Wednesday 17 December 2014

Blog Tour Character Guest Post - Exile by Tom Stacey

by Tom Stacey

Book Description:
On the fringes of the Verian Empire, two small boys stumble upon a strange altar, buried in the heart of a mountain. There they awaken a horror unseen for generations, that will descend upon the realm of men while it is at its weakest. For Veria is a nation at war with itself, only recently recovered from a bloody rebellion, and the time of heroes has passed. The empire is in a state of chaos, and while its ruler, the Empron Illis, rids the land of his remaining enemies, unseen forces are gathering at the borders. However all eyes are turned inwards. The Empron is not a well man, and there are whispers among the common folk that his advisors are spies; demons that only wear the flesh of men.

Yet there is hope...

In the distant mountains, a forester who has buried his past learns that he has not been forgotten, and that his crimes have sought him out at last. But he is no simple woodsman. He is Beccorban the Helhammer, Scourge, Burner and the Death of Nations, and his fury is a terrible thing.

For when all the heroes are gone, Veria will turn to those it has forgotten, before all is lost.

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Why violence is a necessity in historical fantasy (and all writing)

Of late I have heard it said that there is too much violence in the world of historical fantasy. People say it is exaggerated or unnecessary, or even offensive, as if words scrawled in ink can wound a man as readily as a blade. These entertainment writers are accused of glorifying violence, of singing the sword-song too loudly when they should be decrying such savagery. I have even heard the theory that since fantasies exist in imaginary worlds, why can they not be imaginary worlds without murder, and death and rape?

I will tell you why: because that is not a world anybody wants to read about. There never has and never will be a time when all is well and families can sleep safe at night in every nation under the sun. Man has always thrived in war, has always consumed others, whether it is the animals on his table or the foes at his feet — that is part of who we are. We are born into this world in violence and blood and often we go out of it in the same way. Indeed, some of us seek out violence and danger, thinking it will fill a hole in our lives. We throw ourselves into the line of battle or jump into the lion pen because edging closer to death helps us feel alive. In the same way, we like to read about people who make it through great odds, who overcome their enemies, who get revenge on those who have wronged them. How can anybody pen a serious story without including things that all adults face and are aware of?

Life is suffering with brief bouts of ecstasy and part of being a human is watching others suffer. Whatever your reason — education, deterrent, morbid pleasure — it cannot be denied that every public execution gathers an audience, every battlefield would have viewing benches if it were possible. Can you think of a warmer feeling than watching an enemy flounder and drown? It’s elemental, like lust. It’s part of our sickness. There are people who would deny these feelings. I imagine they sit in dark rooms, sweeping crumbs off their bellies with ink-stained fingers, scratching their thoughts down on browned vellum. They are abstainers, people who deny themselves the full human experience, refusing to see any part of the world which they do not agree with, for fear it will corrupt their souls. What they don’t know is that they’re already corrupt, we all are.

When I was a younger man, I journeyed far and came across a people over the sea who fix broken pottery with molten gold. They have a word for it in their sheep-like tongue that no sane man can pronounce, but they maintain that it makes the pottery more beautiful, unique for being broken and being remade.That’s what violence does. It damages people and it either breaks them into shards to be swept away or it forces them to adapt, to heal like knotted bone around a fracture. Those are the people we want to read about. They have lived and they have suffered and they have changed. It doesn’t mean they’ve changed for the better, but they have a story that we want to follow nonetheless.

Writers aren’t glorifying the violence, they’re glorifying the struggle, the doggedness that pushes people through the membrane of suffering and out into the unknown beyond. We read about these people in the hope that we never have to face what they do, but also with the vanity that we might think we can emulate them should we have to. Luckily most of us never will be tested, but we might, in our travels, meet someone who has been, and listen to their story with bated breath. Because violence in itself is not what is interesting. It is the men and women of violence and how and why they use it that makes us turn each crackling page.

Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads

About the Author
Tom Stacey is an English author of the fantasy novel, Exile. Tom was born in Essex, England, and has lived there his whole life. He began writing at school, often taking responsibility for penning the class plays, or writing sketches with his friends. While attending university to read history, Tom developed his writing by creating several short stories, some of which would later become to basis for his debut novel, Exile.

Tom self-published Exile in summer 2014 and is currently working on the sequel as well as another unrelated novel. He earns a living as a video producer in London in the day and writes at night, a bit like a really underwhelming superhero.
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