Guest Blog: The Grimdark Reality of the Human Mind by Frank Dorrian author of To Brave the End.

As part of my author guest blog series I am proud to present another guest blog spot. Frank Dorrian the author of To Brave the End has been kind enough to write a guest blog post for MightyThorJRS today. I am very excited and I would like to thank Frank for the opportunity to host this Guest Blog. 

To Brave the End: A Tale of the Blackshield Dogs

(Tales of the Blackshield Dogs Book 1)

by Frank Dorrian

Is due out February 28, 2017!

So go get yourself a copy!




The Grimdark Reality of the Human Mind

by Frank Dorrian

The world of grimdark fantasy, while the term itself is still obscure outside its own circles, is growing at a pleasantly steady rate each year. While the big names of the sub-genre continue to craft their next monoliths of the niche’s definition (Mark Lawrence’s Red Sister being the offering I myself am most looking forward to this year) and draw new, fresh-faced grimdarklings into our grubby little fold, there are also a whole host of new names springing up with the sole intention of darkening the world of fantasy.

As is often stated, a main tenet of grimdark is its propensity for shocking, and occasionally disturbing, realism. Often (though not always) this is at the expense of the fantastical elements of the genre. But, as they say, reality is stranger (or in grimdark’s case, skin-crawlier) than fiction.

One thing I myself have noticed in the rising wave of grimdark, is writers beginning to implement some of the more realistic elements of human psychology and mental illness in their works. Whether being used to craft more believably flawed or more sinister characters, the non-Hollywood reality of mental illness and psychological disorder is becoming more well-known to society in general and well-used in works of fiction – Joe Abercrombie, in particular, has wielded this effectively, both in the past and in recent years. My own books, The Shadow of the High King and To Brave the End, incorporate both a severe personality disorder and bipolar affective disorder respectively in their main characters.

Coming from a background in mental health nursing this is naturally fascinating to me. So, I thought I’d discuss a few points that other grimdarkers might want to include or incorporate into their own writing, as there is nothing on earth darker than the human mind.



One of the most common and debilitating mental illnesses in the modern day. The cold, brutal reality of depression is pretty much as grimdark as it gets, whether literary or in reality. Ranging from mild to psychotic in severity, it is something that renders people a shell of what they were, unable to think, feel, bathe or even move depending on how severe it is. Far from being self-pity or a bit of the blues, self-harm and suicide are common outcomes of untreated depression.

Even when controlled through medication and beneficial lifestyle changes, it is a shadow that will always follow after its victims, biding its time, often in the company of its loathsome cousin – anxiety.





Schizophrenia is perhaps the least understood mental illness of all, thanks primarily to Hollywood and the mainstream media. It is also one of the most grimdark.

Frequently, people will cite schizophrenia as split personality disorder. There’s no such thing.

Schizophrenia is, in reality, one of the most terrifying and crushing illnesses a person can suffer. It literally means ‘shattered mind’. Characterised primarily by psychosis, the illness causes the sufferer fixed delusions and distorts their perception of reality into something completely different to what others experience.

The most common symptom of this is hallucinations, most commonly in the form of voices. Often these take the form of command hallucinations, and can be extremely dangerous depending on their content. Others suffer physical sensations, taste things, smell things or see things.

Due to the delusions it can cause, people with schizophrenia tend to be reclusive to the point of their own physical detriment, living in constant fear from things their own minds create, constantly assailed by voices, visions, smells, tastes and feelings of things that do not exist.


Bipolar Affective Disorder


Another misunderstood illness, bipolar affective disorder in reality is far more than simple ‘mood swings’.

Manic episodes can result in self-destructive behaviour, lack of inhibition, extreme impulsiveness, recklessness, irrational thinking, delusions of grandeur and violence and aggression. On the contrary, the depressive episodes many also experience can be crippling and life-ending, and suicide is an ever-present threat.

A unique component of bipolar is that many of its sufferers actually have insight and awareness of their condition, and even enjoy their manic episodes – many even equate it to being high, and describe it as empowering and liberating.



Personality Disorders


Psychological disorders rather than mental illnesses, personality disorders could be considered perhaps top of the pile when it comes to the true grimness of the human mind.

Jorg Ancrath from Mark Lawrence’s Broken Empire trilogy is perhaps the best grimdark literary example of this I can think of.

Stemming primarily from childhood trauma, personality disorders are usually associated with erratic or self-destructive behaviour, depressive symptoms, self-harm and suicide attempts, emotional instability, the inability to maintain relationships, impulsiveness and frequent changes of appearance or image. Violence and aggression towards others is also common.

To add to the chaos they already cause for those who suffer them, people with personality disorder can also suffer a mental illness in tandem. Frequently, this can be depression and/or anxiety.

Coming under this umbrella term are perhaps two of the most well-known and generally misunderstood disorders, as well as the most potentially dangerous towards others depending on their severity – psychopathy and sociopathy.

Think Hannibal Lecter and Ian Brady, and you’ll understand what the severe end of psychopathy is.

The interesting thing about personality disorders is that everyone – literally, everyone – has some kind of trait or leaning towards at least one of them (there’s about 30 that are recognised).


So – there you have it, a small taste of the grimdark world of the human mind. Hopefully it’s been an educational insight into this realm, maybe even sown the seeds for a delightfully disturbed character or two among you, who knows!

Myself, I’m looking forward to seeing what 2017 holds in this respect with its upcoming releases – give me that which is grim!



Frank Dorrian was born in 1987 in Liverpool – his hometown, a post-industrial cityscape, served as poignant inspiration for his creative efforts. He would commence writing in earnest during his teenage years, composing stories to sate desires of both expression and introspection.Today, Frank is a qualified mental health nurse. He works in the field with people suffering severe psychiatric and psychological disorders, and additionally offers private mind coaching sessions for those needing a refreshing take on life’s trials.

When not writing, Frank spends his spare time reading, playing computer games and attending a martial arts gym. He has previously competed as a fighter domestically in the UK and abroad in Thailand.

His first book, The Shadow of the High King, a dark fantasy novel, was released 30th August 2016.




To Brave the End: A Tale of the Blackshield Dogs

(Tales of the Blackshield Dogs Book 1)

by Frank Dorrian



Many faces, many names, have passed through the ranks of the Blackshield Dogs. But few of them ever surpassed the bloody reputation of the man known and feared on Caermark’s battlefields as Red Harry.


But before he was Red Harry, before he was anything, he was Harruvard of Werrewood, a man-at-arms sworn in service to Lord Gadrin Strael.


Injured and left for dead during a bitter conflict along Lord Gadrin’s borders, his life was saved by the kindness of a stranger. But as Harruvard’s past refused to let him go, that same kindness soon would be stained red.


In the deep of winter, beneath creeping snows and biting ice, the black seeds of the monster Harruvard would become were sown by the hands of men, and nurtured by their cruelty.




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