Q&A with Sebastien de Castell + #Crownbreaker Review!

Come near, come far and welcome to the Q&A with Sebastien de Castell. My co-blogger @Angelhearte has avidly been reading The Spellslinger Series over the last couple of weeks. So of course I had to let him compose the questions and there is also a review for Crownbreaker at the end. -Luna

Sebastien de Castell had just finished a degree in Archaeology when he started work on his first dig. Four hours later he realized how much he actually hated archaeology and left to pursue a very focused career as a musician, ombudsman, interaction designer, fight choreographer, teacher, project manager, actor and product strategist. His only defence against the charge of unbridled dilettantism is that he genuinely likes doing these things and that, in one way or another, each of these fields plays a role in his writing. He sternly resists the accusation of being a Renaissance Man in the hopes that more people will label him that way. Sebastien lives in Vancouver with his lovely wife and two belligerent cats.

Follow Sebastien www.decastell.com or on Twitter: @decastell

Q&A with Sebastien de Castell

Which actor would portray Kellen and why?
I like Chandler Riggs who played the role of Carl in The Walking Dead. He’s got a naturalistic acting style, looks good without being either too rugged or too pretty, and captures that stoicism that Kellen’s always reaching for.

What was your creative thought process for Jan’tep magic?
I try to situate magic within a culture and its geography as much as possible. That’s why all the forms of Jan’Tep magic are based on things that might be meaningful to a people who lived on the edge of a desert: iron, ember, breath, blood, sand, silk, and shadow. Each of those is both familiar to people living in that place and has a symbolic connection to the type of magic. For example, we associate silk with softness, wealth, and seduction, and that’s why silk is the form of magic connected with illusion and mind control. For the Jan’Tep, magic is a form of natural science, which is why they tend to view it as having a very structured system involving the five components of every spell: envisioning with the mind, somatic shapes with the hands, anchoring the spell to a target or an object, the syllables that activate it, and, of course, the will power to control the spell.

What inspired this? (Why did you want to write this/these books)
So much fantasy is about someone living in the mundane world who comes to a magical place and discovers they have tremendous powers and a grand destiny. My life didn’t work that way, nor did the lives of most people I’ve known. So I wanted to write about someone who lives in a magical culture and expects to become a famous mage themselves, only to lose their abilities and be forced to find a new path – one that finds wonder in what they always believed to be mundane.

Fate/Destiny – What do you think about this process?
I don’t believe in either fate or destiny, which is why the Argosi don’t believe in it, either. What does exist are all the forces that were put in play before we came along and the choices we’ve made. Those all lead us towards certain likely outcomes, and understanding what those outcomes are so that you can make the decision to either pursue it or change course is an important part of becoming an adult.

How much weighting does Tarot have on Argosi cards and if none, where did the motivation come from?
I’m always had a huge fascination for tarot cards – the way each one tells a story yet when you combine them you can create a near infinite numbers of new and more complicated stories. What makes Tarot readings a bit of a con is the idea that the cards you happen to choose are the “right” ones, but what makes it fascinating is that every combination of cards can reveal something interesting about you.

What would be your Argosi path? If you could have done one thing differently, what would it be?
I’d like to say it’s The Path of Swords and Stories, but in truth it’s probably The Path of Too Many Toblerone Chocolate Bars. As to what I’d do differently? Well, there are loads of mistakes I’ve made in life, but since they all got me to this place where I’m married to the love of my life and writing novels for a living, I don’t think I’d risk changing any of them.

Kellen’s transition from teenager to adult is filled with troubles. Do you think that all young persons in their teens would benefit from having a Ferius to teach them to question?
I think most of us do have those people in our lives trying to teach us to question our assumptions. The problem is that we don’t always listen. I know I didn’t when I was a teenager. My every act of rebellion was itself a kind of conformity – shaping myself to what I figured looked like being “different”. Fortunately, lessons we first encounter at one time in our lives have a way of coming back around when we’re ready to learn them.

Did you know how things would end before you started?
I knew what each book was going to be about generally, but not how the series-long arcs would conclude. One of the biggest revelations in Crownbreaker only came to me as I was writing the book and realized something I’d been subtly placing in the books all along – without being aware of it – could only lead to this one moment. Not knowing how it’s going to end is part of the fun of being a writer!

Who do you like more? Falcio or Kellen? Why?
I admire both of them in different ways. Falcio because he refuses to give up even when I’d have crumbled into a ball on the floor long ago, and Kellen because he’s got such good instincts for trickery and finding ways around otherwise unsolvable problems. I probably think a bit more the way Kellen does than I do Falcio, but both the First Cantor and I have a definite love of long-winded speeches.

If you had a “business partner” What species would it be and why?
Well, squirrel cat, of course. How else would I pull all the big jewel heists I have in mind?

What is the questions you wish someone would ask but they never do?
“Would you like to be a political pundit on our television news broadcast?”

CROWNBREAKER is the page-turning finale to the The Spellslinger Series – the critically acclaimed and globally published fantasy series filled with dramatic tales of tricks, trials, duels, romance and magic.

‘Hugely enjoyable – fast-paced, compassionate, wise and with terrific characters… I love the humour and the thoughtfulness as well as the plot’
– Amanda Craig on SPELLSLINGER

‘A cracking read, fast-paced and witty, with an excellent squirrel-cat sidekick’
The Bookseller on SPELLSLINGER

‘This is one of the best young-adult novels I’ve seen in a long time – larky, clever and slick.’ The Literary Review ON SPELLSLINGER

The game of war is always rigged . . .

Kellen and Reichis are settling into their lives as protectors of the young queen. For the first time Kellen feels as if he’s becoming the kind of man that his mentor Ferius had wanted him to be. Even Reichis has come to appreciate having a noble purpose – so long as no one minds him committing the occasional act of theft from the royal treasury.

But thousands of miles away a war is brewing that the Argosi always warned could destroy the continent. An unexpected source brings word that there’s one way Kellen can prevent a hundred years of bloodshed, and all it requires is a little murder . . .

Now Kellen and his sister Shalla find themselves on opposite sides, and neither love nor loyalty can protect them from the choices they must make.

A dramatic, laugh-out-loud tale of betrayal, romance, magic and the discovery of one’s true nature, this coming-of-age story with a twist is perfect for fans of The Dark Tower, Firefly, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Hunger Games, Terry Pratchett, Ben Aaronovitch and Jim Butcher.

Crowbreaker Review: Firstly, thanks to Sebastien and Hot Key for sending me this lovely hard back review copy.

To backtrack a little, I tentatively bought the first part in this series a couple of months ago rather hesitantly as I predominantly read adult fantasy, however – As I have read the Greatcoats books, I thought I would give it ago and honestly, have not regretted it at all. I read book one over a few days, then the next 4 in under a week!

Crownbreaker is all out from the opening scene, Kellen doing his usual solo (despite his friend’s best efforts) hunting of the people hunting him. He has not been a wanted man for some time now, after the events of book 4, but people still chase him and it’s good to see he is still thinking on his feet, non-stop tricks and well thought out escapes in mind. Reichis is back with him as well as a few new faces as the Argosi predictions of war start to come together and he is manipulated on all sides to go against his moral fibre for every other faction’s ideal of greater good.

The plot is fast paced, a great mix of action, cleverness, intrigue, suspense, gods, magic and religion with the fate of all known nations at stake. It’s broad, detailed and a fantastic world which is easy to imagine. I loved it. The way the book ends is warm and open, my only disappointment being a lack of closure in terms of Shadowblack – Kellen accepting himself but I feel like there was so much more potential there. Still, maybe it will be explored via another outlet as Kellen’s story is finished.

Well done, Mr Author, you wrote another spellbinding series and I heartily recommend it!

Review by: @Angelhearte

CROWNBREAKER by Sebastien de Castell, the 6th and final book in the Spellslinger series, is out now in hardback (£12.99, Hot Key Books)

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