Paladins are nothing but trouble. Stories about paladins are everywhere, noble warriors riding magic steeds into battle against terrible foes.
Welcome to the September 21st stop on the blog tour for Beginning of Arrogance by Bryan Cole with Goddess Fish Promotions. Be sure to follow the rest of the tour for spotlights, reviews, more author guest posts, and a giveaway! More on that at the end of this post.
Please note that this post contains affiliate links, which means there is no additional cost to you if you shop using my links, but I will earn a small percentage in commission. A program-specific disclaimer is at the bottom of this post.
Author Guest Post
The role and nature of gods in fantasy literature
One of the pervasive problems that I find is that the impact of religion in fantasy novels feels… minimal, in most cases. In worlds where the gods are tangibly real, I’ve read so many stories where the impact of this knowable truth doesn’t drive character behavior and motivations. I wrote Beginning of Arrogance specifically because I wanted to see a story where people were confronted with this reality and forced to adapt.
In my world the gods are real, and people have two paths to dealing with them. Most deities, like the Greek and Roman pantheons, are broken into spheres of influence. ReckNor, the god our protagonist Krell worships, is the god of the seas and skies, drawing inspiration from Poseidon and Neptune, but also Tiamat, Susanoo, Wadj-Wer, and many others.
The first path people can choose is one of aligned worship. The swearing of oneself to one particular deity, treating it as the singular source of worship. This represents about two thirds of the people living in the world, often in jobs that closely align with that deities’ interests. In Watford, a fishing community, most people are sworn to ReckNor, as their lives and livelihoods depend on the sea. In this scenario, they are relying on the protection of ReckNor to shield them from any inadvertent blasphemies against other gods.
As an aside, it’s an interesting point that with dozens of deities, all representing different aspects of the world, it would be impossible to do anything without offending another faith.
The second option is essentially distributed worship, where a person does not swear themselves to any one god, but worships any or all of them, each in their relevant domain. Chopping down a tree? Offer prayers to Udar, the lord of strength. Meeting with the town council? Offer prayers to Uldall, the lawgiver. Starting a fire in your hearth? Whisper a prayer to Phlogos, the fire lord.
Gods in my setting derive power from the worship of them, gaining strength, which they spend on their priests and paladins to shield the faithful from harm. The more followers, the stronger the god. Beyond that, though, are the aspects the gods represent. ReckNor is the god of the seas and skies. Every time anyone, whether a follower of Hieron the just or Dazguroth the tyrant or someone else, looks at the sea and marvels at its beauty, ReckNor gains a sliver of power. Likewise, whenever anyone forces someone to do as they say, Dazguroth gains a sliver of power. These aspects shape the faith in innumerable ways, but ReckNor’s faith is deliberately unstructured. The birds of the sky and fish of the sea do not know or care about boundaries, so neither does ReckNor’s faith.
Every deity was crafted with a duality, because I detest the idea of solidly good or solidly evil. I believe there are shades of good and evil in all things, and the gods of my setting reflect that. The duality of ReckNor is that he demands that you choose and accept the consequences of your choices. ReckNor takes as much pleasure in the child looking at the sea with joy in their heart as he does in the pirate reaver running down another ship. This freedom to interpret faith is, historically speaking, an extremely weird mindset to have, since most societies based on monarchical rule would be heavily regimented, discouraging free choice in favor of conformity. This tends to make followers of ReckNor social outcasts, treated as insane followers of a mad god, and in subsequent books in the series we’ll see how Krell is excluded from some of the political circles of power that exist simply because he follows ReckNor. ReckNor is not mad, though – not like the deity of the main enemy in book one is.
If the gods deliver miracles with regularity, then that should be a massive change to how society operates. A simple spell of healing, that wipes away injury, means that the persistent injuries that plague people even today, as well as many of the infirmities of old age, should be non-existent. Let alone more powerful types of healing or miracles.
This would have a profound effect on people. It is one of the key elements of a fantasy story that I wish I would see more often, and this is my contribution to the genre. At the point of Krell’s sword!
About the Book
Beginning of Arrogance
by Bryan Cole
Published 29 June 2022
Page Count: 435
Add it to your Goodreads TBR!
Paladins are nothing but trouble. Stories about paladins are everywhere, noble warriors riding magic steeds into battle against terrible foes. Champions of their gods. Heroes to everyone, except those who already have everything. Paladins are notorious for upsetting the balance of power, to the detriment of any who don’t worship their deity.
So when Krell is called to service by the capricious god of the seas and skies, ReckNor, those with wealth and power can’t help but be concerned. ReckNor hasn’t called a paladin in years, and his nature is ever-changing and erratic. The fact that Krell is also an uneducated nobody with a stubborn streak as wide as the sea turns their concerns into fear.
All of which matters less than the threat clawing its way from the waves, ready to turn the ocean red with spilled blood…
“You’re certain you won’t stay the night?” Petimus asked, hunched over the charter.
Krell shook his head. “It’s a short walk back to Watford, and the council is probably waiting to hear from us quickly. We should be there shortly after sunset.” Petimus nodded, then set his quill aside and picked up a candle. He fished a block of red wax from the case he had brought with him, then held the flame to it over the charter.
When a blob of melted wax had formed, Petimus took a ring from his finger. He ran his thumb over it, muttering to himself several times. Krell could make out the cadence of words of power, but hadn’t the faintest idea what he was doing. Petimus then pressed the ring into the wax, which glowed briefly for a moment.
Petimus stood and looked at the companions, then reached out his hand to each of them in turn.
“My thanks, then, for the recovery of our fallen, and for slaying the things that attacked and killed them. The clan-speakers will hear the tale of your deeds. Know you’ve made at least one friend among the dwarves, all of you.” Petimus bowed to them, handed the charter to Orca, then led the way toward the gate.
“If you’re setting out now, I doubt you’ll want to wait around any longer. Rain stopped for the time being, but no clue what condition the road — if you can call it that — will be in. May the Forge Father guard your path and the Fire Lord light your way!” Petimus slipped the bar from the gate.
Krell grinned. Olgar had taught him many things about arms and armor, but he had much to learn. In his religious training, Olgar had been exceedingly thorough.
“My thanks for the ward of Rold, the Forge Father, and the warmth of Phlogos the Fire Lord’s breath. Your hearth and home were warm and kind, and may Rold reward you for being a gracious host! Until we meet again, Petimus Smithforge, and may ReckNor turn his baleful gaze away from you and your kin!” Petimus stood, staring slack-jawed at Krell, as everyone else filed past.
About the Author
Bryan is an avid reader, and has loved the fantasy genre since he was a child. His love of stories of mighty knights, terrible dragons, and noble steeds has inspired him for decades.
Bryan Cole will be awarding a $15 Amazon or B&N gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.a Rafflecopter giveaway
|Fabulous and Brunette
|Eye-Rolling Demigod’s Book Blog
|Sandra’s Book Club
|Lisa Haselton’s Reviews and Interviews
|All the Ups and Downs
|Kit ‘N Kabookle
|Our Town Book Reviews
|The Avid Reader
|Long and Short Reviews
|It’s Raining Books
|The Faerie Review
Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.