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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
This month, I’m delighted to welcome TWO top historical fiction authors – Mary Anne Yarde and Mercedes Rochelle – both of whom have new books they’d like to share with us. Also, Mary Anne has written an article on a subject close to my heart – The Arthurian Legend.
Mary Anne Yarde is the multi award-winning author of the International Bestselling Series — The Du Lac Chronicles. Set a generation after the fall of King Arthur, The Du Lac Chronicles takes you on a journey through Dark Age Britain and Brittany, where you will meet new friends and terrifying foes.
Based on legends and historical fact, The Du Lac Chronicles is a series not to be missed. Born in Bath, England, Mary Anne Yarde grew up in the southwest of England, surrounded and influenced by centuries of history and mythology. Glastonbury — the fabled Isle of Avalon — was a mere fifteen-minute drive from her home, and tales of King Arthur and his knights were part of her childhood. Connect with Mary Anne here:- WebsiteBlogTwitterFacebookGoodreads
God against Gods. King against King. Brother against Brother. Mordred Pendragon had once said that the sons of Lancelot would eventually destroy each other, it seemed he was right all along. Garren du Lac knew what the burning pyres meant in his brother’s kingdom — invasion. But who would dare to challenge King Alden of Cerniw for his throne? Only one man was daring enough, arrogant enough, to attempt such a feat — Budic du Lac, their eldest half-brother. While Merton du Lac struggles to come to terms with the magnitude of Budic’s crime, there is another threat, one that is as ancient as it is powerful. But with the death toll rising and his men deserting who will take up the banner and fight in his name? Book Buy Links – Amazon UKAmazon US
Mercedes Rochelle was born in St. Louis MO with a degree from University of Missouri, Mercedes Rochelle learned about living history as a re-enactor and has been enamored with historical fiction ever since. A move to New York to do research and two careers ensued, but writing fiction remains her primary vocation. She lives in Sergeantsville, NJ with her husband in a log home they had built themselves.
The King’s Retribution: Book 2 of The Plantagenet Legacy By Mercedes Rochelle
If you read A KING UNDER SIEGE, you might remember that we left off just as Richard declared his majority at age 22. He was able to rise above the humiliation inflicted on him during the Merciless Parliament, but the fear that it could happen again haunted him the rest of his life.
Ten years was a long time to wait before taking revenge on your enemies, but King Richard II was a patient man. Hiding his antagonism toward the Lords Appellant, once he felt strong enough to wreak his revenge he was swift and merciless. Alas for Richard, he went too far, and in his eagerness to protect his crown Richard underestimated the very man who would take it from him: Henry Bolingbroke.
The Duke of Gloucester was not one to give up his principles just because he was out of favor with the king—again. Regardless, as far as Gloucester was concerned, peace and prosperity in England mattered far less than the military glory that could be achieved on the fair fields of France. As he picked up his helm and rubbed away a smudge, the duke wished once again that he could have fought with his father, Edward III, at Crécy. Those were the days people cherished, when the English army stunned the world by trouncing a much larger French force. Though it was only fifty years ago, times had changed so much it felt like ancient history. And then ten years later, Gloucester’s brother Edward the Black Prince achieved a similar victory at Poitiers, capturing the King of France in the process. The ransom was enormous and the benefit to the exchequer incalculable—even though it had never been completely paid off. What did it matter? The prestige was unrivaled.
The duke replaced his helm on its shelf, straightening the mantle hanging from its crest—a lion with its own crown. And what happened with the Black Prince’s son? He grimaced like he always did when thinking of Richard. The best his nephew could manage was an unprofitable expedition to that backwater Ireland. And what came of that? Nothing. And then he bent his knee to the mad King of France who is totally unfit to sit on the throne. And what came of that? A seven year-old queen! And Richard was twenty-nine! Unheard of! The king’s peace policy was a disgrace. Idle soldiers turned into brigands; armorers fled to the continent to practice their trade, for there was no work in England. And worst of all, instead of attaining glory the dukes and earls had to be satisfied with begging for crumbs dropped by their milksop king.
Something had to be done.
The Dark Ages: The time of King Arthur By Mary Anne Yarde
In 1846 William John Thoms, a British writer, penned a letter to The Athenaeum, a British Magazine. In this letter, he talked about “popular antiquities.” But instead of calling it by its common name, he used a new term — folklore.
What did Thoms mean by this new word? Well, let’s break it down. The word folk referred to the rural poor who were, for the most part, illiterate. Lore means instruction. So, folklore means to instruct the poor. But we understand it as verbal storytelling. Forget the wheel — I think storytelling is what sets us apart. We need stories, we always have and we always will.
The Dark Ages is, I think, one of the most fascinating eras in history. However, it does not come without challenges. This was an era of the lost manuscripts. They were lost due to various reasons. Firstly, the Viking raiders destroyed many written primary sources. Henry VIII did not help matters when he ordered The Dissolution of the Monasteries. More were lost due to the English Civil War and indeed, The French Revolution, and of course the tragic Cotton Library Fire in 1731.Therefore, there are only a handful of primary written sources. Unfortunately, these sources are not very reliable. They talk of great kings and terrible battles, but something is missing from them. Something important. And that something is authenticity. The Dark Ages is the time of the bards. It is the time of myths and legends. It is a period like no other. If the Dark Ages had a welcoming sign, it would say this:
“Welcome to the land of folklore. Welcome to the land of King Arthur.”
Throughout the years, there have been many arguments put forward as to who King Arthur was, what he did, and how he died. England, Scotland, Wales, Brittany and France claim Arthur as their own. Even The Roman Empire had a famous military commander who went by the name of Lucius Artorius Castus. There are so many possibilities. There are so many Arthurs. Over time, these different Arthurs became one. The Roman Artorious gave us the knights. The other countries who have claimed Arthur as their own, gave us the legend.
We are told that Arthur and his knights cared, for the most part, about the people they represented. Arthur was a good king, the like of which has never been seen before or after. He was the perfect tool for spreading a type of patriotic propaganda and was used to great effect in the centuries that were to follow. Arthur was someone you would want to fight by your side. However, he also gave ordinary people a sense of belonging and hope. He is, after all, as T.H. White so elegantly put it, The Once and Future King. If we believe in the legend, then we are assured that if Britain’s sovereignty is ever threatened, Arthur and his knights will ride again. A wonderful and heartfelt promise. A beautiful prophecy. However, there is another side to these heroic stories. A darker side. Some stories paint Arthur in an altogether different light. Arthur is no hero. He is no friend of the Church. He is no friend to anyone apart from himself. He is arrogant and cruel. Likewise, history tells us that the Roman military commander, Lucius Artorius Castus, chose Rome over his Sarmatian Knights. He betrayed them and watched as Rome slaughtered them all. It is not quite the picture one has in mind when we think of Arthur, is it? It is an interesting paradox and one I find incredibly fascinating.
King Arthur and Edward III
But putting that aside, Arthur, to many people, is a hero. Someone to inspire to. This was undoubtedly true for Edward III. Edward was determined that his reign was going to be as spectacular as Arthur’s was. He believed in the stories of Arthur and his Knights. He had even started to have his very own Round Table built at Windsor Castle.
He also founded The Order of the Garter— which is still the highest order of chivalry that the Queen can bestow. Arthur, whether fictional or not, influenced kings.
So how do we separate fact from fiction?
In our search for Arthur, we are digging up folklore, and that is not the same as excavating relics. We have the same problem now as Geoffrey of Monmouth did back in the 12th Century when he compiled The History of the Kings of Briton. His book is now considered a ‘national myth,’ but for centuries his book was considered to be factually correct. So, where did Monmouth get these facts? He borrowed from the works of Gildas, Nennuis, Bede, and The Annals of Wales. There was also that mysterious ancient manuscript that he borrowed from Walter, Archdeacon of Oxford. Monmouth then borrowed from the bardic oral tradition. In other words, he listened to the stories of the bards. Add to the mix his own imagination and Monmouth was onto a winner. Those who were critical of his work were brushed aside and ignored. Monmouth made Britain glorious, and he gave us not Arthur the general, but Arthur the King. And what a king he was.
So is Arthur a great lie that for over a thousand years, we have all believed in? Should we be taking the Arthurian history books from the historical section and moving them to sit next to George R. R. Martin’s, Game of Thrones? No. I don’t think so. In this instance, folklore has shaped our nation. We should not dismiss folklore out of hand just because it is not an exact science. We should embrace it because when you do, it becomes easier to see the influence these ‘stories’ have had on historical events.
(Author Unknown) — The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles (J. M. Dent, New edition, 1972) Bede — Ecclesiastical History of the English People (Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 2012) Geoffrey of Monmouth — The History of the Kings of Britain (Penguin Books Ltd, 1966) Gildas — On the Ruin and Conquest of Britain (Serenity Publishers, LLC, 2009) Matthews, John, Caitlín — The Complete King Arthur: Many Faces, One Hero (Inner Traditions, 2017) Nennius — The History of the Britons (Dodo Press, July 2007) Pryor, Francis — Britain AD: A Quest for Arthur, England and the Anglo-Saxons (HarperCollins Publisher, 2005) Wood, Michael — In Search of the Dark Ages (BBC Books, 2005)
1) Stonehenge — TheDigitalArtist / 5052 images, Pixabay 2) The King Arthur statue at Tintagel. The statue is called Gallos, which is Cornish for power. The sculpture is by Rubin Eynon. 3) Edward III — Scanned from the book The National Portrait Gallery History of the Kings and Queens of England by David Williamson, ISBN 1855142287. Reproduction of a painting that is in the public domain because of its age.