Author: Graham Austin-King
Written whilst: drinking San Miguel and listening to Greetings from Asbury Park (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rXNGQ7-hoNc)
Have you ever been handed a book, with zero knowledge of whats inside, having never heard of the author or no idea of the premise? Then, all of a sudden, you’re blown away by what you find inside? This is what Faithless did for me.
The premise? Well, imagine a massive church, full of fire worshiping priests, all of whom are master blacksmiths. Who worship the Father by creating masterpieces inlaid with runes and symbols. Due to their need for resources, iron, bronze, gold, coal and the like, they subject thousands of ‘initiates’ to their mining operations. This is where one of two protagonists enters the fray. Wynn, innocent, young and farmers son, is sold to the Church by his father, sent for a year or two of studies. Thrown into the deep end, literally, he finds himself in a city below the Church.
The city of Aspiration is where, and under, a good portion of the action happens. Aspiration is the true incarnation of servitude to a higher power. To get a true image of the state of Aspiration, its probably best that I let King describe it himself;
“Wynn followed Liam through streets and districts, passing collections of shacks that huddled in ragged circles around fire-pits where men cooked with large pots. These gave way to long, low, huts surrounded by storage shacks crammed with picks and crates which, in turn, gave way to elaborate, marble-fronted structures surrounded by high walls and fences.”
Aspiration is a city where status is pretty much pushed into your face, where being above someone is something to be proud of. Which in turn leads to ever increasing issues, which all come to fruition throughout, talking of which…
Faithless doesn’t for a single minute let you forget the world you, the reader, inhabit. All the world you see is Aspiration, the mines and the Church above. Outside these three areas there is never anything elaborated upon. You never hear of external conflicts, never a country name or a kings. You are always kept firmly within the four walls that the characters inhabit, their lack of knowledge of the outside world, translates to your own, grounding these characters so much more in their little corner of the world. It gladdens me greatly that King decided to leave out the events of the outside world, for this novel wouldn’t have worked if you were constantly reminded of things going on in the rest of the world. Constricting the readers viewpoint to these three areas allows for them to feel extremely real. So much so that it took me days to detox from this novel, I couldn’t read anything else as my mind kept drifting back into Faithless.
The second protagonist Kharios, starts off his journey in a place of relative comfort, having been picked to be tutored under Father Ossan, one of the most influential members of the Church. To say much about Kharios would be to ruin the novel, his character is easily the most complicated of them all. I’ll leave it at, you’ll always want to see him succeed. Enough said, can’t and won’t say anymore.
Not to say that Kharios is the only complex character. The novel is populated will a whole host of complex men and women. The aforementioned Father Ossan, Leesha, Lamplight (a personal favourite), Killen and Fen, to name a few. All of whom are brilliantly well written and believable characters inhabiting their extremely messed up world.
Having been given this pretty much out of the blue, thank you Dark Mondays (https://darkmondaysblog.wordpress.com/) for setting this up for me, I was totally blown away.