With Fallen Gods (paperback, Kindle), writer James A Moore is continuing the grimdark fantasy trilogy The Tides Of War he started last year with The Last Sacrifice. But in talking to him about this second book of three, he not only mentioned the influence of fellow fantasy writers, but some sci-fi shows as well.
First off, what is Fallen Gods about, and how does it connect, chronologically and narratively, with the previous book in The Tides Of War series, The Last Sacrifice?
Fallen Gods takes place almost directly after the end of The Last Sacrifice, and it continues the same tale of Brogan McTyre trying to set right all that goes wrong when he tries to save his wife and family from being sacrificed to appease the gods. It’s not a happy story by any means, and while Brogan is trying to figure out the best way to stop the end of the world, the world is, in fact, ending. Not surprisingly, a lot of people want Brogan dead or captured.
There are a lot of subgenres within fantasy. Is there one, or a combination of them, that you feel best fits Fallen Gods and the rest of The Tides Of War trilogy?
The newest movement, or one of them, is grimdark. I think it fits there. Near as I can tell, grimdark is kind of like Sword & Sorcery, only in longer form and without quite so much cheeriness. That’s sarcasm; there’s not a lot of good cheer in the average Conan tale by Howard.
In the previous interview we did [which you can read here], you said The Tides Of War was a trilogy. Without spoiling anything, as you were writing Fallen Gods, did you change anything substantive from when you originally came up with the idea for this series?
No, not really. I tend to plot things loosely, which lets them evolve as I write, and in this case very little changed. The biggest challenge I had was reining in a few of the characters who wanted to run off and make their own adventures. I’m always both surprised and amused when that happens.
Are there any writers or specific stories that you feel were a big influence on Fallen Gods, but did not have a similar impact on The Last Sacrifice?
Good question and not one that’s easily answered, if I’m being honest. I’ll say Michael Moorcock, because I started rereading some of the Eternal Champion books while working on Fallen Gods, and his prose has always had an impact on me. Elric and Corum in particular are long time favorites, and I read a bit of both while working on the story.
Also, though I wasn’t reading them again, I thought about the Thieves World anthology series, edited by Robert Aspirin, when working out the areas where civilization was getting pushed together. I always thought the setting was deliciously decadent and rotting and I wanted that sort of flavor for the cities of the Five Kingdoms.
How about non-literary influences, such as movies, TV shows, or video games? Did any of them have an influence on Fallen Gods?
Oh, yes. HBO’s Westworld series played heavily in my mind when I was working on Fallen Gods, and I think that definitely added a bit of flavor. Battlestar Galactica, the remake, also had a lovely sense of dystopia to it that I think added another layer of flavor and desperation.
As we mentioned, you said earlier that The Tides Of War was a trilogy. Is that still the plan?
Definitely still the plan. I have actually finished the final book’s first draft at this point, though I suspect there will be some heavy changes made. I’m a very big proponent of harsh editing, and Phil at Angry Robot made suggestions to Fallen Gods that I feel made it a much better book. I fully expect the same in the case of the final volume. But, yes, I’m rather limited by the fact that this is an apocalyptic series. Mind you, there are gods at play, so anything is possible.
Obviously, if someone is interested in The Tides Of War, they should buy Fallen Gods now. And maybe a couple more times, just to be safe. But should people wait for the third book in this series to come out before reading them all in a row, or is there some reason to put space between reading The Last Sacrifice, Fallen Gods, and the third book?
While they can be read back to back, I have no problem with giving time between volumes, especially because I kind of leave Fallen Gods with a game changing revelation, and I love when people get stuck thinking about the possibilities of how events will end up.
So has there been any interest in making a movie, TV show, or video game based on The Tides Of War novels?
Well, no one has knocked on my door yet, but if they did I’d certainly be willing to discuss the matter. Hear that Netflix and HBO?
Honestly, I tend to have a lot of wheels turning in my machinery, and for that reason I’ve had several people tell me a series like Game Of Thrones would be the way to go with almost any of my works. There’s a lot of players, and a lot going on, and a lot I could have fun expanding.
I also wouldn’t mind at all seeing a video game, but I have absolutely no idea how that sort of thing would be handled with a series like this.
If it was to be made into a TV show, who would you like them to cast in the main roles and why them?
Half the cast of Vikings would have fresh work in The Tides Of War TV series. Seriously. I could easily see Jonathan Rhys Meyers [who played Heahmund] carrying off Brogan, and either Travis Fimmell [who played Ragnar] or Clive Standen [who plays Rollo] as Harper. Though I could also see Jason Flemyng [X-Men: First Class] doing an excellent job as Harper.
And if was made into game, what kind of game and who should make it?
Ubisoft should make the game, but only because I know their work is solid and I have a friend who produces for them. That, or make it a new expansion for World Of Warcraft.
Finally, if someone has already read The Last Sacrifice and Fallen Gods, what fantasy series should they read while waiting for the final book in The Tides Of War trilogy to come out?
You can’t go wrong with Michael Moorcock, David Gemmell or Glen Cook, but I’d also seriously recommend the Shattered Sea trilogy by Joe Abercrombie [Half A King, Half The World, Half A War] and, of course, my Seven Forges series [Seven Forges, The Blasted Lands, City Of Wonders, The Silent Army]. I have a bias on that last one. Also, the Noreela series by Tim Lebbon is amazing. I just recently read Blood Of The Four by Lebbon and Christopher Golden, and that’s an incredible read.