I read and became a fan of Jon Sprunk's with the Shadow Saga. To see a new series starting has thrilled me.
Please welcome Jon to the blog to share about the adventures we will be on.
M: Hi Jon! I’m thrilled to have you by to share in your new release, Blood and Iron. Congratulations! Can you tell us a bit about the new book?
Jon: Thank you for having me here. I’d love to! Blood and Iron is the first in a four-book epic fantasy series. The main story revolves around three people. Horace is a shipwright and sailor stranded on the shores of his nation’s enemy, an ancient empire which is ruled by nigh-omnipotent wizard-kings and -queens. Alyra is a slave and a spy for a foreign government. Jirom is a former mercenary taken into slavery and forced to fight for his life as a gladiator. These three characters possess the potential to change the empire forever, if they’re willing to pay price.
M: Okay, covers don’t always relate to their books. But you had the talented Jason Chan do this amazing artwork. With Jason, it has to relate well with your book. What do you think?
Jon: I’m beyond thrilled. Jason is amazing, as you said. And he captured the individuality of these characters. I also want to thank my art direction, Lou Anders, and his staff for putting together such a stellar cover.
M: We have some sea voyage here. Ahoy! Will there be much time spent on ship?
Jon: Some time, yes. But the majority of the book takes places on dry land. I’ve always been fascinated by old-time seagoing vessels. I think it would take a lot of guts to sail beyond the sight of land in something powered only by sails.
M: The series is called The Book of the Black Earth. There is a tiny string of a relation to the Shadow Saga here. Can you explain?
Jon: This series takes place in the same fictional world as my Shadow Saga books, but in a different region with new characters. There is no direct cross-over, although events in one location can affect the other. For instance, Horace’s arrival in the empire is the result of the religious crusade I mentioned in the Shadow books.
M: The land we see here, Akeshia, has a completely different sound to it than what we saw with Caim in the Shadow Saga. Very dangerous and powerful. Can you tell us about the magic here and the impact of the God-Kings (Queens)?
Jon: The people of this land worship magic as a divine force. And because the ability to use magic is hereditary, it makes for an interesting society where magical talent actually (usually) trumps other forms of mundane power. The God-Kings and God-Queen are typically very powerful wizards; they literally have the power of life and death in their hands.
For this setting, I drew heavily on the cultures of ancient Babylon and Egypt. One thread that bound those together in my mind was the powerful effect that the supernatural world and belief systems had on everyday life. By inserting magic into the equation, I was able to play on the theme of power and control in a different way.
M: Sounds like there are many elements here to keep us on our toes. What scene did you find to be the most fun to write?
Jon: Definitely the one where [SPOILER ALERT] . . . .
Honestly, the ending, because it’s the most challenging part, and thus the most rewarding.
M: What was more challenging for you in this new adventure and new characters?
Jon: The seed of this series actual began more than twenty-five years ago. It’s been brewing in the back of my mind, off and on, for so long that it felt very natural. The story, the culture, the characters – they just came together for me.
M: It sounds like there is politics, magic, culture, action, and oh so much more in one place. How do you balance it all when writing?
Jon: That’s the difficult part. It’s a juggling act. I work hard to find the right scenes to portray my story and my world. Outlining beforehand helps immensely, but I still do a lot of reconstruction in the editing phase.
M: Jon, I have to say, I’m glad release day is here because I’m going to get me a copy of this book.
Jon: Thank you so much, Melissa. Your support, and the support of your readers, means so much to me.
M: I wish you all the best in words and pages.
Jon: The same to you.
You can now check out Excerpts online:
Chapter 1 excerpt, Chapter 2 excerpt
Blood and Iron
By Jon Sprunk
Set in a richly-imagined world, this action-heavy fantasy epic and series opener is like a sword-and-sorcery Spartacus.
It starts with a shipwreck following a magical storm at sea. Horace, a soldier from the west, had joined the Great Crusade against the heathens of Akeshia after the deaths of his wife and son from plague. When he washes ashore, he finds himself at the mercy of the very people he was sent to kill, who speak a language and have a culture and customs he doesn't even begin to understand.
Not long after, Horace is pressed into service as a house slave. But this doesn't last. The Akeshians discover that Horace was a latent sorcerer, and he is catapulted from the chains of a slave to the halls of power in the queen's court. Together with Jirom, an ex-mercenary and gladiator, and Alyra, a spy in the court, he will seek a path to free himself and the empire's caste of slaves from a system where every man and woman must pay the price of blood or iron. Before the end, Horace will have paid dearly in both.
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