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Ash & Raif

Book IV Completed

Yes, Book IV in the Sword of Shadows is finally finished and will be published this year. April in fact. Not a very long wait at all. I hate to give anything away and spoil surprises but I will say that all those people who have been writing to me asking "What happens next with Angus Lok?" may well have their question answered.

As there’s only a couple of months before the publication, I thought we’d better get started with some information. So without further ado here we go.
The Facts
  • Watcher of the Dead will be published simultaneously in the US, UK/Australia on April 14th.

  • The story picks up about twenty days after the final events in A Sword From Red Ice, with Raif in possession of the sword named Loss.

  • Watcher will feature an updated “Story So Far” section, where you can quickly catch up on the action. Crunching the events of the previous three books into seven pages was quite challenging, but I think there’s sufficient information to refresh the memories of returning readers and bring new ones up to speed.

  • I cut an entire storyline from the book. We’ll call the character featured in the storyline “Mystery X”. She’s someone you’re familiar with and someone you’ll be hearing from in Book V. However, the storyline you’ll read in Book V will be different than the one I wrote for Book IV. Why? The best answer I can give is a series is dynamic. One character's actions effect others. What made sense at the beginning of Book IV made less sense toward the end.

  • With the fourth book in the series, Sword of Shadows has now exceeded 1,000,000 words.

  • Watcher of the Dead breaks with the series tradition of having the word “ice” in the title. Not only were we running out of colors (seriously, who wants to read Beware of the Yellow Ice?), but unlike the first three books, ice doesn’t feature prominently in the plot. There are no ice caverns. No frozen fortresses or bodies of water. Plus, it’s Spring in the clanholds. And while I’d hardly call it warm, the rivers and lakes are thawing.

  • “Relentless and powerful. This is damned good stuff,” is how Glen Cook, author of the excellent Black Company Series, describes Sword of Shadows. Other praise includes a starred review by Publishers Weekly (their highest accolade) and Booklist declaring the series, “Outstanding.”
Cover Art
The US cover is painted by J.P Targete, who used a portion of the early manuscript for inspiration. It captures a lot of what happens to Raif in Book IV; his transition from Raif Sevrance to Watcher of the Dead and the cost of wielding Loss.
UK cover art for Watcher of the Dead depicts the same setting and the same two main characters as the US cover. The illustration was painted by David Wyatt. Two artists, two different interpretations.
The scene in the Prologue where Sadaluk, the Listener of the Ice Trappers, finds a week-old bear carcass that is frozen on the outside but warm inside is based on fact. Reindeer found in similar condition have been reported by the Evany people of Siberia. One thing I like to do in each book, is show readers additional sections of the Hailhouse (clan Blackhail’s dome-shaped fortress). It’s a large and sprawling structure and there’s always more areas to explore. This time we get to see inside Blackhail’s strongroom, a chamber that is only accessible through the warrior hall known as the Greathearth.
In the frigid wasteland of the north, Raif Sevrance, Watcher of the Dead, has endured many trials to lay claim to the renowned sword known as Loss. But the price of wielding the legendary weapon is high, and Raif is unsure if he is willing to pay it. Ash Marsh, Daughter of the Sull, still struggles to come to terms with her heritage, and the knowledge that the Watcher, armed with Loss, could be the one who will save the Sull, or end them. Raina Blackhail, widow of a murdered ruler and wife of his brutal successor, has seen her clan disgraced and has, herself, taken up the mantle of chief. But there are enemies both beyond her gates and within. And in the murky swamps of the Stillwater, two children will learn the secrets of the Marsh clan. Secrets so old they threaten everything...
Hot Women, Cold Ice
Here they are, the fierce women of Sword of Shadows. Don’t mess with them. They’re armed. They have serious attitudes and fearless wardrobe choices. Be afraid, be very afraid.
Targete’s Dark vision
This is J.P. Targete’s preliminary sketch for the US cover. It depicts a scene in the book, and captures perfectly the nightmare that has become Raif Sevrance’s life. Raif is wielding the legendary sword named Loss. You can see the weight of the blade. It’s not a weapon designed for defense. It's forged to kill.
Wolf Dog
Secret Map
What would Tem Sevrance make of his son now? What advice would he give to a man who could heart-kill any target he set in his sights? What laws governed Raif Twelve Kill, Watcher of the Dead?
There’s a world of hurt out there, the watcher thought as he maintained pressure on the woman’s throat. He’d seen it, he’d inflicted it, now he lived it. The woman didn’t know her luck. Live or die, it barely mattered. She still wouldn't know her own luck.
Quick Quotes:
"Relentless and powerful. This is damned good stuff."
"A lot of people have been waiting to hear what became of Angus after he returned to the farmhouse. Watcher tells that story. As I was writing, I realized that the title, which originally referred to Raif Sevrance taking possession of the sword named Loss, also applies to Angus Lok as well. Angus watches the living and believes he is no longer one of them. He waits in the shadows and watches for the one who has wronged him..." JV