Sun
Apr 12 2009 3:14pm

Hammer of God...in 60 Seconds

Fantasy author Karen Miller told Tor.com that her latest novel, Hammer of God, is the culmination of her Godspeaker saga.

“When we left our various heroes at the end of book two, The Riven Kingdom, Rhian had succeeded in defeating most of her enemies and gaining her throne,” Miller said in an interview. “Unfortunately she’s still facing domestic trouble—and is also aware that the warhost of Mijak is breathing down her kingdom’s neck. Worse still, she’s found out who her friend Zandakar really is, and her confidence is shaken. So while she’s struggling to consolidate her hold on power she’s also trying to find a way to defeat Mijak, even though her kingdom has no army. But her allies don’t trust her and refuse to believe they’re in serious danger. The only person who seems willing to believe her, and help her, is the Emperor of Tzhung-Tzhungchai, and she has no idea if she can trust him and his mysterious sorcerers. In the meantime, the warhost of Mijak is getting closer and closer, and it seems they’re unstoppable. So she’s forced to trust both Emperor Han and Zandakar, a mass murdering enemy warrior, to save her kingdom and the rest of the world.”

The basic idea of the trilogy arose out of Miller’s interest in religion, and the impact of religion on ordinary people, and how it can be used as a terrible weapon or a gift of solace in hard times. “I was writing my first mainstream fantasy, the Kingmaker, Kingbreaker duology, and struggling with it a bit,” she said. “And while I was taking a break from that, I had this idea for a story about a warrior from a very fierce, very fundamentalist-religion kind of culture, who realized he no longer wanted to live the violent life he was living. But in order to escape it, he had to turn his back on everything he knew and everyone he loved and betray his mother, the Empress. ... But I wasn’t ready to write the story. I was still too green. I went back to the other project, and ended up selling that first. When it came to looking at a follow-up project I thought about Godspeaker, and realized that it could be a trilogy, and that the first book needed to start at a much earlier point in the overall story.”

Miller says that the the theme of abuse of religious power is the most personal element of this story. “I really do believe that religion can be a great force for good in the world—but when that force is abused it can lead to the most horrendous violence and suffering,” she said. “So often, too often, religion is perverted into a weapon or used to control people’s minds—and that breaks my heart. Abuse of any kind of power is a dreadful thing, but when you look at human history I think it’s clear that the most appalling things have been done in the name of someone’s god. Second to that is the idea that women are perfectly capable of leadership and yet are faced with terrible prejudice. The idea that you’d discount a potentially fantastic leader on the basis of gender is, to me, insane. Yet it’s something that we struggle with in our society, and in fact have struggled with throughout history, so it was fun to look at that too.”

Also recently released was another novel, The Accidental Sorcerer, under Miller’s pen name, K. E. Mills.

1 comment
Richard Fife
1. R.Fife
Hmm, I find myself inspired to make a meta-comment. When I started reading Ms. Miller's description of this book, I honestly was chuckling. It is so quintescentially fantasy in its scope, warhosts and the empire of Tzhung-Tzhungchai, that I instantly thought of some of the jokes about how a "proper" fantasy novel has to have crazy names and mild abstractions of words for which there are perfectly normal "english" words. (yes, I know warhost is an English word, but it is also soemwhat antiquated in modern parlance.) Granted, books that follow those tropes are some of my favorite, such as Tad Williams Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn trilogy. But, just saying, it seems amazingly distant to a fresh reader to slam us with information that veteran readers have had two books to learn.

That aside, I found the later description of the series, where she describes where the concept came from, far more interesting. An examination of both sides of the religion debate seems rare, as this appears to be. It seems many authors and stories either gloss over religion as "duh, of course its good," or "gar, its pure evil." So yeah, interesting.

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