Faithless by Graham-Austin King is the kickoff of a brand new grimdark series and is due self-publication soon. The author had kindly offered an ARC in exchange for my honest review and did not forge or mine anything valuable enough to influence my opinion.
Do we believe in what we know? Or do we follow those who tell us they have known better?
Who is faithless?
The one who wants to believe his instincts instead of blindly following what’s being told to him? Or the one who has known enough to lose all belief?
Ani, you are writing a review. Stick to the point.
Yes, sure. Sorry. Umm…
Okay. Let’s see.
Who are the main characters?
A boy and another boy, one remains a boy due to his naivety, the other makes us forget he is not a man yet with experience in too short time.
Boy-1 is sold into temple slavery by his father due to food scarcity resulting from a drought and a rigid tax system, a common issue with the farmer class.
Boy-2/almost-a-man is a novice in the temple who has seen too much, known too much, and can’t decide what he wants more. A secure future in the temple or reduce the ever-increasing weight in his conscience by keeping his mouth shut.
What about them?
Boy-1 is curious, intelligent, a fast learner, and impresses his teacher, the priest of the Forgemaster. However, he sees too much and understands the danger of harboring secrets too soon.
Boy-2/almost-a-man falls from the grace of his teacher by finally acting on his conscience, but it’s too late. He fails to save the innocent, can’t keep his place in the temple, and has to accept his fate being cast into the depths of Aspiration, the mining city that runs beneath the temple of the Forgemaster.
Now, who is the Forgemaster?
He is the God in this book. The religion is that of miners and blacksmiths, hence, a professional deity, who used to grant extraordinary magical powers to his followers once upon a time. Some reason makes him lost to his people, and the priests are the only ones who strive to keep up appearances. Deep down, everybody knows. They have become faithless.
King has done some solid research on smithing and mining. The strong of hammer on the anvil, the scorching heat of the forge, everything feels real and authentic. As if a temple of the Forgemaster exists in real life and the Forgemaster himself speaks to King’s ears.
The boy-1’s journey stirs our heart, but boy-2 is the anchoring character in the book. We venture the mines of Aspirations with boy-2 and see its strange rules for survival. We follow him up to the temple where he tries to get back to the good graces of the priests by using his above average skills.
Aspiration is one of the primary locations of Faithless, the book. Graham-Austin King has done a fantastic job in describing this new and unique grim world of miners who pass a day making their tallies with no hope of freedom and respite. The hopelessness is as bleak as the cold and harsh environment they call home.
The temple, the second location, acts as the luxurious contrast from the mines.
The wealthy priests live in excess while the people below starve.
One of them is an important god in the wheel of Faithless due to his ambition, lack of conscience, and his perverse nature of preying on young boys.
Yes, dear readers, a pedophile creeps through the pages of Faithless and haunts us through the two boys’ narrative.
Boy-2 unleashes a chain of even by accident that release soulwraiths, dark things risen from hate. Boy-2 is revealed to be the one who can bring light to repel those abominations.
The book ends with a strong hint at a sequel and leaves us with a lot of questions. But it’s a series, so I am ready to wait. Happily.
How was the book?
The perfect cover by Pen Astridge, a detailed and engrossing world, compelling prose, and absorbing narrative by Graham-Austin King, grimdark in theme. How could it have been other than mind-blowing?
Want more, Mr. King. Not enough.
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.
All his books are available on Amazon and any good bookshop can order them in.
An interview with Graham will be posted on this blog next week in installments. We will talk about books, coffee, and how his family has to hide behind the sofa when he goes all writer-zilla on them.