Image description: A book cover for Spear by Nicola Griffith. 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:
A spellbinding and subversive queer recasting of Arthurian myth by the legendary author of Hild
The girl knows she has a destiny before she even knows her name. She grows up in the wild, in a cave with her mother, but visions of a faraway lake come to her on the spring breeze, and when she hears a traveller speak of Arturus, king at Caer Leon, she knows that her future lies at his court.
And so, brimming with magic and eager to test her strength, she breaks her covenant with her mother and, with a broken hunting spear and mended armour, makes her way on a bony gelding to Caer Leon. On her adventures she will meet great knights and steal the hearts of beautiful women. She will fight warriors and sorcerers. And she will find her love, and the lake, and her fate.
Award-winning author Nicola Griffith returns with Spear, a glorious queer retelling of Arthurian legend, full of dazzling magic and intoxicating adventure.
Praise for Nicola Griffith’s Hild
“As loving as it is fierce, brilliant, and accomplished. To read it felt like a privilege and a gift.” —NPR
“Nicola Griffith is an awe-inspiring visionary . . . I finished the book full of gratitude it exists.” —Dorothy Allison
Spear is a short novel 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 knows.
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: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (publisher of Hild and my other non-SF novels), and Tor.com (publisher of science fiction, fantasy, and horror). Excitingly, there may also be budget for interior illustrations; more on that when I have it—but I think this could be a beautiful, gift-worthy item.
Here’s a very short (3-minute) clip of me reading the beginning:
It will be published in world English in hardcover, ebook, and audio on 19 April, 2022.
Meanwhile, you can pre-order the audio, hardcover, and ebook editions now from most book retailers:
Or see this enormous list of independent booksellers in the UK, US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland.
For those interested in review copies the publicist at Tordotcom is Lauren Anesta, and the marketer on the book is Theresa DeLucci.
*Not a fan of diminutive nouns: Peretur’s not a Heroine, Nimuë’s not a Sorceress, and I most definitely am not an Authoress