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  • Wolraad J. Kirsten

Varangian: Author's Interview

Updated: Sep 7, 2019

1. What can readers find in your book that is truly distinct compared to other recently published books in the Fantasy Genre?

Answer: “Although heroism is a common theme in the Fantasy Genre, in “Varangian” that theme is explored in incredible depth. There is, I believe, a very realistic representation of what a society fundamentally based on a culture of hero worship is like and how it colors every aspect of their lives. There is much we can learn from that. There are a great many honor and ethical codes we have lost, much to our detriment, and they now only exist in mythology. There was a time that cowardice was despised and we can only imagine how those of past heroic ages would view our casual cowardice and our tolerance of corruption and treachery. You can only imagine how they would view our politicians and what little honor we expect from those governing us. The contrast is stark and these extremes are fascinating”.

2. Are there any other elements or themes in the book that you also consider to be especially pertinent?

Answer: “There is also the theme of civilizational collapse. History and much of the landscape is pockmarked by the ruins of doomed peoples. Are these long-gone civilizations merely the hapless victims of the cyclical nature of civilizational rise and inevitable collapse? Or more interestingly, what if they were chosen for destruction by a very ancient group specializing in infiltrating, corrupting and destroying a people from inside much like a cancer? There very much appears to be a blueprint on how to destroy a society, but if discovered, can such a society fight back and save itself? Can a return to stoicism and heroics avert this path of destruction? Can a few brave souls make a difference?”

3. Do you have a favorite character and why would you choose that character?

Answer: Although I really like the elemental barbarian that Russ represents, which is very much in the tradition of Robert E. Howard’s “Conan”, I must reserve that title for Almuric Agricola. Almuric is a very layered and flawed character. Although he was once his Empire’s most decorated general, we see him lose everything—even his own sanity, yet he never loses his love for his people nor his sense of duty. Even from within the lowest pits of misery, a man crushed, mocked and derided, he still does his best to mount an attack against the near omnipotent power laying his beloved Byzantum to waste. This makes his actions far more heroic than what Russ or his ilk is capable of. We can relate to Almuric and his humanity is tangible.

4. How would you describe your particular writing style?

Answer: “The prose in this book is rather flowery. I believed the best way to fully capture the period and the magnitude of the heroics involved is to do so in the spirit of a bard singing of great heroes, though not quite as exaggerated as that, it is just enough to put the reader in the correct frame of mind. Gilded words are after all required to effectively describe a gilded age”.

5. This book is the first in a series. Where do you see the series going in the future?

Answer: “Although a good amount of world-building occurs within the book, serving as an introduction to an epic saga, the story itself is rather self-contained and can thus function independently. Readers won’t be left on too steep of a cliff-hanger at the end”.