Category: Book Reviews

Newsletter – January 2021

JANUARY 2021

This is UK author Tim Walker’s monthly newsletter. It can include any of the following: author news, book launches, guest author profiles, book reviews, flash fiction and poetry.
Are you an author or a poet? If so, then please contact me for a guest author or poet’s corner slot in a future newsletter: timwalker1666@gmail.com

Author News
Firstly, happy new year to all of you – let’s hope for better things in 2021. As for me, I’m writing my winter novel – something I’ve done for the past four years (I have got into the habit of planning and research in September/October, writing from November to March, then getting it proof-read and copyedited, the book cover finalised and launch strategy worked out). But having finished my epic five-book series, A Light in the Dark Ages, with 2020’s Arthur Rex Brittonum, I’ve retired that set of characters and set my mind on writing a standalone novel.

My work-in-progress is titled Guardians at The Wall, and it will be my first attempt at a timeslip novel. I got the idea for a story involving intrigue amongst archaeologists meshed with a Roman soldiers’ story on a trip to Hadrian’s Wall sites and museums in September 2020 (between lockdowns!). Time slip, I’ve recently discovered, can be a sub-genre of either historical or science fiction that combines two strands to the story – contemporary and historical/another time. As I know little about this, I joined a Facebook group, Historical & Time Slip Novels Book Club, to find out more.
I posted a statement about my work in progress and asked for suggestions, and received dozens of useful comments, including a link to a blog article by author, Kathleen McGurl, on writing dual timelines. She provides her own definitions of the different types of time slip stories that gave me pause to reflect on what I was attempting:
Kathleen has identified three types of time slip novel:
Time travel – characters deliberately and intentionally travel through time. Science fiction.
Timeslip – characters unintentionally and accidentally slip through time. Supernatural/magic.
Dual timeline – a mystery from the past is uncovered and resolved in the present day. The story is told in two timelines, woven together. No science or magic needed.
From these definitions, I can firmly locate my project as dual timeline. My contemporary story involves a search to uncover a mystery and to piece together the actions of a Roman centurion in the second century, posted at Hadrian’s Wall. The historical story is the story of that centurion, outlining what actually happened all those years ago. The archaeologists must piece together what they think happened based on scraps of information, and then search for the location of a buried payroll chest.
Kathleen has shared how she approaches writing her novels (BTW, her latest book is The Forgotten Gift – see below) and it resonates with how I’ve approached my story, giving me comfort and the confidence to push on.
She makes each chapter a single timeline, alternating between her two stories, so reader knows what to expect; chapters are typically 3,000 words in length (to give the reader a chance to get into each timeline before swapping); chapter 1 and the last chapter are the contemporary story – the character with whom the reader will most identify; make both stories equally strong.
She goes on to advise authors that they will need several elements for a successful dual timeline: two linked stories; strong characters in each timeline; a great setting that the reader sees in both timelines; an item turning up in both timelines; and a theme to help tie the stories together.
So, thanks for the advice, Kathleen – now I just need to write it!

What would you do to protect the ones you love?

The Forgotten Gift by Kathleen McGurl

1861: George’s life changes forever the day he meets Lucy. She’s beautiful and charming, and he sees a future with her that his position as the second son in a wealthy family has never offered him. But when Lucy dies in a suspected poisoning days after rejecting George, he finds himself swept up into a murder investigation. George loved Lucy; he would never have harmed her. So who did?
Now. On the surface Cassie is happy with her life: a secure job, good friends, and a loving family. When a mysterious gift in a long-forgotten will leads her to a dark secret in her family’s history she’s desperate to learn more. But the secrets in Cassie’s family aren’t all hidden in the past, and her research will soon lead her to a revelation much closer to home – and which will turn everything she knows on its head…
Discover a family’s darkest secrets today. Perfect for fans of The Girl in the Letter, The Beekeeper’s Promise and The Forgotten Village!

Our featured guest author this month is Jean M. Roberts who lives with her family outside of Houston, Texas. She graduated from the University of St. Thomas in Houston with a BSN in nursing. She then joined the United States Air Force and proudly served for 8 years. She works full time as a nurse administrator for a non-profit.
A life-long lover of history Jeanie began writing articles on her family history/genealogy. This in turn has led to two works of historical fiction. She is currently working on a third book, The Heron, due for publication in April 2021. Jean has kindly written an article for us on the period of American history she is particularly interested in.

Her first novel is:  Weave a Web of Witchcraft

This is the haunting tale of Hugh and Mary Parsons of Springfield, Massachusetts. Using actual testimony recorded in their depositions and trials, the book recreates the story of this ill fated couple. Happily married in 1645, their life slowly disintegrates into a nightmare of accusations, madness and death. By 1651, Hugh is accused of witchcraft by his own wife and soon the entire town turns against him. Hugh’s friends and neighbors tell outlandish tales of unnatural occurrences, ghostly lights and mysterious beasts then point the finger of blame squarely at Hugh. In a wild turn of events Mary confesses that she too is a witch and has danced with the devil. Both Hugh and Mary are deposed and sent to Boston to stand trial for witchcraft before the General Court of Massachusetts; one is charged with murder. Their very lives hang in the balance. Exhaustively researched, this book is filled with vivid details of life on the frontier of Massachusetts, and brings to life the people who struggled for existence in the harsh world that was Puritan Massachusetts. Predating the famous Salem Witchcraft Trials of 1692 by almost forty years, this is the page turning story of a tragic couple whose life is overtaken by ignorance and superstition.

War in the Colonies
As an American, I can trace my ancestry to the British Isles. According to my DNA profile, I am 100% Anglo/Irish. I am also a lover of history. Like Tim, I am a novelist, but although I adore medieval English history, I don’t know enough to write with any authority. My historical novels are focused on Colonial America, from the early beginnings, through the War for Independence.

My first book, Weave a Web of Witchcraft is set in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1650. The story revolves around a real couple, Hugh and Mary Parsons, who were both accused of witchcraft. My second book, Blood in the Valley, is the fictionalize tale of my ancestors before and during the American Revolution. The story follows them from New Hampshire to the wilds of the Mohawk Valley of New York.

This brings me to my next book, The Heron, which has a dual time narrative; modern day and the 1690s and is set along the banks of the Oyster River in New Hampshire. War plays a big role in this chilling story, specifically, King William’s War. This was the opening conflict of what was to be called The French and Indian Wars. A brutal fight, waged on both sides, it would last until 1763, when a peace agreement, the Treaty of Paris, was signed by the European powers. But the fight with and against the native people on the American continent continued well into the 19th century.

Like many American children, I grew up playing games we called ‘Cops and Robbers’ and living in Texas, ‘Cowboys and Indians’. The cops and the cowboys were the good guys; men in white hats riding white horses. The men in black, the bad guys, were the robbers and the Indians. We fought over who had to be the baddie, the enemy. The idea of the ‘bad Indian’ was ingrained in us from a young age.

From the day the first white man stepped ashore, the Native population has been maligned. Englishmen were smarter, braver, they had God on their side and like all conquerors, entitled to take what they wanted. England itself had been swept by conquering peoples from time immemorial. The Romans, the Saxons, the Norsemen, the Normans. It was the natural order of things.

Along with guns, and a healthy sense of superiority, Europeans brought plague and pestilence with them to the new world. Historians call it ‘The Great Dying’, 90% of the native population perished. The Americas were ripe for the taking. In a way, I can see a parallel between the beleaguered American natives and the people of England, the Romano-British people who banded together under King Arthur to fight the Saxon invader and preserve their land.

In 1620, a group of English religious separatists, set sail for the Colony of Virginia. At that time, the territory of Virginia stretched as far as today’s New York, and their intended destination was the mouth of the Hudson River. They didn’t make it. Blown off course they found themselves far to the north. This year, 2020, marks the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower voyage.

When we think of the Pilgrims, fresh off the boat from Plymouth, England, newly landed on the Cape of Massachusetts, images of a peaceful Thanksgiving dinner come to mind. The starving settlers were aided by Native Americans, taught to grow food in the unfamiliar land. It’s a lovely narrative but this peaceful co-existence was short lived.
As wave after wave of Englishmen arrived on the shores of North American, the Native Americans became increasingly concerned. Conflict was inevitable.

Loss of land, subjugation to harsh English law, and enslavement led to a rise in tension between the two peoples. In 1675 the Native Americans along the North East coast banded together under the leadership of a Wampanoag man, Metacom. The English called him King Philip. The Natives lashed out at the interlopers.

This war, King Philip’s War, was a full-out assault on the colonists in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut. Together with warriors from Nipmuck, Pocumtuck and Narraganset tribes brought death and destruction to the Colonist, their combined efforts all but drove the colonist into the sea. If they had held together, the English would have been penned up in coastal cities, and possibly forced to abandon New England.

But this was also a war between Native Americans. The Mohegans and the Mohawks of New York, allied themselves with the English and fought against Metacom and his coalition. For the better part of 14 months, Metacom and his warriors ravaged New England. He was captured and killed in August of 1676 and the fight gradually dwindled until the signing of a peace treaty in Casco, Maine in 1678. Hundreds, if not thousands of native fighters and their families were rounded up and shipped to the Caribbean to work as slaves on the sugar plantations.

Peace did not last long. In 1689 King William of England declared war on France. As battles waged on the Continent, simmering tensions in the Colonies flared. Canada was, at that time, a French territory. The Governor, Louis de Buade, Comte de Frontenac, devised a three-prong plan of attack against the Colonies of New York, New Hampshire and Massachusetts (Maine was part of Massachusetts). In the winter of 1690, a force attacked the town of Schenectady in New York, a second attacked Salmon Falls in New Hampshire and the third destroyed Fort Loyal in Maine. The loss of the Fort, near present day Portland, emptied the frontier.

Hundreds of settlers, men, women and children were killed or taken as captives to Canada. The numbers may not seem significant but the population of these settlements was small, and so the impact of losing males of working age had a huge effect on the economy and the ability of these people to survive. That these people survived at all is testament to their tenacity. King William’s War ended 1697 but flared again in 1702 with Queen Anne’s War.

For many Americans this is dry dusty information, naught but boring dates without meaning. If your family, whether they were of English descent or Native American, lived in New England in the 17th – 18th century it is almost certain that they were also affected by these wars. If nothing else the mental toll must have been enormous. In fact, Mercy Lewis, one of the Salem Witchcraft accusers fled the attack on Casco Bay in 1689, where her parents were both killed, leaving her an orphan and forced to work as a servant. It has been suggested that the psychological damaged inflicted by the war might have played a part in her role as an accuser.

As most know, the native population of America was pushed further and further west, just as the remains of the British population were pushed into Wales and down into Cornwall. Or, they were forced to assimilate into the in new culture. King Philip and King Arthur have many similarities, their biggest difference being, King Arthur is a hero and King Philip a long-forgotten fighter for Indian freedom.

My upcoming book, The Heron, is set along the Oyster River of New Hampshire. This area was subject to repeated attacks during King William’s War. My story has two main characters, Abbey Coote a modern-day woman and her ancestor Mary Foss who struggled to survive, not on the war, but life in general. My story is full of period details and as accurate a portrayal of life in the 1690s as I could get. Be sure to check it out. Its release date is April 15 2021.

In Poet’s Corner this month we have Michael le Vin, a writing mate of mine from our Windsor Writers’ days. Now, he is more likely to be spotted turning up at Slough Writers’ meetings and events. His poem, Tammany Adieu, won the Slough Writers Annual Poetry Prize / Competition, 2020.

Tammany Adieu
By Michael le Vin

The desolation.
Waves lapping at the shallop’s hull. A kind of kissing;
January’s North Atlantic wind keening.
Bitter, biting face and hands.
Adel, weeping in rhythmic slow lament, as Boston fades in the mouth of the
Charles, desecrating the memory of the father she loved.
The man she knew.
At home.
A man of simple tenderness. Caring, loving, true
Looked after her dying mother, his second wife, adopting Adel as his own.
A man of political passions too, the father she loved,
The man she knew.
The public man.
Hard and strong, whisky swilling.
He could outdo the lads,
Happily gamble his silver dollar.
But fight for a cause, give women a vote, equal rights for all
Regardless of race, or gender or kin.
The battle-hardened politician.
The father she loved.
The man she knew.
His death.
His collapse at Tammany Hall. A shock!, Disquiet.
A deafening silence, before a fall.
Interring him in an unmarked grave, political allies and adversaries alike
demanding redress.
His birth certificate, said “Mary Anderson, born Govan 1840”.
Cynically they buried him…. in a dress….
The father she loved
The man….. she thought….. she knew

August Newsletter

AUGUST 2020
This is UK author Tim Walker’s monthly newsletter. It can include any of the following: author news, book launches, guest author profiles, book reviews, flash fiction and poetry.
Are you an author or a poet? If so, then please contact me for a guest author or poet’s corner slot in a future newsletter: timwalker1666@gmail.com

CHARLY IN SPACE is the third Charly Holmes adventure story from father and daughter writing team, Tim and Cathy Walker – out in e-book and paperback from Amazon on 1st September!
You can pre-order the e-book for a modest £1.77/$1.99 HERE

13-year-old schoolgirl Charly’s inquisitive nature once more gets her into trouble, and leads her to another exciting adventure. But this time it is the ultimate adventure of going into space and visiting the International Space Station. Not only does she go to Space, but she has the opportunity to prove that her theory about alien dogs is true!

This book is suitable reading for children aged 9+ and is the third book in a series, following on from The Adventures of Charly Holmes and Charly & The Superheroes.

This month, I’m delighted to welcome fellow historical author, Allie Cresswell, to Guest Author Focus.

Allie Cresswell began writing fiction as soon as she could hold a pencil. One Christmas she asked her parents for a stack of writing paper as a gift. Not surprisingly, they were happy to oblige.
Allie wrote copiously – but not very legibly – until the gales of laughter at her high-octane thriller based in London’s seedy underground (possibly she meant underworld) sent her into the closet. She was about eight years old. After that time, writing was secret, earnest and angst-ridden.
In 1992 she began her first novel – Game Show. With no encouragement from anyone, it took ten years to finish, its completion impeded by the school-run, the village flower and produce show and the ancient computer that regularly failed to ‘save’ any progress that might have been made.

Nine more novels followed. Allie writes contemporary fiction as well as historical fiction. Her best-selling saga, Tall Chimneys, spanning the twentieth century, tells the story of a woman and her strange, isolated, dilapidated house in Yorkshire. Currently Allie is working on the first of a series of prequels to Tall Chimneys. The first of these, The House in the Hollow, due to be released at Christmas, is set during the years of the Napoleonic war.
This is a period where Allie is comfortably at home. Her Highbury Trilogy is set in the Regency. Inspired by Jane Austen’s Emma it imagines the little town in Surrey thirty five years before Jane Austen’s fourth novel begins. The first two books follow the fortunes of the Bates family. Then, turning the focus of Emma forty-five degrees, the third book explores the characters of Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill whose childhoods and meeting in Weymouth are hinted at but never fully explored in Emma.
Allie’s writing has been compared to Alice Munroe and Barbara Pym as well as to Jane Austen. She is the recipient of two silver medals and an Honourable Mention in the prestigious Readers’ Favourite competition, as well as the coveted One Stop Fiction Five Star award and a Pink Quill award.

MRS BATES OF HIGHBURY

Thirty years before the beginning of Emma Mrs Bates is entirely different from the elderly, silent figure familiar to fans of Jane Austen’s fourth novel. She is comparatively young and beautiful, widowed – but ready to love again. She is the lynch-pin of Highbury society until the appalling Mrs Winwood arrives, very determined to hold sway over that ordered little town.
Miss Bates is as talkative aged twenty nine as she is in her later iteration, with a ghoulish fancy, seeing disaster in every cloud. When young Mr Woodhouse arrives looking for a plot for his new house, the two strike up a relationship characterised by their shared hypochondria, personal chariness and horror of draughts.
Jane, the other Miss Bates, is just seventeen and eager to leave the parochialism of Highbury behind her until handsome Lieutenant Weston comes home on furlough from the militia and sweeps her – quite literally – off her feet.
Book two is The Other Miss Bates
Book three is Dear Jane

TALL CHIMNEYS

Considered a troublesome burden, Evelyn Talbot is banished by her family to their remote country house. Tall Chimneys is hidden in a damp and gloomy hollow. It is outmoded and inconvenient but Evelyn is determined to save it from the fate of so many stately homes at the time – abandonment or demolition.
Occasional echoes of tumult in the wider world reach their sequestered backwater – the strident cries of political extremists, a furore of royal scandal, rumblings of the European war machine. But their isolated spot seems largely untouched. At times life is hard – little more than survival. At times it feels enchanted, almost outside of time itself. The woman and the house shore each other up – until love comes calling, threatening to pull them asunder.
Her desertion will spell its demise, but saving Tall Chimneys could mean sacrificing her hope for happiness, even sacrificing herself.
A century later, a distant relative crosses the globe to find the house of his ancestors. What he finds in the strange depression of the moor could change the course of his life forever.

Follow Allie on social media – here are the links:
TWITTER 
WEBSITE 
FACEBOOK 

This month, I’ve chosen a summery poem by a well-known author – Robert Louis Stevenson

Robert Louis Stevenson was a Scottish novelist, poet and travel writer, most noted for Treasure Island, Kidnapped, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and A Child’s Garden of Verses. He lived to the age of 44. Born in Edinburgh in 1850, he moved in London’s literary circle and travelled widely, before living out his last four years in Samoa, where he died from bronchial pneumonia is 1894.

Summer Sun

Great is the sun, and wide he goes
Through empty heaven with repose;
And in the blue and glowing days
More thick than rain he showers his rays.
 
Though closer still the blinds we pull
To keep the shady parlour cool,
Yet he will find a chink or two
To slip his golden fingers through.
 
The dusty attic spider-clad
He, through the keyhole, maketh glad;
And through the broken edge of tiles
Into the laddered hay-loft smiles.
 
Meantime his golden face around
He bares to all the garden ground,
And sheds a warm and glittering look
Among the ivy’s inmost nook.
 
Above the hills, along the blue,
Round the bright air with footing true,
To please the child, to paint the rose,
The gardener of the World, he goes.

Newsletter – June 2020

MONTHLY NEWSLETTER
This is UK author Tim Walker’s monthly newsletter. It can include any of the following: author news, book launches, guest author profiles, book reviews, flash fiction and poetry.
Are you an author or a poet? If so, then please contact me for a guest author or poet’s corner slot in a future newsletter: timwalker1666@gmail.com
SOCIAL MEDIA:
F O L L O W on F A C E B O O K F O L L O W on T W I T T E R F O L L O W on I N S T A G R A M

AUTHOR NEWS

New Book Launched on 1st June – ARTHUR REX BRITTONUM

From the decay of post-Roman Britain, Arthur seeks to unite a troubled land

Arthur Rex Brittonum (‘King of the Britons’) is an action-packed telling of the King Arthur story rooted in historical accounts that predate the familiar Camelot legend.
Britain in the early sixth century has reverted to tribal lands, where chiefs settle old scores with neighbours whilst eyeing with trepidation the invaders who menace the shore in search of plunder and settlement.
Arthur, only son of the late King Uther, has been crowned King of the Britons by the northern chiefs and must now persuade their counterparts in the south and west to embrace him. Will his bid to lead their combined army against the Saxon threat succeed? He arrives in Powys buoyed by popular acclaim at home, a king, husband and father – but can he sustain his efforts in unfamiliar territory? It is a treacherous and winding road that ultimately leads him to a winner-takes-all clash at the citadel of Mount Badon.
Tim Walker’s Arthur Rex Brittonum is book five in the A Light in the Dark Ages series, and picks up the thread from the earlier life of Arthur in 2019’s Arthur Dux Bellorum.
E-book available on KINDLE and iBOOKS, KOBO, NOOK
Or order the PAPERBACK

This month, I’m delighted to welcome fellow historical fiction author, Mary Ann Bernal, and her thrilling new book, Crusader’s Path.

Mary Ann Bernal attended Mercy College, Dobbs Ferry, NY, where she received a degree in Business Administration. Her literary aspirations were ultimately realized when the first book of The Briton and the Dane novels was published in 2009. In addition to writing historical fiction, Mary Ann has also authored a collection of contemporary short stories in the Scribbler Tales series and a science fiction/fantasy novel entitled Planetary Wars Rise of an Empire. Her latest endeavour is Crusader’s Path, a story of redemption set against the backdrop of the First Crusade.

Connect with Mary Ann: Website • Blog • Whispering Legends Press •  Twitter • Facebook.

Crusader’s Path – Book Blurb…

From the sweeping hills of Argences to the port city of Cologne overlooking the River Rhine, Etienne and Avielle find themselves drawn by the need for redemption against the backdrop of the First Crusade.

Heeding the call of His Holiness, Urban II, to free the Holy Land from the infidel, Etienne follows Duke Robert of Normandy across the treacherous miles, braving sweltering heat and snow-covered mountain passes while en route to the Byzantine Empire.

Moved by Peter of Amiens’ charismatic rhetoric in the streets of the Holy Roman Empire, Avielle joins the humble army of pilgrims. Upon arrival in Mentz, the peasant Crusaders do the unthinkable, destroying the Jewish Community. Consumed with guilt, Avielle is determined to die fighting for Christ, assuring her place in Heaven.

Etienne and Avielle cross paths in Constantinople, where they commiserate over past misdeeds. A spark becomes a flame, but when Avielle contracts leprosy, Etienne makes a promise to God, offering to take the priest cowl in exchange for ridding Avielle of her affliction.

Will Etienne be true to his word if Avielle is cleansed of the contagion, or will he risk eternal damnation to be with the woman he loves?

BOOK BUY LINKS:  AMAZON.COMAMAZON.CO.UK

I’m delighted to welcome fellow Innerverse poet and wit, Rick Warren, to Poet’s Corner. Tell us a bit about yourself, Rick…

My name is Rick Warren and I enjoy writing stories and poems, mainly for my own enjoyment and as a way of trying to make sense of the world. Having stopped work last year to attempt a thriller, (way harder than I imagined),  I’m now writing and compiling poems and stories, hopefully putting out a book by the end of the year, to follow on from my first collection of poems “The Path to Redemption” which I self-published on Amazon under my pen name Lyrick.
I have always enjoyed the brevity and concise nature of poems, with their ability to distil sometimes complex thoughts and issues into a succinct and manageable format. Sometimes funny, sometimes not, the process of using fewer words to say more is challenging and one I really enjoy. 
You can see some of my work HERE 

So, What did you do in the Pandemic, Grandad?

One day we will look back, and our grandchildren will say,
“What did you do grandad, to make the virus go away?”
We’ll sit them down and in reverent tones speak of our incarceration,
When toilet paper became currency, and panic gripped the nation,
We will speak of all the hardship and of our deprivation,
The lack of pasta alone nearly ended in starvation,
No restaurants, pubs or cinemas, no golf and no football,
Just as well for Arsenal who were not playing well at all,

Well, we watched TV and we tidied our homes,
We washed our hands right down to the bone
We landscaped our gardens, did our shopping online,
We all learnt how to conference call, that helped to pass the time,
Some took up baking and making their own gin,
The most important thing that got us through was all of us stayed in,
Except for those too selfish, or too stupid to realise,
Every unnecessary journey was a chance that someone dies,
Books were read, box-sets streamed, conspiracy theories abounded,
Celebrities (with no scientific knowledge at all), expounded the unfounded,

Boris got sick and went to intensive care,
With the cuts, he was lucky that they had a bed to spare,
The staff, who were working without proper PPE,
Saved our new Prime Minister, and the likes of you and me,
So now you know of the hardships we faced,
Vaccines were created and Trump got replaced, (hopefully)
So now your world is a far better place…

You’re welcome – now go wash your hands.

Newsletter – May 2019

Arthur Dux Bellorum Wins Book Awards

April proved to be a good month for Arthur Dux Bellorum, book four in A Light in the Dark Ages series. It has been well-received with positive reviews on both Amazon and Goodreads, and two book awards from notable sources. Here are the awards citations:

The Coffee Pot Book Club Award

“Following in the footsteps of the great Arthurian authors, Walker has penned a story that is as rich in historical detail as it is in all its mythological traditions. Drawing on the works of Monmouth, Nennius and Welsh folklore, he has presented a hero who has to desperately fight a seemingly invincible foe to win his throne and take his place in British history.

Walker’s compelling narrative caught my attention from the opening sentence. The author’s careful blend of mystery, treachery, deceit, war, honour, and the knightly code made this book unputdownable. The skilfully described battle scenes were so real in the telling that I could almost taste the terror and the chaos as our intrepid hero fought for not only his life, but for the throne and the kingdom which was rightfully his. All of which is set against a very believable historical backdrop.

The forces of good and evil run through the heart of this book. Morgana’s desire for power is as seemingly unstoppable as the tide. She is determined to secure her son’s throne. However, one could surmise that it is not in Mordred’s interest that Morgana is so despotic in her ambition to vanquish her enemies, but in her own insatiable lust for power. Morgana is often portrayed as the anti-hero in the story of Arthur, but I thought Walker brought a refreshingly new take on the character. She is deplorable, but at the same time she drives this story forward, and I found myself holding my breath as she continued to plot and scheme to thwart her adversaries.

In comparison to Morgana, her half-siblings, and in particular Artorius (the young Arthur), came across as level headed and for the most part compassionate. Artorius does struggle with some of the things he has done, particularly in the heat of battle, which I think gave his character a tremendous depth, and made him very believable.

Likewise, Merlyn was a character I enjoyed reading about. His ingenuity and his use of the tools available to him made his story compulsively readable. I enjoyed following his progression throughout this wonderful book.

There are several secondary characters that fans of Arthurian fiction will be familiar with — Gawain, Percival, Bors and Tristan — all of whom Artorius looks up to for advice. I thought these characters were well fleshed, and I look forward to reading more about them in the next edition of this remarkable series.

Like a heroic poem from times of old, Tim Walker’s Arthurian saga continues to mesmerise. A must read for those who love everything Arthurian, but also for those who have a keen interest in the Dark Ages. I Highly Recommend.

Review by Mary Anne Yarde
The Coffee Pot Book Club, April 2019

One Stop Fiction Book Award

“This is a very well written reinvention of the myth that portrays Arthur not as a superhero but as a sometimes-conflicted young man. He is not quite sure that he is meant to be king but is led by Merlyn to accept his role. He questions his paternity, is often disgusted by the brutality he witnesses, and yet becomes an inspirational leader of men.

Many of the familiar characters are present in Arthur Dux Bellorum: Merlyn, Gawain, Percival, Geraint, Gunamara (Guinevere), Morgana, and Mordred. Mainly these characters are fleshed-out to be well-defined and human.

It would be interesting to see what the author would do with the later Arthur and Gunamara story as well as with the legend of the Round Table.

The story moves at a fast pace with several battle scenes that were marvellous to read. The narrative switches points of view between Arthur and his mother and sisters who are living in the shadow of Morgana and Mordred. This alternation serves well to highlight the attempts to unify the British tribes under one rule.

One of the best aspects of the novel is the picture it paints of Britain after the Romans had left. This is a divided and beset land, subject to invasion by outsiders and by wars between rival tribes. It was very interesting to learn that parts of the Roman legacy remained in surviving towns and forts and in military tactics. The conflicts between the old and new religions, between warring chieftains, between Britons and the foreign invaders were all beautifully set out.

As an American reader, I often found myself wondering exactly where in England the story was taking place. For authenticity, it is important to use the names of towns as they were at the time. However, it was a bit difficult, even with the author’s list of place names at the beginning of the novel, to follow the movement of Arthur’s company. Because of that, I would strongly recommend that anyone who reads this read it in a hard cover or paperback edition and not on an e-reader. Readers who like to follow the plot with maps of the area should avoid will find it impossible to read the maps that appear on the e-reader edition.

This is a small complaint, but it is nearly impossible to find anything to dislike about this book.

The author is to be applauded for making yet another re-telling of the Arthurian legend fascinating and suspenseful. I would very much like to see one more book in the series to bring the rest of the legend to life. Arthur Dux Bellorum is a highly recommended book and winner of the One Stop Fiction Book Awards.”

By Kathleen Lance, Book Reviewer, onestopfiction.com

Welcome to Poet’s Corner, Richard Tyner

One of the Herschel Arms Poets, Richard was born in the boondocks outside of the town of Westport, Co Mayo, Ireland. He has very fond memories of growing up in Ros Beg and indeed the first eighteen years of life in rural tranquillity.

Richard does not see himself as a poet and if pushed describes his work as that of a rhymer. It has long been his ambition to write songs. As he said they were just rhymes, until my talented friends gave them tunes.

One of his collaborators has uploaded two of the songs to Soundcloud. Search for them under the names of Bogman and Ian Brown UK.

Thinking back his first writing was in the years 1972 to 1976. First date is Marriage, second date birth of first child. In true fashion he put aside foolish activities and concentrated on career and family.

He is pleased to report that hardly any of his rhymes from back in those days have survived. The memory of living in Ireland is forever in his heart and in order to maintain his accent he visits there whenever he gets the chance.

In 1967 his Mother took her 8 children to Peterborough England. Richard started work as a computer operator, then, after ten years, moved to Shell Oils. Closure of the local office necessitated a change of career, this time resulting in a management role in a publishing house. He was head hunted by the TSB to work in Norfolk as an investment advisor. Two years later he became self employed and continued as an IFA until the onset of Parkinson’s brought about early retirement. He has since then been busier and happier than any other period of his life.

Married forty-seven years he counts himself lucky and is still trying to figure out why his wife is still with him. Cheryl has been heard to say, “that he would trouble the patience of a saint”.

He loves music across all genres but admits his guilty pleasure is Country music citing the likes of Waylon and Willie. Townes van Zant, Hank Williams. He is a mean quizzer specialising in songs and bands of the 60’s and 70’s. He likes travel and wishes he had rhythm, balance and a bigger pension.

A SONG WITHOUT WORDS

I wrote a song that had no words

Just the sighing of trees

The chirrup of birds.

The rhythm of rain

 Turning into snow

Bluebells in dells

A choir of crows

Humming honey bees

Harmonise with the breeze

Waltzing holly hocks

A flotilla of leaves

Sprites using dandelions

To tell the time

Cascading waterfalls

Crescendo and climb

 songs of the rivers

as they flow through the glens

Sometimes angry at the way of men

This world is an opera

The finest ever heard

It has no conclusion

An aria without words.                   

ALL THOSE YEARS AGO (Westport)

I am not sure why I am here

I am not sure what it all means

Time goes around in circles

I live my life in dreams.

I was born by the ocean side

I never learned to swim

A flat stone leaving ripples

Won’t you follow the circles in.

I met you all those years ago

In a city far from the sea

You fed me a breakfast

I stayed for lunch and tea.

Your bark and bite are the same

Not all lines are on my face

Father hear my confession

So I can die in a state of grace.

Mother hear me calling

In the hills above the clouds

Father won’t you tell me

Why were you alone in crowds?

Its almost gone full circle

I am in the dying years

I have questions without answers

I weep without the tears

The breeze is blowing cold

I stand on Ros Beg shore

I hear the curlew calling

It will soon be time to go.

This place is in my heart

I fished here many times

Some came here before me

Many more will bait their lines

I wonder if they listened

To wiser men than me

Will they take greater care

So this world’s a better place to be.

NO TIME FOR REGRETS

I have no need of clocks or watches

It’s enough to know night from day

Sometimes I only sleep for minutes

To dream in blues and pastels grey

I often think of my old friends

It was my luck to know

Of the country where I was born

Those generations that had to go.

Mothers at the garden gate,

 Letter’s that never come

Waiting for the return

Of their husband or a son.

In time they would return

These restless worn out men,

To walk alone along the shore

Stopping every now and then

I sometimes shook a hand

Occasionally shared a glass

Those that talked were rare at all

Most let the moment pass

They had lived so long alone

The need to send home pay

Turning boys into bitter men

They got lost along the way.

They do not seem to notice

Life is passing fast, but

You cannot foretell the future

You cannot change the past

Once more the young are leaving

Hearts heavy as a stone

They gather in their ghettos

To sing their songs of home.

Instead live every moment

Let your life take flight

Live like there is no tomorrow

One of these day’s you will be right!!!

© R G Tyner 26/09/2018

Book Blog Newsletter

Issue 1 – February 2018

Welcome to Tim’s Book Blog Newsletter. This will be a monthly newsletter on my website but also doubling as an e-newsletter for my mailing list. Please subscribe to my mail list to ensure you get future issues (fill in the form on the side panel of my home page and get a free short story!). The newsletter will include brief news of my writing and book promotions, feature a guest poem and also guest authors.

News

I shall be launching my next book, Uther’s Destiny, on Thursday 15th March. I intend to use the Amazon pre-order facility for the first time and promote it from the beginning of March as available for pre-order at 99p/99c e-book. 15th March is the official launch date when the e-book will be priced at £1.99/$2.99 and the print-on-demand paperback at £5.99/$6.99.

Uther’s Destiny is the third book in A Light in the Dark Ages series, and can be read as a standalone (although I’m hoping new readers will be motivated to go back to read book one – Abandoned – and book two – Ambrosius: Last of the Romans.

Here’s the cover and book blurb:

Fifth century Britannia is in shock at the murder of charismatic High King, Ambrosius Aurelianus, and looks to his brother and successor, Uther, to continue his work in leading the resistance to barbarian invaders.

Uther is a powerful warrior, proud of his reputation as the slayer of Saxon warlord, Horsa. A pragmatic soldier, he feels he has lived too long in the shadow of his high-principled brother. Uther has brushed aside the claim of his young nephew, Dawid, and is endorsed by quarreling Briton tribal chiefs, who know he is the best man to challenge the creeping colonisation of the island by ruthless Saxons.

Uther’s destiny as a warrior king seems set until his world is turned on its head when his burning desire to possess the beautiful Ygerne leads to conflict. Could the fate of his kingdom hang in the balance as a consequence?

The court healer, and schemer, Merlyn, sees an opportunity in Uther’s lustful obsession to fulfill the prophetic visions that guide him. He is encouraged on his mission by druids who align their desire for a return to ancient ways with his urge to protect the one destined to save the Britons from foreign invaders and lead them to a time of peace and prosperity. Merlyn must use his wisdom and guile to thwart the machinations of an enemy intent on foiling his plans.

Meanwhile, Saxon chiefs Octa and Ælla have their own plans for seizing the island of Britannia and forging a new colony of Germanic tribes. Can Uther rise above his domestic problems and raise an army to oppose them?

Uther’s Destiny is an historical fiction novel set in the Fifth century, a time known as the Dark Ages – a time of myths and legends that builds to the greatest legend of all – King Arthur and his knights.

 

Our guest authors this month are two talented historical and fantasy fiction authors, E.M. Swift-Hook and Jane Jago, whose ‘Dai and Julia’ stories I have enjoyed immensely…

The Dai and Julia Mysteries are set in a modern day Britain where the Roman Empire never left. Crime is rife. Murder, trafficking, drug smuggling and strange religious cults are just a few of the problems that investigators Dai and Julia have to handle, whilst managing family, friendship and domestic crises. The Dai and Julia Mysteries are available as separate novellas or in an omnibus with bonus short stories.
Co-Authors:
E.M. Swift-Hook – author.to/EMSH
In the words that Robert Heinlein put so evocatively into the mouth of Lazarus Long: ‘Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards.’ Having tried a number of different careers, before settling in the North-East of England with family, three dogs, cats and a small flock of rescued chickens, E.M. Swift-Hook now spends a lot of time in private and has very clean hands.

Jane Jago – author.to/JaneJago

Jane Jago lives in the beautiful west country with her big, silly dog and her big sensible husband. She spent the first half of her working life cooking and the second half editing other people’s manuscripts.
At last, she has time to write down the stories that have been disturbing her sleep for as long as she can remember.
Links:
Amazon – Novellas mybook.to/DnJ
Amazon – Omnibus mybook.to/DnJOne
This will be a guest poet’s slot (any offers?), but to get the ball rolling here’s one of mine – a thinly disguised, uncultured homage to the great Irish poet, WB Yeats…

The Enchanted Isle

By Tim Walker

I shall arise and go to the enchanted Isle,

Where my mind shall be soothed in quiet reflection,

Through the still waters of the lake, a mirror of the soul;

Ripples spread like pages from my life,

The warmth of the sun on my upturned face,

The freshness of the breeze upon this placid place;

Oarlocks groan to the steady rhythm of endeavour,

As my guide’s instincts deliver us safe,

We alight and tread the little-worn path,

Passing wildfowl and frogs, birds and bees,

Gnarled oaks randomly bend as thick grass encroaches,

On a procession through nature to the sacred stone.

Its weathered grey face leans at an uneasy angle,

Protruding from the earth where the ancients placed it,

The inscriptions in a long forgotten hand speak no more

Of the lives and beliefs of those who have passed;

But their spirits live on in the wind and the rain,

An indelible part of this patchwork landscape,

Without colour or cares, a slight moan of regret,

That their brief lives passed in a blink of an eye,

Through seasons’ change, what withers must die,

But soon replaced by a similar life,

That commits to the struggle to grow and survive,

On this earth where beauty elicits a smile,

And we strive to succeed for a very short while.

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