To Brave the End is a grimdark fantasy novella about a swordsman called Harruvard – or Red Harry.
He is featured in my first novel, The Shadow of the High King, as a side character among the crew of the Blackshield Dogs. It’s primarily his origin story, a character chronicle, telling the tale of who he was before he came to earn his moniker Red Harry and how he eventually came to join the Blackshield Dogs. It’s the first in a series of shorter, character-driven fiction I’ll be writing based around the members of the Blackshield Dogs mercenary company.
What makes your world special or different?
I think my world feels very burned-out, almost weary, like it’s drawn thin and close to wearing through. A lot of what once was is gone and forgotten, and its people live in a time of decay, heading slowly toward their version of the Dark Ages.
How does your main character fit into this world?
Harruvard is just an average man trying to get by as best he can, at least before the events of To Brave the End. Besides a history of savagery when fighting for his sworn lord and fair talent with a sword, you could pretty much say he’s quite unremarkable in a lot of ways. He’s certainly no hero, and has more than his fair share of failings, like all people do.
Is there a system of magic?
There is, though it doesn’t feature in To Brave the End, as Harruvard and the characters within that book are quite far removed from it and the goings on surrounding it, both by time and distance.
The magic system has a couple of names, depending on which culture it’s being wielded by. Some call it the Weaving, others call it the Earthbond. It’s mostly focused upon a ‘oneness’ with the earth and with life, and is not overly extravagant.
Mostly, it has been forgotten about by the world in my books, but for any who have read my first novel, The Shadow of the High King, it is beginning to appear again. Its users vary in power and potential depending on how close their blood ties are to the race of people it originated from. They also have particular talents in it, some are more offensive and aggressive with how they wield it, while others are more covert in the nature of their power.
What are the people who inhabit your world like?
They’re very much based upon real cultures, primarily Central and Western European with a leaning toward Saxon and ancient Irish, but others are influenced by both Greek and Middle Eastern cultures. The inhabitants of my world are very much just ordinary people trying to survive in the midst of a brutal, uncaring existence that grows steadily worse for them as time passes.
Government-wise there’s a few different kinds that exist, such as Caermark’s crumbling feudal alliance, Luah Fáil’s ancient clan-dominated society, Parathet’s commercial oligarchy, and the Old Empire’s fading imperial dynasty.
Are there any magical creatures?
There are, though they don’t feature in To Brave the End, as like the existence of magic they’re mostly forgotten, believed extinct or dismissed as folklore at this point in time. The ones that make an appearance in The Shadow of the High King are very misshapen, bloodthirsty things for the most part that could have once been human.
Is there anything special, precious, or unique about your world’s geography or its place in the universe?
In a lot of places of my world there are civilisations built unknowingly atop the bones of older civilisations, it’s something I’ve only hinted at in my books so far, and something that I’m looking forward to expanding upon and exploring in future books.
What are the two most interesting facts or features of your world?
It’s a world very much built upon lies and brutality, a lot of the kingdoms that exist in its present day were founded through deceit, treachery and the slaughter of elder, precursor races. As a result of this, the world’s magic has lain dormant for a long, long time, waiting to be awoken again.
How does the landscape or geography of your world affect the plot or theme of the story?
Given the crumbling state of the world and the technology of their time period, many countries and places are believed mythical, dead or so far away that many simply do not know they exist. This doesn’t effect the characters of To Brave the End so much given the localized scope of the book, but part of the premise of my novel The Shadow of the High King is based around this age of ignorance and the repercussions it has.
Is there a religious system in place?
There are several. In Caermark people worship their Old Gods that predate their days as a slave nation. They’re a pantheon based upon mostly subservient beliefs, though besides from a hatred of sorcery or magic they’re not overly dogmatic in practice.
In Luah Fáil the clans worship a pantheon known as the Evermore, primarily the most warlike of those gods, Cu Náith, as their culture prizes skill-at-arms above literally all else.
In the east, the Empire once worshipped animals, but now they kneel to something new, shrouded in mystery.
To Brave the End’s characters make mention of Caermark’s gods from time to time, being set in that nation they’re a day to day occurrence for its people, but they’re not a focus of its story. In The Shadow of the High King these various beliefs play a much stronger, more prominent role in the story and are at the forefront of many scenes, either as an object of conflict or comfort.
What is one last thing you would like readers to know all about your world?
It’s a very dark, bloody world, set to get bloodier as I push forward with the Weaving Shadows Trilogy. It has a long, gruesome and wretched history I’m excited to unveil more of with future books.
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