my sweet sword

Chris Wood­ing chan­nels Tolkien and King Arthur in new epic fan­tasy The Em­ber Blade

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While Chris Wood­ing ad­mits that Grim­dark has been “a much-needed shot in the arm,” the Tales Of The Ketty Jay au­thor be­lieves the genre is getting too gloomy with all its var­i­ous anti-he­roes. His an­swer is The Em­ber Blade, which boasts “the feel of the epic fan­tasies of yes­ter­day but not their black and white ap­proach to moral­ity”.

In­deed there’s a touch of Tolkien about The Em­ber Blade, as the re­la­tion­ship be­tween Cade and Aren brings to mind the bond be­tween two cer­tain Hob­bits. “Cade starts out as the Sam to Aren’s Frodo,” rea­sons Wood­ing. “But once out in the wide world, Cade is no longer sure he wants to play sec­ond fid­dle, so learn­ing to ne­go­ti­ate their friend­ship is a chal­lenge Aren has to over­come if they’re go­ing to stick to­gether in the face of what’s to come.”

With the Em­ber Blade it­self de­scribed as the Ex­cal­ibur of Aren’s peo­ple, Arthurian leg­end was also an in­flu­ence. “It was im­por­tant to give the story a feel that was grounded in myth and the Em­ber Blade is part of that,” ex­plains Wood­ing. “It’s an or­di­nary sword, but it’s so freighted with leg­end that who­ever bears it is con­sid­ered leader by divine right. Whether that’s true or not doesn’t mat­ter: what’s im­por­tant is whether peo­ple be­lieve it to be true.” SJ

The Em­ber Blade is pub­lished on 20 Septem­ber.

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