[A debt is owed to Adam Whitehead over at the Wertzone, where I first saw this.]
As you can see from the graphic above, Voyager have commissioned some pretty interesting and connected artwork for David Chandler’s upcoming fantasy series, The Ancient Blades. (There’s an obvious nod to the artwork adorning Joe Abercombie’s novels, so I guess we can assume that’s the market they’re pitching this to.) The series has been on my radar for only a short while, but after seeing it mentioned on Voyager’s website, with scant detail (clicking on the title sends you to an error message, at the time of writing), my interest has been well and truly piqued.
Part of the difficulty in hunting down information is that there was some confusion as to who it was actually written by – Amazon UK list it as being written by David Wellington, but Voyager has assured me (via Twitter) that it is, in fact, by David Chandler (as made clear by the artwork). Technically, it’s written by both, as Chandler is a new pseudonym for horror author David Wellington.
The Ancient Blades sounds like a series that will appeal to fans of Brent Weeks, Doug Hulick, Scott Lynch, and Jon Sprunk, and has been described as:
“A mix of pulp and high fantasy, at turns funny, suspenseful, and touching, David Chandler’s Ancient Blades trilogy is laden with twists and turns, high adventure, a little romance, and a lot of fun.”
Which all sounds rather cool, if you ask me. It’s odd that they’ve chosen a style that matches one of the bleakest (I shall not use ‘gritty’) series in fantasy for one that is described as “a lot of fun”, but I quite like the art, and especially that it forms a panoramic-whole. (Speaking of linked artwork, another impressive example of this approach is David Farland’s Runelords series, published by Orbit, in which all eight novels form a larger image when put together.)
Here’s the synopsis for the first Ancient Blades novel, Den of Thieves:
Croy is a knight errant, and bearer of an ancient blade with a powerful destiny. He’s also kind of, well, dim. He believes in honour. He believes that people are fundamentally good, and will do the right thing if you give them a chance.
Unfortunately, Croy lives in the city of Ness. A thriving medieval city of fifty thousand people, none of whom are fundamentally even decent, and who will gleefully stab you in the back. If you give them a chance.
Ness is also the home to Malden. Malden is a thief. He lives by his wits, disarming cunning traps, sneaking past sleeping guards, and running away very fast whenever people are trying to kill him. Which is often. One time Malden stole a crown. And then he had to steal it back to avoid a civil war. Croy got the credit, of course, because he’s a noble knight. Another time the two of them went into the tomb of an ancient warrior race, and Croy accidentally started a barbarian invasion. Guess who had to clean that up?
They probably wouldn’t be friends at all if it wasn’t for Cythera. Cythera is a witch. A mostly-good witch. And despite herself she can’t stop thieves and knights falling in love with her… At the same time.
This does sound like it could be a lot of fun. All three novels will be published by Voyager in 2011: Den of Thieves in July, A Thief in the Night in October, and Honour Among Thieves in December.