Faithless

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Member Reviews

Review provided by my co-blogger, Petrik Leo.

My friend who recommended it to me told me that this is a “New fantasy seriously worth your time.” and hey, she’s damn right about it. I’ve read plenty of grimdark fantasy and in my opinion, this is one of the most original ones. In fact, I can safely say I’ve never read any grimdark fantasy like this book. 

The plot in Faithless is quite dark, like the title, it deals a lot with heavy topics surrounding faith and religions. Honestly, I love the plot, it’s not a comfy read for sure, and it’s never meant to be. I’ll mention this part right from the start of the review, there’s a scene that happens off screen dealing with child molestations and pedophilia, these parts are not easy to read, seriously I’ll be surprised if anyone found it easy to do so. Do know however that this is appropriate for the story the author is trying to tell. It’s not there just for the sake of making the story darker, it’s not, these events provide a lot of color and meaning to the motivations of the characters in the book.

The pacing may be slow paced, and yet it’s very compelling to read. This is due to the growing tension of the story with the turn of each page until it eventually reached the eventful and thrilling climax sequence. Admittedly, there was one moment somewhere in the middle of the book where I feel the pacing drags a bit but that’s really the only minor con I had on this book. Unlike most books I’ve read in the genre, Faithless brought something new to the genre, which I’ll get into later on. However, as good as the plot is, it’s not the best factors of the book. Judging solely from the plot, it won’t make this book reached the marvelous quality it has. It’s all the other elements surrounding it that made Faithless burned brightly.

There are only two main characters to follow here. Wynn, a 15 years old innocent boy who was sold by his father to work in the mines of Aspiration, and Kharios, a novice in the Temple of the Forgefather who’s facing many obstacles, that I can’t tell to avoid spoilers. The characterizations towards these two characters are something I truly appreciate. Don’t get me wrong, they aren’t lovable characters but they’re very realistic. These characters at the core are good people, but they made some questionable decisions that maybe from reading alone, you’ll probably think “what the hell?” cause I certainly did think so, but, let’s not hastily jump to conclusion. I always try my best to put myself in the character's situation to know whether their decisions, good or bad make sense or not and you know what? Thinking about it, I honestly have no idea what I’ll do if I were put in some of the characters shoes here. This is a sign of great characterization in the grimdark genre for me, combined with Graham’s beautiful prose; I really enjoyed reading how the main and side characters develop throughout the whole book.

The best part of the book for me hands down lies within its world-building. You won’t see the characters here travel the world; the setting of the book took place mostly in a maze of a gigantic mine. However, don’t let this fool you into thinking that there is no sense of history or mythologies to be found just because of the constricted setting. This is where Graham excels in, despite the setting being mostly in a mine, there is still enough history for you to dive into. Plus, as someone who has worked in a mining industry, I can guarantee you that Graham has successfully captured the darkness of the mine and the implication of the setting towards the characters greatly. Last but not least, Smithing. Personally, this is a huge plus for me because growing up as a gamer, I’ve always been intrigued by the process of weapon creation and strengthening. Up to this day I still follow and watch all Man at Arms videos on YouTube, obviously that’s about all the real knowledge I know on the topic, I’m not an expert here unless it’s in video games. The intricacy that was done towards its world-building shows how much research was done by the author, and in a way, it’s also what separates Faithless from other books in the genre and made it a new experience to read.

If you’re skipping on this book just because it’s labeled indie, I think you’re making a big mistake because it’s better than most published books out there and you ought to give this a try if you want something original in your grimdark read. The story also concludes itself within one book while saving some stuff in case there is a continuation, regardless whether it's a standalone or a series, this is definitely a great book. To compare it with other Indie fantasy I’ve read so far, I think of Faithless highly as I think of Senlin Ascends by Josiah Bancroft. They’re totally different from each other, but both are some of the best Indie fantasy I’ve read so far and something I’ll definitely recommend to fantasy readers.
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This book is a awesome story of morality and is the perfect story of a hero/anti0hero struggling with his choices. I love me a morally grey character/story and this is wonderful. There are so many twists and shocks and deaths, it's mesmerising and there's so much detail in the plot I can definitely see that it was well planned. I would be interested to see if there's a book 2.
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Received for honest read and review.
This was such a good book and had me hooked from the very first page.Very dark and gritty.
It centres around 2 main POV's-Wynn and Kharios and both of their stories in the mines.
This was truly a wonderful book that had everything.
Hopefully there will be another tale soon from Graham.
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Gritty and dark with compelling characterisation and an engaging story, Faithless proves that self-published fantasy can be as good as and sometimes even better than traditionally published ones.

My co-reviewer's full review in the link.
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TW: Rape, child abuse, violence.

This book is stunning. Simply, truly stunning. From the incredible cover art that drew me in as soon as I saw it on Netgalley, to the rich world built organically by the story, Faithless was nothing less than a pleasure to read. I’m often suspicious of independently published books, but this has dispelled any hesitation I may have had previously, and you will probably see a lot more reviews of independent books from me from now on as a result.

Low fantasy is a genre more common now in the wake of books like A Song of Ice and Fire, and boy, am I glad for it. While I love high fantasy, being a Dungeons & Dragons addict for over 10 years now, I love the dark and oppressive tones of excellent low fantasy. Faithless has this in spades.

Before I go any further and lavish praise upon the incredibly well-developed world Graham Austin-King has created, I need to address the trigger warnings I mentioned at the beginning of this review. The child abuse and rape elements of this story are crucial, fundamentally important parts of the story. They do not shy from the subject, they are not kind, and they are a tough read when it happens. I think this is very important – it paints the issue in the ugly, revolting light that it should be seen in. I don’t think I’ve felt such intense hatred for a character in a book since I read Stephen King’s The Green Mile and wanted to drag Percy into Old Sparky myself.

Onto the world itself: if you want a lesson in organic worldbuilding where the core facts of the world are introduced naturally and without long passages explaining how things work, then please read Faithless. The author managed to create an entire, fleshed out religion, its deity, the history of the faith, a complex hierarchical structure and interconnected system from the lower city of Aspiration in the mines to the temple of the Forgefather. It certainly helps being given the view of a character freshly introduced to the mines in Wynn, one of the two main characters the story is told from.

On the cover of Faithless is a quote from a reviewer, who described the book as “claustrophobic”. It was one of the reasons I was drawn to read the book, because that particular word suggested that the imagery and tone of the book would make you feel as though you were really there – I was right. The descriptions of the scenery, characters and overall atmosphere made me smell the coal dust in the air, feel the spray of rock chips upon my face, and hear the faint murmur of Priests at prayer, all mixed with the ring of hammer on anvil (this book has not helped curb my fantasies of someday owning a medieval forge. On the one hand, I may as well just smoke 100 cigarettes a day, on the other… cool swords…).

I’ve avoided really speaking about the plot in this review, partly because I think the blurb is enough of a hook to give you an idea of what the story is about, but also because I found it so engaging that I wouldn’t really want to spoil any of the twists and turns, major or minor. In my experience, that’s often the highest praise someone can give a work of art, whether it’s a book, a TV show, a movie, a video game, or even a song. Just read it.

A note to Graham Austin-King: Please, for the love of the Forgefather, continue this series soon. I mean if you want to write a little handbook of how to Call the Flame and the rites of Embers then don’t let me stop you – my D&D games need an infusion of new lore.
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“The only loyalty you owe is to yourself. The choice is always the same. Either learn in the temple, or die in the mines.” 
Quite some book! I tried to read this book slowly, but I could never put it down for long before being pulled back to it. It drew me right in - which was surprising because for the first half of the book I really wasn’t that taken with it. I wasn’t particularly rooting for either of the main characters. But the rich,immersive world building and the uniqueness of the setting demanded my attention. The second half flew by. Recommended.
Thanks to Netgalley for an arc of this book. All opinions are my own.
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This is an interesting tale. It's a bit dark, later I find out that it's called "grimdark". That's something new to me. The world building is strong, you can see and feel, almost touch this world, but it's a really messed up world. Abuse of religion is covered, and the story is, happily, told from two points of view. I like that. The writing style was pleasant for me as well.

My copy came from Net Galley. My thoughts and opinions are my own. This review is left of my own free volition.
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Faithless by Graham Austin-King is one of those books that I didn’t necessarily expect greatness from, but where I was really hoping for an engaging story, some competent writing, and maybe even a handful of moments where I could look back on the reading experience with some fondness. Unfortunately, the author did not deliver on my expectations on enough counts for me to continue reading past about 20%. I do thank the publisher for giving me the opportunity to review Faithless, but a combination of flat writing and flatter characters made for a generally unengaging experience.

The premise wasn’t half bad. There’s a temple with mines underneath. People are called to service, presumably to the temple but, in actuality, to work in the mines. But if one makes their tally so many times in a row, that person has the chance to go before the priests and serve them instead of toiling away in the mines. We are introduced to one such character who was sold into service by his father and another who worked his way out of the mines to serve the priests, but who came back to the mines under mysterious circumstances.

The problem is that neither character is particularly interesting. They’re actually quite ordinary, with no special aptitudes or skills, and nothing about them really grabbed me. Same for the writing. It’s competent enough, but couldn’t make up for the other shortcomings that ultimately led me to put this one down.

I almost feel as if I could give Faithless a higher mark than a single rocket because some people will like it. But I also can’t recommend a book that I couldn’t finish, so one rocket it is.
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Faithless is one of those fantasy novels where, despite the lack of strange and fantastical races, battles between various civilisations or any form of quest, it is still entirely gripping. 

The novel follows two viewpoints. Kharios is a young novice trying to work his way up in the priesthood of the Forgefather (a religion based on smithing. The Forgefather, their god, is said to speak through the flames of the forges). Then there is ‘Wynn’ a young boy sent to work at the temple by his father. What his father, or Wynn, didn’t know was that working for the temple meant being cast into slavery in the mines beneath. After all, how else would a priesthood of smiths get the ore and other raw materials needed to fuel their craft? 

The novel quite literally charts their day to day lives in both mines and temple. On the face of things, that doesn’t sound all that thrilling. But it is. I think I’ll struggle to say why it is, but it just is. The bonds that Wynn forms throughout his time in the mines are wonderfully written. Kharios’ hunt for knowledge as to why ‘The Fall’ happened (an event in their faith’s past that saw the Forgefather abandon his followers) is equally engrossing.

There is also a thoroughly unlikeable priest that provides an excellent antagonist.

Quite simply, despite the lack of usual fantasy plot devices, I found myself hooked. And, as the novel gets on to the later stages, things escalate massively. Lives intertwine, secrets are discovered and some full on horror-like fantasy plot devices start coming out in full force.

My only negatives are that certain parts happen in present day and certain parts happen in the past. Which parts happen when aren’t entirely clear until around the 80 % mark. The other negative is that, at the end, I just feel that too much is happening too fast and that a certain character suddenly becomes too capable.

Other than those slight gripes Faithless was a wonderful read and I look forward to reading more in the series.
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Deeply engrossing and powerful.  This dark fantasy tugs at the emotional heartstrings.  A coming of age in a dark time epic.  Characterization which is very crucial for me, was excellent and kept you reading the conversations.  Loved it!
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This is dark and high fantasy story, and if you don’t like to read a very dark book about the struggles in life about death or how to survive. Then this is not book for you. For me this book was very interesting and like to read high fantasy all the time. So I recommend this book.
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Faithless tells the story of Wynn, a farmer's son who is 'sold' to a nearby temple where he becomes an 'Aspirant'; someone who is bound to the mines below the temple, working day-to-day to mine the metals forged by the priests in the temple. Also there is the story of Kharios, a boy who has passed his 'test' and has advanced to become a novice but is then disgraced and is returned to the mines. Their stories intertwine and the secrets of the religion are revealed. 
'Faithless' is a book of fantasy and religion and these are intertwined with the 'world' that is created by the author; and it's a unique world. The story takes place in two places; Aspiration, and the Temple and this is rare for a fantasy novel. usually a lot of time is spent building a gigantic world however the author focuses on the characters that operate within their world. 
Aspiration is a place of toil and darkness, populated by miners and their crews. Despite being an underground town, Aspiration has a social stratum, bottomed by the 'Blackers'; those who mine coal, and is topped by the 'Gilter' crews; those who mine gold. Aspiration is controlled by the Sefin, a guy who rules with Martial Law. Those who do not make 'Tally' (their monthly quota) are sentenced to lashes, those who are subordinate or rebellious are sentenced to death. There are members of Aspiration who are not happy with the regime and so seek to rebel, leading to a nice side-story. 
Within Aspiration there are many 'crews' and they are tasked with mining the different metals that are needed for use in the Temple. And it's here that a lot of the story happens as the reader is introduced to a whole host of colourful characters. One of my favourite parts of the book is the dialogue between the crew members. 
Faithless is kinda strange in so far as, for the first 70% of the book, very little actually happens in terms of real action, but I still found myself wanting to read more and that was because of the relationships created by the author. The style of writing also lends itself to easy reading, it did not get bogged down in page-long descriptions of a table or some other such pretentiousness, the conversations are direct and the descriptions are practical.
The characters in Faithless are built well, they each have a purpose and are not too many that you can't remember who is who. The main character, Wynn, brings a sense of naivety to proceedings and is at stark contrast to the rest of the grizzled folk of Aspiration. This works especially well as a foundation for Wynn's character as an aspirant and gives him a real low starting point to his character arc. 
My favourite character was Father Ossan, a real piece of work who has alternative motives behind the boys he chooses to be his novices. Father Ossan is the key to finding the secrets of the lost religion, and to his own surprise, the darkness within the mines is revealed.  
There is a reveal at the end of the book and the real fantasy element comes to the fore through this. Overall I enjoyed the book and think that the characters are very strong, also it was excellently written. The world created by the author is dark, claustrophobic and ultimately fitting with the theme. For me, the final third of the book was its weakest, the story seemed to wain slightly and when the souls are released, it smacked too much of cliché for me. The action was written well and horror sequences worked but I couldn’t help but feel it was anti-climactic. 
Faithless is a good book written by a good author but has some flaws that hold it back from being great. 3.5/5
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I am at a total loss on how to describe exactly what I am feeling after finishing Faithless. I hated it through nearly the entirety of the book. Honestly, if it weren't for it being a recommendation by my beautiful friend over at My Way By Starlight I would have plopped this on my DNF shelf at 20% and never looked back. Even after finishing it, I still feel like I possibly wasted 10 good days of reading over a book I didn't much enjoy. But then that ending happened.  It wasn't entirely unpredictable. In fact, I guessed both "twists" around the 35% mark. But it was so masterfully done. And I appreciated the philosophy that when humans worship a god, they tend to do it only to use the god. That very fact alone is what gave this book all three of its stars.

Yet the actual star of this show is the amount of time spent building an entirely unique religion in a world that isn't foreign but also isn't familiar. In one small section of the entire globe, you still gain a vast understanding of the driving forces behind the Faith.

Every few chapters the story jumps between Wynn and Kharios. I enjoyed each of their storylines but was always bummed to switch over because there was zero fluidity and made no sense until the actual end. And though their stories were intriguing, the characters themselves were not at all likable and they both could have been devoured by the Utterdark without me caring one bit. But that's also the whole.damn.point. Humans are often awful and in need of serious redemption. Will they ever change, though?  That's the haunting and dark question Austin-King poses and though it seems impossible, it is the god that puts his faith into the faithless, cowardly, selfish humans.

In all, it is one I would never, ever pick up again. But the more you sit and reflect on it, the more you realize the true beauty that was crafted.

Thank you to NetGalley, Graham Austin-King, and Fallen Leaf Press for this free ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Faithless is a dark, gritty, grimdark horror mash up and I loved it! Set in a city within a cavern in a mountain, the mines that trail off from this cavern, and the temple that sits at the entrance, the story has an intense and claustrophobic feel to it, the writing perfectly describing the action that takes place in this world with little natural light, small passages and relentless physical work.
 
We follow the journey of Wynn, a naive young farmer whose father sells him to the Temple of the Forgefather. Wynn, expecting to serve in the temple, is ushered below ground to the city of Aspiration which has grown next to the mines. Those who live here are slaves to the religious order that inhabits the temple above ground, and have either been brought here like Wynn (and called aspirants), or born below ground. The mines are busy – and have strict quotas to meet – bringing up metals including iron, copper and gold, or charcoal, for use in the temple of the Forgefather.
 
However, the mines aren’t your usual kind of mines, oh no, as the Utterdark, the name for the pitch blackness that can send the miners mad, lurks and preys on weak minds. Plus, there are mysterious Listeners who can ‘hear’ where the precious metals like gold are and tell the miners where to dig. There is also only one way out of the mines and into service in the temple – to impress in forging metal and knowledge of the religion – and aspirants are given one chance to pass the test. Most fail.    
 
The religious order believes that their god, the Forgefather, manifests himself in the fire of the forge and the working of metal. They once were powerful, but many years before was The Fall, an event that changed their fate forever as the Forgefather disappeared and left them, and no one quite knows why. Now, this temple is the only one left and the religion is slowly dying.
 
The second point of view in the story is told from the novice priest Kharios, who is a talented forger and has a questioning mind, searching out the reasons as to why The Fall happened. He pisses off his depraved tutor, Father Ossan, and is sent back to the mines.
 
Wynn and Kharios’s stories weave together, and the final few chapters are pretty spectacular as Father Ossan attempts a chant to bring back the god but unleashes something horrific instead… the risen.
 
I loved the descriptions of the world, the darkness and forging of the metals. Also, the chants that they sing to the fire and to the metals, and the deep history of the religion and it’s fall. The concept of a city growing up next to the mines within a large cave in the mountain was brilliantly done, the life of the miners was hellish and desperate, but they got on with it, and the balance of power in the city was controlled brutally by an overseer.
 
I also liked the characters, very believable. Wynn is a bit slow to catch on about what has happened to him and where he finds himself, blurting out obvious questions and not picking up on hints or remembering information. He’s also selfish, and a bit of a coward, and finds himself mothered by a strong woman called Killen, who takes him under her wing. But he’s also clever, hardworking and resourceful. He’s not heroic, or perfect, but I found myself rooting for him, and completely believing his actions.
 
The ending was great – it was bleak and uncertain, and I like that about the grimdark novels I’ve read. Not everyone is going succeed in their noble task and not everyone wants an honourable task in the first place!           
 
So why not five stars? I found myself a little lost early on when switching between Kharios and Wynn and had to reread the past chapters to remind myself what had happened. But otherwise, an excellent read. One for those who don’t always want a cookie-cutter hero and a happily ever after ending.
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Great read. As a whole I loved the story. The author does a wonderful job of creating interest in the lore of the world.
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Faithless indulges us in an epic fantasy reminiscent of Lord of the Rings, while challenging the reader about faith, religion, and humanity itself.

I'd hit a bit of a reading slump, and went browsing for something that would hopefully perk me back up, and ran across reviews for Austin-King's while on NetGalley. The reviews were raving about the novel so I grabbed it. It was everything I'd wanted.

I loved learning about the complex mining society that's within the mountain. As well as learning about the priesthood that springs from it and lives in the temple above. Seeing both the priests and the mining city of Aspiration the reader learns about the pitfalls of power and oppression.

These societies show what it means to be a bystander in an oppressive society, and destruction that greed can inflict. Even in the difference between class levels was meticulously detailed, this was highlighted even more by the well done characterization of the cast of the novel.

Religion itself is challenged here with an absent god, it's followers trying to keep their culture and faith alive, and those who serve them. It was refreshing to see this from the eyes of an outsider, learning the ugly truths from the fractured view points of Wynn and Kharios.

I highly enjoyed the dark journey that Faithless took me on. It is a novel that one both enjoys and grows from, challenging the way you look at yourself and society. And now I have found yet another author who's writing is so good I will surely be adding the rest of his novels to my TBR pile!

My thanks for an advanced readers copy from NetGalley, Graham Austin-King, and Fallen Leaf Press in exchange for an honest review.
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When I saw Faithless in an email from NetGalley, I was going to pass it over. But I read the blurb and I became very intrigued by what the blurb said. Plus, I am also a Forged in Fire fan. I watch it every week with my husband. So when I saw the cover, I was like “blacksmithing/bladesmithing? I need to read it“. Of course, I kept thinking of David Marcaida and his saying “It will kill” when I saw the hammer on the cover. To say I liked the book is an understatement. I enjoyed reading it.

Faithless was an interesting book. It starts off with Wynn, a farm boy, being sold to the temple of the Forgefather by his father. Wynn was told by his father that he would be a novice and work his way up in the ranks. He finds out that isn’t the case. Wynn is sent to work in the mines that are under the temple. If he is lucky, he will be called up to be a novice. But until then, the town of Aspiration is his forever home.Wynn finds out that life in the mines is dangerous. The mines themselves are alive with an entity called The Underdark. The Underdark can and will charm people to walking over the edges of cliffs, falling to their deaths. Besides The Underdark, Wynn has to worry about other miners and making his tally with his group. It was a very hard place to live and Wynn finds out, the hard way, that he needs to toughen up or he will get killed.

The parallel storyline is Kharios, a novice in the temple of the Forgefather. Kharios is a return novice. He had served under Ossan, a priest, before being dismissed. But he was called back, which was very rare, to reserve under Ossan again. Ossan isn’t the kindly priest that he makes himself out to be and Kharios knows that. Ossan likes young boys and he picks the ones that he thinks will submit to him. Which Kharios will not do. But there is something else that is lurking under Ossan’s surface. When Kharios dares to speak out against him, he is sent to the mines. It is there that he makes a discovery that will make sure his passage back to the temple. There is also danger with this knowledge and Ossan is right there to exploit it. What Ossan unleashes is something out of nightmares. It is up to Kharios to put a stop to what is unleashed. But at what price?

At first, Wynn came across as a backward farm boy who is out of his element. I felt awful for him because he was sold to the temple against his will. He didn’t want to be there. He didn’t want to be a slave. He was thrown headfirst into a violent and hard society. The situations that he ran into while in the actual mines were death-defying. As was the situations he found himself in when in Aspiration. Getting caught up in the mini-revolt was one of those situations. He was shown a way out when the priest that lived there started training him for the trail to get into the temple. But he went from one bad situation into another. I felt bad because he had to accept abuse to be kept in the temple.

I was curious about Kharios. I wanted to know his backstory. I did get frustrated when the author didn’t give any information about his background. Other than my frustration, I liked his character. He wanted to protect his study mates from Ossan but he couldn’t find his voice to tell them. Even more so after he was called back from the mines the first time. He had to listen as his study-mate is raped nightly. When he does try to help him, he is beaten and thrown into the mines to die. Which he doesn’t. Instead, he meets Leesha and her crew. It is with them that he makes a huge discovery that will help him get back into the temple. All Kharios wants is to learn the ways of Iron and be left alone. He is thrown into researching papers that have been found while studying the forge at night. What he finds out from the research will change everyone’s life and not for the better.

I enjoyed that the author chose to have a religion around blacksmithing/bladesmithing. It made for an interesting read when Wynn/Kharios were in the forge. The different ways of working with the metals were fascinating to me. But what I liked, even more, was the twist that author put into it.

There are a couple of twists in the middle of the book that I didn’t see coming. I was a tad shocked when they were revealed because there was nothing leading up to them. One of them did make sense but the other twist shocked me. I put my Kindle down, said “No way” and picked it back up. I am not complaining about the twists. They were executed in such a way that you needed to read more to see what was going to happen.

The only complaint that I have about Faithless is that I wished it had a glossary. That way I could have kept the terminology, the characters names and the area names straight.

The end of the book was fantastic. All but one storyline was resolved. There is one storyline that was left unresolved. The way that Faithless ended, I am wondering if a book 2 is in the works or if it is going to be written.

**I received a free copy of this book and volunteered to review it**
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I received a free copy of Faithless in exchange for an honest review and would like to thank Graham Austin-King for this opportunity.

Faithless is set in a dark and claustrophobic subterranean environment. The action mainly takes place within the temples, the underground cities, or within the literal darkness of the mines. Everyone within this cataclysmic domain revere and offer service to the Forgefather. We follow a 15-year-old lad called Wynn who has essentially been sold off as a slave to this mysterious cause by his father in exchange for a few coins. Wynn's under the impression that he's here to study and pay homage for what should only be 12-months. Perhaps the truth of the matter is a bit darker than that. The second point of view perspective is that of novice priest Kharios who has been within this territory below the surface for years and goes about his days working a forge.

The narrative commences at a slowish pace introducing the areas, creating depth to characters, and explaining the scenarios they find themselves within. Wynn, new to his role, learns about his duties and the place he finds himself in at the same time as we do which led me to feel a heightened affinity towards him. Likewise, with Kharios, we're introduced to his day to day routines. It's approximately 3 points of view chapters each before it reverts back to the other character. The despondent yet unique world presented here is admirable crafted. Although I found no aspect of this tale boring, the book gradually builds up pace and intensity until about 60% through where the whole atmosphere and direction of the narrative changes with potentially horrific consequences for all involved. There's also a stunning twist at about 85%. I did predict it but I'm apparently a member of a small minority that does. Unique as well is that it always seems that there's some great power all around that is just out of anybody's reach.

Faithless is a dark fantasy/ grimdark tale that isn't for the lighthearted. It features element some readers will not enjoy such as murder, seemingly needless brutality, grotesque characters, rape, and paedophilia. The final two are hinted at but not actually shown on the page. A typical grimdark trait is stories following characters who are bastards readers can love to hate. I didn't hate either of the main perspectives here. If anything the opposite and I'd have made similar decisions that they do which unfortunately often have terrible results. There are definitely a few horrific individuals worth looking out for too including Ossan and Garl. 

Faithless is an utterly dark, unique, well-written, and deeply engaging grimdark story from a talented author who's definitely one to watch.
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I’m quite interested to read more self-published and rather unknown authors that are often overlooked despite their fantastic and fresh ideas to the fantasy genre. And the cover and premise of Faithless immediately peaked my interest.

The story is told from two points of view. First we get to know Wynn who is brought to the temple of the Forgefather by his father. He is left there to enter the service and in exchange his father gets some monetary compensation. And soon Wynn realizes that the service consists of working hard deep down in the mines under the temple together with his new crew for pure survival. His only way out is the annual test of forgery that allows one aspiring  and talented miner to become and acolyte in the temple.
The other point of view we are following belongs to Kharios. He already is an acolyte in the temple and is asked to assist one of the priests, Ossan, with his studies. He seems to be very hesitant about entering Ossan’s service, but we don’t now why exactly.

As already hinted at by the cover, the book has a rather dark and desperate atmosphere which is reflected by the characters and the setting itself. The biggest part of Faithless is set in the mines under the temple, where only a tiny bit of light shines through a crack in the ceiling. It’s a desperate and hopeless kind of world down there and Austin-King is great at creating this world.

There is a lot of explanation throughout the book about the exact process of forging. Both Wynn and Kharios train to improve their skills and worshipping the Forgefather, the god the temple is dedicated to, with chants and the act of forging and creating. In those moments, there seems to be some kind of subtle magic that just adds another layer to the story.

Additionally, there is a mayor plot development at the end of the book and it gets really creepy really fast. I didn’t see this coming at all, which only made me like the book even more.

The only thing that I wasn’t a huge fan of was the fact that the process of forging was so often described throughout the book that it felt rather repetitive. And I just don’t like it when characters repeat the question they’re asked for clarification, but that’s a personal remark.

Overall, I would recommend this book highly to fans of dark fantasy that is rather character focused. But be aware that the story features some kind of sexual abuse and harassment.

I’d like to thank Netgalley and the Publisher for providing me with a copy of this book.
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Faithless follows a society dedicated to the reverence of the Forgefather, a once-powerful being who helped them in times past. The Forgefather has retreated, due to the sins of the priests, and now without a god to worship, the priests are now "faithless" as they gather around their once-vibrant altars of faith and continue to work the Aspiration mine below their temple. Their once-sprawling empire has sputtered and retreated to a remnant of its former glory. Many young men are sold into work in the mines, and face a lifetime of toil under cruel masters with little hope of freedom. Some few are released back to serve the priests. To many, a quick death is preferred.

Faithless generally follows the journeys of two disillusioned young men, Wynn and Kharios, as they seek the truth of the Forgefather and the mines, to survive, and to make a life for themselves. They discover that the sins of the priests are legion, and as the power struggle in the temple above them comes to a head, they must retreat further into the blackness of the mines, to places where dark beings are rumored to lure men to be devoured and killed. What they find there could either doom them, or alter the direction of their kingdom.

The author takes you into a dark place here- darkness closes in on every side, whether the dark of the mines, or the darkness of the priests. It would have been too much for me, if the author hadn't included some interesting bits on mining and smithing, and just enough hints about what was to come to keep things moving. The cast of characters made the mines come alive, and feel like a real-life prison from which there was no escape. The only caveat I have is that the story seldom left the mines, and I found myself wishing for more away-time and back story about the society and kingdoms outside the mines. That may be a personal preference, but it would have made the story better for me. 

All in all, recommended. It's dark, gnarly and twisted. It's cynical and full of death and despair, and some sickening deeds, but it is a fun journey with some great action in the last half of the novel.
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