|The Last Siege
When Emily, Simon and Marcus discover the deserted castle, it seems like an escape from the midwinter snows and their individual loneliness. But their occupation of the ruin quickly takes on a momentum of its own, and soon threatens their friendship, their freedom and their lives.
After the full-blooded fantasy of Buried Fire and the more ambiguous approach of The Leap, I wrote this novel, in which the only fantasies are in the mind of one of the protagonists. I tried to be as minimalist as possible here – with only three characters and the single location of the castle and its wintry grounds; in this it’s pretty much the opposite of The Amulet of Samarkand, which I was working on at the same time.
The castle, with its ruined outer walls and formidably intact keep, is based on an actual place – Castle Rising in Norfolk, England. I went there in my childhood and later, in about 1993, during a snowy winter. The memory of the flat white fens and the isolated castle stayed with me for years before I spun a story round them. I tried to make my castle as real and three-dimensional as possible, and sketched its layout as I wrote. My wife Gina drew the finished floor plans that appear in the book.
"Packed with suspense and palpable tension… this compelling thriller is impossible to put down."
"a gripping novel of real originality… The careful setting-up, subtle delineation of character, meticulous observation of the castle itself – in some ways the story’s main character – and the gradual increase in the pace and tension of this riveting narrative mark this as a novel of real skill and technique."