Ryan Van Loan is joining us today to talk about his novel, The Memory in the Blood. Here’s the publisher’s description:
The Memory in the Blood is the pulse-pounding conclusion to Ryan Van Loan’s The Fall of the Gods series, featuring sea battles, hidden libraries, warring deities, old enemies, and one woman’s desire for liberation and revenge.
When her quest to destroy the Gods began, Buc was a child of the streets. Now she is a woman of steel, shaped by gaining and losing power, tempered by love and betrayal, and honed to a fine edge by grief and her desire for vengeance.
A perilous, clandestine mission to a hidden library uncovers information that is key to destroying both the Dead Gods and their enemy, the Goddess Ciris. Ciris’s creation, Sin, who lives inside Buc, gives her superhuman abilities and tempts her with hints of even greater power. With that power, she could achieve almost anything—end the religious war tearing her world apart, remake society at a stroke—but the price would be the betrayal of everything she has fought for . . . and the man she loved would still be dead.
In the middle of this murderous, magical maelstrom, a coded message smuggled out of the heart of the Dead Gods’ cathedral reveals that the Dead Gods intend to destroy Ciris—and much of the world with her.
This. Will. Not. Stand.
If Buc has to destroy all Gods, eat the rich, and break the world’s economy to save the people, she will do it. Even if it costs her everything.
What’s Ryan’s favorite bit?
RYAN VAN LOAN
My favorite bit for The Memory in the Blood is actually the cover art*. And not just for this book, but for the trilogy as a whole. Cover art is always a tricky business for authors. Mainly because we generally have little say on them. I know a lot of industry folks who think authors should stay in their lane and I’ll be the first to admit that I am not a designer, but I am a lifelong reader and book buyer and I know a good cover when I see one. I also know a bad one, but I’ve been fortunate with this series’ covers and that’s why I wanted to highlight them today. I think they do a great job of tracking the progression of my protagonist Sambuciña “Buc” Alhurra’s growth and development throughout the series. Let me explain.
When we first meet Buc in The Sin in the Steel, she’s a diamond with all rough edges–an autodidact streetrat turned private investigator with sharp blades and an even sharper tongue. Buc and her partner in crime-solving (and suspiciously good swordsman) Eld are blackmailed by the most powerful trading company in the world to solve a mystery empires have failed to crack. Not impressed with their attempted blackmail, Buc turns the tables on them in exchange for a seat on their board…see our streetrat has other plans. Plans that involve overthrowing her corrupt society, but she knows she’ll need to come up in the world to do that. Of course, she still needs to solve that mystery, but first she’ll have to face down pirate queens, mages, and the undead. Oh and the trading company has a noose waiting for them should they fail to succeed. Then the Gods get involved and all bets are off. It’s a rip-roaring, high seas adventure with loads of worldbuilding surrounding this chaotic, too bright for her own good, young woman.
And the cover totally captures those elements.
In the sequel, The Justice in Revenge, Buc and Eld find themselves with seats of power in the gearwork, island empire of Servenza. They’ve come up in the world and Buc can’t wait to play the hand she’s dealt herself, but the deeper she’s drawn into the wealthy elite the more she discovers that power comes with strings sharp as razor wire attached. As things turn from pirates to politics the pair find themselves tossed into the deadliest mystery of their careers with gondola chases, running street fights, and a Masquerade ball that threatens to unmask Buc’s schemes to overthrow not just the wealthy, but the Gods themselves. Capturing all of those inner-thematic elements on a cover is no easy task, but I really like how this came together. Buc is a little older, she’s no longer that rough and tumble woman from the streets, and we get a glimpse of the opulent society she’s infiltrated.
With the pulse-pounding conclusion, The Memory in the Blood, Buc is now a woman shaped by her experiences, standing alone in her quest to destroy the Gods. Only Buc has grown, and she knows she can’t overthrow the Gods by herself. She’ll need to rally her ragtag found family in order to uncover the information key to winning her shadow war. Unfortunately for her, that war is no longer fought in the shadows, it’s spilled into the streets of every nation as the Gods fight each other while searching for this woman who would be Godskiller. Featuring hidden libraries, desperate sea battles, old enemies, and a twist that threatens to tear the world asunder, Buc holds no punches as she rushes towards the climactic finale of her three-book adventure. The cover is appropriately apocalyptic and Buc a little older, wiser, and very clearly calm in the maelstrom surrounding her. But then, Buc would be.
After all, she always has a plan.
*Peter Lutjen, of Tor Books, was the art director and jacket designer for this series and I’m grateful for his discerning eye in making Buc come to life across the books
Ryan Van Loan is a Fantasy author who served six years as a Sergeant in the United States Army Infantry (PA National Guard) where he served on the front lines of Afghanistan. His work has appeared in numerous places including Tor.com, Fireside Magazine, Crime Reads and many more. His debut novel, The Sin in the Steel (Tor Books), Book One in the Fall of the Gods series came out in Summer 2020, the sequel, The Justice in Revenge followed in Summer, 2021, and the conclusion to the series, The Memory in the Blood drops July 12th, 2022.