Mike was the second person to send me a drawing. It was this.
I burst out laughing. Then I wiped the coffee droplets off my screen, and googled his name. On his website, I found this:
The question I get asked the most is, “What gave you the idea to write about a world where writing disappears when someone dies?”
That’s tough to answer. I remember when the idea occurred to me, and I think there are two parts to it. The first is that history is already manipulated by the “winners” and those that write it down. How much of what we “know” is actually true?
The other thought was that there is already so much lost knowledge in our world. How much more would be lost if we lived on a world like Aithe? Even small wonders of technology would seem like magic if they had been lost for centuries. The words themselves would become the real magic.
And I thought, oh, wow. I need to read this book. So I went and bought it…
There’s a whole freaking lot to like about it. The pacing is delicious, the story told in patiently crafted glimpses of various people’s lives, perceived through their eyes as the POV shifts from chapter to chapter, giving each of the main protagonists a chance to reveal their inner thoughts and emotions to the reader. Some scenes are told twice from different views, pitting what one person thought had happened against what really happened. The world is rich and immersive and the author moves about in it as if he felt at home there (which he probably does, according to his website he used it for roleplaying sessions, so he’s bound to know every nook and cranny). Mike also, obviously, loves his characters (even if it’s tough love for some), and he manages to make a reader care about them, too, and deeply. The term “emotional rollercoaster” comes to mind. Take for instance the disappearing writing: Many of the characters carry scraps of paper with signatures of their loved ones. Now imagine the moment they realize that one of those scraps is blank, the frantic shuffling as they decipher name after name to figure out which one is missing… I could gush on, but I’m nearing spoiler territory, so I won’t. You’ll just have to trust me that the story is brilliant.
I had my tiny little beefs with one aspect as regards use of language – did you have to use terminology from modern day psychology to describe your medieval-style characters’ state of mind? – but that probably won’t matter to many readers. And while I’m being honest… the editing/proofreading… Sorry, Mike. I read the reviews on Goodreads, to see if the issue comes up anywhere, but it doesn’t, so either I’m a pedantic nerd, or no one else cares anymore (and I literally send friend requests to people who point out spelling mistakes in memes, so… make up your own mind). Also, this is a debut novel, and we all have a long way to go before we find our editor feet. My first ever book was an absolute mess, and I’m still grateful to the girl who had the guts to tell me. Which means, yes, I was annoying enough to actually message Mike about it. He didn’t ignore or downright hate me for my unsolicited criticism, so here’s hoping he’ll sit down for a round of polishing. Long story short, give him a few weeks, and then get yourself the book. I’d heartily recommend it either way.
Oh, the title is – you may have already guessed it from the drawing – The Traitors We Are. Here’s where you can get it.