Wednesday, January 23, 2019
Book Review: FAITHLESS by Graham Austin-King
Author: Graham Austin-King
Publisher: Fallen Leaf Press
Publication Date: June 30, 2017
For those who aren't familiar with my blog, I normally only review fairly new or soon-to-be-released titles. Occasionally though a book that is a couple of years old strikes my fancy. FAITHLESS was one of those books. I kept reading great things about it every time I accessed my Goodreads account to look for something else. For some reason I continually came across it on my timeline and I gradually began feeling like it was a sign that I should really give this book a read at some point soon. Imagine my surprise when a further sign presented itself, namely author Graham Austin-King reaching out to me and asking if I would care to review one of his titles. Well, this was the open door that I needed to ask if I could get a review copy of FAITHLESS, which Graham was gracious enough to provide for me. And now, on to my review...
The story of FAITHLESS takes place in one of the more original settings that I have ever encountered. A city network of caverns and tunnels named Aspiration lies beneath the Temple of the Forgefather. Within this underground city, novices are forced into servitude by the temple priests in order to mine for the precious metals that are the lifeblood of their religious order. More a cult really than an actual religion, the priests who serve the Forgefather believe that the only way that they can communicate with the now silent god is through the burning and working of the metals that are dug out daily by the novice slaves. By working the metals in the forge, the priests say that they can speak with the Forgefather and eventually revive their fallen faith. To say that this religion is one of brutality and merciless persecution would be more than accurate as they impose daily tallies that if not met, result in harsh punishment. Wynn is a 17 year-old novice who is sold to the temple by his father who is left impoverished as a result of the harsh taxes imposed by the corrupt government. He is soon put to work in the mines and joins a team that literally works day and night seeing very little of the world outside. Forced servitude is something that Wynn wasn't entirely prepared for at such an early age and he is quickly disillusioned by what has befallen him. Kharios is a novice of the temple studying the arts of metal work and the doctrine of the temple priests. Although his life is somewhat more privileged than Wynn's, he is still every bit a slave, just in a different form. For the priests of the Temple of the Forgefather are not kind, and in some cases they use their authority to take advantage (both mentally and physically) of their young pupils. Both Wynn and Kharios serve the temple in their own way, yet both are beginning to doubt the necessity of the work they do and even start to question their roles as it pertains to serving the long dead god who no longer speaks. Worse still, the mines are not wholly safe and there are quiet murmurings of those who have wandered too far and been "taken" by the Utterdark, the pitch blackness in the very bowels of Aspiration that call the young miners to their deaths. When Wynn and Kharios' paths cross, what follows is a revelation of secrets that neither were prepared to discover and a horror far worse in the form of the risen. What are the risen you may ask? You will just have to read FAITHLESS to find that out.
I am a huge fan of dark fantasy and FAITHLESS fits that description to an absolute tee. This is a book that I devoured completely and voraciously as I found every excuse in the world to steal more time to turn some pages. The idea of a ruthless religion that puts young miners to work as slaves so that they can gain the materials needed to communicate again with a long silent god is just such a cool storyline and concept. There are times when this book makes you feel hopeless and even a little depressed, yet Graham Austin-King never leaves you with the impression that all hope is lost, regardless of the dire circumstances that the main characters are placed in. Yes the priests are about as evil as they come and the mysterious Utterdark is a menace that is to be utterly feared, but Wynn and Kharios are determined to make sense of their situation and overcome it. We see two characters who don't want to conform to the daily regimented harsh running of things. To that point, the world building in FAITHLESS is deep and multi-layered with a very intriguing history behind it. The history of the Forgefather is one that kept me interested because I wanted to find out if indeed this was an actual real thing or if it was just a fairy tale concocted by the priests and religious leaders of the temple for some other nefarious purposes. All in all I really loved FAITHLESS and am so glad that I read it. It gave me hours and hours of incredible enjoyment. If you want to be taken to a deep dark place and have a lot of fun in the process, pick up Graham Austin-King's FAITHLESS and give it a read now. I promise you that it will be a thoroughly enjoyable experience. I truly hope that there is a sequel in the works because I need to be transported back to the pitch-black depths of Aspiration in the very near future. Meanwhile, I definitely have to seek out more books by this author.