Blog Archive

View My Stats
Wednesday, February 24, 2021

COVER REVEAL Q&A: A Game Of Gods ( The Great Hearts II) by David A. Oliver (by Mihir Wanchoo)

Today we have the pleasure of unveiling the cover for David A. Oliver’s The Great Hearts II: A Game Of Gods. David’s debut was The Great Hearts and it was a story that wowed me a lot. I’ve been thinking about this series a whole lot over the past couple of years. So it was my absolute pleasure to find out that David had granted us the opportunity to showcase the scintillating cover for the sequel to The Great Hearts.

David also answered a few questions about the sequel, the series as well as his plans for the future. So read ahead and check out the epic cover by J. Caleb Clark.

Q] Welcome to Fantasy Book Critic David and thank you for your time. How have things been with you in 2020?

Thanks for having me Mihir, it’s a pleasure. 2020. That’s a year that I imagine will long go down in history as being pretty dire. I’ve been more fortunate than many, haven’t caught COVID-19 and my job remained intact, but the year frankly went past in a blur of lockdown boredom. The plus side was that I managed to get a substantial amount of writing done!

Q] Let’s talk about the stunning cover for The Great Hearts: A Game Of Gods. Please tell us how you and your cover designer worked together to create it?

I work with Jake Caleb Clark for the covers of the Great Hearts series. He is really easy to get along with and is super up for trying out new ideas. I had a particular scene in mind from the second novel and Jake was all over it, the first proof he sent through is practically the one you see now. He took the idea, ran with it and the output ticked all the boxes of my vision. A heads up for arachnophobes – you might want to close your eyes.

Q] What was your first reaction when you saw it? How does it hold up (in your opinion) to what the main story is about?

I loved it. Visually I think it sets the scale of the scene in question where the protagonist is facing off against a horde of giant spiders along with their very unhappy mother. There are a lot of desperate moments in that fight and I think the cover captures the awe and horror of the upcoming battle nicely.

Q] Let’s talk about A Game Of Gods, a lot of authors have a harder time writing the sequel to their debuts? How was the experience for you? What were some of the inspirations for you during its writing?

It was simultaneously harder and easier. The first book was very much authoring by the seat of my pants where I just wrote and whatever happened was just as interesting to me as it might be for any readers. I still largely followed that approach for the second, but revolved it around set piece moments that I planned beforehand which I think helped structure it a little better. It also probably helped that I began this after writing the first draft of Draconis (currently unreleased), which was a very different style of book with multiple points of view that really made me understand the need for planning!

Q] One aspect of The Great Hearts which I really loved was the crazy SF-Adventure-fantasy mix of the plot. How much of the sequel will follow in the same/similar footsteps?

Hah! I feel like coming across sci-fi within a fantasy world is somewhat of a marmite moment – you either love it or hate it. The sequel doesn’t touch quite as heavily on the sci-fi elements as the first, which had a sci-fi heavy ending twist, but sprinkles little bits throughout; such as a society that has built their towns around powered down mechanical walkers.

Q] What was the inspiration for the main story? Where did the idea come from and what compelled you to see it through to the end?

Much of this came from watching seasons of Alone combined with rock climbing. The protagonist is currently training to become an Imperator – think James Bond with magic – and the training is brutal. The plot of the second novel spends substantial time revolving around a survival exam (hence Alone) and other dangerous missions that they take on whilst training. The overarching story for the series is something formed after the first novel – believe me when I say I wrote that not knowing what was going to unfold – and since then I’ve been fleshing out the world on paper and in my mind.

Q] Can you tell us more about the world that The Great Hearts is set in and some of the story’s major characters? What are the curiosities of this world?

DO: The Great Hearts
takes place primarily within the lands of the Andurran empire, which is ruled over by a charismatic, enigmatic and above all else powerful Emperor. The books follow the protagonist, Calidan, in two formats:
- The first shows the ‘present day’ where he is a fully fledged Imperator and somewhat twisted by past experiences who seemingly reviles the Emperor.
- Whilst the second (and majority) follows his path as a youth and his steps to become an Imperator.

One of the primary features of the series are the titular Great Hearts, which are legendary creatures of massive proportions that can bond to certain people, enhancing their skills in a number of ways. In Calidan’s case he meets a black panther called Seylantha (Seya) in the first novel and she helps train, guide and all-round mother him whilst getting up to all sorts of cat like antics.

Regarding the world, in terms of the sophistication of the local populace think medieval times with swords and bows the primary weaponry. But, as you pointed out above, there are allusions to certain individuals or places having access to modern or even futuristic technology. Great Hearts aren’t the only large creatures within the world either, as you can probably guess from the cover of the second novel there is at least one giant spider as well as giant boars and trolls to name a few. The empire might be relatively safe and civilized but heading out into the wild can be a dangerous pastime.

Q] So what can readers expect from A Game Of Gods and what should they be looking forward to according to you? 

DO: A Game Of Gods delves more into the training that Imperators receive at the Academy, the hardships that they go through in their development and the brutal examination to enter the fourth year. If you like battles against monstrous creatures then the second novel features plenty of those and if you want to learn more about the Emperor then this one is certainly for you.

Q] How many books are you planning to write in this series? Coincidentally will the series be also called The Great Hearts?

Currently I have five loosely planned out, but that might extend to six with the potential for some novellas. The title of the series is The Great Hearts, and yes, I probably should have given an interesting subtitle to the first novel but *raises hands apologetically* I hadn’t thought that far ahead at the time.

Q] It’s been just around four years since your debut and I’m sure the readers will want to know what will be the timeline for the publication of the remaining sequels?

Ah. Yes. To anyone who has been waiting a long time for this, apologies for the delay. As a reader who also impatiently waits for the next novel in a series I can understand the frustration. It might help to know that I spent the time largely working on another novel which I intend to release this year that has nothing to do with The Great Hearts (Draconis – see above), but that’s probably scant comfort.

The first draft of the third The Great Hearts novel is sitting around half way done and I’m aiming to get that out this year. Finishing the second novel has confirmed to me how much I actually love writing and I’ve set a target of 10k a week this year which I am comfortably hitting, so with any luck you’ll see the rest of the series much more rapidly.

Q] What are you reading currently? Are there any current authors or books which you would like to give a shout out to? 

DO: I’ve fallen into the trap of reading LitRPG lately. It’s a surprisingly addictive genre that makes for easy reading and I’ve been consuming them somewhat ravenously. One of the most interesting I’ve read from that genre lately is Iron Prince by Bryce O’Connor & Luke Chmilenko – coming-of-age LitRPG in a sci-fi setting? Count me in.

Q] In closing, do you have any parting thoughts or comments you’d like to share with our readers?

When I first wrote The Great Hearts, I prefaced it as having attempted to write something that I, personally, would want to read. It turned out that what I wanted to read was a strange mash up of sci-fi and fantasy with weird monsters and a surprising amount of violence. Apparently, that is what a fair amount of you also enjoy and huge thanks to everyone who has read it – this sequel is for you.


OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: Calidan Darkheart has survived monsters, men and the first years of the Academy, but will he be able to survive a higher power than his own?

As a young student at the Academy and freshly dealing with the loss of a dear friend, Calidan must endure a new trial; one that will test every fibre of his being. If he survives, he will be forged into something new and be one step closer to his ultimate goal. Revenge.

Alone in the dark, Calidan the Imperator has so far managed to avoid the clutches of a rampaging beast but now seeks to escape and fulfil his lifelong dream. Intent on saving his best friend Cassius and heading deeper into the barren wastelands, he seeks a prey that will eclipse all others.

He might find that the reality is more than he can handle.

David Oliver’s second novel in the Great Hearts series brings back the dual adventures of past and present day Calidan, following the protagonist’s journey from earnest youth to a cold and forbidding Imperator.

Brutal combat, terrifying magics, dark secrets and the antics of a certain panther lay within.



Click Here To Order “The Combat Codes” by Alexander Darwin!!!

Order HERE


Click Here To Order “Spirits of Vengeance” by Rob J. Hayes

Order HERE


Click Here To Order “TSairĊ’s Claw” by Virginia McClain!!!
Order HERE


Click Here To Order “The Company Of Birds” by Nerine Dorman!!!
Order HERE


Click Here To Order “The True Bastards” by Jonathan French!!!
Order HERE


Click Here To Order “Rumble In Woodhollow” by Jonathan Pembroke!!!
Order HERE