Today marks one year since Mountain of Daggers‘ release.
I’ve written before about the journey it took for it to finally hit print, as well as the various inspirations. But in honor of Black Raven’s birthday, I wanted to share a few bits about my roguish hero. And because there are eleven stories, I figure I should give eleven fun facts.
1: The first story, Birth of the Black Raven, was meant as a stand-alone with an open ending. I’d never intended for it to have any sequels. I nearly changed it to a flashback story where at the end a much older Ahren is recounting the tale to a new initiate into the Tyenee. Thankfully, I decided against it.
2: While most fantasy thieves are usually depicted in a cloak, Ahren always wears a wide-brimmed hat. I chose the hat because that’s what seemed the most practical for a sailor to wear. (Despite the cool appearance, cloaks murder peripheral vision.)
3: A news article about diamond smugglers loading their goods into hollow crossbow bolts and firing them outside the perimeter of diamond mines to retrieve later is what inspired The Reluctant Assassin.
4: Because the first story lacks any magic or fantastical elements, I wrote the The Porvov Switch to bring in demons, magic, and introduce Delakurn’s only obvious non-human race, quellens.
5: The Ferrymaster’s Toll was originally slated to appear in Flashing Swords #13 as the featured story. The magazine folded before it hit print.
6: Originally, Mountain of Daggers was 14 stories and over 90,000 words. When Rogue Blades wished to publish it, I was asked to cut that down to 60,000 words, add some newer stories I had already written, and release it as two 60,000-word collections. Three stories were cut and moved to Sea of Quills. Washed Ashore was originally set after Reluctant Assassin. The Gilded Noose was to take place after Darclyian Circus. The Raven’s Cage was the original closing story.
7: The Seventh General came about after I had a new boss that immediately began pushing me out of a former job. It was also the last story written for the first collection.
8: Dolch is inspired by the repeat villain Murdoc on MacGyver.
9: While Ahren has a reputation as an assassin, he never actually murders anyone “on screen.” The people he’s shown killing are always armed and actively posing a threat to him or to his companions. This was an intentional throwback to the old pulp heroes. In The Ferrymaster’s Toll he does commit murder, but the reader only sees the bodies after the fact. He’s also shown murdering the unarmed villain in The Reluctant Assassin, but that guy was a dick and totally deserved it.
10: Race for the Night Ruby was the second Black Raven adventure I wrote. It’s also my favorite in the first collection.
11: The Tyenee symbol is described as a mountain of upturned daggers. I had no idea how that actually looked when I wrote it, but thought that it sounded cool. When artist Dider Normand was commissioned to create the original cover art, we had to figure out what the symbol actually looked like. It took several rounds before we had the final look.
Original concept sketches
Actual medallion made by Campaign Coins
And you can buy one at my Store!