I’m not one to usually read epic fantasy, but author Kim Appelgryn just released her debut novel The Silent Witness. So, naturally, I needed to see what else she did with this book after she released the first few chapters on her Inkitt account over a year ago.
I’ve done several reviews and interviews with Kim which can all be found on my podcast. The most recent review I did was for the first chapter of the novel which I gave a 4 star opening to. The rest of the book is full of description and written in a more classic literary style. It often reminded me of another epic fantasy series. Tolkien, anyone?
The story follows the creation (or rather, the second creation) of mankind by a pantheon of immortal Gods and Goddesses who harken to the structure of Grecian society. You can tell the author did a lot of research into historical figures and events as several are alluded to and even mentioned throughout the story.
What I found to be most fascinating was how the Gods and Goddesses interacted with the lives of humans in a way that slightly changed historical events – like the introduction of the first domesticated dog. I don’t want to give too much away about the story, so I asked the author a few questions that may give her readers more insight into her worldbuilding.
1. When you created the land of Barathorn, did you take inspiration from other lands like Middle Earth and Narnia?
Most certainly! I love looking at maps (as an interior designer, my focus is to look at intricate details, designs. Etc). For Barathørn, maps from Narnia, Middle Earth and Westeros were the key elements to creating my own.
2. What made you decide to write the story centered around the Goddess of the Moon instead of a normal human?
Many fantasy novels are based on humans, or other mythological creatures and their thoughts. I wanted to do something different, and create a perspective from a divine being. I thought it would be both enlightening and unique.
3. The plot of the story seems to be centered around the greed of man. Does this reflect your personal thoughts about mankind?
I found it very disheartening to watch the news (and read history in general) of what the greed of man can do to the world and of course, those around them. The pain they cause just to get what they want and what they’re willing to do to get to the top, no matter the cost, is a tragedy. The world has the potential to be a better place to live in, if it were not for the greed of man.
4. The spirituality and religion of Barathorn is rich. I can tell there’s a Greek/Roman influence to it. What other aspects of history influenced you to create this story?
The beauty of Queen Shafis, is based on Helen of Troy (the face that launched a thousand ships), as well as Cleopatra.
Other inspirations came from:
- The Trojan War, when Alkan infiltrates the Kingdom of Rake Turf under the disguise of the kingdom’s emblems.
- The Biblical account of Balaam and his donkey (when the donkey saw the angel holding the sword to stop Balaam from leaving – this was where I used the Warriors of Evertheen to block the entrances so the people couldn’t escape after the gods condemned them for their atrocities.
- The Golden Age of Piracy, where their base was Nassau. This inspired me to create the Que Summøns Islands to want to be a pirate haven.
- Many of the stories are also based on my personal life. One of them, which is very close to my heart, is the rose given to Morgan, as my father used to place a rose in my vase next to my bed every morning before he went to work.
5. While it seems to be forbidden for the Gods to interact with humans, it appears they do more interacting than they should – even those outside of Sërafinn, In a way, they appear to also possess human emotions. Did you do that to show that humans and their creators are very similar?
Although they are not entirely forbidden, they do have the occasional ‘visits’ to the land. I wanted the gods to not be perfect. They have flaws, and have many family fights (as we all have). When the queen of the gods, Vězra thought by giving Sërafinn dominion over the moon, she did this so that Sërafinn wouldn’t have to interact with humans. But there was a flaw in this decision. Vězra never saw that Sërafinn, though watching from the moon, would feel such deep, compassion for mankind and knowing they have the potential to be great, wanted to help them along the way. But her interference cost her more than she thought, and even the goddess of hindsight and wisdom, Ismińa didn’t notice until it was too late.
The Silent Witness can be found across multiple platforms including Amazon and Barnes & Nobles. It’s available as an ebook and as paperback. I bought the paperback version because the book cover art is amazing and fits perfectly on my shelf! If you like Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, or George R.R. Martin, then I would recommend checking out this book. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!