Stephan Grundy June 28, 1967 – Sept 29, 2021 From his humble beginnings, Stephan Grundy/Kveldulf Gundarsson would make his mark on the world by writing
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Forlorn Hope is a military/mystery fantasy set in a Landsknecht environment: the general political/social organization is that of an alternate sixteenth-century Europe with magic in addition to primitive gunpowder, the presence of fantasy races such as elves and dwarves, and so forth. The hero, Wolfram, is of noble birth but cast out from his family due to the discovery that he carries Dark Elvish blood (and is hence presumably a bastard). Having made the best of things by joining a Free Company, he is unexpectedly framed with a serious breach of Company regulation – serious enough that he must choose between immediate execution and joining the penal division (known as Forlorn Hope, because the chances of anyone surviving three battles in what is, essentially, a shock/sacrifice unit are minimal). His only supporter is a young magician, Marshal Gudrun; however, her master Alberich (who is also the Company’s Provost, its final arbiter) is firmly convinced of Wolfram’s guilt. Having been cast out from one place of honor through no fault of his own, Wolfram enters Forlorn Hope with a deadly determination to clear his name.
Armed with the suspicion that Wolfram was framed for a reason, Wolfram and Gudrun quickly begin to discover suspicious elements in the Company’s new-signed contract. They must play the dangerous game of investigating the corruption within the Company – which may go all the way to the top – while Wolfram tries to stay alive in the most dangerous parts of the battlefield and Gudrun attempts to conceal her misgivings from the master magician Alberich. Forlorn Hope takes place in a world much like Europe’s sixteenth-century might have been – if our sixteenth century had been troubled by magic, non-human races, and the direct struggle between Light and Dark, Chaos and Order. Its progress was faster than ours to varying degrees in some respects: healing arts, aided by magic and the gods, are obviously much more efficient; the position of women is noticeably stronger, again because magical and spiritual power are more directly effective in both military and civilian contexts. In others, it was slower: noble society is closer in many ways to the fourteenth century than to the sixteenth, maintaining a much stronger emphasis on personal fealty, the chivalric education of young men, and so forth; the supremacy of the main organized Church remains unchallenged, etc. However, the increasing development (and obvious efficiency) of a non-class-based military which might, for the first time, be described as “professional” (perhaps most importantly, in the capability to take a peasant boy and turn him, through constant and thorough drilling, into a full-time soldier who doesn’t have to go home and harvest the fields every autumn, but continues to drill and fight as his career until he dies or retires), is coming more and more into conflict with those ideals.
Written as a wandering narrative, the story follows one specific character through his adventure in this military unit that doesn’t always have a reputation of keeping all the members alive, the adventure unfolds through a sprawling tale through this fictional world that mirrors historical notes mixed with fantasy elements. Fans of Carnival Row will definitely like this book, as it features a mix of fairies, orcs and trolls backdrop in early Cimbrian culture.
A complete breakdown of Forlorn Hope, including some ‘spoilers’, expansive notes, and much more, created by an actual reader of the novel.
The Landsknechte (also rendered as Landsknechts; singular: Landsknecht, pronounced [ˈlantsknɛçt]) were German-speaking mercenaries, consisting predominantly of pikemen and supporting foot soldiers, who became an important military force in early modern Europe. Their front line was formed by doppelsöldner, renowned for their use of arquebus and zweihänder in the early modern period. They formed the bulk of the Imperial Army (Holy Roman Empire) from the late 1400s to the early 1600s.
Paperback: 491 pages
Item Weight: 1.06 pounds
Dimensions: 5 x 1.11 x 8 inches
Release Date: September 18, 2019
BISAC: FIC014010; FIC002000
$14.00 [Print], $8.00 [Digital]