Image description: A book, Spear by Nicola Griffith. On the cover, the background is charcoal, shading to black at the bottom, with the author’s name at the top is orange-red and the title, at the bottom, and ‘from the author Hild’ in white. The main image is of a great hanging bowl of black iron with inlaid figures and great bronze escutcheons for the hanging hooks. It is wreathed about by smoke and flame and steam, and the steam forms images: in white, woods with a woman and a stone and a sword; about the trees, shading to orange, is an figure with a spear on a horse; a fort gate and box palisade, and over all, flying up in the smoke towards the author’s name, two birds.
From the publisher
She left all she knew to find who she could be . . .
She grows up in the wild wood, in a cave with her mother, but visions of a faraway lake drift to her on the spring breeze, scented with promise. And when she hears a traveler speak of Artos, king of Caer Leon, she decides her future lies at his court. So, brimming with magic and eager to test her strength, she breaks her covenant with her mother and sets out on her bony gelding for Caer Leon.
With her stolen hunting spear and mended armour, she is an unlikely hero—not a chosen one, but one who chooses. Aflame with determination, she begins a journey of magic and mystery, love, lust and fights to death. On her adventures she will steal the hearts of beautiful women, fight warriors and sorcerers, and make a place to call home.
The legendary author of Hild returns with an unforgettable hero and a queer Arthurian masterpiece for the modern era. Nicola Griffith’s Spear is a spellbinding vision of the Camelot we’ve longed for, a Camelot that belongs to us all.
Early Praise for Spear—Author blurbs
- “Humane, intelligent, and deeply beautiful.” — Alix Harrow
- “Spectacular—I’ve been waiting years for this book to exist.” — Maria Dahvana Headley
- “Magic… Prepare to be enchanted.” — John Scalzi
- “Just dazzling!” — Bruce Holsinger
- “Intoxicating, brutal, and entirely compelling.” — Swapna Krishna
- “Breathtaking.” — Jo Walton
- “Mesmerizing, epic, and immersive.” — Malka Older
- “Mesmerizing…A lyrical Bildungsroman drenched in the natural world … with stakes that are at once epic and personal…a marvelously concise epic that is entirely Griffith’s own.” — Locus
- “Fresh, emotionally immediate, steeped in period texture that brings remote history fully into the present, this tale of destiny, belonging, and home is a genuine pleasure.” — Publishers Weekly
- “Fresh, poetic, and sensuous, Spear’s prose is gorgeous.” — Chicago Review of Books“
- “Peretur’s journey is a pleasure, a lovely flexing of Griffith’s strengths in short form.” — New York Times Book Review
- “Spear, with its sparking and immersive prose…is a heady and healing draught.” — Ploughshares
- “Every sentence sings… This immersive and inclusive retelling is breathtakingly beautiful, sharing a vision of…nuance and joy.” — Buzzfeed
- “Incisive and devastatingly beautiful.” — Vulture
- “A small new masterpiece…passionate, graceful…a sharp and sensual truly human story.” — Ancillary Review
- “Brilliant. As good as Hild and even more resonant. Clever and gripping and just all around marvellous.” — Tordotcom
- “An atmospheric and lyrical tale. Griffith breathes vibrant and dazzling life into a stunning new take on Arthurian legend.” — Shelf Awareness
- “Gorgeous . . . This slim volume manages to capture its reader and tell a complete story in just under two hundred pages. Spear is truly one of the best.” ― Grimdark
- “The prose is magnificent… I am in awe. It is sorcery, it must be.” — Salon Futura
- “Griffith [turns] tropes upside down… A fresh, often lovely, take on Arthurian legend.” — Kirkus
- “This sparkling interpretation of Arthurian legend…combines interesting historical detail with appealing, inclusive characters in a genuinely delightful way.” — Booklist
- “A magical fantasy, Spear feels both entirely familiar and vibrantly new.” — Nerdist
- “Spear is both subversive and brilliant… It is sublime, a work of art.” — The Nameless Zine
- “Amazing…layered, fascinating, relatable… I adored this book.” Smart Bitches, Trashy Books
- “The gender-bending Arthurian adventure of your wildest dreams!” — Autostraddle
- “Griffith returns with a new masterpiece, bringing her passionate, graceful voice to the ever-changing corpus of Arthurian legend with Spear, a subversive and genderbending take.” — Strange Horizons
- “Insightful…lyrical prose that draws the reader into a fascinating world, an impressive achievement, and a worthy addition to Arthurian tradition.” — Historical Novel Society
Spear is set in sixth-century Britain: like Hild, but with magic—not only the wild magic of the landscape, and of love and the human heart, but also the sword-swinging, monster-killing magic of myth and demigods. Instead of the Conversion Age, though, this is the Matter of Britain, but Arthur/Arturus does not live in castle, Merlin/Myrddyn is not a Good Guy, Nimuë is most definitely not a femme fatale, Guinevere/Gwenhwyfar is steely rather than an ingenue, and Percival/Peretur… Well, Peretur is definitely not the Peretur we think we know—not even the Peretur Peretur thought she knew.
Think of Spear as Hild let off the leash, unbound by those pesky historical constraints—and set a hundred years earlier, in Wales rather than England. The setting is throughly Celtic-flavoured, and so is the language: I aimed for prose that’s rhythmic and rippling and periphrastic. Arturus’s Companions (the Warriors Formerly Know As Knights of the Round Table) are much more various than the myth, the grail is very much not what it seems, and Caer Leon/Camelot is queered six ways from Sunday. In many ways, though, all that is peripheral. What takes centre stage is the journey of Peretur, a girl and then young woman who leaves home to find out who she is. Climate change and other real-world events are there as underpinnings—you won’t notice unless you’re looking—but essentially this is a Hero’s Journey, or, more accurately, a
Heroine’s* Real Hero’s Journey. All Heroes set out to win, and Peretur is no exception, but winning for her is not just about the slaying of monsters, human and otherwise—which she most definitely does, and with great élan—but about connecting: finding her people and a place to belong.
In many ways this book is a kind of homecoming—not just for Peretur but for me: a coming-together of two parts of my career. So I’m thrilled it will be published in an unusual editorial collaboration between two of Macmillan’s imprints: MCD/FSG (publisher of Hild and my other non-SF novels), and Tordotcom (publisher of science fiction, fantasy, and horror). Excitingly, there are five interior illustrations by Rovina Cai—who also created the cover. (Here’s more detail about the finished object—it’s truly beautiful close up.)
I narrated the audiobook of Spear. I wrote a two-part post about the experience. Here are some clips of that reading:
Or if you prefer something longer, here’s eight minutes from the beginning:
Where to buy
Spear is published in English, worldwide, in hardcover, ebook, and audio (narrated by me). Order from most book retailers:
Or see this enormous list of independent booksellers in the UK, US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland.
- There’s a map—and a juicy blog post to go with it.
- Spear‘s furry, feathered, and fluttery friends—who doesn’t like pictures and reels of readers’ books and cats and dog and dinosaurs and butterflies?
- An essay about the dangers of National Origin stories and the perils of stale historiography
- Some of my favourite reviews [TK]
me talking about the book in print, in podcasts, and on video [TK]
For those interested in review copies, or anything else related to marketing and publicity (interviews, appearances, book signings and so on), the people to contact at Tordotcom are Senior Associate Director of Publicity Alexis Saarela and Associate Director of Marketing Michael Dudding.
*Not a fan of diminutive nouns: Peretur’s not a Heroine, Nimuë’s not a Sorceress, and I most definitely am not an Authoress