Hey there, everyone! Today I’m joined by author A.J. Rettger to show off his recently released Dark Fantasy debut, Oathbreaker. Not gonna lie, I was getting some major Witcher vibes from the blurb, and we all know I can’t say no anything remotely reminiscent of one of my favorite series (and gaming franchises) of all time. Turns out I was on the right track! This story sounds fantastic, and I hope to add this to my stack of reads in 2021.
Keep scrolling to learn more about the book and meet the author. We have a great chat about this book baby of his, what he’d do differently during the process of publishing his first novel, and what lies ahead.
Oathbreaker by A.J. Rettger
PUBLISHED: November 27, 2020 by Friesen Press
GENRE: Dark Fantasy
For thousands of years, elves and non-humans alike had lived freely until humans colonized their land and forced them into hiding and subjugation. After years of living as slaves or second-class citizens, the elves rebelled, but their uprising failed, and humans remained victorious.
Mario Deschamps, a new graduate of the Knight’s College, sets off to complete his first deed, an accomplishment that will grant him knighthood and into the ordo equestris. But he has huge boots to fill. His late father, a famous knight and considered the Scourge of Bandits, single-handedly ended the Elven Uprising. Mario’s youthful confidence, vanity, and naivety don’t get him far in the real world, and he quickly finds himself trapped in a political climate where tensions are on the rise and war is inevitable.
In a world filled with monsters, outlaws, bounty hunters, demons, and murderous bandits, Mario is forced to make tough moral decisions. In a world fuelled by violence, hate, and bigotry, things are not as clear cut as he once thought. Lines have been drawn, but to complete his task, he must cross them all. With every choice, the consequences weigh greatly on him, leaving him full of guilt and doubting his path…and all the while, in the darkness, someone—or something—is waiting for him to break…
Meet the Author
A.J. Rettger lives on a farm near the small town of Aberdeen Saskatchewan with his dog, Zeke. He has a bachelor’s of education degree, as well as a certificate from a private vocational college. His hobbies include playing Dungeons and Dragons, listening to heavy metal, and reading and writing fantasy books. Oathbreaker is his first book.
Thanks so much for stopping by for a chat, A.J. Since we already have your official bio, care to tell us about yourself in ten words or less?
I’m a guy who listens to too much metal music.
Give us an idea of how Oathbreaker came to fruition.
I honestly started this book out of petty spite. I didn’t agree with who they cast as Geralt in the Witcher (my favourite book series) on Netflix. Although I love the choice now, I started this book as a way to write a story as great as Andrzej Sapkowski’s (a lofty goal, I know).
Can you share with us something about Oathbreaker that isn’t in the blurb?
It’s very dark and gritty. If you are expecting a Harry Potter or another Y.A. fantasy novel, I’m afraid you’ll be sorely mistaken. One of my beta readers described it as “…if Quentin Tarantino wrote a fantasy novel!” I only hope that other readers agree with that comparison!
Was there any specific research you’ve done or inspiration you’ve pulled from for this story of yours?
I watched a lot of fantasy and historical fiction shows and movies to get the creative juices flowing. I binged mainly on The Last Kingdom, Vikings, Cursed, The Witcher, etc.
What do you hope your readers take away from Oathbreaker?
I hope that they take away that not every fantasy novel has to be disconnected from reality. What I mean by that, when you pick up a book, the characters shouldn’t be free of the realistic (and sometimes grim) consequences of their actions. They should have to face the consequences, just like the rest of us.
What comes first, the plot or the characters?
That’s a tough one, but I’ll have to say characters. You can have the most engaging plot in the world, but if your characters fail to resonate with the readers, they will eventually get bored and set your book down. Which is the last thing we want!
Do you have a favorite character you’ve written? If so, who? What about them sets them apart from all the others?
I personally love Alistair. I feel like he is the best “villain” I’ve written. Whenever I wrote his dialogue, the words seemed to pour out of me. It was such an easy process with him. What sets him apart is the mystery. He is so elusive that the reader might not even know that he’s there, but he is essentially the motor that drives the plot forward after the first act.
What do you think makes a good story?
Good characters, an engaging plot, and realism, I hate reading books where every character is protected by the plot.
If you could go back and change how you approached writing your debut novel, what’s the one thing you’d do differently?
I definitely would try to steer towards my strengths more. In the beginning, I tried to write like my idols (Sapkowski, Ryan, Tolkien, etc.) instead of writing like me. I think once I developed my style and trusted my instincts, that’s when the words really jump off the page.
Writing can be a stressful pursuit. Do you have any tips for aspiring authors?
Take action! If your novel idea is burning a hole in your mind (like mine did), put the metaphorical pen to paper! Otherwise, we might miss out on the next great masterpiece.
Thank you again for taking the time have a chat, A.J. Tell us what lies ahead for you!
Next up is promoting this book like hell while writing my second novel (which may or may not be a sequel).