Faithless by Graham Austin King

Rating 8.5/10
An utterly dark, unique, well-written, and deeply engaging grimdark story

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 point of view chapters each before it reverts back to the other character. The despondent yet unique world presented here is admirably 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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