It is with great pleasure that the Luna Family welcomes with open arms, the fabulous Anna Smith Spark! In 2023 Anna's new novel, A Woman of the Sword, will be launched at Eastercon.
I have always been a great fan of Anna's work, and I immediately fell in love with this story. A Woman of the Sword is an epic fantasy seen through the eyes of an ordinary woman. Lidae is a daughter, a wife, a mother — and a great warrior born to fight. Her sword is hungry for killing, her right hand is red with blood. War is very much a woman’s business. But war is not kind to women. And war is not kind to mothers and their sons.
Anna's storytelling transports you along through the ebbs and flows of war and life, seamlessly weaving a gritty, compelling world that will remain with you long after you finish the book.
And we have a special gift for you all: Anna has recorded a short reading from the book, which you will find on our YouTube channel (link at the bottom of the post).
I am delighted to confirm that the cover art will be created by the very talented Stas Borodin
(IG @stasborodinfantasy) and we can't wait to share the cover with you all!
From Anna, about the book:
A Woman of the Sword started in some strange way as a joke: ‘Who would you be if you were any of your characters?’ ‘I’d definitely be the unnamed grunt who dies on page two.’ My trilogy Empires of Dust was about great people, kings and leaders and people who’d been there from the beginning, who had ‘a role to play’. Writing the last book in the trilogy, I became more and more interested in the experience of the grunts, the anonymous soldiers in my world-conquering evil army, who fight and march and die for —what? The enjoyment of their twisted evil hearts? A king they’ve never seen? Glory? Because it’s a steady job? That war might offer someone more opportunity for advancement than, say, indentured labour in a sweatshop, is hardly a revelation. But the question remains, unanswerable, haunting —what do they think about what they’re doing, these men who make more money sacking other people’s cities than they ever could have done living in their own city at peace? And what do their families think, as their own city booms on the profits of war, as their son the butcher sends money and prestige back home to them? If I was offered those opportunities, or my children were offered them, what would I say?
When the news came back to my mum, that Anna Smith Spark, was mentioned in dispatches for special valour in reducing Tyrenae to a desolate ruin: none were left alive there, their blood was as a great river and much of it she, with her strong right arm, shed. They gave me a bag of gold for doing so well there, and I’m sending it home to you to pay off the mortgage so you can retire now, mum!—what would she say, my mum? Thank you? Well done?
I say what would I say, what would I do. But of course in much of history and even more of historical military fiction and epic fantasy, as a woman I wouldn’t do or say anything. That grunt who dies in battle on page two: at least he dies doing something. The Silence of the Girls, Male Fantasies, A Feast for Crows: war is man’s work, women suffer it, endure it, end up dead. Yet women must also have been able to find opportunities in war. Your city lies in ruins, the government is overthrown, mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, the men of your household are dead—for many women, yes, there is only more suffering, enslavement, sexual violence, flight from the dreary oppression of their home life to the agony of the refugee camp. But for some women, surely, there’s the chance to escape? We know that recent wars offered women opportunities for independence; it seemed unlikely that pre-modern wars would have been any different. We have always fought, as we say, and I am sure we always have and always will. And yet, and yet, the questions remains, more haunting still now, more terrible: how would I as a woman feel about the opportunities war offers?
We sacked Troy today, mum, dragged Cassandra away to be raped and Polyxena to be slaughtered, threw the child Astyanax head first from the walls, took old Hecuba as a slave, I’m fine btw, sending you and dad all my love. War is man’s work … I like to hold on to that lie. That women … aren’t part of those things. But if we’ve always fought … we always were part of those things?
So, then: all these opportunities, this new status, this freedom for even a lowly woman to be as a god or a king. And then peace comes, order is re-established, those possibilities … end. The King Returns. The patriarchal class system returns with him. What happens then, when the chaos and the killing and the freedom ends?
A Woman of the Sword is about a woman (okay, yes, about me) living through that. Trying to answer those questions. What would I be? What would I feel? What would I do? How would I live?
About the author:
Anna Smith Spark is the author of the critically acclaimed, Gemmell and British Fantasy Awards shortlisted Empires of Dust grimdark epic fantasy series The Court of Broken Knives, The Tower of Living and Dying and The House of Sacrifice, as well as short stories set in and around the series’ world. Her books have been described as ‘a masterwork’ by Nightmarish Conjurings, ‘an experience like no other series in fantasy’ by Grimdark Magazine, ‘literary Game of Thrones’ by the Sunday Times, and ‘howls like early Moorcock, converses like the best of Le Guin’ by the Daily Mail. Her favourite authors are Mary Renault, W.G. Sebald, R Scott Bakker and M. John Harrison. Previous jobs include English teacher, petty bureaucrat and fetish model. You may know her by the heels of her shoes.
Facebook: Anna Smith Spark
And now go enjoy Anna's reading from the book on our YouTube channel! Relax for a few moments, and follow Lidae, Samei and Ryn into their world.
A Woman of the Sword will be released April 2023.