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The Winter of Discontent

Are you ready? The Winter of Discontent, Book 6 of The Ravenstones series, is coming out on August 15th, as usual on Amazon.

"And after summer evermore succeeds
Barren winter, with its wrathful nipping cold"

- William Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part II, Act 2

Winter of Discontent follows upon Death and Life, which was published in May 2022:

  • Winter has descended upon Heimborn. The armies are at a standstill, waiting for the spring fighting season to begin. But waiting does not preclude plotting and scheming, or new adventures and miscues. It does not discourage the ongoing search for the final Ravenstone, the most powerful gemstone of all, or for answers to the many outstanding mysteries. And it does hold back efforts to find new allies in the battle for supremacy between the forces of good and evil.
  • Long-held secrets are finally shared, but answers remain clouded. A rival to Queen Olwen emerges. VulpĂ© wrestles with his conscience. Fridis, undeterred by hazards or impediments, returns to an old haunt. Temorwig confronts his long-held beliefs. He and Rithild put aside their differences, even if only briefly. The mythic black wolves, inspired by a new leader, reappear. Don Grimezel shows signs of life but faces a new threat from an unexpected source. Meanwhile, Eirwen and Parthanyx, like two great chess masters, execute their moves and countermoves.
  • And these are just the main players in the drama. Minor characters, too, will play their crucial roles in driving the story forward. The swift Motya becomes the key link amongst a circle of schemers. The khur Ausam is caught between two opposing forces. The wolverine Gloton dares to take a step outside his comfort zone. And don’t get me started on the conniving leopards.

Having arrived at the penultimate volume in the series, my mind turns back to the beginning, and how I originally described the series. Here are a few of the initial taglines, which seem woefully inadequate now:

  • An ordinary bear facing extraordinary times.
  • The reluctant hero; love, faith, redemption and growing up.
  • Your life story is what you make of it.
  • Reinvention is possible for everyone.

Here’s how I described the first book, Eirwen and Fridis:

  • “A lonely polar bear wakes up on his ice floe to discover all his friends have disappeared. He decides to find them.”
  • “A modest polar bear and an intrepid duck find themselves transported to a parallel world, full of danger and intrigue. There’s no going back. They must make their way in this new land in order to survive and prosper.”

and then the whole series:

  • “The ravenstones, coveted by some and lost for many years, have been found by a most unlikely pair: a common Eider duck and a polar bear. They must figure out how to use them before it’s too late.”

Although The Ravenstones started out as a simple story, with a location in Canada’s far north and focused on one, then two and finally three lead characters, it grew to become a classic heroic quest, involving a complex story of friendship, courage and sacrifice, good and evil, prejudice and ambition and overcoming adversity. Ultimately, it included a portal to a parallel world, an entire cast of 131 (named) characters of bears, wolves, donkeys, dogs, eagles, falcons, apes, elephants and rhinos, various species of big cats and several other individual ones, interwoven with mystery, conflict and adventure.

Of course, the cruel winter season just sets the characters up for one grand finish, which will come in Volume 7, Prophecy Fulfilled, coming very soon.

Once more, the front and back covers for the sixth volume in the series are drawn by Vancouver illustrator, Kari Rust, and, as usual, she has carried on a similar look and feel to the previous five. The front cover (above) depicts the red fox, Vulpé, in conversation with his agent, Motya, one of the key scenes in the story. The back cover (not shown here) depicts a more dramatic scene: Fridis and Lorcan (the northern harrier) caught in a winter storm as they navigate the dangerous mountain passes along the northern border of Heimborn.

I can’t praise Kari’s talents enough. To my mind, they not only capture perfectly what I had hoped to portray, they added dimensions I did not expect. (See and for more information and examples.)

Once again, I thank everyone who’s taken the time to read these posts and/or the book series. It means a great deal to me, and, as always, I appreciate your generous feedback. This post is taking a summer holiday (I’d encourage readers to do the same!) for the rest of August. See you in September.

Happy reading!

Photo by Robert Haverly on Unsplash