for where I wanted it to go. My goal was to craft a starting point that would allow future writers to tell all manner of other stories in it, to give room for everyone’s creative instincts to play.
DJ: Now that Redemption’s Blade is released, what is next for you?
Adrian: I’ve quite a few irons in the fire at the moment. The sequel to Children of Time, titled Children of Ruin, will be out next year, as well a new stand-alone SF about the far-off end of the world, called Cage of Souls. I’ve also got some more novella-length work on the go, following Ironclads and my more recent The Expert System’s Brother which has just come out in the US. Which all means that what I’m working on now is something else again, of course, given the lead-in time novels tend to have…
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
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*** Redemption’s Blade is published by Solaris and is available TODAY!!! ***
Buy the Book:
Amazon | Barnes & Nobel | Goodreads | Kobo
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Ten years ago, the renegade demigod known as the Kinslayer returned. His armies of monsters issued from the pits of the earth, spearheaded by his brutal Yorughan soldiers. He won every battle, leaving burnt earth and corruption behind. Thrones toppled and cities fell as he drove all before him. And then he died. A handful of lucky heroes and some traitors amongst his own, and the great Kinslayer was no more.
Celestaine was one such hero and now she has tasked herself to correct the worst excesses of the Kinslayer and bring light back to her torn-up world. With two Yorughan companions she faces fanatics, war criminals and the monsters and minions the Kinslayer left behind as the fragile alliances of the war break down into feuding, greed and mistrust.
The Kinslayer may be gone, but he cast a long shadow she may never truly escape.
About the Author:
Adrian Tchaikovsky is the author of the acclaimed Shadows of the Apt fantasy series, from the first volume, Empire In Black and Gold in 2008 to the final book, Seal of the Worm, in 2014, with a new series and a standalone science fiction novel scheduled for 2015. He has been nominated for the David Gemmell Legend Award and a British Fantasy Society Award. In civilian life he is a lawyer, gamer and amateur entomologist.
Guns of the Dawn, his new fantasy novel, is out now.
A full bibliography of long and short fiction can be found here.
Find me on Facebook, Goodreads, or as @aptshadow on Twitter.
I am represented by Simon Kavanagh of the Mic Cheetham Literary Agency at 62 Grafton Way, London W1T 5DW, email to firstname.lastname@example.org