Interview with Auston Habershaw (author of Saga of the Redeemed)

Q: Welcome back to the ruins, Auston. For those who haven't made your literary acquaintance, please tell us a little about yourself and give us an idea of what we can expect of Saga of the Redeemed.

Thanks for having me back! About myself, I’m a scifi and fantasy author who publishes both novels and short fiction. By day I’m a college English professor and I’ve worked in a ton of odd jobs over the years—pedicab driver, video game tester, theme park performer, dog walker, and on and on. I live in Boston, Massachusetts.

The Saga of the Redeemed is the story of Tyvian Reldamar—rogue, duelist, villain, and smuggler—who is turned away from his life of vice and crime by a magic ring that keeps him from doing evil, even though he desperately wants to. The books explore his gradual journey towards redemption, both with and in spite of the ring, all while he is embroiled in a series of dangerous plots and ancient conspiracies from which he tries to extricate himself. There’s a lot of sword fights and magic duels, too. 

Q: The series has been recommended for fans of Scott Lynch, Brian McLellan, and Brent Weeks, which is awesome, but what do you feel is the one aspect that really sets it apart?

Well, Tyvian’s world has a sort of magical-industrial complex broadly similar to McLellan’s Powder Mage series and it has a lot of humor, banter, and underworld hijinks, like Lynch (and I haven’t read Weeks, so I’ll not compare). The thing that sets it apart, though, is that this is a story that is primarily internal—Tyvian’s personal journey through the moral landscape of his life. So, among all the battles and explosions and plots and counter-plots, we have a man who is slowly coming to realize his shared humanity with others.

At its heart, Saga of the Redeemed is a story about coping with one’s own privilege, both well and badly. Tyvian is a child of extreme privilege—a legacy he rejects—but even with his basic rejection, he still sees the world through the lens of his wealthy and high-class upbringing. It takes a lot (a LOT) to escape that and be a true ally to the downtrodden and it takes a long time for him to want to put in the work. And that, I think, sets my work apart from a lot of other similar tales.

Q: Last time you were here we talked about which came first, Tyvian or the Iron Ring, but since you’ve now followed an anti-hero across the arc of four books, I have to ask – what is it about the anti-hero that so appeals to you?

I think the most important aspect of the anti-hero, for me, is the desperate hope that the wicked can become better people. We live in a world fraught with injustice and violence and greed, and Tyvian’s world is not that different. It is easy—very, very easy—to look at a world like that, shrug, and say “to hell with it—if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” The antihero is the pinnacle of that sentiment. They are not, in their heart of hearts, evil people, but they have not summoned the strength to become something better. What draws me to the antihero is their potential—that change from villain to hero is so powerful.

Q: For me, the anti-hero brings to mind memories of Michael Moorcock's Elric of Melniboné, Weis & Hickman's Raistlin Majere, R. Scott Bakker's Kellus, and Mark Lawrence's Jorg Ancrath. Is there a character who made you think, for better or worse, “I need to write someone like that.

There are two that come to mind immediately that made a big impact on me as a kid. The first is obviously Darth Vader. All during Return of the Jedi I remember Luke talking about  how there’s “still good in him” and thinking “yeah, right—no way.” But then, at the end, Luke was right. That is, in fact, Vader’s final words to him—you were right, Luke. Mind-blowing, to my 5-year-old brain. People can change?!

Second has to be Long John Silver from Treasure Island. Sure, he’s the villain—a terrifying pirate and killer—but he does right by Jim Hawkins and, in the end, he does do the right thing (even if under duress). Oh, and I just love the fact that he escapes at the end with a sack of gold and they never see him again. He might not be pure evil, but he’s still a pirate.

Q: Without getting into spoilers, what can you tells us about what to expect in The Far Far Better Thing, the final book of the series?

Well, the guano has really hit the fan after the end of the last book. It’s civil war, and civil war is not pretty. I have some really, really harrowing moments for my characters to face—things that will test their worldview and their faith in what they believe. And we will learn a lot more about Sahand (the chief villain of the series) as well as Lyrelle. Oh, and poor Hool—her too, the poor, grief-ravaged thing.

Q: If we can turn the clock back for a moment, you first caught my eye with The Iron Ring and Iron & Blood, which were later bundled into The Oldest Trick. Did you always know where the story was going, and how many volumes there would be, or did this sort of grow and evolve once Tyvian was out there?

Well, The Oldest Trick was the original manuscript I submitted to the publisher. They wanted to split the first book in half, and so The Iron Ring and Iron and Blood are really just two halves of the same book—the split happened second, not the reunion.

As for the rest, I had originally planned for the series to be longer (perhaps 6-7 books), but that was before the realities of the publishing world set in and I had to revise my goals into a somewhat shorter arc. Four books, I felt, was the minimum I could fit Tyvian’s character arc into, and as I’ve written the books, I am really satisfied with where it all ends up.  Now I wonder what the heck I thought I could fill another 2-3 books with, honestly.

Q: Did you ever find that the story itself pushing you in a direction you hadn’t anticipated? Did the characters ever wrest control of the narrative from your carefully laid plans?

Oh, gosh, yes. You may have noticed I have a lot of headstrong personalities in my books! There were lots of times where Hool just basically had to hit somebody or Myreon had to speak truth to power and it got me in a hell of a plotting mess.  Frequently you can see my frustration in Tyvian’s frustration with his compatriots.

Q: In the four years since you first published The Iron Ring, what are some of the strangest or weirdest reactions you’ve had from readers?

I think it’s funny what different people connect to and don’t. I’ve had some readers tell me that they just adore the action sequences, but get bored with all the plotting, whereas I’ve had other readers tell me the exact opposite (so, I guess that means there’s something for everybody, right?). My favorite reaction, though, was a person who had read my books while recovering from a pretty major illness in the hospital, and they told me that Tyvian’s adventures really helped them laugh and recover from a pretty harrowing ordeal. That, by itself, is probably the highest compliment anybody has ever paid my writing.

Q: Before we let you go, what’s next for you, now that Saga of the Redeemed is complete? Are you thinking supervillain now, or will you stick with scifi/fantasy author?

Well, volcano lasers, as it happens, aren’t too cheap, so I’m sticking with author for now. The book I’m working on now is a time travel caper of sorts (think Dr. Who directed by Quentin Tarantino), so it’s a bit of a departure from the epic fantasy corner of the world. It still features an antihero, though, so that part of it ought to be plenty familiar to my fans.

Thanks again for having me! This was great!


About the Author

Auston Habershaw is a winner of the Writers of the Future Contest (2nd place in quarter 1, 2014) and has published stories in Analog, Galaxy’s Edge, The Sword and Laser Anthology, and Escape Pod, among other places. His fantasy series, The Saga of the Redeemed is available through Harper Voyager Impulse. He lives and works in Boston, MA.


About the Book

The Far Far Better Thing: Saga of the Redeemed: Book IV
by Auston Habershaw

Auston Habershaw's epic fantasy series, The Saga of the Redeemed, which began with The Oldest Trick, comes to a powerful conclusion in The Far Far Better Thing.

War has come to Eretheria.

With Tyvian Reldamar feigning his death, the forces that still carry his banner are left to fight a vicious battle against the warlord Banric Sahand and the noble houses that flock to his side.

Led by Myreon and Artus, this band of freedom fighters and angry rebels is faced with an enemy the likes of which they’ve never faced before: one who will do anything, no matter how brutal, to secure victory.

Having had his fill of death, Tyvian tries to run away from the war fought in his name, but it just isn’t that simple. With his mother held prisoner, Artus and Myreon in grave danger, and Xahlven pulling the strings in the background, the ring drags Tyvian to return and set things right.

But how can one man fix a world this broken? And what will be left behind when the smoke clears? No one can say for sure.

Least of all Tyvian.