I first came across Graham’s writing by way of a promo on Bookbub – The Riven Wyrde Saga, and recognised his talent to tell a rich and dark tale. Faithless is darker still, more mature and also challenging. I first have to declare that as a caver and old mine explorer, I was absolutely delighted to find that Faithless is set entirely within a cave and mine complex. Despite its narrow boundaries, the world is rich and detailed and I found it easy to slip in, unnoticed. I was there at the discovery of minerals, at the rock falls, the underground pools and rivers, and the utter darkness when the lamps are turned off. I loved the underground dwellings and was reminded of the ones in The Devil’s Arse in Derbyshire. Caves and mines are dangerous places and with low tech doubly so, making a setting rich with conflict.
This is a book which is difficult to review without giving too much away because of its structure – a choice which must have been challenging to write, to say the least. Did the author pull it off? Perhaps not 100%, but very close. The fact that it had a very strongly stated theme pulled it together.
Faithless is one of those books that tugs at you for days after you finish reading. Recommended.
I’m not sure if this counts as fan fiction but it was written just as a bit of fun. Just imagine your favourite talk show host…
Show Host walks on stage…
SH: Next up, a man, well half a man, newly returned from Valinor, tells us the tale of how he saved the world. Hello, Mr Frodo – may I call you that?
F: Well, it is my name, but Frodo will do just as well.
SH: Frodo, you say you saved the world, but you don’t really expect people to believe that, do you?
F: It IS true, although I had help from many stalwart people – men, elves, hobbits and dwarves.
SH: Frodo, you can’t say that, the correct term is ‘Little People’.
F: Oh, I’m sorry – I have been away a long time.
SH: Yes, recovering from PTSD, wasn’t it?
F: That’s right. I was just a humble hobbit from the Shire, totally unprepared for the horrors and evil I faced on that journey to Mount Doom.
SH: Mount Doom? Where in the world is that?
F: Well, it’s gone now. It blew up after the ring was cast into the fiery depths.
SH: Seems a bit melodramatic. [rolls eyes at audience who clap and cheer]
F: It had to be there, no other fire was hot enough to melt it.
SH: No other volcano would do then?
F: [getting a bit cross] No.
SH: Joining us now is the family of Smeagol, who say you haven’t been recovering from PTSD, you’ve been in hiding because you caused the death of their grandfather. He was a perfectly ordinary fisherman until YOU dragged him off on this ridiculous quest, and in fact, it was Smeagol that took the ring into the molten lava and you owe them a lot of money. They are suing you for around £47 million for the loss of their dear grandpappy. What do you say to that?
F: What? No! It’s true, the final actions that led to the ring’s destruction were Smeagol’s, the ring had corrupted him and he bit it from my finger then fell into the lava.
SH: So….if you were going to destroy it because it was so dangerous, what was it doing on your finger?
F: I was not myself. The ring was controlling me.In that moment I wanted to rule the world.
SH: Hmm… a gold ring seems an unlikely basis for a system of world government… but please welcome Jamesy and Dangal, grandchildren of Smeagol!
[Jamesy and Dangal charge across the stage, raining blows on Frodo. Security pull them apart. J & D are last seen fighting over another of Frodo’s fingers. A sobbing Frodo is consoled by the resident psychiatrist.]