A quick scan down these bibliography entries will lead you to Demonstorm and my assertion that it was to be the last Raven novel and that there were no plans for more. Luckily, I also mentioned the immortal words ‘never say never’. Because, four years later, along came Ravensoul.
The fact is that something began nagging at me almost from the moment Demonstorm was done and dusted. That although I had written ‘The End’ for the last time in Raven history, it just wasn’t the end. For a while I didn’t know why but, a bit like Vault of Deeds, the idea wouldn’t go away and slowly, it took proper shape. In the days when writing The Ascendants was particularly hard, I gave it considered thought too.
I wanted The Raven to have one last ride, despite the fact most of them were dead. I wanted to examine what happened to the only two survivors and the long-term effects on them of The Raven being gone from their lives but not their memories. And I wanted to express how love transcends the boundary of life and death, how heroes never get a day off whether they are alive or dead, and how these heroes react when they realise that, this time, they really can’t win. Can’t save the world they love.
There’s more of course, and what over-rode it all, when I was talking to my old friend and editor, Simon Spanton, was the desire to make this a genuine next adventure, not some sort of poor cash-in. It had to work and it had to finish with The Raven legacy even grander than before.
I’ll say this too. After the tough times I had writing Shout For The Dead, I wanted to get back into (shorter!) action fantasy and Ravensoul was like a gift from the gods. I also wanted to pay homage to the late, great, Dave Gemmell whom I still miss for his friendship, advice and wonderful hospitality and warmth of spirit.
I bloody loved writing this book. I could reignite the banter between Hirad, Ilkar and Denser. I could write more administrative guidance from The Unknown Warrior. I could trace more fantastic deeds and sacrifice. It was like bumping into friends I thought I’d never see again. An uplifting experience.
That isn’t to say there weren’t problems. A seventh book in a series so beloved of its fans (and author and editor) brings a good deal of pressure. My huge fear was that it would be a let-down. That people would read it and say it was a Raven book too far. That I had just gone for a cash-in on popular characters.
But I kept in mind what I wanted the book to be and I have avoided my fear becoming real. I’ve achieved all that I set out to do with it. I’ve written a book of pace, emotion, action and heroism. I’m delighted with the result and the comments and reviews it is receiving. Ravensoul is a book of which I am very proud. It really is a fitting conclusion to the Raven saga and I can say this time that it is the last Raven novel. Read it, and you’ll know why.