To celebrate the release of The Bloody Quarrel, the second in Duncan Lay’s The Arbalester Trilogy, I have the author stopping by to speak about the magic of Star Wars and the importance of interesting and deep characters. But first, a little about the book:The Bloody Quarrel: The Complete Edition (The Arbalester Trilogy #2) by Duncan Lay
Published: February 11th 2016 by Momentum Books
Format: Ebook, 614 pages
Goodreads ● Buy the ebook
The prince is dead.
Fooled by the treacherous King Aidan, Fallon has shot down the one man he trusted to save his beloved nation of Gaelland. And yet, when the King could grind Fallon underfoot, he draws the simple farmer and fighter closer, making a hero of him.
Embroiled in plots beyond his comprehension and weighted with the guilt of the prince's murder, Fallon must tread carefully if he is to accomplish the task that first brought him to the cursed capital: rescue his wife, Bridgit, and the rest of his village from Kottermani slavery. If he and his hopelessly ensnared men can survive, they may yet find redemption.
Meanwhile, across the ocean, Bridgit is rallying those around her to spring an escape. But who can be trusted? The ever-present danger of traitors and liars among the slaves, and even among her fellow Gaelish, is poison to her plans.
With an ocean between them and fouler nightmares looming, Fallon and Bridgit will be driven to their very limits to escape their prisons, find each other, and bring justice to Gaelland.
This epic fantasy is perfect for fans of Robin Hobb and Joe Abercrombie.
Star Wars and Fantasy
The new Star Wars movie does not seem to have much to do with fantasy at first glance, although it is a science fiction fantasy, but it does have some hugely valuable lessons for fantasy authors and indeed for any writer.
Ignore them and you would be in more trouble than a Stormtrooper caught telling his mates that Darth Vader looks silly in that helmet.
Like many of my generation, Star Wars had a huge effect on me. It was the first movie I saw at a cinema and blew me away. It is no coincidence I began writing, at age seven, after seeing it on the big screen.
Yet, like many, I was nearly driven away by the pitiful prequels. The only way they could have redeemed themselves is if Anakin Skywalker had lightsabred Jar Jar Binks into little pieces at the end. Sadly, that never happened.
But the overwhelmingly positive reviews The Force Awakens has received shows they have learned from the diabolical prequel trilogy that sacrificed everything – plot, characterisation and humour – for another flashy computerised effect.
I have not yet seen The Force Awakens but numerous reviews mention how much Han Solo is in this new movie.
That is a brilliant move, because Han was by far the most interesting character in the original three movies. By turns heroic, self-serving, sardonic and inspiring, he had far more depth to him than the real “hero”, Luke Skywalker.
One of the new characters, a former Stormtrooper turned Rebel called Finn, also sounds like a fascinating prospect. A man who signed up to fight – possibly because he had no other options – only to discover he hated who he was fighting for and deserted to the other side. Now I would watch a movie about that alone.
Why? Because they are interesting characters, rather than anything else.
By the standards of the 1970s and 1980s, the special effects in the original movies were amazing although, judged by today’s eyes, they were pitiful. But people did not watch it for the effects. That was the mistake George Lucas made with the prequels. He thought that because the effects were so much better, the movies would be better. Instead, he nearly destroyed his audience.
If even Liam Neeson can’t make a character interesting, you know there is something fundamentally wrong with them. He was like Greedo with Han Solo in the Mos Eisley cantina, thinking he had them at his mercy, only to learn too late the audience were blasting him under the table.
But while it’s easy to sit back and say whoever green-lighted Jar Jar Binks should be slowly roasted over an open fire by a bunch of hungry Ewoks, the prequels show a common problem with much of writing in general and fantasy in particular.
You can worry too much about the fripperies and peripheries of the story and forget about the heart.
And characters are the heart of a story. If you have characters people will love, they will follow the story, no matter where it takes them. They want to get to the end, even if they have Boba Fett and an army of bounty hunters chasing them. If you’ve got Jabba the Hutt chasing you, you don’t have much to worry about of course. He moves about as quickly as Yoda gets to the point during a speech.
Anyway, the key is the character. Unlock great characters and you are away.
That’s one thing I have tried to do since I was seven years old. Although, these days, my characters are more like Han than Luke. They’re so much more fun.
The appeal of Duncan’s books, for me, has always been in his characters. The worldbuilding is great and the plotting is superb, but his characters are incredibly compelling.
A huge thanks to Duncan for writing the piece, and for Momentum Books for organising this wonderful opportunity 🙂