Please join me in welcoming author Lee Hunt to Stories That Make You Smile. Lee has a fabulous fantasy book that’s now out in audio! Read on for an informative interview, excerpt, and giveaway!
All about the enemies
Q. Who are the antagonists in Knight in Retrograde (KIR)?
A. Nimrheal, Skoll and Hati, the skolves, the Seygis Knights
Q. Skoll and Hati are two powerful demons. How come we see so little of them?
A. KIR isn’t really about them, although they are a brutal, physical, foe. We do see their effects throughout the story: on Heylor, on castles in the wilderness. They have a historical impact. And they do eventually need to be faced.
Q. Do we ever learn more about them?
A. In my new prequel book, Last Worst Hopes, we come to understand Skoll and Hati better.
Q. The skolves are also never really engaged on a personal level. Why not?
A. I might argue that Eloise and Gregory engage the skolves very personally, but I take your point. We do not know what the skolves want, and certainly never hear their voices. We do learn about the skolves through the Dynamicist Trilogy, but that learning is quite subtle. We know they respond to force, that they are territorial, and they appear to worship … something. However, they are an unreachable species and we can never truly know them.
Q. What about the Seygis Knights? What kind of enemy are they?
A. An awful one. They are an enemy absent compassion or moral limitation. They are the endpoint of narcissism and an unbounded self-oriented confidence. In almost every way, they are the opposite of the order of the Deladieyr Knights, and in one way they are the same.
Q. How are the Seygis Knights like the Deladieyr Knights?
A. Both orders require absolute single-mindedness.
Q. I notice that you don’t mention the protestors as an antagonistic group.
A. The protestors certainly behave antagonistically in KIR, but Robert Endicott would be unhappy if I suggested that they are enemies.
A. Setting aside lawbreaking and violence?
Q. If you can …
A. That aside, it is a bad idea to treat people who disagree with you as an enemy. Or as evil or hopeless.
Q. The protestors seem pretty bad in KIR.
A. They are frightened and anxious. Their world is changing in ways it had not before. And to exacerbate the situation, the being who taught them to fear change at a visceral level has returned and they feel helpless.
Q. You mean Nimrheal, the transcendental being who formerly murdered inventors.
A. I do. The protestors may have a real-world analogue, but they also illustrate the damage that Nimrheal had done to people, to their attitudes and what they will allow themselves to aspire to.
Q. Oh, people didn’t just get over their fear of change when Nimrheal left?
A. No. in the real-world, fear of change can be traumatizing enough, but in the world of Dynamicist, change-makers were punished. It was frightening.
Q. What is the worst thing that fear of Nimrheal did to everyday people?
A. By punishing the innovative, Nimrheal likely persuaded some to believe that there was something inherently wrong with being creative.
Q. And so we come to Nimrheal. Is Nimrheal the worst antagonist in KIR?
Q. Below is an excerpt from KIR in which you define Nimrheal. Why is this being described in such ill-defined terms?
“Whatever it was, it moved fast. It was faster than Marielle Engel, taller than Hemdale, and hidden inside some kind of moving, roiling shadow. The shadow was not a cloak, though it looked like one. It was not clothing at all. It was an expression of something … else … intruding on Eloise’s perception. Somehow the creature was at once larger than a building yet shrunken down to the size of a person, albeit a large one. It was invisible to the eye, existing at right angles to sight, but too appalling not to be imaged as something. It did not speak. It made noises beyond hearing that sounded like screams or shouts. Whatever the creature was, it was unknowable. It had no face, no armor, certainly no name. There was no rational knowledge or true understanding of it to be had.”
A. Several reasons. First, it is frightening. Second, this helps the reader understand how difficult Nimrheal will be to fight. And most importantly, Nimrheal is an enemy of the mind, of misinformation of degrading and preventing knowledge. It is a stultifying force that—unlike the protestors—cannot be reasoned with or understood. Nimrheal is in many ways beyond the ability of all the characters to deal with.
Release Date: Tuesday, March 1 2022
Word Count: Long Novel / 147,000 words
Cover Artist: Jeff Brown
Genres: fantasy, epic fantasy, magical realism, dark fantasy (not a romance)
LGBTQ+ Identities: It is quite subtle, but all the Methueyn Knights are pan-sexual, and there is a sex scene that is pansexual
Tropes: Uncovering the past, Going forward or going backwards, secret past, unlikely hero
Keywords/Categories: Unlikely heroes, fantasy, grimdark, thoughtful, change, philosophy, moral relativism, existential, scientific, thermodynamics, physics, mathematics, strong character, strong female characters, worldbuilding, reimagining, epic fantasy, new release, audio, audio book, trilogy, giveaway
Series Title: The Dynamicist Trilogy (Book 3 – Books should be read in order)
1 – Dynamicist
2 – Herald
Also available in eBook and paperback formats.
Would you trade uncertainty for stagnation, chance for god, invention for inertia, thought for dogma?
Four years have passed since the events of Dynamicist and war is on the horizon.
Robert, Koria, Eloise and Gregory went to the New School, hoping to change the world. They thought that mathematically based dynamics, the enlightened age’s answer to wizardry, would give them the power to make everything better. Their hopes were naïve.
Protestors are condemning the creation of a new vaccine. The city is seeing a series of hangings; is it murder or sacrament? The cloaked man is back stalking students. The long-absent demons Skoll and Hati reappear and begin slaughtering whoever they meet. But the real question is, will Nimrheal return? If he does, who will die first?
Uncertainty is inspiring fear, and inventions are not making the world better, only more complicated. The terrified civilians don’t want dynamics and reason. They want the word of Elysium and the return of the Methueyn Knights.
Koria fears the world faces an awful conundrum: that if the Knights return, Nimrheal will stay.
Will Robert, Koria, Eloise and Gregory choose to transform into angelic knights or, at the cost of such heavenly communion, instead banish Nimrheal? What price will be paid? If a new Methueyn Knight rises, will the age of invention disappear forever?
The Dynamicist Trilogy examines the difficulties of change in a fantasy setting. This challenge manifests itself through a rigorous magic system where thermodynamic cost is accounted for, and an inventor killing god. Most realistically, the challenge of creating a better world is illustrated by the many mistakes and miss-steps of the well-meaning and intelligent characters. The power and importance of memory, love and hope are ever present.
As their eyes met, Heylor found himself abruptly pulled away from the handshake and whirled around by the strong hands of his mother on his shoulder. “What in Leylah’s long night happened to your face, Heylor?”
“It looks like he got trampled across the gizzard by a team of oxen,” said Herevor in a deadpan voice, rubbing his long narrow jaw with his right hand. His fingernails were black with dirt.
“He wouldn’t tell me what happened!” Shelley yelled from the kitchen table.
I don’t want to talk about it.
“Who’s there?” came a new voice from the couch. It was grandma’s broken, warbly twitter. Heylor peered into the den again and saw her slouched low on the half-collapsed couch. Beside her, perched primly with a straight back, sat Constable Lynwen, hands on lap. Heylor had not seen the young woman cross the room and sit down. He had forgotten about her completely, and now there she was beside his grandma.
“It’s me, Grandma. Heylor.”
The old lady squinted at him. She seemed little more than a bundle of thin, wrinkled skin, looking as if she had lost another two inches of height in the months since Heylor last saw her. Looking at her, spine hunched like a question mark and eyes rheumy and clouded with cataracts, felt like a stab in the gut.
“I thought you were out there across the line.”
“I was.” Heylor looked at Lynwen again, sitting beside his grandma. What is she thinking? “I’m back. Where are Heyden, Scrandeyn, and Helloise?”
Jesteyn crossed her arms. “They’re out farm-handing, Heylor. We told you that at the beginning of the season.”
“Sorry, I forgot about the farm work,” Heylor mumbled. “It’s probably a good thing they’re not here.”
“Why’s that?” Jesteyn asked, eyes narrowing. “They’d love to see you. You know that.”
“Why would they?” Heylor spread his arms wide in a surge of frustration. “They must be glad to be away from here. I can’t believe all the junk you have here.”
Herevor flinched for a microsecond before breaking into a mad grin that exposed every one of his missing teeth. “One knight’s junk is another knight’s armor.”
“Oh, for knights’ sake,” Heylor exclaimed, “why is there a wheelbarrow full of cats in the fireplace? What knight is going to make plate out of that? The cat would be better armor! And isn’t that Shelley’s sextant on the bookshelf? She lives in the orchid now. I do remember that. And isn’t that my old cooper’s kit spread out on the shelf yonder? And why do we have three busted telescopes? I’m sure I threw away the bronze one after second year. What is all this stuff doing here?”
“I needed a place to store my spare things,” Shelley replied evenly. “My room in the Orchid isn’t big enough.”
“Those rooms are huge!”
“Nope.” Shelley was not flustered in the least.
Heylor clenched both fists so hard his face hurt where Skoll had gripped it. “What about the cooper’s kit?”
“Heygard thought we should hold on to it for him until harvest is done,” his father answered nonchalantly
“Oh, of course,” Heylor whispered. “What about the telescope I know I threw away?”
“I think I can fix that,” Grandma piped up.
You? You can barely stand up!
“Well, that accounts for one telescope. How about the other two?”
“That’s me,” jumped in Herevor. “I thought I would see if I could make a small version of an Eindarch Eye.”
Heylor blinked. “Did you succeed?”
Heylor shook his head. Of course you didn’t. “How about the old wheelbarrow?”
Herevor rubbed his jaw again. “Scrandeyn didn’t want it anymore. I figured it could come in handy. Someday.”
“Of course! Of course it could. Someday,” Heylor almost shouted, angrier than ever. Everything about his family reminded him of himself, of his own failings, of killing his friends. In that moment, he despised them like he despised himself. “It’s come in handy for the cat at least. Whose cat is that anyway? No, don’t answer, I know it came from a cousin or was thrown away by someone somewhere. Everything is useful, everything comes back. From everyone. Nothing is trash. It’s all worth something. My hand-me-down clothes probably got handed back and used for another cat’s nest.” He whirled around. “You know what this family is? Sick, crazy hoarders. It’s an illness. You’re so bad that, even when one of you finally throws something out, it gets thrown back by some other member of the family. When they throw something out, you take it. It’s a circle, a circle of junk, a knights-damned hoarding circle! We should study it in the New School. It’s a mathematical singularity for trash. Nothing ever leaves that doesn’t re-enter. There’s no escape from the entropic pull of the Style family’s hoarding circle vortex! No junk is abandoned, no mistakes are left behind, nothing is forgotten or moved on from.” Heylor held his hands up and whirled slowly around. “This might be a big new house, but we’re still just the same old peasants.”
Heylor’s jaw rung for the second time that day, this time from the big hand of his own mother.
“My face already hurts, Mom! Don’t hit me.”
“I love you, boy, but I know that hurts less than what you’re carrying.” Jesteyn had hit him, but she did not look angry. Her liquid eyes betrayed a different emotion. “What mistakes aren’t you leaving behind? What pain are you hoarding? What happened to your face? It’s your family here. The only way yer gonna get rid of whatever it is, is to share it.”
Heylor started laughing. “That’s so clever, Mom.” He kept laughing and didn’t stop until his nose started running because he was actually crying. Through blurry eyes, he looked over at Lynwen, sitting silently, watching. “I’m sure you want to leave now, Constable.”
“Nope.” Lynwen smiled.
Ever try to do things you were really not well suited to? Lee Hunt understands. He was born with only one working lung, but has gone on to be an Ironman triathlete, a sport rock climber, and a professional geophysicist. The poor lung function has been an excellent excuse for his unimpressive triathlon performance—he is among the worst of those able to complete the Ironman under his own power—and is of some service in eliciting a modicum of sympathy for his average at-best skills as a climber. Actually no one on a rock wall really cares about excuses. It’s a climb-or-fall kind of thing.
His marginal ability to breathe is of no use whatsoever in explaining his career as a geophysicist. He was good at that. Lee published close to fifty journal papers, articles or expanded abstracts, has been awarded numerous best paper awards, and was even sent on a national speaking tour to Canadian universities by the Canadian Society of Exploration Geophysicists. He was born on a farm but grew up near the giant oil sand mines of Fort McMurray and is interested in discussing the environment and the amorality of science. He is also useful at parties in explaining the physics around why, or why not, fracture stimulation might be a risk to manmade structures and the fuzzy cuddly things of nature. Lee’s career helped him appreciate the difficulty in predicting outcomes, the dangers of arrogance—such as thinking you can predict even the smallest thing—and the exigent need to try anyway. He was comfortable and happy being a geophysicist, so after twenty-eight years, he quit to go do the things he was less well suited to.
If you want to hang out with Lee, look for him hiking, cycling, floundering in a lake, clinging desperately to a wall, or at his desk trying to write an entertaining story.
Author Website: https://www.leehunt.org/
Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100052376555360
Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/DynamicistAuthor
Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Lee-Hunt/e/B082YFTMCK
Lee is giving away a $30 Amazon gift card with this tour:a Rafflecopter giveaway