Armies of giants, a bard, and kenning, oh my!
A Plague of Giants by Kevin Hearne will publish later this year and astute epic fantasy readers have already put it on their reading lists. It is a story that Hearne — who writes the bestselling Iron Druid Chronicles — has wanted to write long before he became a published writer.
Certain stories require an author having enough experience to tell them. This is true for Hearne, who destroyed most of the first draft of A Plague of Giants when he returned to it two years ago. It took Hearne writing numerous urban fantasy novels to be prepared for this epic fantasy — and luckily for us, the time has come for the Bard to finally tell his giant-plagued tale.
I decided to ask Hearne a few questions about A Plague of Giants, Book One of The Seven Kennings trilogy.
Enjoy the interview below!
Unbound Worlds: A Plague of Giants is publishing October 17, 2017. Tell Unbound Worlds readers about the book and how it differs from your Iron Druid Chronicles?
Kevin Hearne: A continent that has enjoyed centuries of peace is abruptly attacked by two different giant armies and its people must figure out how to stop forces that appear unstoppable. It’s a second-world fantasy and has nothing in common with Iron Druid — this is a completely new thing. And it’s truly epic, twice as long as any of my Iron Druid books at 624 pages.
UW: What does epic fantasy require, in your opinion? And how does A Plague of Giants fulfill those requirements?
KH: The first epics required a bard like Homer or Virgil, a poet who’d tell a portion of his story in nightly installments to a rapt audience around a hearth somewhere. I wanted to try to replicate that experience for modern audiences in prose, employing a bard to tell an audience of refugees about how the Giant Wars played out across the continent, how people who had no intention of becoming heroes stepped up when the occasion demanded. But mixed in with that are looks at how people deal with the aftermath and find a way forward when their world has fundamentally changed. Structurally I think it’s unusual, to say the least; I hope that readers enjoy the experience of being entertained by the bard.
UW: I love the idea of a bard being a framing device for a much larger tale that he has been privy to in his life. Is the bard an unreliable narrator? Is this something the reader must decide upon?
KH: Oh yes, there are people who harbor a deep distrust of the bard and insist that he’s peddling lies. There are others who feel his story is true, necessary, and even cathartic. Still others are positive he’s a spy hiding his ulterior motives behind a veneer of affability. The reader must decide if it’s true or not.
UW: Brandon Sanderson has said that he had the idea for Stormlight Archive a long time ago but wasn’t a good enough writer to write it correctly. The idea for A Plague of Giants existed before Atticus. How does it feel to finally get to publish this enormous story? And is it a stronger book having had to wait to write it?
KH: Yes, I’ve had this in mind for more than ten years now. My first draft of it, written before Hounded, was 240,000 words. After writing seven Iron Druid books I came back to it and realized almost all of it had to go. I kept nine lines and portions of the map I’d drawn and started over, telling a much different story in the same world and keeping it to 210,000 words. I would not have been able to do it this way without the experience of writing so many other books, and I am super geeked to share it with everyone soon. It’s going to have some visual goodies in there as well, including my own map and some illustrations from Yvonne Gilbert.
UW: Is A Plague of Giants a stand alone? Or part of a larger series? A cliffhanger?
KH: It’s the first volume of a trilogy called The Seven Kennings. The second will be called A Blight of Blackwings, and the conclusion will be A Curse of Krakens. Each of the first two volumes will resolve a rather important conflict while continuing some others.
A Plague of Giants by Kevin Hearne will publish October 17, 2017! We will be featuring more about Hearne’s new epic fantasy series as the year progresses!
And the Bard will tell his tale…