Image description: A book, Spear by Nicola Griffith, standing against a white background. The background of the cover illustration 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
- “If Le Guin wrote a Camelot story it would feel like Spear: humane, intelligent, and deeply beautiful.” — Alix Harrow
- “Spectacular—I’ve been waiting years for this book to exist.” — Maria Dahvana Headley
- “There is magic in Nicola Griffith’s words. Prepare to be enchanted.” — John Scalzi
- “Just dazzling!” — Bruce Holsinger
- “Intoxicating, brutal, and entirely compelling—gorgeous.” — Swapna Krishna
- “Breathtaking.” — Jo Walton
- “Mesmerizing, epic, and immersive.” — Malka Older
- “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
- “Brilliant. As good as Hild and even more resonant. I loved this. Clever and gripping and just all around marvellous.” — Tordotcom
- “An atmospheric and lyrical tale steeped in rich historical detail. 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 mines the matter of Britain and Celtic mythology while turning tropes upside down and subverting expectations. A fresh, often lovely, take on Arthurian legend.” — Kirkus
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: 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 are five interior illustrations—and they are beautiful! This is going to be a gorgeous, gift-worthy item.
Here’s an eight-minute clip of me reading the beginning:
It will be published in English, worldwide, in hardcover, ebook, and audio (narrated by me) on 19 April, 2022. Meanwhile, you can pre-order all three 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, or anything else related to marketing and publicity, the people to contact at Tordotcom are Senior Associate Director of Publicity Alexis Saarela and Associate Director of Marketing Michael Dudding.
Or book professionals can request a digital galley from NetGalley or Edelweiss.
*Not a fan of diminutive nouns: Peretur’s not a Heroine, Nimuë’s not a Sorceress, and I most definitely am not an Authoress