Today on The Tattooed Book Geek I have for you all an interview with R. S. Ford author of Hangman’s Gate (War of the Archons #2) which is released today.
Hangman’s Gate is the second book in the War of the Archons trilogy following on from the first book, A Demon in Silver.
I’m a big fan of Ford as an author, I loved his previous trilogy, the Steelhaven trilogy, I loved A Demon in Silver too – you can find my review for it !!HERE!! and it was also one of the top twenty books that I read in 2018 which you can find on my best of post !!HERE!!.
I have already read and reviewed Hangman’s Gate and I really enjoyed it. In my review, I described it as:
“another top quality and highly entertaining read, a read that is grimdark, filled with heart and that packs a bloody punch“.
If you are interested then my review for Hangman’s Gate can be found !!HERE!! but I am also including the whole review later in this post for your easy perusal too. 🙂
It is my absolute pleasure to bring to you this interview. My thanks to Sarah Mather of Titan Books for the interview opportunity and of course R. S. Ford for taking the time to answer the questions.
Author Interview: R. S. Ford.
1 – Hangman’s Gate is the second book in the War of the Archons trilogy, would you please give us an overview of the trilogy?
War of the Archons is set in a world where magic has been extinct for a hundred years. When a young woman, Livia Harrow, manifests magical powers it sets off a chain of events that will change the world forever.
2 – Would you please tell us about Hangman’s gate?
It takes place about a year after the end of A Demon in Silver. In the east, across the Crooked Jaw, a warlord has risen to power. The Iron Tusk is about to lead the armies of the Shengen Empire through the mountain pass known as the Skull Road to subjugate every nation in the west.
Only the forgotten fort of Dunrun and its rag-tag defenders stand in his way…
3 – If you had to summarise Hangman’s Gate in one sentence, what would it be?
A race against time to face inevitable destruction.
4 – Where did the idea for the War of the Archons trilogy come from?
I wanted to explore themes surrounding religious mythology and pantheons. Then I started to wonder what a society that had relied on magic for centuries would be like if it suddenly disappeared. The two ideas began to meld together and War of the Archons was born.
5 – What was your favourite part of writing Hangman’s Gate?
There are some inciteful flashback scenes dotted here and there that flesh out some of the characters, and these little snippets were a joy to write.
6 – If you had to make a music playlist to accompany Hangman’s Gate what songs would be included?
I’ve been inspired recently by the hurdy gurdy music of Gregory Jolivet, and his tunes fit in very well with lot of my books. I strongly suggest you check him out.
7 – If you had to choose the ideal drink and snack combination for a reader to enjoy whilst they are reading Hangman’s gate what would you choose?
This is a tough one, as it completely depends on peoples’ tastes. Personally, I like a full-bodied red and a nice platter of Italian mezze, so you could always try that.
8 – Do you have any hints at what we can expect from the next book, the third and final instalment in the trilogy?
Without giving too much away, it’s going to get messy.
9 – When did you decide to become a writer?
I don’t remember ever making a conscious decision. It was something I’d always wanted to do, but growing up it just seemed like an impossible dream. Like many writers, I whinge and moan about all the hard work but I wouldn’t want to do anything else.
10 – Why do you write/What inspired you to become a writer?
I was never particularly good at anything else, and quite frankly being a writer seemed like an attractive prospect. Like many writers, I whinge and moan about all the hard work but I wouldn’t want to do anything else.
11 – What do you find to be the most rewarding part of writing?
It has to be when you get that first box full of author copies. It’s when you get to see all the hard work really come together.
12 – What do you find to be the hardest part about writing?
I have quite a structured approach which involves coming up with a basic plot, formulating a chapter breakdown, making bullet points on each chapter, expanding on those points, drafting the chapter then editing it. After that I’ll review and edit the entire MS a couple of times before submitting it. By far the hardest part is the grind of drafting the main body of the prose – sometimes it can seem as though you have a mountain to climb, but it’s all worth it in the end.
13 – If you were asked to give one piece of advice to an aspiring writer what would it be?
Don’t give up. You’ll encounter all sorts of adversity on the long journey to becoming a writer, but if you stoutly refuse to give in, eventually you’ll get there.
14 – When writing are you a plotter or a pantser?
Definitely a plotter. I’ve tried pantsing as an experiment, and grew to regret it quite quickly.
15 – Have any authors influenced your work?
It would be easier to talk about those who haven’t. I think as writers we’re influenced by every writer we read, good or bad. You either learn what to do, or what not to do, with every piece of media you consume. My earliest influences were comics written by Pat Mills and Alan Grant. Then the Dragonlance books of Weiss and Hickman. Later I’d be influenced my such luminaries as David Gemmell, and I’m still stealing ideas from most of my contemporaries today.
16 – What are your top five favourite books?
This changes constantly, but in no particular order: The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks, Sword in the Storm by David Gemmell, Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie, Game of Thrones by George RR Martin and anything by Elmore Leonard.
17 – If you were writing your autobiography what would you call it and why?
“The Bumbling Bumbleweed” for reasons that would become obvious if you ever met me.
18 – When you aren’t writing how do you like to relax?
Reading would be the obvious one, but I also like to play the odd console game, I can kind of cook and I’m quite partial to watching the rugby, although the latter is not particularly relaxing at the best of times.
19 – If you could change one thing about the state of the world, what would it be and why? – your answer can be serious, fun or both.
I know it’s fashionable to lament the state of world politics at the minute, but in reality human beings have never had it so good. There’s less poverty, war and disease than there’s ever been in the course of human history. But we are gradually destroying the planet, and it’s becoming an evermore pressing issue, so I’d certainly fix that first.
20 – Do you have any last words for the readers of this interview?
Only to congratulate them for making it through to the end of my inane ramblings, and let them know if they do get around to reading any of my books I’d really appreciate a nice review on Amazon or Goodreads. Thanks.
Hangman’s Gate (War of the Archons #2).
- Paperback: 416 pages
- Publisher: Titan Books (UK) (18 Jun. 2019)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1785653091
- ISBN-13: 978-1785653094
- Amazon UK / Amazon US
After uniting the bandit clans, the Iron Tusk has swept into Shengen and taken control of the empire. With an army behind him, he marches along the Skull Road, ready to lay waste to the lands in the west. The mountain fortress of Dunrun and its rag-tag defenders are all that stand in his way.
With their country besieged on all sides, troubling rumours of a priestess amassing power in the north, and unnatural alliances to the south, no help is coming. Alone, they must hold back the inhuman powers of the Iron Tusk, or see life as they know it come to an end.
The old gods have returned…
Hangman’s Gate Book Review.
(originally posted on my blog on May 28th, 2019).
I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
I was a big fan of the first book in the War of the Archons trilogy, A Demon in Silver and my expectations were high for Hangman’s Gate. Luckily, Ford has delivered and with Hangman’s Gate, he has created another highly entertaining read, a read that is grimdark filled with heart and a read that packs a bloody punch.
Over a hundred years ago an event known as ‘The Fall‘ took place. The Archons struck an accord, broke the heartstone and overnight both the Gods and magic vanished from the world fading into myth, legend, stories and leaving humankind to its own devices. Until, in A Demon in Silver when the Archons once more start to stir, taking tentative steps back into the world and the fabric starts to tear, the scars become unstitched and magic returns, slowly seeping, bleeding back into the world as innocent civilians start to manifest abilities, show magical powers that haven’t been seen in over a century.
The monstrous warlord, the Iron Tusk marches forwards, forever onwards, those who oppose him, they fall, they kneel, they obey or they die. He is mustering his army and marching along the Skull Road towards the Cordral Extent and towards the ancient and crumbling fortress of Dunrun. The Iron Tusk killed the emperor of the Shengen Empire, took his place, conquered the land, subjugated the people and has now turned his attention to the kingdoms beyond. He united the Shengen tribes, made the Imperial Army Standings bend the knee and now bandits, criminals and tribesmen have all merged with the Imperial Army to create a vast and insurmountable horde. All of the Shengen worship him, above all else, he is their God.
The Iron Tusk wants to destroy the Cordral Extent, claim it as his own, have dominion over all the kingdoms and rule the world. Dunrun stands on the border, it is the last line of defence, the last bastion in the Iron Tusk’s way. Once of great importance, once manned by a full complement of one thousand men, now the fortress is decaying, dilapidated and rotting to ruin. It is garrisoned by only a handful, a span of recruits, the young and the old, recruits who haven’t seen nearly enough and those who have seen far too many battles, those yet to wet their blades and those whose blades have rusted through age. They are the dregs of the militia, those in need of a post but those not good enough for the elite, for the Kantor militia, those, except for a couple of diamonds in the rough mostly lacking basic competence. The gates, the walls of Dunrun need to stand, they need to hold back the onslaught and weather the storm. If Dunrun falls then that is the fate that awaits the world, the Iron Tusk will be a plague, washing, cascading, flowing like an unending river, a torrent of blood that sweeps across the land leaving death, destruction and suffering in his wake.
On orders from the Marshal at Dunrun two of the Great Eastern militia, Ctenka Sunatra and Ermund leave the garrison, embark on a mission in search of reinforcements. First, to Kantor, the Capital of the Cordral Extent for aid from the Queen and, then, onto lands further afield, to the Suderfeld for aid and allies.
On the journey, for the greater good, for the fate of the world, Ermund seeks help from associates from his past, those who before he was betrayed he once called a friend (we get insight into who Ermund really is, the truth and why in his advanced years he ended up at Dunrun and it was one of my favourite parts of the story). The journey into the Suderfeld, back into the Suderfeld for Ermund brings the duo into contact with a couple of returning faces from A Demon in Silver. One of them is down on their luck, their luck always against them, more maudlin, more sombre this time around, damaged after losses and after the events of the first book whilst the other is doing far better than the last time that we saw them thanks to some nefarious and sly means.
Along with the chapters that focus on Ctenka and Ermund and their event laden journey there are also chapters that focus on Dunrun and how the fortress is preparing for the upcoming conflict too. Ford also includes chapters that take you back in time, that add flesh to the bones, depth and layers, colour to the canvas and bridge the story allowing you to see what has happened to the characters to get them to where they currently are. All of the characters have stories to tell and all of the characters have a part to play in the unfolding story with many of their fates intertwining.
Ford is a fine storyteller and multiple points of view keep the story moving forward, giving you pieces of the whole whilst simultaneously giving you the separate stories for the characters, building, cementing foundations, forming a complete picture. There are some old faces and some new in Hangman’s Gate. It was nice to be reacquainted with the returning characters and equally nice to meet some new faces too who are all decent additions to the story both those that we say goodbye too along the way in this story and those who will return in the next book.
I have briefly mentioned, in innocuous fashion two returning (point of view) characters from A Demon in Silver that Ctenka and Ermund encounter on their journey but I won’t mention any more about them to avoid any unwanted spoilers. One of the new points of view characters is Laigon Valdyr, a Centurion from the Shengen Imperial Army. I really liked Laigon, he was my favourite story arc, he is honourable, has a large role in the story and along with his own story also gives us a glimpse into how the Iron Tusk came to power in Shengen. The cruel and barbaric Iron Tusk who is more than human, there is a power to him, a force that exerts his will over those who face him. The Iron Tusk who rides a giant bear, whose helm is melded to his head, is part of him.
For me, Hangman’s Gate didn’t quite reach the lofty heights of its predecessor, falling just short and walking a step behind but it is still a damn good book, a great continuation of the trilogy and a gritty, grimy, glorious and wildly addictive read. There is a sarcastic humour laced throughout Hangman’s Gate, many blunt retorts, and witty remarks that made me smile but I missed, yearned for the banter and the camaraderie that was present between the characters of Josten Cade and Mullen Bull in the previous book. The interplay between them was hilarious and it is the only complaint that I have regarding Hangman’s Gate, that lack of banter between the characters. Ctenka, who is a point of view character and Ermund don’t have the same chemistry as Josten and Mullen, nor do any of the others. Of course, it’s not expected, they are all completely different characters with different personalities but where Josten and Mullen complimented each other, like a sword and a sheath, a bow and an arrow Ctenak and Ermund are like chalk and cheese, water and oil very different. Ermund is stoic, taciturn and guarded with both years and life behind him and Ctenka is not really a fighter, a warrior, he’s playing at it, he yearns for glory but he isn’t cut out for battle. He is mouthy and still with the naivety of youth to him and yes, I wanted to punch him at times, like I’m sure Ermund did too. There’s nothing wrong with being a smart-mouth but a dumb smart-mouth is a different matter entirely! For the most, he is actually likeable which sounds like a contradiction but it isn’t and you want to punch him in the well-meaning ‘Ctenka, stop being a dumb fuck, open your eyes and think before you speak‘ way rather than any malicious or hateful way as he is decent, is a good guy. By the end of Hangman’s Gate, he has matured, he isn’t the same person from the beginning. He is perhaps still a fool, only the next book will tell but he is a fool who has his heart in the right place, he has grown and he is more than he was.
Hangman’s Gate is on the shorter side of fantasy books clocking in at just over four hundred pages and it feels far shorter than that thanks to the fast pacing and the short chapters. The high stakes story, the rag-tag bunch of defenders battling the overwhelming odds, the characters, the world and the Archons, everything created by Ford fits, is interesting and there is always something that draws you back, that calls to you as Ford effortlessly pulls you in, demands your attention.
Of course, the story builds towards the inevitable showdown that has the Iron Tusk laying siege to Dunrun, relentlessly pushing the defenders back, seeing them retreat to the Hangman’s Gate of the fortress as they make their last stand. I read the final two hundred and fifty pages in one sitting, as the pieces, the players all manoeuvred into position and as the story unfurled, reached its apex, its blistering conclusion I was glued to the book and what was happening.
I love everything about this trilogy and I can’t wait for the third and final volume, The Spear of Malice to be released next year as it is sure to be an EPIC and BLOODY conclusion to a trilogy that in my opinion deserves recognition and deserves to be a hit.
The War of the Archons trilogy (so far).
- A Demon in Silver (2018).
- Hangman’s Gate (2019).
About R. S. Ford.
R.S. Ford originally hails from Leeds in the heartland of Yorkshire but now resides in the wild fens of Cambridgeshire.
His previous works include the raucous steampunk adventure, Kultus, and the grimdark fantasy trilogy, Steelhaven.
You can find out more about what he’s up to, and download free stuff, here: http://www.richardsfordauthor.com/.
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