Today I have a guest post by James A. Moore, author of Seven Forges, a new fantasy out from Angry Robot tomorrow, and not coincidentally, also reviewed here on the blog then. When I read the blurb for the book and first saw the cover, the first thing that bubbled up was the question why the icy setting? We’ve seen lots of epic fantasy set in arid deserts, what made Moore choose to set his book in a land of snow and ice? Luckily, James was kind enough to write me a guest post explaining exactly that.
Nuclear Winter in a Fantasy Realm
So the question came up as to why I decided to use a frigid wasteland as one of the settings for SEVEN FORGES. The answer is really rather simple for me. I wanted a place that was as inhospitable as it could possibly be. The idea, for me, was to make the Sa’ba Taalor people a truly brutal and unpleasant group. Not because they are “evil,” because, to my way of thinking, no one is completely good or completely evil, but because they needed to be positively merciless.
The Empire of Fellein has all the standard issues that anyone would have living in a world with very limited technologies. They can forge metal, and that’s about as good as it gets for the most part. They have wagons, swords siege engines and ships. They do not have steam power or electricity. They have magic, but mostly it’s behind the scenes. There won’t be a whole lot of lighting cast from fingertips going on in this series because magic is costly and not used without extreme necessity. I didn’t want to make life too easy for anyone in the series.
But for the Sa’ba Taalor, I wanted extremes. They have farms, but the land is rough and cultivating it is a physical challenge. The people of the valley do not have livestock, because remarkably little lives in the Blasted Lands that is not, quite frankly, too dangerous to try breeding and raising. When they want meat, the people have only one choice: go out beyond the valley where they live and go hunting in the harshest environment on the planet, all the while knowing that the things you’re hunting will also be hunting you.
The setting isn’t just a cold wasteland. That would be too easy. I set up the Blasted Lands to be worse than that. They are the equivalent of nuclear winter in a cup. All around the Blasted Lands there are steep hills and mountainous areas, remnants of the great explosion that caused the formation of the area in the first place. What exactly happened to create the area? Well, I know, but it will probably be while before I reveal everything. Some secrets are just fun to hold onto for a bit of time.
The Blasted Lands is effectively a perpetual ice storm, but to make matters worse at the very center of the area are the Seven Forges, which are live if not overly active volcanoes. They occasionally send out ash and steam and toxic gasses that add to the horrid atmosphere outside of the valley they form in their center. A ways off from the Seven Forges are the Mounds, about which extremely little is known. From time to time vast noises come from the Mounds and with far less frequency things come out of that area.
One thousand years of endless storms, ice and filth and ash scouring away the land and forcing adaptation on whatever manages to live in the area, that’s what the Blasted Lands are. They are the testing ground of the Sa’ba Taalor, the place where all of the people must eventually walk alone and hunt if they intend to survive. And if they fail, they are no long a problem for the gods or their followers.
Why a cold wasteland? Because every blade needs a whetstone to sharpen it. And the people of the Seven Forges are the first to call themselves the weapons of their gods.
Bio (from the Angry Robot website): James A Moore is the author of over twenty novels, including the critically acclaimed Fireworks, Under The Overtree, Blood Red, Deeper, the Serenity Falls trilogy (featuring his recurring anti-hero, Jonathan Crowley) and his most recent novels Blind Shadows and the forthcoming Seven Forges.
He has twice been nominated for the Bram Stoker Award and spent three years as an officer in the Horror Writers Association, first as Secretary and later as Vice President.
The author cut his teeth in the industry writing for Marvel Comics and authoring over twenty role-playing supplements for White Wolf Games, including Berlin by Night, Land of 1,000,000 Dreams and The Get of Fenris tribe. He also penned the White Wolf novels Vampire: House of Secrets and Werewolf: Hellstorm.
Moore’s first short story collection, Slices, sold out before ever seeing print.
He currently lives in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia. Meet him on his blog.