Happy Publication day to The Night of the Swarm, the final book in The Chathrand Voyage Quartet! We are delighted to finally be able to share the conclusion to this thrilling quartet with you. To celebrate Simon discusses his love of fantasy and ships.
I love fantasy. I love ships. Especially the grimly beautiful ships of the line of the great navies of the 18th and 19th centuries. There is something profoundly engaging and deeply unsettling in the skill of the shipwright and the crew member combining in a hand-crafted, elegant and spirited (why are ships women?) vessel to bring maximum and terrifying violence to bear on its enemy. Whether in contemporary accounts or in the fictions of Forester, Kent and O’Brian the combination of elegance and brutality encapsulated in these ships and the crews who fought and died in them is something that has had a huge impact on me and many other readers.
So when the concept of The Chathrand Voyage was pitched to me (a fantasy set on a massive sailing ship, an ancient, enchanted, haunted ship the size of a supertanker) I was, of course, very excited.
Doubly so as the series begins with the news that this marvelous ship and the 800 souls aboard have been lost.
But successful fantasies are not built simply on the world, let alone the ship, they are set on. They are built around the trials and tribulations, the triumphs, loves and disasters experienced by the characters. So who sails on the Chathrand to its various magical destinations? Who were the souls who may have been lost?
A teenage tar boy and the high born girl he can never hope to be with? So far so familiar you might say. But Pazel carries a curse not a promise of greatness and Thasha is destined to be little more than a pawn to be sacrificed in a diplomatic game. How will that work out?
And then there’s the sorcerer. But he’s trapped in the body of a mink. What about the captain of the Chathrand, the ultimate power in this floating kingdom? Well he’s haunted and could well be going mad. And then there’s the villain of the piece, a man who wants to unleash the nothingness and death of the Nilstone on the whole world. We don’t even know who he is. Or where he is.
The characters make this a tale of secrets and betrayals and mysteries. It’s all about the overwhelming of expectations. The cruelty of hope as the world tips towards ruin. The strength and the desperation that love can bring.
Oh, and it’s about the Ixchel. A race of people six inches tall. But these are no pixies, no fairies. The ixchel have been enslaved and hunted. And their fear and their anger is needle sharp.
And they are fighting for their lives against the rats on the Chathrand. And one of those rats is waking. Finding language, finding self awareness.
The Chathrand Voyage is a rich fantasy and original fantasy. It sometimes feels a little like Scott Lynch, sometimes like Philip Pullman. But it is profoundly its own creation and you wont have read anything quite like it.
Take a journey on the I.M.S Chathrand. You’ll never forget it.
The The Night of the Swarm is out now where all good books are sold.
Watch the stunning series trailer here.