Updated: May 16, 2021
By, Tim Kaiver
Author of Ciphercraft
Hi everyone, this is Tim Kaiver, author of the litRPG series, Ciphercraft. Today, I asked best selling author Davis Ashura some questions about the first book in his Instruments of Omens series, A TESTAMENT OF STEEL.
Davis Ashura's LitRPG Legends Author Interview
Tim: The description of your hero in A Testament of Steel sounds emotionally charged—woken injured and without memory, he moves on with a mission to protect those who can’t defend themselves and become a warrior worthy of the name. With every hero and heroine we write, we get to experience an amazing journey of discovery and, hopefully, victory over great odds.
What about this hero's journey was so exciting to put on paper?
Davis: I grew up loving Lord of the Rings and Wheel of Time, and I always wanted to write a story about someone new to the world, for whom the world is fresh. I wanted to present that story and world to the reader so it seems every bit as wonderful, dangerous, and exciting. In essence, this new series of mine is similar to a lot of those other type of books: the young villager/farmer/sheepherder who sets out into the world, but I wanted to put my own spin on it.
Cinder Shade is from the middle of nowhere, but his past is a blank. He has family, a brother, but his parents are dead. He's rootless, unmoored to who he once was. But what if he isn't unmoored? What if he does have deep roots? His journey is about growth but maybe also rediscovery. I think that's a cool concept.
Tim: What do you love about the setting that he's put into?
Davis: The world of Seminal is vast. The history stretches back thousands of years. It's a sprawling world where I've really gotten to play with the mythos, the politics, the way history informs the present, and even the ancient, dead language that has it's own grammar. It's so much fun to work on such a broad canvas and use it to push Cinder along in his journey.
Tim: Why was this the next story you wanted to write?
Davis: Since all of my books take place in a single universe, the Anchored Worlds, this almost HAD to be my next story. For those who don't know what I've written, I guess I'm most well known for the epic fantasy trilogy, the Castes and the OutCastes, which takes place on the world of Arisa. The main characters in those books are then deeply involved in my William Wilde series, which takes place in 1980s Earth (It's a lot of fun to pull up old 80s nerd references). And Cinder Shade is also involved in William Wilde, but approached the action from the world of Seminal.
Tim: I found this book in the Facebook group, Cultivation novels. You mentioned how A Testament of Steel is Epic Fantasy, but also Progression Fantasy. Could you share a bit about what Progression Fantasy is, and how your magic system and story arc plays in this playground?
Davis: Progression in the sense that there are specific achievements Cinder has to accomplish in order to grow in power, but that growth also has to encompass who he is as a person. In this case, Cinder has to open his Chakras, which is a metaphysical concept in Hinduism regarding various focal points in the body. But rather than meditative aids, these are real and it requires work to access them. And I should point out that this isn't something unique to my writing. I've seen other authors utilitize the Chakra system for their progression novels.
Tim: Is Progression Fantasy the same as Cultivation? Is Wuxia also a synonymous term? If not, could you clarify how A Testament of Steel may best be representative of one of these new (to me) sub-genres of Epic Fantasy?
Davis: I don't know, but I think of Cultivation as a subgenre of Progression, just like progression fantasy is usually a subgenre of epic fantasy. And I think sticklers would say that Wuxia and Xinxia are most definitely separate but are also subgenres of Cultivation. In the broadest sense, you could make the case that a series like Harry Potter is Progression. Harry enters Hogwarts with no magical abilities and he progresses through the years to achieve some level of skill. But then again, the plot of Harry Potter isn't really just about the magical mastery, and I'm sure a lot of people would argue that Harry Potter is Progression in the same way that Star Wars is science fiction. It is, but not really. It's more science fantasy.
But I think with novels that are more obviously Progression, a large part of the plot is given over the magical mastery, which is spelled out in specific steps the protagonist must take. It's something the author makes obvious and the reader easily understands. Other elements of the plot can play off this steady progress.
However, at a certain point genres blur and change so much that what was once a subgenre bears little resemblance to its original genre and becomes its own beast. LitRPG is the most famous recent example of what I'm talking about. It was originally mostly fantasy, but now there's horror, sci-fi, comedy, urban . . . it's become its own thing.
Thanks again for the questions, Tim! And I hope I answered them in a way that made sense.
Tim: Thank you, Davis, for your time for this interview. Readers, check out his books at his website: www.davisashura.com. Book 2 in his The Instruments of Omens, MEMORIES OF PROPHECIES, is out now!
Thank you for reading!
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