The Assassin’s Edge

Artist Geoff Taylor

As this final Tale opens, Livak and Ryshad might seem to have succeeded in the successive tasks they have undertaken throughout the previous four books. But Livak would do well to remember her own words, back before any of these adventures began. ‘Some opportunities ought to come labelled “too good to be true”.’ Now they have to find out if the bond forged over the course of these past few years is strong enough to keep them together in the face of an uncertain future. Are the differences in their attitudes and backgrounds ultimately going to pull them apart?

Inevitably, their personal concerns are inextricably linked to the fate of the Kellarin colony, now under threat from an entirely unexpected foe intent on dominating the vital supply link across the trackless ocean. This would be bad enough but worse is soon to come. Livak and Ryshad together with Temar and Halice, Shiv and Usara, find enemies on every side and allies in short supply, though Sorgrad and ‘Gren can always be relied upon to turn up for a fight. Still, being thrown on their own resources is hardly a new experience for any of them and no one is going to shirk this challenge, even when some pay the ultimate price.

In some ways this was an easy book to write, in other ways, quite the hardest of the five. To make this final story readable for a newcomer to the series, I had to introduce a lot of background material as unobtrusively as possible, and also discard as much backstory as I could, without making a nonsense of the events in hand. With this to be the last book in the sequence, I also wanted to tie up as many loose ends as possible, particularly as regards those characters who’ve come and gone through the series. But bringing everyone back for a grand finale was simply not possible. That would have left me dealing with a cast of dozens, many of whom had no logical place in the story I’d devised. At the same time, I had new characters to introduce, to satisfy the demands of the tale in hand. All this required careful thought and planning.

I was also committed to everything written in the four previous volumes detailing every character’s actions, reactions and attitudes. Knowing all these people so well made it easy for me to see what each one would do, faced with the present dangers. Unfortunately, I was painfully aware that any reader who’s been paying attention over the course of the series would be able to see exactly the same. I had to be true to my characters and the world they live in but at the same time, I had to find the unexpected twists and the play against expectation that will satisfy those readers who have followed all the ins and outs of the series so far, by keeping them guessing, turning the pages and never quite knowing how things will turn out in the end.

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