Today I am interviewing Matthew Ward, author of the new epic fantasy novel, Legacy of Ash, first book in the Legacy trilogy.
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DJ: Hi Matthew! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Matthew: I’m English – a Midlander by birth, for my sins. Though I love cities (especially ones steeped in history) I’m much more at home a footstep away from the wilderness. In a past life, I was employed at Games Workshop, building the Warhammer, Warhammer 40,000 and The Lord of the Rings game worlds through rules writing, range planning and fiction. These days, I split my time between being an author and working as a creative consultant.
DJ: What is Legacy of Ash about?
Matthew: Legacy of Ash is a tale of a new generation fighting the mistakes of the one that came before. The decaying Tressian Republic faces an invasion from the Hadari Empire to the east and strife from within – for the first time in a generation, long-held truths are ripe for challenge. Gods are stirring. What comes next turns on the actions of a handful of characters and their choices – whether they’ll uphold the enmities and compromises of the past, or set aside old quarrels and build something greater for the future.
It’s epic fantasy shaped by the choices of its characters. Lots of action, intrigue and impossible choices.
DJ: What were some of your influences Legacy of Ash and the series?
Matthew: The Lord of the Rings has always been a huge influence on my writing, though these days it’s present much more in ‘behind the curtain’ disciplines like worldbuilding and mythology. More direct influences spring from television shows like Babylon 5 and Jack Pulman’s I, Claudius and the works of Bernard Cornwell.
Visually, I draw a lot from Britain’s wealth of historical sites – particularly North Wales and Cornwall, as well as older cities like York. I like places where you can close your eyes and feel the past resonating around you. That sense that there’s something vast lurking somewhere just out of sight.
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?
Matthew: We’ve four main characters in Legacy of Ash. Viktor Akadra’s the most prominent. The Tressian Republic’s champion, he feels responsible – not incorrectly – for the suppression of its rebellious Southshires and wants to put things right. Viktor’s an avalanche – once he puts his mind to a task, there’s no stopping him … for better or worse.
In the Southshires, we have Josiri Trelan, inheritor of his mother’s failed rebellion. Josiri hates Viktor and all he stands for, but has his own plans underway. Or at least he claims to. He’s trapped by the past, and expectations he’d placed on himself. What he needs and what he wants are very different beasts.
Josiri’s younger sister, Calenne, is terrified of becoming trapped by their mother’s legacy – the hatred and stigma that accompanies the Trelan name – and that fear manifests as selfishness. But though Calenne wishes otherwise, she’s very much her mother’s daughter, headstrong but courageous.
Lastly, we have Melanna Saranal, the daughter of a Hadari royal bloodline determined to prove herself in battle and thus secure her throne. But the right to rule must be won in battle, and Hadari tradition – while otherwise being genderblind – refuses women the right to carry swords. Her heart’s desire will bring her into conflict with her own kind as much as it does the Tressians.
DJ: Aside from the main characters in the story, who is a favorite side character or a character with a smaller role in the story? Why?
Matthew: As a rule, I’m fonder of side characters than protagonists. I particularly love the sort of side character who storms into a scene and tips over all the tables for no other reason than they can. With that in mind, Anastacia’s probably my favourite in Legacy of Ash – she bobs along in a hedonistic and self-absorbed way for most of the narrative, speaking truth to power (or archly mocking it) whenever she feels like doing so.
DJ: What is the world and setting of the Legacy trilogy like?
Matthew: Aradane’s a whole, wide world and we only see part of it in Legacy of Ash (though we get glimpses at more distant places). Like any world, there’s no monolithic attitude or creed. Every nation – and region within those nations – are different. At its heart, the conflict in the story arises from cultural differences between the Tressian Council and the rebellious Southshires, between the insular, arrogant Republic and the warrior culture of the Hadari Empire. And that’s before we get into the gods themselves, who each rule one or more worlds that exist alongside Aradane and form the basis of afterlife myths.
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing Legacy of Ash?
Matthew: In all honesty, it was probably the last chapter. Not because of the ‘whew, it’s done’ moment (though that has a certain appeal) but because it’s a chance to see how the characters have grown in the interim and say a meaningful goodbye to each before the next story begins.
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
Matthew: Judging by responses so far? The very last bit of the very last scene. (No skipping ahead now, read it all or won’t make any sense!) Even when writing a series, I want to give a sense of closure, so that each book’s its own story … but part of that is hinting at where the story’s going (or could go) next. That’s what happens at the end of Legacy of Ash.
DJ: Did you have a particular goal when you began the Legacy trilogy? Legacy of Ash 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?
Matthew: Legacy of Ash (and likely the whole trilogy) is about how you make your mark on the world and on yourself – the choices you make that determine the person you become. There’s a lot about challenging assumptions about others, whether they be strangers or family, and the friction between duty and desire. That said, I don’t know that I’ve a particular message in mind – it just makes for a good story.
DJ: When I read, I love to collect quotes – whether it be because they’re funny, foodie, or have a personal meaning to me. Do you have any favorite quotes from Legacy of Ash that you can share with us?
Matthew: I’ve a fondness for “They mistake bigotry for the tinder of great days gone. They scry the past for comfort but are blind to its lesson.” partly because it’s emblematic of the conflicts in the story, and partly because I don’t think it’s ever not going to be relevant to real life, sadly.
DJ: Now that Legacy of Ash is released, what is next for you?
Matthew: Well, Book Two – Legacy of Steel – is approaching the end of the edits process for release later this year, and I’m approaching the halfway point in Book Three. From there? I guess we’ll see. Even when the Legacy trilogy comes to an end, there’ll be lots of Aradane to explore…
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Matthew-Ward/e/B003VN5DY6/
DJ: Before we go, what is that one thing you’d like readers to know about Legacy of Ash and the Legacy trilogy that we haven’t talked about yet?
Matthew: Legacy of Ash often gets favourable comparisons with Game of Thrones (which is nice), but it’s worth mentioning that it’s a lot less graphic, on all those little sliding scales. I wanted a book that a younger me could have read back when I first read The Lord of the Rings, so if you’re not keen on explicit language or imagery, or want something you can give to a teenager and not field awkward questions about afterwards, you should be fine with Legacy of Ash.
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
Matthew: You’re welcome!
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***Legacy of Ash is published by Orbit Books and is available TODAY!!!***
Buy the Book:
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About the Book:
In this action-packed epic fantasy debut, three heroes scarred by old hatreds must find a way to overcome their pasts if they are to have any chance of saving their crumbling Republic from complete destruction. Perfect for fans of George R. R. Martin, Brent Weeks, and Brandon Sanderson.
A shadow has fallen over the Tressian Republic.
While the armies of the Hadari Empire invade the borderlands, the Republic’s noble families plot against each other, divided by personal ambition.
But as Tressia falls, heroes rise.
Viktor Akadra is the Republic’s champion and conqueror of the rebellious south. A warrior without equal, he also hides a secret that would see him burned as a heretic.
Josiri Trelan would gladly see Viktor condemned to the flames – vengeance for a rebellion crushed and a mother slain. And while Josiri plots fresh insurrection, his sister, Calenne, is determined to escape their tarnished legacy and break the shackles of the past.
As dark days beckon, these three must overcome their differences to save the Republic. Yet decades of bad blood are not easily set aside. Victory – if it comes at all – will command a higher price than they could have imagined.
About the Author:
After a decade serving as a principal architect for Games Workshop’s Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 properties, Matthew embarked on an adventure to tell stories set in worlds of his own design. He lives near Nottingham with his extremely patient wife – as well as a pride of attention-seeking cats – and writes to entertain anyone who feels there’s not enough magic in the world.