Title: Call Your Steel
Author: G.D. Penman
Genre: Dark Fantasy
Publisher: Azure Spider Publications
Publication Date: October 15, 2017
In the sky above there was no sun.
For millennia beyond reckoning the Eaters of the Gods ruled over this sunless world, waging their secret war on each other through their Chosen, mortals granted a fraction of the Eaters in human powers in exchange for a life of servitude. Kaius counts himself among their hallowed ranks, devoted entirely to his brutal duties. Lucia is no more than a travelling minstrel, albeit one who found herself in the very worst place at the very worst time. How could mere mortals like them stand up against the vast alien power of the Eaters of the Gods?
Malius called his own steel, it rippled out from behind his back and engulfed him, settling into the familiar pointed visor over his face and a long straight sword in his hand. His voice came out of it, echoing ominously in the manner associated with the Chosen, “Repetition of the Forms is for these amateurs.” he gestured to his trainees, “Let us see if you can score a touch on me.”
They bowed to each other politely, eyes never leaving one another, then they moved blindingly fast to close the distance between them. In the beginning they were striking at each other tentatively. Neither was pressing their luck, both obviously had a wary respect for the other’s abilities.
Enhanced by the uncertainty of their years apart. They began to fall into a rhythm, parrying and swiping at one another, never over-extending or taking risks. Malius spoke softly, over the clatter of steel normal hearing would not have detected it.
“I hope you understand exactly how much I have done for you. Back when you were first selected for service I had to argue with the other Marked to get you a decent posting away from the city. I had to fight every year to keep them from recalling you. They thought that it was spite, that I held some grudge against you from your training but the truth is you do not belong in the city Kaius.”
They broke apart and circled each other slowly, legs crossing behind one another as they side-stepped. Then for an instant Malius called speed to close the distance and his strikes came in a shimmering flurry.
Kaius stopped thinking and kicked out under Malius’ relentless hammering strikes. The older man leapt back out of reach and set his blade in a high guard, leaving his legs conspicuously open to attack, he started speaking again as he probed Kaius defences with feints.
“You don’t belong in the city. You were born out in the dark and that is where you find your comfort. I saw that from your very first day here. You flinched from the light that the other children were drawn to like moths. I saw your purpose back then. I could see you raised up to the rank of Marked without you challenging my position here. No matter how skilled you were with the steel. How clever you were in your studies. You would never be a Master. Because that would trap you here with the civilised people.”
Malius spun forward and when he came around to strike he had a sword in each of his hands, he used them together, one striking after the other, calling strength and shattering the rhythm of defence.
Visit the Call Your Steel page at Book Unleashed.
Enter the giveaway to win a Call Your Steel Print Copy (US Only)
October 10 – 31, 2017
Enter the Goodreads giveaway for another chance to win a copy of Call Your Steel (US Only)
September 20 – October 15, 2017
G.D. Penman writes fantasy fiction. He lives in Scotland with his partner and children, some of whom are human. He is a firm believer in the axiom that any story is made better by dragons. His beard has won an award. If you have ever read a story with monsters and queer people, it was probably one of his. In those few precious moments that he isn’t parenting or writing he continues his quest to eat the flesh of every living species.
Guest Post by G.D. Penman:
10 Fun Facts About Call Your Steel
• Number 1: You Are What You Eat
The Eaters of the Gods are firmly in charge in the world of Call Your Steel. Their relative strength and the elemental powers that they claim dominion over depends on which of the nightmarish alien gods they snacked on before recorded history began. All of the surviving Eaters worked together to kill what is now known as “The Blacksmith” so that is why all of their minions can call on the power of steel to protect and arm them.
• Number 2: Rule 63 is Alive and Well
In the first draft of Call Your Steel, Kaius’ was female, but because the protagonist of my other books Heart of Winter and The Year of the Knife was a woman, I decided to switch things up a little and let a man experience all the joy of sexual harassment at the hands of his crusty old boss instead. Since sexism isn’t relevant in Call Your Steel, there wasn’t any specific gender coding to any given roles.
• Number 3: Let Me Get This Straight
There are no heterosexual characters in Call Your Steel. Not one. Kaius is our Asexual protagonist and everyone else is either gay or somewhere on the bisexual/pansexual sliding scale like Lucia. You can pretend that they are straight if it makes you feel better, or write fanfiction about it, hell you could write your own book with straight people if you want.
• Number 4: Everybody is a Rockstar
In the world of Call Your Steel, Kaius is a minor celebrity among the nobility because of his selection as one of the Chosen of Negrath. Out in the darklands where most of humanity subsists, a travelling minstrel like Lucia is one of the most exciting things to happen all year.
• Number 5: Kicked in the Ghuls
Named after the traditional Arabic monster that H.P. Lovecraft drew on to create his cannibalistic subterranean beasts, the Ghuls in Call Your Steel actually display some of the physical symptoms of long term cannibalism, including the beginnings of an outbreak of kuru!
• Number 6: Meet the Eaters
The four surviving Eaters all have faintly significant names. Negrath is named after Lovecraft’s Shub Niggurath. Vulkas is named after Vulcan, the Roman god of metalworking. Walpurgan is named after Walpurgisnacht, the “Witches’ Night” of myth. Ochress is named after the sandy colour, to signify his connection to the sea without getting too obvious about it.
• Number 7: Sing Along
The editor of Call Your Steel originally asked for me to write out the lyrics to the songs that Lucia sings. After receiving an email full of my appallingly rhymed lyrics, the subject was never broached again.
• Number 8: Political Writing
Call Your Steel is set in a dystopian autocratic society that the heroes want to overturn and replace with a fairer system of government. So, politics do creep into things a little. Having said that, please don’t assume that the character’s politics are mine or that the outcome is what you think it is going to be. There are subtle hints dotted throughout the book that the ending of this story is different from what it might first appear.
• Number 9: Firstborn
Call Your Steel was the first full length novel that I ever wrote and it took me years before I got the confidence to submit it, so by the time that it had finally done all the rounds of being submitted and returned and all the rest it had been so long that I barely remembered parts of it. It was full of surprises.
• Number 10: Apex Predators
The ecology of the world of Call Your Steel is totally different from earth due to the lack of sunlight. Insects have come to the fore, while mammals have died back. The apex predator out in the desolate darklands are actually owls which have grown to an immense size thanks to their ideal adaptation and a little help from Walpurgan.