Posts Tagged ‘heroic fantasy’

Scott Lynch & Matthew Stover on THE REPUBLIC OF THIEVES and ACTS OF CAINE

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch, in an interview with Matthew Stover abotu his gritty heroic fantasy series Acts of CaineScott Lynch: volunteer firefighter, powerful Jedi, author of The Lies of Locke Lamora and the upcoming The Republic of Thieves, all round man of letters and certainly a Gentleman, not a Bastard . . . 

Heroes Die, book 1 in the the Acts of Cain gritty heroic fantasy series Acts of Caine, by Matthew Stover, in an interview with Scott Lynch about The Lies of Locke Lamora andRepublic of ThievesMatthew Stover: learned student of arcane martial arts, competitive drinker, author of the “heaping plate of kickass kickassery” that are the Acts of Caine fantasy novels . . . and also a very powerful Jedi . . .


Read on to find out!

The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch, the follow-up to The Lies of Locke Lamora, in an interview with Matthew Stover abotu his gritty heroic fantasy series Acts of CaineMatthew Stover: Okay, first: how soon can I get an ARC of The Republic of Thieves?

Scott Lynch: Be down at Pier 36 at midnight. Look for a man with a copy of yesterday’s Beijing Times under his arm. Offer him a cigarette. If he declines, say “Which way was the dolphin swimming?” Then follow his directions precisely. Bring a flashlight and a set of hip waders. Good luck and godspeed.

MS: Despite the first Gentlemen Bastards novel being titled The Lies of Locke Lamora, it seems to me that Locke and Jean are dual protagonists, true partners rather than hero and sidekick. While this is not unusual in other genres (especially police procedurals, for example), in ours they’re pretty thin on the ground. The only truly legendary fantasy dual-protags that spring instantly to mind are Fafhrd & the Gray Mouser, and they are explicitly portrayed as linked by mythic destiny (“Two halves of a greater hero.”) Locke and Jean, by contrast, are bound by human friendship and deep loyalty – more Butch & Sundance than F&GM.

So I’d like to get your thoughts on what inspired their relationship, and why you chose to write them this way. Were they always to be dual protags? Did Jean start as a sidekick and grow in the writing? Is there something about their friendship that has Super Story Powers?

SL: You’re making me peer back through the hazy mists of memory, man. But the honest truth is that Jean was decidedly a less fleshed-out character, initially, very much vanishing into the ensemble. His role grew in the telling, until I realized that he wasn’t just a foil for Locke but the essential foil. I grasped the benefit of having a sort of external conscience for him, another intimate perspective on Locke that would enable me to sort of hover nearby without peeling back too many layers of his mentation. For all that he’s the protagonist, we don’t spend too much time with unfettered omniscient access to Locke’s thoughts in that first novel; I wanted to express his feelings more through his actions and the responses of those around him than by writing something like, “Locke was sad now.” (more…)

“I Don’t Mind Being Punched in the Face” – by Matthew Stover

Heroes Die, book 1 in the the Acts of Cain gritty heroic fantasy series Acts of Caine, by Matthew Stover, in a piece on martial arts called "I don't mind being punched in the face"The Good Folk at Orbit invited me to write another post for the site here, and my editor suggested I might touch on my experience as a student – and occasional instructor – of martial arts, and how that study has influenced my work, especially in the Acts of Caine.

People who enjoy my work often speak of how much they like the way my books depict personal combat – one prominent blogger memorably commented that “All of Stover’s heroic fantasies offer fight scenes of such crippling power that they risk hospitalizing incautious readers” – and many fans and reviewers attribute this to my (presumed) martial arts expertise. Which is true to a degree, though somewhat misleading. It does help – but perhaps not in the way you might expect.

For example, the arrow of causation points mostly in the other direction. I don’t do fight scenes because I love martial arts, I do martial arts because I love fight scenes.

And let’s be clear: what makes a fight scene good has very little to do with choreography. A good fight scene does everything a good scene of any type does: engages imagination, reveals character, advances plot and illuminates theme. There are, in my novels, a lot of fight scenes (‘cuz like I said, I love ‘em) and many of them do not involve characters most readers would recognize as highly-trained martial artists. Caine is one, yes, as are Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Mace Windu . . . but most of the rest involve characters with varying degrees of experience and natural aptitude trying like hell to get out of dire situations without getting killed.


I like hitting people. I also like kicking people, kneeing them, doing (potentially) crippling things to their joints as well as occasionally throwing them across a room, not to mention stabbing them with (rubber) knives and slashing them with (rattan stick) swords. This is not, it should be noted, actual combat. It’s recreation. All in good fun, and when it’s done properly, no serious injuries occur.

Also look:

I often write about people who like these things I like, except many of these people are missing an essential circuit-breaker in their brains. These are people who are bored by the merely recreational. Who only take it seriously if someone’s life is on the line. Who have made violence not only their profession, but their lifestyle. Some are mercenaries, some are jihadists, some are psychopaths. At least one is a performance artist. None of these categories are, you will note, mutually exclusive. (more…)

Heroic fantasy revisited: the Drenai saga by David Gemmell

‘I tend to concentrate on courage, loyalty, love and redemption,’ David Gemmell once said. ‘I believe in these things. I refuse to be cynical about the world, and I won’t join the sneerers or the defeatists.’

Gemmell, widely regarded as Britain’s ‘king of heroic fantasy’, imbued his characters with the same attitude and defiance. His classic Drenai series is full of charismatic figures who refuse to accept defeat in the face of impossible odds and overwhelming danger, who strive to do what is right rather than what is easy. Druss the Legend, his most famous creation, is the embodiment of this indomitable spirit: an old man who just wants to be left alone in solitude, he overcomes the ravages of time and leads the heroic defence of Dross Delnoch against hordes of invaders, despite knowing his inspiration carries a deadly price. The pages of the pacy, action-packed Drenai novels are full of such examples of self-sacrifice and heroism.

The flawed natures of these protagonists and their struggles for redemption, is what makes them so endearing and timeless. Although Gemmell’s novels are unashamedly black and white – “If you add too much grey, all you end up with is a grey novel,” he once said – his characters are mostly far more complex. The deadly assassin Waylander, for example, is introduced as a callous, cold-hearted killer – yet as his story progresses, he fights the darkness in his own soul and eventually earns redemption for his past atrocities. It’s the personal struggles of these characters, and their moments of self-doubt and self-sacrifice, that struck a chord with millions of readers all over the world and turned the Drenai books into fantasy classics.

Gemmell’s masterly grasp of characterisation was matched by his ability to write thrilling action scenes, which developed from his upbringing in a tough area of London. ‘I grew up with men of violence,’ he said. ‘I understand men of violence. It means that when I write action scenes and when I have violent characters, I have a very strong feel for that.’  This experience resulted in some of the most thrilling and visceral battles ever written in fantasy literature. Whether it’s Druss swinging his mighty axe on the walls of Dross Delnoch, or Waylander being hunted by nightmarish creatures in a shadowy forest, Gemmell’s action sequences are packed with drama and tension.

The Times recently listed David Gemmell as the third biggest-selling UK ‘adult fantasy’ author of all time, citing his UK sales of 1.5 million. With all six of his classic Drenai novels now available with brand-new covers that really capture the blood and thunder of the tales within, now is the perfect time to discover one of UK fantasy’s greatest writers.

Heroism and heartbreak . . . Gemmell is adrenaline with soul’ – Brent Weeks

‘The hard-bitten champion of British heroic fantasy’ – Joe Abercrombie