Exclusive Interview: “Disquiet Gods” Author Christopher Ruocchio


The English poet Geoffrey Chaucer once said something to the effect of “all good things must end.” And while the exact wording of what he said has been lost to time, it doesn’t make the sentiment any less true.

Which brings me to Disquiet Gods (hardcover, Kindle, audiobook) the sixth and penultimate novel in Christopher Ruocchio’s Sun Eater series.

Though as Ruocchio explains in the following email interview, Disquiet Gods isn’t actually as close to the end of this epic science fiction space fantasy series as you might think from a penultimate entry.

Christopher Ruocchio Disquiet Gods Sun Eater

For those who haven’t read any of the Sun Eater books, or the interviews we’ve done about Howling Dark, Demon In White, Kingdoms Of Death, Ashes Of Man, or Tales Of The Sun Eater Vol. 1, what is the Sun Eater series about, and when and where do these stories take place?

The Sun Eater is an epic space opera adventure set some 20,000 years into our future, in a universe where mankind has conquered much of our galaxy basically without opposition — until recently.

A couple hundred years before the books start, the human empire encountered an alien race called the Cielcin: a nomadic, carnivorous warrior species as hell-bent on galactic domination as we are ourselves.

Our hero is Hadrian Marlowe, a young nobleman who would rather bring peace than a sword, who learns the hard way that the sword is sometimes unavoidable. The books are his memoirs, written in his own words. He tells us on page one that he is the man who ended the war and vanquished the Cielcin. The series is about how he did so, and why, and about all the things the official history has left unsaid.

And then what is Disquiet Gods about, and when does it take place in relation to the previous installment, Ashes Of Man?

Disquiet Gods picks up about 200 years after Ashes. Hadrian (who can live for centuries thanks to genetic engineering) is an old man and nearing the end of his life.

Since the end of Ashes, he has been in exile on a planet called Jadd, where he has had a daughter born from his late wife’s cell cultures. The Empire has long attempted to have him extradited so that he can stand trial for assaulting the Emperor, to no avail.

The book opens with the Empire trying another tactic: they send an emissary begging Hadrian for his help with the war effort — and a pardon. Cajoled into taking up the cause, Hadrian and his daughter, Cassandra, set out on what Hadrian believes will be his last quest: to hunt and kill an eldritch alien being worshipped by the Cielcin, a creature virtually indistinguishable from a god.

When in relation to writing Ashes Of Man and the other books did you first come up with the plot for Disquiet Gods, and what inspired this story?

Most of the story was kind of dialed in years and years ago. The original germ of what became the Sun Eater was mostly the events concerning these final two books, and so a lot of what’s coming in Disquiet Gods and book 7 is stuff I’ve had in mind for ten years or more.

The other Sun Eater books were all epic sci-fi space fantasy stories. Is Disquiet Gods one as well? Because the second novel, Howling Dark, was a bit Gothic at times, while the third, Demon In White, was also something of a political thriller.

The first three, four novels in the series all had sort of a different subgenre-slant to them. Empire Of Silence was very sword-and-sandal, Howling Dark very cyberpunk-Gothic, Demon In White was a thriller, and so on. Kingdoms Of Death was pretty dystopian, pretty horrific.

But Ashes Of Man and Disquiet Gods — and I suspect this will prove true of book 7are so far into the series that a lot of these earlier elements recur now as motifs, and I think these last three books are pure Sun Eater, if that makes sense. I hope that’s not pretentious to say, I just think by this juncture the mix that is this series is pretty dialed in. I only hope with these final volumes to deliver the pure, distilled Sun Eater experience.

Which kind of moots my next question, though I’ll ask it anyway: Are there any writers, or stories, that had a big influence on Disquiet Gods but not on any of the previous Sun Eater stories?

I don’t think so. As I said, I think the mix here is pretty dialed in by this point. I suppose there’s a bit of a wink as H. Rider Haggard in this one. Hadrian feels kind of Allan Quatermain-esque in this one, at least to my mind.

What about such non-literary influences as movies, TV shows, or games?

I can’t think of any influences on this book that weren’t already present in earlier ones.

Now, along with the novels, you’ve also published a bunch of short stories — published digitally as Tales Of The Sun Eater: Volume 1, Volume 2, and Volume 3 — and two novellas, with a third, The Dregs Of Empire, coming out late last year. For people who haven’t read it, what is Dregs about, and when does it take place in relation to the other Sun Eater books?

The Dregs Of Empire is set between book 5, Ashes Of Man, and book 6, Disquiet Gods. It follows a supporting character, Lorian Aristedes, through at least a part of his story in the two centuries between those two books.

The Dregs Of Empire takes place on an icy planet that’s used as a prison. Which immediately made me think of Rura Penthe, the Klingon ice planet prison from Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Was that part of Star Trek VI an influence on Dregs? Or maybe Hoth, the icy planet from Star Wars that’s like a prison?

So, I have never seen Star Trek VI. The extent of my Star Trek exposure, honestly, is limited to a handful of episodes of TOS and TNG, The Wrath Of Khan (which I love), and the J.J. Abrams films (which I do not — though the new cast is quite excellent). My parents weren’t really Star Trek people, and so it wasn’t on much growing up.

There’s certainly some Hoth in the planet in Dregs (which is called Belusha), and perhaps some of Arrakis — but cold.

What then do you feel had a big influence on The Dregs Of Empire? Both literary and not.

The major influences were Solzhenitsyn’s A Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich, which is a fictionalized account of his own time in the Soviet gulag archipelago, and Lawrence Of Arabia (which I am never not thinking about, I find).

Going back to Disquiet Gods, this was to be the penultimate novel. From what you’ve said earlier, it sounds like that’s still the case?

That is still the case. Book 7 will make an end of things.

And are there also plans for more novellas, a fourth volume of your Tales Of The Sun Eater, or maybe print version of Tales with every story?

Yes, yes, and yes! I plan to write a fourth novella (probably from Valka’s perspective) after I complete book 7 later this year.

As for the short stories, I intend to write a new one for each volume of the deluxe editions I complete in the coming years, and so a fourth, fifth, and possibly sixth volume of the Tales Of The Sun Eater eBook series is going to happen. A hardcover omnibus of all the stories in Volumes 1-3 will be appearing, probably in 2025 / 2026. I anticipate that one day, there will be two volumes of all the outstanding Sun Eater short fiction, but that second one will be a ways off.

So, is there anything else you think people need to know about Disquiet Gods?

Only that it was far and away the hardest of the series to write thus far (and I expect book 7 will exceed it by the end). There’s one chapter in the book that took me as long to write as the entirety of The Dregs Of Empire.

Finally, if someone enjoys Disquiet Gods, and they’ve read all the other Sun Eater books, what epic sci-fi space fantasy novel or novella of someone else’s would you suggest they read while waiting for book 7 to come out?

I’ve recently been reading Alastair Reynolds’ House Of Suns for the first time. I’m a great fan of Reynolds, so I think people should go read that, if they haven’t.



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