:: COUGH-COUGH-aHACK-hack-hack :: Great Zook, what a disaster! Dust the entryway and the rack, leave the curtains and forge alone for now. Hurry, dolt, we have a guest. Look at these manacles! The thumb-screws have rusted solid, where on the green earth is that dratted oil can…
After a long hiatus I’m pleased to reopen my author interview dungeon, this time for a veteran of such treatment, Annie Lima. She knew what could happen, and yet she agreed to give me another crack at interrogation. I said, another crack… blast, the leather’s all rotted. Find me some wood blocks to slap together, and show her in. :: COUGH-COUGH-hack ::, drat this mess, I’ll get bronchitis for sure.
Q: Welcome, welcome Ms. Lima, just settle back there. Uncomfortable? Marvelous. Now then! We begin where we left off some time ago, on this completely heretical notion of yours of a modern world with what appears to be gladiatorial combat. And it continues in The Student and the Slave? Confess! Is this world of yours dystopian?
A: The setting is similar to that of a dystopian novel, but technically this world isn’t dystopian. It’s a whole different world that has never been connected to ours (even though it’s very similar in many ways).
Q: Not dystopian? But, but, slavery, young persons forced to do combat for entertainment. What else is this, Iron Chef Junior?
A: I think the problem at the heart of society is the basic idea that my needs and desires are more important and I matter more than they do. Without that basic mindset, slavery would never have been allowed to exist in the Krillonian Empire. Of course, thinking back through our own world’s history, you could argue that that same mindset has been at the root of every social injustice and societal conflict since the dawn of time.
Q: Aha! A classic case of whataboutism if I ever heard one.
A: And I don’t think I’d want to live in the Krillonian Empire. The prevalence of slavery would be too disturbing. Of course, it would be fun to watch an occasional cavvara shil match, or maybe even learn the martial art myself.
Q: I still say this is completely unorthodox: slavery has no place in society, only in the privacy of our own homes. And speaking of that, tell us now on your honor, how does the existence of slavery affect the role of the family?
A: Enslaved families can be ripped apart at any time when one of their members is sold. Free families have it much better, of course, but when they own slaves, their kids tend to grow up without learning much personal responsibility. Not having to do chores or pick up after themselves, and being able to order adults around, tends to produce some unpleasant characteristics (as we see in the character of Raymond).
Q: By the rules you just laid down I think my child may qualify an owner. Is your hero fighting for the same things classic fantasy heroes have fought for?
A: Classic fantasy heroes tend to fight for good to triumph over evil in one form or another. It’s the same in this book. My two heroes, Bensin and Steene, are both fighting for freedom from captivity and injustice (Steene for his own, Bensin for Steene’s). In addition, both struggle toward the goal of their family being reunited. Bensin also struggles to make the right choice when he is caught in an ongoing moral dilemma (raising the money needed for Steene’s rescue and to provide for his little sister, when the only paying job he can find involves providing combat training to members of a dangerous street gang).
Q: Ahh, now that’s more like it, a marvelously painful dilemma. How I wish I’d thought of that one. How do you get out of being a slave anyway? Is there any chance at all except through winning at the games?
A: Actually, winning at the games doesn’t set a gladiator free.
Q: Whaat? How cruel! Lady, you can be the substitute torturer around here, are you any good with dusting?
A: It just allows him to stay alive a little longer as an enslaved gladiator. Most slaves don’t have the combat skills to go anywhere near the arenas, though (luckily for them). The only way they can legally leave their life of slavery is if they are allowed to hire themselves out on their weekly day off and save their money until they can one day purchase their freedom – assuming their owner is inclined to sell them, of course. Kind owners do occasionally set their own slaves free, but that’s rare. In recent months, though, another possibility has opened up. Tarnestra has become the first province to outlaw slavery, meaning that if a slave anywhere in the Krillonian Empire manages to escape and get there, he or she won’t be sent back and cannot legally be recaptured. However, Tarnestra is now full of homeless and hungry former slaves looking for work, so freedom has not been quite the “happily-ever-after” that many people hoped. (This is the situation that Bensin now finds himself in.)
Q: I see, quite interesting. How hard would it be to pick up this book without reading the prequels?
A: Someone who hadn’t read the first two books in the trilogy would still be able to understand this one. Early on in the story, I do refer back to enough of what came before that things would make sense. However, I think readers would get the sense that they haven’t gotten the full story, so I would definitely recommend reading the trilogy in order if at all possible.
Q: We can facilitate that I think. Here are all the links you need to pick up this wonderful series, which has a new volume coming out now. And you can also contact Annie Lima (that is, once I get her hands out of this manacle- where’s that accursed oil!)
::COUGH, hack ::
Connect with the Author Online:
Amazon Author Page: http://bit.ly/AnnieDouglassLimaOnAmazon
Now, enter to win an Amazon gift card or a free digital copy of the first two books in the series!