Faithless by Graham Austin-King. Book review

Faithless by Graham Austin-King, Fallen Leaf Press

Reviewed by Shona Kinsella

There are so many things to like about this book that I’m not sure where to start.

The setting is wonderfully imagined and richly drawn. Almost the entire book takes place in the temple of the Forgefather or in the mines and underground city below it. As the book progresses, the setting becomes more oppressive and the author has engineered it brilliantly, having literal darkness echo the darkness inherent in the plot.

Wynn and Kharios are weak, at times selfish, definitely flawed. And yet, they are compelling, the situation they find themselves in prompts the reader to ask what they would do if caught in similar circumstances. How many of us would really be any better?

I’m a big fan of religion in fantasy – as anyone who has read my own work is likely to guess. As a key human characteristic, I think it’s just too big to ignore and Faithless is ultimately about religion. The book walks a fine line between showing the beauty and strength that can come through religion and the possible abuse of the power it confers. The ritual and rites are beautiful and well thought-out while the bureaucracy and hierarchy are questioned.

There are elements of Faithless that are difficult to read – passages of violence and the violation of trust – but they are necessary for the full development of the plot.

I enjoyed this book so much that the author has been added to my very exclusive ‘buy on release day’ list and I’m currently sourcing his back-catalogue. Highly recommended.