It’s 33 weeks, now, until A Gathering of Ravens is published. That seems like such a long wait, but then I did a quick investigation of file data followed by a bit of math and came to the conclusion that this book has been in the works for nigh upon ten years.
A Gathering of Ravens had its genesis in a dream. According to my old blog, that dream occurred on 15 August 2006:
“I woke Tuesday morning to a vivid dream-image: A figure standing atop a precipice of broken rock, sword in hand, long black hair drifting on the wind and obscuring a non-human face. Below, surging up a narrow gorge, comes a horde of veiled warriors clutching saw-toothed scimitars, spears, and wickedly-curved knives. This is the only part of the dream I fully recall; the rest is hazy. On the surface, it seemed common enough for me – pulpy and obviously inspired by too much REH and too many Frazetta paintings. But the emotion is what forced me awake, like I was witnessing the tail-end of some heart-and-gut-wrenching saga. Immediately I jumped up, fired up the laptop, and started throwing stuff on paper. By breakfast I had four single spaced pages of notes, history, background material, and research topics.” (“When Ideas Attack”, posted 17 August 2006)
By 14 October 2006, I revealed that the thing I’d been working on – dubbed the Unnamed Fantasy Project – would be a novel featuring Orcs (from a close reading of posts, I seem to have kept the Orc part under wraps for fear of being put off by the nay-sayers). I had enough info to post an introductory snippet:
“The gods made them warriors; Mankind made them invincible.
“Forged in a brutal environment of isolated valleys and snow-clad peaks at the Roof of the World, the Orc tribes of the Zhrokari Mountains had known no masters save the gods of sky and rock; being warlike, neither had they known peace. For a hundred generations clan fought clan, tribe fought tribe, to the pleasure of their savage gods.
“But, two centuries ago, when an army of Men dared set foot in the fastness of the Zhrokari, the independence of the Orcs became their greatest liability. They were zealots, these Humans, followers of Ash’a, the God of the Blade—those pious warmongers who had subjugated the East, men whose harsh and austere Faith had forged a holy empire from the ghost-haunted ruins of ancient Nerona. The tribes resisted, but without a leader strong enough to overcome centuries of in-fighting their resistance was in vain. The followers of Ash’a descended upon the Orcs in a rain of cleansing iron. Those not slain outright found themselves shackled and driven south, into the lowlands, to begin a new life in bondage to the Prophet of a foreign god . . .” (“A Secret Revealed”, posted 14 October 2006)
As you can see, the book was initially going to be a created-world fantasy, set in a world called Tharduin (used as the setting for my Orc short-story, “Amarante”, in the upcoming issue of Skelos). I went on to write:
“The Orcs … are one part Vandal, one part Afghan tribesman, and one part Mameluke; they possess none of the near-clichéd attributes of their literary brethren. They’re not inherently evil or blighted; they have no aversion to sunlight; they don’t require a powerful non-Orc will to guide them; they are not green, simple-minded, or piggish.” (“A Secret Revealed”, posted 14 October 2006)
All that work went into a synopsis. And I’m sharing it here for the first time. Behold, the very roots of A Gathering of Ravens . . .
And while 33 weeks is a long time, it’s never too early to pre-order a copy!