Though I hope that Raven's Shadow feels like a stand alone novel, it was really a set up for this story. One of the reasons it took me so long to write Raven's Shadow is that I had to plan this novel at the same time. Raven's Strike is a better book than Raven's Shadow -- or, more accurately, the duology, Raven's Shadow and Raven's Strike, reads better than Raven's Shadowdoes by itself. I knew it was going to work that way, but I couldn't see how to change that without making the duology less than it could be. Based on the speculations that I've heard about this book, I think you will be very surprised at the twists this one takes. Hopefully you'll enjoy the journey as well as I have.
When I'm writing, I collect snippets of story ideas from all over. Sometimes the germs of the story are lost to edits -- at one time Raven's Shadow had a regency feel to the scenes in the palace, which is entirely gone from the final book. One of the germs for this duology came from my experience in reading history. Have you ever noticed how accurate most fantasy world's histories are? "A thousand years ago, Hrothgar Hornblower brought his people to this island and fought the dragon Kerrotick" and sure enough our intrepid adventurers travel to the island and find the skull of the dragon and Hornblower's sword beside it. Hey, I thought, history isn't that accurate. So I took that idea and played with it a little in the duology. In the first book, I told you what Seraph's people think about their history -- in the second book, you'll find out what really happened.
I suppose that it is probably time for a confession, too. I don't know if I've said this elsewhere, but I wrote Raven's Strike very fast, something under six months -- and it is my longest book to date. I don't have an entirely accurate time frame -- but it was after MisCon 2004 (which is at the end of May) that my agent said, "Oh by the way, Patty, when I was talking to Anne (my editor) she asked if you'd finished the second Raven book as it was due May 15th. Ulp. I looked at my monitor which had page 50 in the upper right hand corner. So I called Anne and got an extention to August. I wrote the whole book the first time between the first part of June and the last day of August. It usually takes me a year to write a book. In the original, the last hundred pages (written in three days, as I recall) were almost indecipherable. Anne sent it back with corrections, and a very kind "I know that you have an idea here, but I can't quite figure out what you're trying to say." Yep. Ever try to write at four in the morning? The third day gets pretty surreal. Anyway, I tossed the last hundred pages and replaced them with a hundred and fifty different ones. The novel only works because I had to know what happened it in before I could write the first book. When I got the copyedits back, one of Ace's editors (copy edits go through my main editor, Anne, a copy editor and a line editor) had written "Stupendous" on the last page. I've never had an editor do that before. Whenever I start to get too nervous -- as I often do just before a book comes out. I take out the copy edits and look up the last page. I really, really, am happy with the way this duology turned out, and I wish you good reading.