Thirty years of legend are about to be re-written, as the boy-general vows to become a king…
For the first time, the ferocious city-states of The Macht now acknowledge a single ruler - Corvus may have united his people in blood, but he now seeks immortality through conquest and legend.
His father had been one of the legendary Ten Thousand Macht who marched into the Asurian Empire and fought their way out again. Corvus intends nothing less than the complete overthrow of their ancient enemies.
Paul Kearney draws on both classical history and fantasy as he brings his critically-acclaimed epic of The Macht to a shattering conclusion, as the brilliant Corvus seeks to bring the world under his rule.
Rich with character and fast-paced, Kings of Morning is the hotly-anticipated conclusion to the Macht Trilogy that will thrill fans of Steven Erikson and George R. R. Martin.
We sat down with Paul and discussed classical history, Hobbits, and James Joyce...
1. What was the inspiration behind Kings of Morning?
As Patrick O Brian calls him; “That brute-beast Alexander.” I’ve been an Alexander-apologist my whole life. I’m so deeply-dyed an admirer that I even found things to like in the Oliver Stone film. The beginnings of my fascination date back to an ancient history A-level, and before even that, the Alexander trilogy by Mary Renault, one of the finest historical recreations ever written. I am a history-geek, whose eyes light up like lamps when I chance across an old copy of Thucydides in a second-hand bookshop. History has fuelled my imagination for my entire life, and I don’t expect that to change.
2. What is it that draws you to fantasy fiction?
I truly wish I knew. Laziness perhaps. People think that making up an entire world is hard, an enormous labour – but it’s not. It is far, far harder to write about reality, and get all your facts right. In fantasy you can bend the rules, reshape physics if you’ve a mind to, and generally just go out and have a good time nicking what takes your fancy, then reshaping it and churning it out again. It’s easier to do if you have a solid grounding in history, and literature. I vividly remember as a kid reading the old Icelandic myths, and thinking that Middle Earth was a fantastic name for a fantasy world. Six months later, at the age of twelve, I discovered Tolkien, and was resentful for quite some time at the way he had openly pillaged Norse and Anglo-Saxon myth and story. It took some of the shine off him for me; to see how he had stolen all the names for Bilbo’s companions straight out of the Voluspa. I was a strange child.
3. How would you describe your novel?
It’s not Shakespeare. It’s a story, told as I like to hear stories, with a beginning, a middle and an end. I am not a particularly clever writer, and I do not like to dwell lovingly on the baroque detail of a lady’s gown. I do not spew out pages of so-called ‘inner life’ when it comes to characterization. I prefer to let a character’s deeds speak for them. I do love my characters, and I am harshest with some of those I like best. Kings of Morning is about Rictus, not Corvus. It is the story of a man who has seen a lot of the world, and who wants to walk away from it.
4. Your books have moved from late-Medieval to Classical in feel. What period in history most fascinates you?
I have a multitude of hobby-horses. Ancient Greece and Persia were my first loves, thanks to Mary Renault, Rosemary Sutcliff, and Roger Lancellyn Green. But there are few periods of history I have not dug greedily into. I love the American Civil War, and I know what gunpowder tastes like, and how deafening artillery can be. A thing which was left out of all descriptions of war until Spielberg made Saving Private Ryan – just how incredibly noisy a battlefield is.
5. Who would you list as your inspirations in the genre?
I’ve named a few already. It’s an odd thing, but most of the stuff which stayed with me, I had read by the age of fifteen or so. Tolkien, Donaldson. Julian May. Andre Norton. Ursula le Guin. (I don’t care what Rowling says, but she owes le Guin an immense debt, and the Earthsea books are far superior to Harry Potter.) I love James Blaylock and John Crowley also. Their stuff is teeth-grindingly original, and they marry their brilliant ideas with beautiful prose. That’s rare.
6. What is your writing process?
I like the word ‘process’ about as much as I like the word ‘colonic.’ I get up in the morning, and if the gods are kind, I sit and write. It ain’t rocket-science. And it’s the only way to do it. You can’t wait for the Muses to waft overhead and stroke your fevered brow – you have to just sit down and write, if you want to take the thing seriously. Even if you write five thousand words of trash, there will be fifty in there you can use, and the thing is not wasted. James Joyce once flounced into his parlour to join his friends with the words; ‘I’ve been hard at it all morning!’ (I paraphrase a little). They asked him what he had written, and he told them, beaming; ‘Two words. ‘But they were the right words.’