I’ve been getting my teeth into some more short story writing before the bell tolls and it’s round one for the next actual book (book 9, title still up in the air, unfortunately (1)). This new offering is The Last Ironclad and, as the title suggests, it’s a direct follow-on from Ironclads, which you should read first if you haven’t already. The reason that this particular story got written, out of the whole bundle of ideas I have bubbling away, is that it’s actually important to Heirs of the Blade – in fact, if you’re familiar with the shorts on this site, a few faces and names will leap out at you from Heirs. It’s an odd thing – the stories were always intended to let me go explore things I didn’t think I’d get a chance to – like the Commonweal in the Twelve-Year War. Now Heirs of the Blade is due shortly, and a lot of that is set square in the middle of the Commonweal, where I finally get to show you what life’s really like over there (2). That means I’ve been dredging my own earlier shorts as reference material, and as the plot came together, some of the more interesting characters from the stories became caught in it, feeding back into the series that had spun them off.

As well as the separate story I’ve written for Tor’s proposed author anthology (no word on that yet), I am midway through a third which should get done before I need to start on book 9. This won’t be prequel material, but instead a very definite exploration of an area I’m unlikely to go back to much in the series. Anyone who wanted a proper look into Lake Limnia, your time may yet come.

So: I leave you with The Last Ironclad.

(1) Either I get the title right from the start or it’s always like a slightly ill-fitting piece of clothing, try as I might…

(2) Stenwold’s flying visit in Salute the Dark notwithstanding.

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