The first in a planned trilogy, Dragonslayer is the story of Guillot, a dragonslayer in a seemingly now-dragonless world.
Once a great swordfighter, following the death of his wife five years prior and feeling purposeless without, Gill has struggled with alcohol abuse and a purpose-less life. When a dragon—a species formerly thought extinct, begins terrorizing nearby towns—Gill is ordered by the king to slay it, unbeknownstly pulling him into a larger plot that could have repercussions across the entire kingdom.
We had the chance to chat with Hamilton about creating the world of Dragonslayer. Here’s what he told us…
Den of Geek: In this novel, we get several chapters where we see from the dragon’s point of view. Since discovering his mate and brood were killed, we can’t blame him for wanting to attack the humans in the surrounding town, but he has some surprising revelations, and questions whether these humans should be punished. Was it important to empathize with the dragon, all while following Guillot on his journey to slay him? Does seeing from the dragon’s point of view perhaps explore issues that other monster-slaying stories avoid?
Duncan M. Hamilton: I think there’s an element of “everybody being the hero of their own story” in this. While I feel there is something engaging about the idea of a brave hero going off to slay the mindless ravening beast, it’s not particularly nuanced. Part of what has always fascinated me about dragons from different world cultures is (some of) them being wise and intelligent. I wanted to explore that idea, and making them POV characters was the obvious way to do it. I think being able to empathize with the dragon makes for a far more compelling story.
Gill fits the mold of the heroic dragon slaying knight but for one key detail made clear from the beginning — he’s way past his prime. For the majority of the story, that fact is brought up again and again — with nary a Rocky training montage to put him in the right shape. Why did you choose a hero who by all means shouldn’t pick up a sword anymore, who struggles with alcoholism and has a grating personality to authority figures?
I’ve done the coming-of-age approach a couple of times now, and wanted to try something a little different with my main character, someone older who’s reached a stage where he feels the high points of his life are well behind him. That was the starting place for me. Beyond that, the character develops out of the experiences I see them as having had in their backstory, which is where the smaller traits come from.
Writing a story from several characters’ viewpoints must be a challenge. How do you determine what parts of the story to tell and from whose perspective?
Usually, it’s pretty straightforward to work out which character the scene is most impactful on, so I’ll almost always go with that one, unless I’ve a very good reason not to. Where it gets tricky is keeping the separate plot arcs running along a consistent timeline when the characters are apart. That can be a real headache come editing time!
Will we see more of the history of the Silver Circle revealed in the next installments? I really enjoyed discovering clues about the past alongside Gill and Solene.
Yep, there’ll be a little more lore on that to come, as their role and the ancient world they existed in is developed more.
What is your favorite part about starting a new fantasy trilogy? Is it the world building, the plot, the characters?
All of it really. It’s the sitting down with a blank document at the start of the day, and having new characters, places, and deeds starting to form by day’s end that I really love.
Was Dragonslayer or your previous publications inspired by anything in particular? Or — What fantasy and scifi inspires you to write, and what might you recommend?
There’s not really anything in particular. For the dragons, I leaned toward real myths and legends as a starting point, then embellished to my own taste as I went. Different aspects of history that interest me will usually be the starting point for my stories, and then I wonder what type of people inhabited that place, what their lives were like, and I develop the plot and characters from there.
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