Review of Faithless by Graham Austin-King


Faithless CoverI 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.

Frodo does a talk show

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.]