Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Robert V.S. Redick Interview - Sidewinders

Photo Content from Robert V.S. Redick

Robert V. S. Redick is the author of the Chathrand Voyage Quartet ( The Red Wolf Conspiracy and sequels), among the most beloved and critically acclaimed epic fantasy series of recent years.

Redick is a former faculty member in the Stonecoast MFA program and an environmental justice consultant. He has lived and worked in Indonesia, Argentina, Colombia, and many other countries. Master Assassins (Talos Press, 2018), the first book in The Fire Sacraments trilogy, was a finalist for the European Booknest Award for Best Novel, and was featured on numerous Best of the Year lists.

Redick is currently a Visiting Professor with the University of Nevada, Reno’s MFA Program. He lives with his partner in Western Massachusetts.

Publisher ‏ : ‎ Talos (July 6, 2021)
Publication date ‏ : ‎ July 6, 2021
Language ‏ : ‎ English


"Master Assassins was one of the top 2 or 3 books I've read in the past decade, so [Sidewinders] had a LOT to live up to. And it did a fantastic job—I pity the next book I read having to struggle out of the shadow of this tome… Redick has built something magnificent here." —Mark Lawrence

"Sidewinders is a triumph in every single way to its predecessor and one of the richest worlds you can find in the fantasy genre today... Revisiting the desert lands of Urrath is the equivalent of rediscovering a long-lost passion." —Under The Radar SFF Books


“This book has everything I love: Clean, crisp worldbuilding. Characters that live and breathe. A story that teases and surprises me. I like Master Assassins so much I wish I'd written it, but deep down, I know I couldn't have written it this well.”—#1 New York Times bestselling author Patrick Rothfuss

“The prose is spectacularly good. Your adrenaline will flow. Your emotions will be toyed with. You will find yourself drawn in, turning the pages and worrying that fewer and fewer remain. I read a lot of good books. Quite a few very good books. This is one of the rare 6-star series openers I’ve encountered.” —Mark Lawrence, author of Prince of Thorns and Red Sister

“Robert Redick really nailed this one. What a great story! Fascinating plot and characters, and all of the author’s formidable skills at play. I cannot wait to read the next one.” —New York Times bestselling author Terry Brooks

"Redick’s powers of invention in this book are superb. He manages to reinvigorate his chosen mode of heroic fantasy by sheer force of description, his language always muscular, vibrant and well-calculated. The cast of characters is vast and believable . . . A hell of a ride." —Paul di Filippo, Asimov's

“An exquisitely written mix of heart-stopping action, masterful storytelling, and enchantment. Redick is a gifted wordsmith with a ferocious imagination. Master Assassins will produce many sleepless nights. I guarantee it.” —New York Times bestselling author Mira Bartók

“A blazingly smart thrill-ride of an adventure. The world of Master Assassins is deep, mysterious, terrifying, and utterly real, and I'll follow Redick's heroes, the mismatched brothers Kandri and Mektu, wherever they go in it. I can't recommend this book highly enough.” —Daryl Gregory, author of Spoonbenders

“Redick’s long-awaited return to fantasy is the start of a truly satisfying epic.” —B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog, “The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Books of 2018 So Far”

“Subtle and layered, evocative and true.” —Michelle West, Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine

“With spare, sharp-edged prose, Redick balances his rollicking adventure story against a tale of love and uneasy brotherhood, offering a thrilling glimpse into a world both haunting and haunted. His finest work to date.” —Jedediah Berry, author of The Manual of Detection

“An at once engrossing, entertaining and superlative read. The world building is epic and the characters developed well within the movement. I look forward to this series and the continuation of the Brothers Hinjuman quest.” —Koeur’s Book Reviews

“[A] taut, deftly-plotted story. . . carries the drama and suspense without collapsing the weight of building a world and setting up a few more books’ worth of storyline.” —B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog

“Though it is only April 6th, and there are many books left to read this year, Master Assassins has cemented itself in AT LEAST my top 3 books of the year, maybe even #1. It is that good. . . . I recommend Master Assassins to everyone. Period.” —FanFiAddict, 5/5 Stars

Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
Stories are part of our biological hardware: all evidence suggests that the human mind is built to use stories as a structure for thought itself, and can no more resist making stories from our experiences than a music box can resist playing "Twinkle Twinkle" when you wind the key. They're the oldest, sturdiest tools we have for making sense of our lives and our place in this universe. Like any tools, they can be used for good or evil purposes--just look at the last few years--but without them we'd be lost. And by "story" I mean a lot more than what we see between the covers of a book. Our memories are stories. So are the little bio paragraphs we put on our websites. How we relate to friends and family is a product of the stories we tell and believe about our connection to them, how they see us, what our shared past means. How we care for or abuse the planet is deeply tied to the stories we tell ourselves about what we want and deserve. And when it comes to fiction--well, that's a chance

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
I honestly don’t have just one. But I can say that the times when I’m most certain that this is the life for me are when I hear from readers who have felt lifted, sustained, or somehow given gifts of delight by my stories. Nothing compares to that. I’ve gotten such messages from soldiers on deployment in Iraq, from people in addiction recovery programs, from people undergoing chemo, from children in wheelchairs. And of course from a lot of people without those visible challenges but who had a need or a hunger for what my stories could offer nonetheless. The money's awful (so far), the work's endless (forever), the isolation's tough. But the happiness I can sometimes generate: that's what rocks.

Can you tell us when you started SIDEWINDERS, how that came about?
I started SIDEWINDERS just days after turning in the final edits on MASTER ASSASSINS, the previous book. That’s how it goes with a series: if you’re lucky enough to have readers, they'll want the next installment fast, and you want to give it to them. But of course it doesn’t matter how fast you write if the book's not excellent. Quality comes first, or ought to.

As for the overall series: I didn't realize this at first, but it's really a house I've built for things and people who haunt me. I'm fascinated by deserts (they are so much more than seas of sand!) and desert peoples. I'm obsessed with cities under siege. I'm forever revisiting the emotional tangles and tug-of-war between siblings, or those who are as close siblings.

I'd also grown frustrated with a certain kind of fantasy adventure story. I felt like we epic fantasy writers really needed to up our game. War and violence are physically and psychologically maiming. The act of killing is something many never fully recover from, and no one is unchanged by.

And I think every day about the poor. Especially the poor in the global South, where I've worked for decades. I wanted to tell an epic fantasy at least partly from their point of view--not Chosen Ones or princes in disguise, but villagers, rural people of humble origins, to whom something extraordinary happens.

Which of your characters do you feel has grown the most since book one and in what way have, they changed?
What a great question. SIDEWINDERS is just Book II in the series. But as it happens, in Book I we get glimpses of the early childhoods of a number of characters. Looked at in that perspective, it's a toss-up between two women. One, Ariqina, is abandoned on the streets when she's six years old. By her mid-twenties she's clawed her way to an education as a doctor, founded a clinic for the poor, met the world's most brilliant physician and followed that physician across a continent to join the fight against a 300-year plague. Quite the change, no? Along the way she's managed to steal the heart of Kandri, the main point-of-view character of the trilogy, who realizes while still in his teens that he's met the love of his life.

The other woman, known only as The Prophet, is imprisoned and abused in a brothel as a child. By the time she's an old woman, she's led and won a war that liberates her people from centuries of bondage, gone on to become their Messiah, and then, tragically, lost her mind. The just war she started has now become a war of conquest, and she's become the most dangerous person on the planet.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I'd like to introduce Kandri, my hapless peasant-soldier whose lover abandons him, to Florentino Ariza from Love In the Time of Cholera. Kandri would be his twentysomething self, and Florentino would be the very old Florentino from the last chapter of Garcia Marquez's novel. They'd have a coffee (both characters drink it like water), and Florentino would assure Kandri that he's not insane, that there's no greater thing one might do in life than give away one's heart, that even if he must spend his whole life trying to find his love again he must never betray his soul by giving up. They're both kind of nuts that way; they'd be fast friends.

Tell me about a favorite event of your childhood.
This may strike you as a strange "favorite" to choose, but I think you'll see why at the end. When I was a kid, my maternal grandparents had a lovely wooden boat called The Fair Lady, which they'd use for fishing, crabbing and picnics in all the bays and sheltered waters along the Virginia/North Carolina border. The boat was small--maybe 16 feet long--with an oversized outboard engine. Really too small for the open sea. But on one calm day when I was 9 or 10, my grandparents took me out through the Oregon Inlet, into the Atlantic. I don't know if I'd been begging to see the "real ocean" or if my grandfather was looking for fish. But I do remember the thrill when we got out there, into big, smooth swells that the boat climbed up and slid down, over and over, like a giant carousel. I remember watching the shore zip by, small and bright and distant, and thinking that that was the edge of the world.

And then it all went south. The wind picked up. The waves grew tall. My grandfather realized quickly that we needed to hurry back through that inlet into safer waters. But when we approached, we found that the waves in the inlet had become really dangerously violent. We were outside in an ever-more-dangerous ocean, looking at the safety of Pamlico Sound but unable to enter it. Time and again, he tried to steer us through. It wasn't working. I recall my loud and energetic grandmother sitting absolutely silent at the boat's center of gravity, and making me do the same. And I remember that little boat standing on its tail, nearly vertical, as it clawed over each wave.

I was scared, but also weirdly calm--I had zero decisions to make. In the end, my grandfather got us to safety by sidling up close to a gigantic ferry that broke the waves.

My parents watched all this through binoculars from the shore, terrified. We could easily have died. Because we didn't, I guess that little adventure with my grandparents has stayed with me as a moment I felt extraordinarily alive.

  • 1. I create old-school D&D adventures to relax
  • 2. I once helped an Argentinian park ranger carry a washing machine motor across an island in deep snow in the Andes.
  • 3. I befriended packs of street dogs and gangs of young kids in Bogor, Indonesia, but I couldn't make peace between them.
  • 4. I once stepped on a fer-de-lance, the most poisonous snake in Latin America (it did not, for some reason, strike).
  • 5. I hatched a mud turtle 30 years ago. He's still with me.
  • 6. My parents took me into a deep meadow in the Colorado Mountains when I was a kid, turned off the flashlight, and showed me the Milky Way. I'll never forget that.
  • 7. I learned Spanish as an adult. I speak a fluent mishmash of Argentinian, Colombian and Guatemalan Spanish.
  • 8. I decided in high school that I wanted to learn Russian so that I could be part of a joint US-USSR effort to eliminate poverty in the so-called Third World. I did study Russian in college, but I've forgotten it now.
  • 9. I make excellent Tibetan Barley Bread
  • 10. I believe there's more love, courage, and wisdom in all of us than we've succeeded in tapping.
What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?
Become the guardian and caregiver of a sensitive animal. If we do it right, it changes us for the better. I'm convinced of that.

Best date you've ever had?
Floating in inner tubes down a crystal-clear river through a cypress swamp in Florida, with the woman I'd soon move in with, and whom I'm still with 30 years later. We'd just met and barely knew each other, and early in the float she said, "My housemate made dinner" but I heard "My husband…" and was crushed. It was only an hour later that I glumly asked why her husband hadn't come along, and she blinked and said, "What husband?"

What was the first job you had?
Assistant forest surveyor. I got to stumble up and down mountainsides behind my boss, writing down statistics about the trees.

Which incident in your life that totally changed the way you think today?
Moving to London at 19 and working with the activist organization Friends of the Earth on their rainforest campaign. That taught me how complex every effort to do good in this world really is.

What were you doing the last time you really had a good laugh?
Playing laser tag with my nephews.

First Heartbreak?
Realizing that Cornelia Guest, my riding teacher, wasn't going to marry me. I was six. She was in her late 20's and wrote love songs and played guitar. We were meant to be; the world just wasn't ready to accept us.

Two brothers flee an army of fanatics across a vast and magical desert in this white-knuckle sequel to Master Assassins from Robert V.S. Redick, author of The Red Wolf Conspiracy.

The worst of rivals, the closest of friends, the two most wanted men in a war-torn world: Kandri and Mektu Hinjuman have cheated death so often it’s begun to feel like a way of life. But nothing has prepared them for the danger and enchantment of the Ravenous Lands. This sprawling, lethal desert is the brothers’ last hope, for they have killed the favorite son of Her Radiance the Prophet, and her death-priests and magical servants are hunting them day and night.

But there are dangers even within their caravan. Some of their fellow travelers worship the Prophet in secret. Others, including Mektu, have become obsessed with a bejeweled dagger that seems to afflict its owners with madness or death.

At stake is far more than the lives of two runaway soldiers. Kandri is carrying an encoded cure for the World Plague, a disease that has raged for centuries—while far from the desert, certain criminals have learned just how lucrative a plague can be. Are they using the Prophet, or being used by her? Who, in this game of shadows, can Kandri trust?

He knows one thing, however: they must reach Kasralys, great and beautiful fortress-city of the east. Only there can the precious cure be deciphered. Only there can Kandri seek word of the lover who vanished one night without a trace.

But Kasralys, never conquered in 3,000 years, is about to face its greatest siege in history.

You can purchase Sidewinders at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you ROBERT V.S. REDICK for making this giveaway possible.
3 Winners will receive a Copy of SIDEWINDERS by Robert V.S. Redick.
1 Winner will receive a $20 Amazon Gift Card
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