Review: Faithless by Graham Austin-King

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Summary:

The temples of the Forgefather have fallen. The clerics and defenders that could once be found across the nine lands are no more. Priests huddle in the great temple, clinging to the echoes of their lost religion. But the Father has fallen silent. There are none who still hear his voice.

The mines of Aspiration lie far below the temple’s marble halls. Slaves toil in the blackness, striving to earn their way into the church and the light. Wynn has been sold into this fate, traded for a handful of silver. In the depths of the mines, where none dare carry flame, he must meet his tally or die. But there are things that lurk in that darkness, and still darker things within the hearts of men.

When the souls bound to the great forge are released in a failed ritual, one novice flees down into the darkness of the mines. The soulwraiths know only hunger, the risen know only hate. In the blackest depths Kharios must seek a light to combat the darkness which descends.

 

Review (re-blogged from MightyThorJRs where I originally posted):

5/5 Stars

Dark, gritty, fraught with angst.

In the temples of Aspiration, prayers fall on deaf ears. Priests struggle to keep the faith as their god has fallen silent. The once great forges now simply serve as training grounds and the mines that lie below claim life after life. A young boy named Wynn is sold into a nightmare situation by his parents; forced to work in the mines and to meet his tally, or die trying. In the darkness, though very dim, there is a light. One that gives Wynn hope of making it out of the mines. But lurking in the shadows are creatures biding their time, awaiting what is to come.

There is some excellent world-building happening in Faithless, even though the entire book takes place in the temples and mines of Aspiration and, at times, the book feels a little claustrophobic. But I guess mines will make you feel that way, right? The author also gives plenty of detail surrounding the religion of the Forgefather, including the Rise and Fall (similar to Christianity), and depicts how even the most religious can lose faith when their god has turned away. There is also a ton of character depth between our two main peeps, Wynn and Kharios. The word realistic comes to mind as both characters are good natured, though flawed, and make some questionable decisions that lead to some head scratching. But all in all, perfect characters make for boring stories.

The only thing I wish the author had done differently was the ending. Though I can see there being a sequel or sequels, it sort of left me high and dry. But really, it doesn’t detract from how great the rest of the book is. Also, there are some “not so in your face” mentions about pedophilia in the novel that, unfortunately, do add to the overall arc.

Graham Austin-King has written a very original grimdark fantasy novel here and continues the line of excellence in writing for the genre. I would expect to see Faithless as a finalist in the SPFBO 2017, if not win the whole thing. I mean, the cover was the thing that drew me in, but there is so much more to enjoy when you open to the first page and get lost in this world

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