Chris Wooding The Iron Jackal

The Iron Jackal

The Iron Jackal

The Iron Jackal (2011)

Things are finally looking good for Captain Frey and his crew. The Ketty Jay has been fixed up good as new. They’ve got their first taste of fortune and fame. And, just for once, nobody is trying to kill them.
Even Trinica Dracken, Frey’s ex-fiancee and long-time nemesis, has given up her quest for revenge. In fact, she’s offered them a job – one that will take them deep into the desert heart of Samarla, the land of their ancient enemies. To a place where the secrets of the past lie in wait for the unwary. Secrets that might very well cost Frey everything.

Join the crew of the Ketty Jay on their greatest adventure yet: a story of mayhem and mischief, roof-top chases and death-defying races, murderous daemons, psychopathic golems and a particularly cranky cat. The first time was to clear his name. The second time was for money. This time, Frey’s in a race against the clock for the ultimate prize: to save his own life.

The Iron Jackal was a cussed and testy little book, as opposed to its two much more agreeable predecessors. It became the newest member of my Hall Of Shame, which incorporates all the books I’ve restarted or given up on because, well, I just got them wrong the first time. Other notables are The Weavers Of Saramyr (threw the whole book away and started again) and The Fade (threw half the book away and started again). This time it only took me a quarter of the book before the alarm bells got too loud to ignore. I’m learning, you gotta give me that.

The problem was that it originally just wasn’t as good as the first two. I was trying to cram in too many storylines, and the plot was too diffuse, and everything was just too slow. Slow for a Ketty Jay book, I mean. Had it been the first of its kind, I probably wouldn’t have had a problem, but by now you guys had, like, expectations and stuff. And I didn’t think you’d take very kindly to a more rambling and introspective Ketty Jay-a-thon. Oh no.

So, being handy with the editorial axe, I chopped out half the plot and reworked the rest. Fret not, the part that was sacrificed will mostly be recycled in Book 4, but for now I needed a more streamlined and straightforward narrative, and so I began again. What is now Chapter 1 was originally Chapter 11 (!!) of the first draft.

Anyway, as always when you really boot the hell out of a manuscript, it came out far better second time around. And some early reviewers and most of the editorial staff were of the opinion that it ended up the best one in the series yet. Of course, such things are not for me to decide, but I can of course airily mention it in passing, the way I just did. Still, it’s always gratifying when hard work pays off. Sounds like the kind of life lesson the crew of the Ketty Jay might learn one day…