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Home of Authors Stefan M. Nardi, Jacob S. Nardi, and Damian Jeffrey

Category: Grimdark

Battle of the Sub-Genres: Noblebright vs Grimdark

I have always loved fantasy. SciFi and thrillers are great, but fantasy will always be my one true love. I read pretty broadly in the genre too. From sprawling epics like the Wheel of Time, to nice quick urban fantasy reads, I like a mixture. One thing I have come across in the past year or two is the rise of two new sub-genres; grimdark and noblebright.

The two terms originally came about in the gaming community and eventually expanded to book genres. Grimdark and noblebright have both been around for a fair while, but the terms have become more widely spread and more prominent over the past year or two. Thanks to some stellar authors like Mark Lawrence, Joe Abercrombie, and Miles Cameron, grimdark has by far become the more popular and widely used term. What exactly is encompassed within each of the sub-genres can be pretty vague and whether a book is considered grimdark or noblebright will vary depending on who you ask. I think C.J. Brightley put it best in her article on


The notion that the actions of one person can do little to improve this world in decline, that the forces of evil and inertia and temptation will ensure that all of us are doomed. The best we can hope for is a little struggle with morally ambiguous heroes to oppose danger and maybe rescue for a brief time a few others.


The notion that the actions of one person can make a difference, that even if the person is flawed and opposed by strong forces, he can (and wants to) rise to heroic actions that, even if they may cost him his life, improve the lives of others.

One thing that I have come to realize, is that a lot of people seem to think that you have to choose one or the other. Fans of grimdark will often slander noblebright saying that it is all just unicorns and rainbows and fans of noblebright will do the same of grimdark (obviously without the rainbows and unicorns. If someone can write a grimdark book with rainbows and unicorns in it, I would be seriously impressed). I see people insisting that if you like one, you cannot like the other. And I hear this from both authors and readers. But I’ve never understood why.

Both grimdark and noblebright are fantastic sub-genres and both have their place. I have books in both genres that I love. Miles Cameron’s ‘The Red Knight’ is a great book that I absolutely loved reading. Yes, it can be a bit dark and yes it can be violent, but it’s a great book. Even though I haven’t gotten to the other books in the series yet, I’ve already bought most of them and they are sitting on my shelf glaring at me. I also love Chris Riddel and Paul Stewarts ‘The Edge Chronicles.’ They are brilliant examples of noblebright and they definitely don’t have unicorns and rainbows in them and I have loved them since I first found them when I was a teenager.

And that is what really bugs me about this. I get that people have different tastes and like reading different things but given the broad range in both sub-genres, I’m sure if people gave it a try, they’d find something to enjoy in both.

Anyway, that’s the end of my mini-rant. But I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Drop me a comment below and tell me what you think!

Author Interview: A.Z. Anthony

This week I am interviewing fantasy author A.Z. Anthony. A.Z. Anthony has previoulsy written a number of short stories and his debut novel, Servant Of Rage, is due to be released in April this year!

First off, could you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m renowned author A.Z. Anthony, best known for my genre-warping fiction which crashes global markets, and my humility. More realistically, I’m the author of several award-winning stories, as well as my debut novel, Servant of Rage. I’m also a ghostwriter by trade and a contributor at The Fantasy Hive.

What book are you currently reading and are you enjoying it?

I’m currently reading Supremacy’s Shadow by T. Erik Bakutis and I am absolutely enjoying it. It’s billed as “grimsnark” and it’s definitely had me laughing a fair bit.

Your debut novel, Servant of Rage, the First Book of the Bloodrage Trilogy, is set to launch on April 3, 2018, what is the book about?

Well, some anonymous, but really important person (who’s definitely not me), has called it “Avatar: The Last Airbender as directed by Quentin Tarantino.” But, just in case that word of that really important, definitely famous person isn’t enough, here’s a quick summary:

To kill an heir is to claim their power. But at what cost?

When the khan’s fiercest headhunters, brothers Subei and Bataar, are struck by lightning from a freak storm, they awake to find unnatural powers growing inside them. And they’re not alone – all across the land other “heirs of the ancestors” have been similarly blessed. To kill one of these heirs is to consume their power, but as the brothers do just this, and their power grows, so too does a primal, uncontrollable madness within.

What was your favorite thing about writing this book?

Actually writing it. I’m not the biggest fan of plotting or editing, but I love writing. I always draw up outlines for my novels, but they inevitably change in some ways when I get to the act of physically writing the story. I love that. I love following the text as it develops in unexpected ways and takes me in new directions.

What was the hardest thing about writing Servant of Rage?

Character growth, for sure. I didn’t mean to write a book that required so much character growth, but it turned out to be essential to the plot. I don’t think it’s one of my strongest areas of writing, but advanced reviews have said they liked how the characters grew and changed, so I’ll take it!

How does it feel to be releasing your first book?

At first, it was more stressful. I was worried about a dozen things, primarily, that no one would buy the book. But all that worrying built into an important realization: I was so worried about the book doing well, I’d forgotten to just enjoy my writing. That realization has helped me get back to the basics. Writing for writing’s sake, and releasing the books when they’re done, because, what else do you do with a finished manuscript anyway, eh?

What drew you to writing Grimdark Fantasy?

Joe Abercrombie. He was the gateway drug that led me down this dastardly path. I’ve always appreciated the depth and mixed morality of his characters. I love a good morally gray protagonist, or outright anti-hero. They’re so much more interesting than your typical “good guy.” Also, I’ve always loved hard rock / metal as a music genre, and grimdark really is just the hard rock of the literary world, isn’t it?

What book/series has had the greatest influence on your writing?

Ooh. This one is tough. Based on how Servant of Rage turned out, I’d say Abercrombie’s standalone novel, Best Served Cold. But, my current WIP is a standalone that draws much heavier on survival thriller influences such as Jurassic Park. I’d like to think my writing is moving in a direction to be some abominable mashup of grimdark and man vs. wild, survival thrillers.

In your opinion, which fantasy series has had the greatest influence on the fantasy genre? 

I mean, I have to say Lord of the Rings, right? It’s good – not my favorite story out there – but the influence it has had and still does on the fantasy genre is undeniable.

If you could write in any fantasy world, which would you choose and why?

I’d have to go with the universe of Andrew Rowe’s Sufficiently Advanced Magic. I read that book recently and, while I can’t explain why, it’s just really stuck with me. Something about the world he created fascinated me. I’d love to take a crack at writing in it. But he’s almost done with work on the sequel, and I think reading that will satisfy the craving for a while.

If you could write a book using another writers character, which character would you choose and why?

Oh, jeez. That’s a tough one. I hardly feel qualified to write another author’s characters. I suppose, if I had to answer, I’d want to write Nicomo Cosca from Abercrombie’s works. He’s always been one of my favorite scoundrels. That being said, I’m absolutely sure I’d not be able to do the character justice.

An evil wizard casts a spell on you and transports you to a world from a fantasy novel. Which fantasy world would you want it to be?

I quite like living. Thus, I’d definitely want to go to a world where consequences are not quite ever-lasting and I’d have a better chance of not being randomly slaughtered by a passing lord. So…I’d go with the fantasy world of Nicholas Eames’ Kings of the Wyld. Also, airships. Yes please.

You cannot return from the fantasy world you have been sent to and are doomed to spend the rest of your days there, what profession do you choose to take up?

Airship mate, and if I work really hard, maybe I can make it to First Mate. I’d not want to be captain, though. Too much responsibility. I just want to sail the skies in a badass ancient relic ship and watch the sunset over the horizon.

What is the weirdest place you have found yourself working on a book?

The weirdest place I’ve found myself working on a book is in the pick up / drop off lane of our local T (Boston subway) station. Sometimes while I’m waiting to pick up my fiancee, I’ll write on my phone. Not planning, but actual writing. It’s strange to write on your phone, and it’s much slower than  keyboard, but it gets the job done, eventually.

What weird writing rituals or habits do you have?

The first time I answered this question in an interview, I had to ask my fiancée if I did anything weird while writing, because of course I don’t. Without hesitating, she reminded me that I work out while I write. Every forty-five minutes or so, I do a quick set of exercises with free weights. I find it helps keep me active, encourages the creativity to flow, and the ever-increasing physical exhaustion makes it easier to stay at the keyboard (a comfy computer chair is far preferred to crunches on the hardwood floor with a weight on my head).

Why should readers check out your book?

It’ll fix your love life!* It’ll whip you into impeccable physical shape!** It’ll put money in your bank account!*** And because, as one advanced reviewer put it, Servant of Rage is “a dark yet hopeful tale of magic and morality in a violent world…packed with action, conflict, and enough fighting to satisfy any fantasy reader’s cravings for magical battles.”

*It probably won’t
**It definitely won’t
***It’ll do the opposite, actually

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions today!


About The Book

To kill an heir is to claim their power. But at what cost? 

As the khan’s fiercest headhunters, brothers Subei and Bataar are feared across the steppe. When they’re struck by lightning from a freak storm, however, they awake to find unnatural powers growing within them. And what’s more, they’re not alone.

All across the land other “heirs of the ancestors” have been imbued with these powers. Some call it a gift. Others, a curse. The khan calls it opportunity.
Under the tutelage of two infamous women – one a conqueror, the other a monk – the brothers are sent to the lands of the mighty Zhong empire to hunt heirs and consume their power for the good of the khanate.
With each kill, their powers grow. But so too does something else, boiling beneath the surface until it breaks free in uncontrollable fits of violence. As these so called bloodrages grow stronger and last longer, Subei and Bataar must weigh their duty, and their honor, against the unnatural madness growing within.

Preorder Now

Amazon UK   Amazon US


About A.Z. Anthony

A.Z. Anthony is best known for his genre-warping fiction whose popularity commonly crashes global markets. Also, his humility.

More realistically, he is the author of several award-winning short stories. His debut novel, Servant of Rage, releases April 3, 2018. He’s also hard at work on an additional standalone novel, the two sequels to Servant of Rage, and is a contributor at The Fantasy Hive.

Should you wish to reach out to A.Z. you should know he prefers to be contacted exclusively through Sasquatch-esque whoops and tree knocks. However, he can also be reached through these less effective means:

Twitter: @GrindarkGuy
Goodreads: A.Z. Anthony



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