Tag: historicalfiction

Tim’s Book Blog – August 2021

28TH JULY 2021 / TIMWALKER1666 / 0 COMMENTS / EDIT

AUGUST 2021

This is UK author Tim Walker’s monthly book blog. 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

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THEAKSTON CRIME FESTIVAL REVIEW
In this covid-calamity year, the on-off 2021 edition of the popular Theakston’s Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate finally went ahead, with caution and an absence of international big names, between 22-25 July.

Mark Billingham and Richard Osman

With covid-safe protocols in place, the author talks took place outdoors under a massive marquee tent on the rear lawn of the Old Swan Hotel. I had attended the festival in 2019 and decided, with a friend, to visit our mate in Harrogate again for a social weekend.
We only booked two events – a short story writing panel discussion led by Ian Rankin on the Saturday, and the celebrity author interview – Richard Osman interviewed by Mark Billingham – on Sunday. Both were entertaining and informative, although Stuart Neville’s late withdrawal from the short story panel through illness meant I didn’t get to hear him talk about his new collection of crime shorts, The Traveller, or get my copy signed. Ian Rankin was an enthusiastic and ever-present Chair of the organising committee, introducing most of the sessions. 

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From a short list of six, the winner of the 2021 Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year is Chris Whitaker. His third novel, We Begin at the End, is a powerful story of crime, punishment, love and redemption set in coastal California.
Mick Herron was the special guest author, interviewed by N.J. Cooper, and although I missed this, I bought a signed copy of his new crime thriller, The Slough House. I also came away with a proof copy of former Labour MP, Alan Johnson’s, first attempt at a thriller, The Late Train to Gypsy Hill, due for autumn release. I look forward to reading them all, together with Richard Osman’s record-breaking bestseller, The Thursday Murder Club.

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The articulate House of Games and Pointless quiz master, Osman, spoke with warmth about how visits to his mother in a retirement village inspired him to write a mystery novel (soon to be 4-book series) where the elderly residents of a care home investigate a murder. Now it’s an international bestseller and Steven Spielberg’s company will be making the film next year. Richard has already written the follow-up, The Man Who Died Twice, due for launch in September. It seems his early mentor was the man interviewing him, Mark Billingham, and his prompts revealed personal details of their meetings to discuss the embryonic concept. I always enjoy listening to authors discussing the writing process.

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In my news, Guardians at the Wall has sold moderately well since its June launch, attracting a good number of page reads on Kindle Unlimited. 
It will be the subject of a Kindle Countdown Deal when the e-book will be just 99p/c from 28th July to 2nd August, so hurry and download your copy at the link below!
Paperback £7.99/$8.99 or read on Kindle Unlimited:
AMAZON BOOK LINK

This month’s guest author is Pam Lecky. Pam is an Irish historical fiction author, writing crime and mystery with a dash of romance. Pam is represented by the Hardman & Swainson Literary Agency in London. She is a member of the Historical Novel Society and the Society of Authors and has a particular love of the late Victorian era/early 20th Century.

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In November 2020, Pam signed with Avon Books UK/Harper Collins in a two-book deal. The first book in the historical thriller series, Her Secret War, will be published in October 2021; the sequel in 2022.

Her debut novel, The Bowes Inheritance, was awarded the B.R.A.G Medallion; shortlisted for the Carousel Aware Prize 2016; and longlisted for the Historical Novel Society 2016 Indie Award.

Her short stories are available in an anthology, entitled Past Imperfect, which was published in April 2018.

June 2019, saw the release of the first book in the Lucy Lawrence Mystery series, No Stone Unturned, a fast-paced Victorian mystery/crime, set in London and Yorkshire which was awarded the B.R.A.G. Medallion. The sequel, Footprints in the Sand, set in Egypt, was released in March 2020. She is currently working on the third book in the series, The Art of Deception, which will be published in late 2021.

Pam’s Links:
Amazon
Facebook
Twitter
Author website
Instagram
Goodreads

HER SECRET WAR by Pam Lecky
Published by: Avon Books UK/Harper Collins
Release date: 14th October 2021

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A life-changing moment
May 1941: German bombs drop on Dublin taking Sarah Gillespie’s family and home. Days later, the man she loves leaves Ireland to enlist.
A heart-breaking choice
With nothing to keep her in Ireland and a burning desire to help the war effort, Sarah seeks refuge with relatives in England. But before long, her father’s dark past threatens to catch up with her.
A dangerous mission
Sarah is asked to prove her loyalty to Britain through a special mission. Her courage could save lives. But it could also come at the cost of her own…

A gripping story that explores a deadly tangle of love and espionage in war-torn Britain, perfect for fans of Pam Jenoff, Kate Quinn and Kate Furnivall.

Pre-Order Link: Available to pre-order now

Tim’s Book Blog – July 2021

JULY 2021

This is UK author Tim Walker’s monthly book blog. 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

Follow Tim on social media: FACEBOOK INSTAGRAM TWITTER

AUTHOR NEWS

June 1st saw the launch of my new novel, Guardians at the Wall. This dual timeline novel set at Hadrian’s Wall has piqued enough interest to generate fair sales (I’m not putting figures here, but it didn’t hit the top 100 in any of its categories, sadly, so no orange ‘Bestseller’ tag). The sales split is about 80% Kindle e-books as 20% paperback. In addition, it has gone quite well on Kindle Unlimited (Amazon’s subscription service) with close to 4,000 page reads in June. Already it has accrued ten positive reviews, which should tempt browsers to take a chance on it.

I appeared on over twenty book blogs during June, generating some awareness amongst active readers. As for paid advertising, well, I’ve only done two weekend Facebook post boosts, targeted by lifestyle characteristics and by country, and one spot advert with Fussy Librarian that generated six Kindle sales on the day.

I’m always pleased to get positive feedback from the USA market, so it cheered me up to see this review from a US historical fiction reader:

HF Reader
5 stars – Entertaining and Fast Paced
Reviewed in the United States on June 18, 2021.
“I really enjoyed the characters and settings in this exciting and well-researched dual timeline. Both modern and Roman stories wove together beautifully, and I found them equally riveting. I don’t know a lot about the Roman period in England, and I think the way the author presents the history, through the eyes of archaeologists and their own stories, really draws you in. Highly recommend, for those familiar with the Roman period, as well as those who want to learn more in an entertaining and easy-to-read novel.”

What’s the book about? Well, here’s the short description:
Guardians at the Wall is a gripping dual timeline historical novel set at Hadrian’s Wall. Archaeologists uncover artefacts that connect them to the life of a Roman centurion in second century Britannia.
Currently just £1.99/$2.99/e2.69 on Kindle!
Paperback £7.99/$8.99 or read on Kindle Unlimited:
AMAZON BOOK LINK

FIRST BOOK AWARD
Guardians at the Wall has been awarded the International Review of Books Award by Books go Social (booksgosocial.com is a Dublin-based company that supports independent authors). Here’s what their reviewer said:
“The writing in this book is superb. I felt like I was at Hadrian’s Wall with a group of students on an archaeological dig. The author’s descriptions of what was happening, what the characters felt and saw were wonderful. I also felt like I travelled into the past where the artefact originated. These details brought the story alive.
Yet, it’s more than about finding an artefact. There is a story of love and mystery as well. This creates added interest in the book. The main character has to deal with going on an important mission that could risk his future career and the hardship of theft. The author intermingles the two timelines very well providing details into a complete story that is about the people as well as the excavated objects.
More than an artefact is dug up in this story. There are questions surrounding it that need to be answered. What does this find really mean? What is the story behind it? Finding the answers makes the reader eager to know what is happening and what happened long ago. Every step of this story adds more details to this well-written novel. It is full of everything you are looking for in historical fiction with some mystery and romance.”

General thoughts on the Novel:
“This is a fascinating world throughout two timelines and two worlds found in the same place. The world has changed since the artefact had last seen the light and the writer did well relaying the two timelines. The design of the book is good throughout. The idea of this story is interesting with enough details to keep track of each timeline.”

In a new feature, I’m reminiscing on my two encounters with punk poet laureate, Dr John Cooper Clarke. If you would like to share any literary-themed reminiscences on this blog, please email me…

Meeting Dr John Cooper Clarke

Way back in 1978 I was a sixth form student in Liverpool studying for, amongst others, English Literature ‘A’ level. What were the chances of me seeing a punk poet on stage who would one day find his way onto the national curriculum?

My studies were not going well as I was heavily distracted by the energy and noise of punk rock as it cut a jagged slash through the rock music scene. A classmate talked me into going with him to see his new idol, Salford punk poet, John Cooper-Clarke, a punk rock spin-off act. He was supporting Manchester punk band, The Fall.
So, we got the bus into Liverpool and made our way to Mathew Street, to Eric’s Club, opposite the site of the Cavern Club where the Beatles had made their name. We went to the matinee, where they tolerated a younger audience, and were forced to buy a year’s membership for £1 in addition to the £1.50 entry fee – a lot of money to skint schoolies. Descending into the dark dungeon basement, we gasped at the building-wide low-ceiling room with gloss red walls, a bar at one end and a low stage, about knee high off the concrete floor, opposite. Punks with bondage pants and leather jackets painted on the back with anarchy symbols and metal studs on the lapels milled about, comparing peroxide spiked hair. We hung around on the fringes, conservatively dressed in turned up drainpipe jeans, baseball boots and our dad’s old dark jackets with favourite band pin badges dotting the lapels.

The Fall were the new darlings of late-night DJ John Peel, and they belted out a loud, fast and forgettable set. Cooper-Clarke was a rake-thin stick insect dressed in black, with a mad mop of black hair sprouting from his pale face. Wearing shades and chewing gum, he read from a notebook at break-neck speed. I still remember such classics as ‘I married a monster from outer space’ and ‘You’ll never find a nipple in the Daily Express’. My mate was enthralled and vowed to write his own punk poetry in the style of his new hero. He insisted we wait behind after the punks had filed out for a chance to meet the man himself. Sure enough, JCC came out to the bar and chatted to fans, including us. I got his autograph on my Eric’s flyer, now glued in my scrapbook. This was the first of many night club gigs as I made use of my Eric’s membership, extending it into the next year.

Fast-forward forty years, and JCC performed his set at The Fire Station theatre in Windsor, close to where I now live. I bought a ticket and went along, armed with my scrapbook, determined to try and gain an audience with him after his performance to show him where he’d signed my flyer forty years earlier, to complete the circle. He had journeyed from a punk rock warm-up act and a battle with drug addiction to becoming an establishment figure and celebrated national poet, his name prefixed by ‘Doctor’ after he was awarded an honorary degree, and amongst his set are poems that now grace the national school curriculum. I marvelled at him performing to the well-heeled Tories of Windsor, and wondered if he voted Conservative himself.

Thin as ever and still dressed in a black suit with trademark dark shades, his delivery was much the same, except now he used backing tracks to add a drum and bass rhythm to some of his poems. Classics such as ‘Beasley Street’ and ‘Evidently Chicken Town’ (the theme to the final episode of hit TV series ‘The Sopranos’), plus school GCSE literature poems, ‘I mustn’t go down to the sea’ and ‘I wanna be yours’ received big applause. I had to laugh when he did some of the old, original set, including ‘I married a monster from outer space’.

After the gig I went to the foyer where his Manchester mate was selling copies of his books to eager buyers. Once they had gone, I bought one of his books and asked the guy if I could meet John and get the book signed. He replied, ‘No, John’s tired and resting’. I produced my scrap book and explained how John had been my first gig way back in ’78, when he’d signed my flyer. I showed him the page, and his eye was drawn to a ticket next to it from April 1980 when I’d seen Manchester band, Joy Division, at the Hascienda. ‘You’ve seen Joy Division?’ he asked, incredulously. ‘Yeah, three times, actually’, I casually replied. I showed him my other gig tickets and he was captivated. ‘Mind if I take some photos?’ he asked, producing his phone. ‘Only if you let me go backstage to meet John’, I replied.

He thought about it and then relented. ‘Alright, I’ll see if he’ll see you’. Two minutes later he put his head around the door and beckoned me to come. ‘Just for a minute, as John’s really tired’, he said. I went in and John staggered towards me, arms outstretched for a friendly hug. He was as high as a kite, grinning from ear to ear – adrenalin and a thirst-quenching beer perhaps? I briefly explained how I’d met him after his gig at Erics forty years ago and showed him his autograph. He swayed backwards and forwards, trying to focus. ‘That’s great… what’s yer name again? Tiny? Nice ter meet ya mate.’ His Manc mate took two very blurry photos on my phone (picture shown) of me and John, holding my scrapbook. And yes, I did let the Manc guy take pictures of my gig tickets and flyers. I almost felt like a celebrity.

Never meet your heroes they say, especially when they’re old and knackered. Why not? We are both survivors, and I’m in an equally degraded state these days. Life’s a journey after all, and I’m not against the odd trip down memory lane.

It’s incredible to think school kids are analysing his poems…

I WANNA BE YOURS

I wanna be your vacuum cleaner
Breathing in your dust
I wanna be your Ford Cortina
I will never rust
If you like your coffee hot
Let me be your coffee pot
You call the shots
I wanna be yours

I wanna be your raincoat
For those frequent rainy days
I wanna be your dreamboat
When you want to sail away
Let me be your teddy bear
Take me with you anywhere
I don’t care
I wanna be yours

I wanna be your electric meter
I will not run out
I wanna be the electric heater
You’ll get cold without
I wanna be your setting lotion
Hold your hair in deep devotion
Deep as the deep Atlantic Ocean
That’s how deep is my devotion.

I MUSTN’T GO DOWN TO THE SEA AGAIN

Sunken yachtsmen
Sinking yards
Drunken Scotsmen
Drinking hard
Every lunatic and his friend
I mustn’t go down to the sea again

The ocean drags
Its drowning men
Emotions flag
Me down again
Tell Tracy Babs and Gwen
I mustn’t go down to the sea again

The rain whips
The promenade
It drips on chips
They turn to lard
I’d send a card if I had a pen
I mustn’t go down to the sea again

A string of pearls
From the bingo bar
For a girl
Who looks like Ringo Starr
She’s mad about married men
I mustn’t go down to the sea again

The clumsy kiss
That ends in tears
How I wish
I wasn’t here
Tell Tony Mike and Len
I mustn’t go down to the sea again.

John Cooper Clarke

Tim’s Book Blog – June 2021

June 2021
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
SOCIALMEDIA
F A C E B O O K
T W I T T E R
I N S T A G R A M

Guardians at the Wall Book Launch
June 1st saw the official launch date for my new novel, Guardians at the Wall – although some of you may have noted that it went ‘live’ on Amazon ten days earlier. Why wait when its success or failure hangs on the number of good reviews it accrues? Please help Noah and Gaius gain the readership they yearn for by putting up a customer review on Amazon and/or a review on Goodreads. Thanks!

90,000-word novels don’t just come together by accident. It has been nine months in the making, starting with my late-September two-day visit to Hadrian’s Wall where the ideas and inspiration infused my brain. Then plotting and a winter of writing, ably assisted by my enthusiastic critique partner, Linda Oliver. I discussed my approach and sent chapters for her feedback. Also, she’s the perfect grammar policewoman – thanks Linda!

A book cover concept was roughed-up and discussed with my cover designer, Cathy Walker. The section of wall across the middle of the cover is my photo of a section of the replica stone battlements at Vindolanda. The wall separates the ghostly image of a Roman centurion from curious archaeologists.
Once the draft was finished, I then gathered together a team of a dozen volunteers from Facebook groups to beta read it. Their feedback proved vital in tightening-up the plot and steering me to firmer ground with archaeological practice. Then Version Two was given a final proof-read by Linda and sent to Sinead Fitzgibbon for a copyedit. Sinead has been with me since Thames Valley Tales in 2015 and I trust her judgement implicitly. Further tweaks were made, and the final manuscript was good to go by 20th May.

What’s the book about? Well, here’s the short description:
Guardians at the Wall is a gripping dual timeline historical novel set at Hadrian’s Wall. Archaeologists uncover artefacts that connect them to the life of a Roman centurion in second century Britannia.
Currently just £1.99/$2.99/e2.69 on Kindle!
Paperback £7.99/$8.99 or read on Kindle Unlimited:
AMAZON BOOK LINK

FIRST BOOK AWARD
Guardians at the Wall has been awarded the International Review of Books Award by Books go Social (booksgosocial.com is a Dublin-based company that supports independent authors). Here’s what their reviewer said:
“The writing in this book is superb. I felt like I was at Hadrian’s Wall with a group of students on an artefact dig. The author’s descriptions of what was happening, what the characters felt and saw were wonderful.

I also felt like I travelled into the past where the artefact originated. These details brought the story alive. Yet, it’s more than about finding an artefact. There is a story of love and mystery as well. This creates added interest in the book. The main character has to deal with going on an important mission that could risk his future career and the hardship of theft. The author intermingles the two timelines very well providing details into a complete story that is about the people as well as the artefacts.
More than an artefact is dug up in this story. There are questions surrounding it that need to be answered. What does this find really mean? What is the story behind it? Finding the answers makes the reader eager to know what is happening and what happened long ago. Every step of this story adds more details to this well-written novel. It is full of everything you are looking for in historical fiction with some mystery and romance.”

General thoughts on the Novel: 
“This is a fascinating world throughout two timelines and two worlds found in the same place. The world has changed since the artefact had last seen the light and the writer did well relaying the two timelines. The design of the book is good throughout. The idea of this story is interesting with enough details to keep track of each timeline.”

This month’s guest author is Colin Garrow.
Colin grew up in a former mining town in Northumberland. He has worked in a plethora of professions including taxi driver, antiques dealer, drama facilitator, theatre director and fish processor, and has occasionally masqueraded as a pirate. All Colin’s books are available as eBooks and most are also out in paperback, too.

His short stories have appeared in several literary mags, including: SN Review, Flash Fiction Magazine, Word Bohemia, Every Day Fiction, The Grind, A3 Review, 1,000 Words, Inkapture and Scribble Magazine.

He currently lives in a humble cottage in North East Scotland where he writes novels, stories, poems and the occasional song. Colin’s latest book is an historical horror novella, Black Witch Moon.

Tyburn, 1625. A young woman hanged as a witch. A doctor plagued by nightmares.

Wracked by guilt, Robert Winter struggles with the notion that a witch may have been wrongly accused. But if that is so, what can he do about it?
When strange things begin to happen, Winter’s understanding of good and evil are put to the test. Compelled to choose one or the other, he soon learns that taking sides is the least of his problems…
In this horror series set in London, the novella Black Witch Moon is book #1 in the Black Witch Saga.

Currently just 99p on Kindle!
BOOK BUY LINK

Tim Walker’s review of Black Witch Moon:

This historical suspense/horror novella was an enjoyable read. The author brings many years of writing to his concise yet visually rich evocation of 17th century London – a time when belief in witchcraft was rife. Doctor Robert Winter is the doctor at the Bethlem asylum, and has just witnessed one of his inmates, Lizzie Pickins, hung for being a witch. This is not the end, but the beginning of a tale of intrigue as she appears to have risen from her grave to take revenge on those who testified against her. Robert becomes central to her plans, as he struggles to distinguish between reality and fearful superstition. A gripping tale full of gasps and sniggers. It bodes well for the series. Highly recommended.

Tim’s Newsletter – March 2021

Newsletter March 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

WORLD BOOK DAY – 4TH MARCH 

World Book Day changes lives through a love of books and shared reading. World Book Day is an educational trust whose mission is to promote reading for pleasure, offering every child and young person the opportunity to have a book of their own.

Reading for pleasure is the single biggest indicator of a child’s future success – more than their family circumstances, their parents’ educational background or their income. We want to see more children, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, with a life-long habit of reading for pleasure and the improved life chances this brings them.

World Book Day was created by UNESCO on 23rd April 1995 as aworldwide celebration of books and reading. It is marked in over 100 countries around the globe.

The first World Book Day in the UK and Ireland took place in 1997 to encourage young people to discover the pleasure of reading.

As World Book Day founder, Baroness Gail Rebuck, recalls “We wanted to do something to reposition reading and our message is the same today as it was then – that reading is fun, relevant, accessible, exciting, and has the power to transform lives.”

2021 is the 24th year there’s been a World Book Day, and on 4th March 2021, children of all ages will come together to share the joy of reading for pleasure.

Spending just 10 minutes a day reading and sharing stories with children can make a crucial difference to their future success and it’s fun for all involved.

That’s why World Book Day continues to encourage children and young people to read for pleasure through its work with authors, illustrators, publishers, bookshops and libraries. Authors – make a note to share your books on social media on World Book Day, 4th March 2021. Let’s get them reading!

RESEARCHING MY NEXT BOOK

I have recently completed the first draft of my next novel – Guardians at the Wall. This is dual timeline historical novel set at Hadrian’s Wall. It was inspired by a visit to a number of Roman sites and museums close to Hadrian’s Wall in September 2020. This is very much my Winter 20/21 novel, and it has helped keep me sane through this trying Covid-19 lockdown.
I have set the launch date for 1st June, and intend to reveal the cover in my 1st April newsletter. The book blurb is a work in progress, but this is the current version:

A group of archaeology students in northern England scrape at the soil near Hadrian’s Wall, once a barrier that divided Roman Britannia from wild Caledonian tribes.
Twenty-year-old Noah makes an intriguing find, but hasn’t anticipated becoming the object of desire in a developing love triangle in the isolated academic community at Vindolanda. He is living his best life, but must learn to prioritise in a race against time to solve an astounding 2,000-year-old riddle, and an artefact theft, as if his career depends on it, because it does.

In the same place, in the year 180 C.E., Centurion Gaius Atticianus, hungover and unaware of the bloody conflicts that will soon challenge him, is rattled by the hoot of an owl, a bad omen.
These are the protagonists whose lives will brush together in the alternating strands of this dual timeline historical novel, one trying to get himself noticed and the other trying to stay intact as he approaches retirement.
How will the breathless battles fought by a Roman officer influence the fortunes of a twenty-first century archaeology mud rat? Can naive Noah, distracted by the attentions of two very different women, work out who to trust?
Find out in Tim Walker’s thrilling historical dual timeline novel, Guardians at the Wall.

I have tried to link the contemporary and historical strands of my story through objects and through themes, such as trust, loyalty, societal attitudes and locations. One object that fascinated Noah that is on display in the Vindolanda museum, is fragment of a glass drinking tankard with a hand-painted colour frieze around it depicting gladiators fighting (pictured). In my historical story, Gaius and his mates drink a toast to Saturn on the eve of the Saturnalia festival, downing the ale poured by a serving girl and passing it on to the next in their circle, each having to tell a story of bravery in battle. To think that Roman legionaries over 1,800 years ago would have drunk from this tankard in the tavern outside the walls of Vindolanda fort is amazing to me.
Here is what the Vindolanda guidebook says about this incredible discovery:

“A long strip building, situated just outside the west gate of the fort, was the Vindolanda tavern. here the people of Vindolanda would have been able to enjoy locally brewed beer and wines from across the Empire and hot food. The front of the building, facing onto the street was where the common room or bar was situated. Its ceiling was held up by pillars to provide an open social area, with a small kitchen set behind to supply meals to travellers and patrons. You can imagine this would have been a noisy and smelly room, on of the focal social points of Vindolanda in the 3rd century.

When excavated, the tavern produced the highest concentration of drinking vessels from the site. One of those vessels is a fragment of the beautifully painted gladiator glass cup (now in the museum). The tavern owners had planned for their future by burying 270 coins below the floor of the kitchen. Unfortunately for them they never had the chance to spend the money as it remained hidden until excavators located the hoard in the 1977 excavation. It is likely that some of the money, which you can now see on display in the Vindolanda museum, was used to buy a round or two of beer in the tavern, almost 1,800 years ago.”

Here’s an extract from Guardians at the Wall. It is the scene where Gaius Atticianus, Officer of the Watch, meets auxiliary soldier, Amborix, on the battlements at Vindolanda in 180 C.E. on a cold winter’s night:

“Thank you, sir – although I have been told something different,” Amborix replied, also turning to watch the shimmering lights. He was only a few months at the Wall, and had already spent his meagre wages on woollen socks and a thick tunic he wore day and night. He watched in silence as the mysterious wave of light added in new colours – red, blue, violet and yellow – as it climbed into the night sky. “This is a strange land,” he added, throwing a stone in the direction of a hoot from an owl, “and a cursed one. Our protector, Sol Invictus, will only rise from his slumber for a few short hours.”

Gaius decided to ignore his insolence and let him prattle on. His head still throbbed from the beer he had drunk with his unit at the tavern that afternoon to celebrate the start of the feast of Saturnalia. They had sacrificed a goat to Saturn and had roasted the meat on a spit beside the tavern. Now he regretted the last two toasts, but grinned at the memory of drunken tales of bravery on their last posting in the wild lands north of the Wall. A glass tankard depicting colourful gladiators fighting for their lives had been passed around his carousing mates – each making a toast and downing the contents as a serving girl stood by ready to re-fill it from a pitcher.

“It is indeed a strange and wild land, but you will see in the coming weeks that Sol Invictus will gain more hours and Artemis will sulk in her hall. The long days of summer will come to give me more time with my horses.” He adjusted his shoulder guard and turned to the youth. “In Rome they say this is an empire without end, but here we are, boy, at the wild edge of Empire, hemmed in by the Wall.”

Newsletter – July 2020

NEWSLETTER – JULY 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

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
After five years of researching, plotting and writing, A Light in the Dark Ages book series is now complete with the publication in June 2020 of book five, Arthur Rex Brittonum.

I feel both a sense of achievement and relief, and hope that those of you who are reading the series will finally reach book five and leave me your thoughts in reviews posted on Amazon and Goodreads.

Most of all, I hope you enjoyed reading my imagined saga of the Pendragon family over three generations, drawn from historical research and the romantic desire to believe that at least some of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s creative ‘history’ is based on real people and events.

They may now be lost in the mists of time, but their folk memory lives on in the realm of legend.

Picture: I imagined that Arthur’s banner would combine his family association with the dragon, and the animal after which he is named – the bear.

The book series can now be found on one page on Amazon and the e-books or paperbacks ordered with ONE CLICK
The e-books are also available on Apple ibooks; Kobo; Nook; 24Symbols; Scribd; Playster; Montadori; Indigo; Overdrive; Tolino; Bibliotecha; Hoopla; Angus & Robertson and now Vivlio  HERE

A Light in the Dark Ages book series

Welcome Amy Maroney…

I grew up in Northern California and have lived in the Pacific Northwest for nearly 20 years. I come from a family of bookworms, of writers and editors, of wanderers who love to travel and explore the natural world. In my childhood home, television was strictly regulated and reading was encouraged instead.
I went on to major in English literature in college and began a career as a writer and editor of nonfiction soon after graduating.

Eventually my husband and I welcomed our first child to the world and my writing career took a back burner to the demands and joys of parenting. I continued to freelance part time and took graduate courses in public policy while we added another child to the mix. Meanwhile, I got involved in various volunteer gigs and began a graduate thesis when disaster struck in the shape of a debilitating stroke shortly after my 40th birthday.

The stroke and its aftermath were a game-changer. I realized that perhaps I didn’t have as much time on this planet as I had imagined. During my recovery, I put aside my thesis and gave myself permission to seriously pursue creative work. I began writing fiction and mapping out plots for a series of pharmaceutical thrillers, the first of which has the intriguing title, The Sunscreen Caper.
Then we had the good fortune to fulfil a long-standing dream: we rented out our house and travelled with our kids for ten months. It was a magical experience. Inspired by our travels, I began researching and writing the first book of The Miramonde Series: The Girl from Oto. Everything in the book draws on our trip, but it is also influenced by my previous stints living in France and Germany. I loved every minute of writing the story. The sequel, Mira’s Way, followed in 2018.

Now Amy writes page-turners about extraordinary women of the medieval and Renaissance eras…

The Promise

This series prequel novella will transport you five hundred years into the past…

It is 1483, and the Pyrenees mountains are a dangerous place for a woman.

Haunted by a childhood tragedy, mountain healer and midwife Elena de Arazas navigates the world like a bird in flight.

An unexpected romance shatters her solitary existence, giving her new hope. But when her dearest friend makes an audacious request, Elena faces an agonizing choice.

Will she be drawn back into the web of violence she’s spent a lifetime trying to escape?

Click here for your free download of The Promise. Learn more at www.amymaroney.com.

Find Amy Maroney on Twitter @wilaroney, on Instagram @amymaroneywrites and on Pinterest @amyloveshistory.

I’m delighted to welcome fellow Innerverse poet, James Linton, to Poet’s Corner. Tell us a bit about yourself, James…

My name is James Linton and writing is what I do.  It’s the only thing I’ve ever really been good at and the only thing that I really enjoy.  I’ve been writing all my life from my silly childhood stories of a talking bird and cat super team, to cringy angst-filled teenage poetry and short stories on all types of topics: tragedy, love, children’s lit, crime and however you would class the Story of Esme Esmerelda.  I’ve also done some freelance student and travel blogging.

In the past six years, I’ve been writing performance poetry and I love it.  I love the accessibility of the medium and I love performing it.  It’s the best high, but my first love will always be prose. I’m editing my first book at the moment – a post-apocalyptic dystopia focussing on humanity trying to start again.  I’m also writing my second book now – The Willow Tree, a fictionalised retelling of my experiences working in a care home.

Writing has certainly taken me on a strange journey throughout my life, but I can’t wait to see where it will take me next. Please read more of my work here.

Size Four Footprints

 “Only the dead have seen the end of war.” Plato

The fire crackles
as she walks through the sand
leaving behind size four footprints
a fighter plane reflects in her brother’s eye

A ringing in her ears,
as she holds her up extra-small hands
the lens looking like a barrel
the ground buzzing beneath her size four footprints

Shards of glass are tucked into the sand,
as she tiptoes over the stone and concrete,
clutching onto her little pony
one last present from her father

Their voices scream freedom
as she peeks from underneath the red-patched door
holding her breath
as the combat boots march past

Stacks of green bulge from Their Gucci and Prada
as she scavenges for copper and brass
dust coating her pigtails
salt sticking to her cheeks The Eye scans the waste
as she claims she’s a friend, she wants no more,
the Eye locks on, the hammer drops,
only the dead have seen the end of war.

Arthur Dux Bellorum – Chapter One

Chapter One

A COCKEREL CROWING its defiance to rivals always marked the start of his day. Shifting uncomfortably on a straw-stuffed sack, he turned away from the damp wall to see how far the first fingers of daylight had stretched across worn paving slabs. But the cockerel’s call was distant, muted and distorted – filtered through a narrow opening high up in his cell, making his first waking thought a cruel reminder that he was no longer in the sanctuary of his parents’ farm. Absent were the homely sounds of dogs barking, birds fighting, workers busying themselves, and the fountain splashing an invigorating melody.

Artorius sat, scratching at his woollen garment, then pushed aside the filthy blanket and ruffled his long, tangled hair, freeing some strands of straw. The rattle of keys interrupted his woeful reflection, signalling the entry of his jailor, Ahern, with a bowl of weak gruel and a pewter mug of water. He was a sullen, wordless giant who expressed himself with grunts and kicks.

“You are a happy man, Ahern, for you have found your true calling in life,” Artorius muttered, receiving a snarl in reply. Three months in his narrow cell had afforded him plenty of time to reflect on the words of Merlyn that had led to his arrest. Merlyn had exposed him to a cheering crowd as the true heir to his father, Uther Pendragon, and had showed him how to pull the sword of Ambrosius smoothly from the cleft in a rock, made possible by the removal of pressure due to Merlyn and Varden’s subtle easing back. A trick to fool an expectant crowd. No sooner had he entered the royal hall than the doors were barred behind him, and Caradoc, the army commander, had him arrested. Merlyn too, and Gawain the knight who had supported his claim. But not Varden, the ex-soldier and Merlyn’s bodyguard. He was at large and represented his only hope of rescue. 

“But my destiny as the son and heir to Uther, if indeed I am, has proven to be a false calling,” he moaned to the closing cell door. He had received no visitors or news from the outside, but the fear of execution had receded as the weeks had passed. They had locked him away and would no doubt parade him or dispose of him once the reign of the new king was bedded in – the boy-king Mordred, whose mother had tried and failed to free the sword on his behalf. He gloated over the memory of Morgana’s desperate and unsuccessful struggle.

Left alone with his thoughts, he shouted his anger and frustration at the impassive stone walls. “It was a conjuror’s trick that landed me here! It was YOUR ambition, Merlyn, not mine!” He had practised it over and over. This is what he would say to the mysterious healer should they ever meet again.

THE BEST PART of Ygerne’s day was the hour she was allowed to spend in her enclosed garden in the company of her daughters, Morgaise and Anne. They would tend to the roses and dwarf apple trees, and collect vegetables and herbs for their evening meal. They had been confined to their rooms since that strange day when Merlyn had unveiled Ambrosius’s sword. Ygerne had been shocked by his revelation that the youthful Artorius was the baby she had believed dead, although Morgana had once revealed her suspicion that he had been stolen. But that was typical of Uther’s mischief-making daughter. Morgana’s long investigation had revealed nothing, so the baby remained officially dead, despite a faint maternal flutter that tugged at her heart, the vague feeling that maybe the child still lived.  She had experienced it during Uther’s victory parade in Corinium, as if her son’s eyes were on her.

The widowed queen invited the squabbling girls to sit beside her on a stone bench and be still whilst she shared her thoughts with them. “Could it be true?” Ygerne asked her daughters, not for the first time.

Anne, a girl on the cusp of womanhood, answered first. “I think so, Mama. I have always felt that I have a brother, and have often imagined playing with him. When I saw Artorius, my heart jumped.”

“You are Uther’s daughter, without a doubt,” Ygerne laughed, “impulsive and firm in your belief.”

The older Morgaise, daughter of Ygerne’s first husband, Chief Gorlois of Cornubia, scoffed at the suggestion: “It was all a trick by Merlyn to place a farm boy on the throne so he could rule this land.”

“And yet, I would look into that boy’s eyes and decide for myself,” Ygerne replied. Her worn face, lined by thin strands of greying hair, was troubled.

“I would like to try and visit the cells to talk to him,” Anne said, making a curved line with the pointed toe of her slipper in the gravel at their feet.

“They will not let you,” Morgaise replied sharply. “And besides, it would be interpreted as plotting by Caradoc and Morgana, who rule over the boy-king. They would have your pretty head on a spike.”

The sisters glared at each other. Ygerne reached out and held their hands, silencing them. “I am less inclined to do nothing, as time goes by. Let us apply our minds to thinking of a way to contact Artorius. Perhaps, sweet Anne, you could find a way to go to the dispensary where they are holding Merlyn and try to talk to him when his guards are not looking?”

Morgaise’s face lit up at the prospect of something to do to quell their dull routine. “Yes! And I can go with her to distract the guards. But what should we ask of him, dear mother?”

THE FOLLOWING MORNING, Morgaise reported to their guards that Anne was sick with stomach ache and urgently needed to be taken to the dispensary to see a healer. The guards were visibly alarmed by the sight of Anne rolling on the floor, groaning, with white foam dribbling from the corner of her mouth. Caradoc himself appeared, some minutes later, wearing Uther’s purple cloak edged with gold, Morgaise noticed, and a silver medallion bearing an eagle’s head swinging on his chest.

“Carry her on a litter to the dispensary. Hurry,” he tersely commanded the guards.

“May I accompany her as I know her diet and history of ailments?” Morgaise asked innocently.

Caradoc nodded, then promptly turned his back and marched out.

They had not been outside of the enclosure of royal apartments in three months, and now Morgaise enjoyed looking about her at the passing traders and market stall women who turned away from her stare and stilled their chatter. Where the cobbled street ended, a dirt track took them to a row of wooden thatched huts that clustered around the dispensary, a large stone building standing apart from the more typical rows of townhouses and livestock pens.

They entered through a wide archway and were greeted by the women who tended to the sick and injured. The two guards and two litter-bearers were directed through a door and out into an airy and light courtyard where a fountain dribbled spring water into troughs from which servants collected fresh drinking water in jars for the patients. Morgaise followed the litter-bearers into a room smelling of herbs and was soon face-to-face with Merlyn. The ageing healer was still an imposing presence and easily the tallest man there. Her keen eyes noted his long grey hair tied neatly behind a black gown; his narrow features and tattoo swirls were partly hidden by a closely cropped beard. 

Merlyn’s brown eyes flitted from Morgaise to Anne lying still on the litter, and he pointed to a table laid out with a white cloth.

“What ails the young woman?” he asked.

“She has eaten something that does not agree with her delicate stomach,” Morgaise replied.

“Stand outside,” he commanded the guards and litter-bearers. They hesitated, exchanging looks, before silently withdrawing to guard the door. Morgaise sniggered at his authority over his jailors.

“I may be a hostage, but I remain a valuable resource to them. This is my dispensary, developed over many years under Uther’s reign. I preserve here the skills and knowledge of Roman physicians now long departed.” He looked at Anne’s tongue and touched the back of his fingers to her forehead, whilst Morgaise looked around her. Glass jars contained plants and body parts, and assorted clay pots with symbols scratched on them occupied the shelf space around the room.

Merlyn, once satisfied that Anne was in no danger, indicated a woman, who stood by the stool where a boy sat grinding a pestle into the mortar hugged to his ribs. “You can trust Pryderi, who assists me. The guards do not know she is my wife, so please keep this a secret.” Turning to the quiet woman he said, “My dear, may I introduce Queen Ygerne’s daughters – Morgaise and Anne.” If Pryderi was shocked or surprised, she didn’t show it. She bowed slightly to the royal princesses and busied herself on a nearby workbench.

By now Anne was sitting up. Merlyn asked Pryderi to bring a potion to ease stomach pains. “What did you take to make you unwell?” he asked her.

“I crushed up some fennel and dog wort from the garden and made a potion with sheep curd. It gave me stomach cramps and produced foaming of the mouth,” she cheerily quipped.

“Indeed, it would,” Merlyn replied. “Now drink this to settle your stomach,” he said, as Pryderi handed over the remedy.

Turning to Morgaise he asked, “Pray tell me, what it is that you have come for?”

The confident young woman faced him and held his gaze. “Our mother is concerned about the fate of the youth, Artorius. We are not convinced that he is the son of Uther, as you claim, but we would like to help rescue the boy from what may yet be an unfortunate end.”

“Have you heard that Caradoc has plans to kill him?”

“No, but our mother has a feeling that once the people are more accepting of Mordred as king, then he will be disposed of.”

Merlyn took the pewter vessel from Anne and passed it to Pryderi. “You should start to feel better now, my lady,” he said, smiling. She managed a half-smile in return. “I also am of a view that the young man needs rescuing, and soon. I had not expected allies from within the royal enclosure, although I’m pleased that you have come.” He bowed slightly to Morgaise.

“We are so bored imprisoned in our rooms that we are ready to do anything for some excitement.”

Anne coughed and added, “But I have long harboured a feeling that I might have a brother, and would welcome the chance to meet with Artorius and question him.”

Merlyn kept his thoughts to himself. A jailbreak would almost certainly be followed by a swift escape for all involved. There would not be much time for a family reunion. “I have six men or more camped in the woods who are in readiness to act. But first we need to plan his release. Can you draw me a diagram indicating where he is held on this wax tablet?” Merlyn turned to a table and handed a curved stick to Morgaise. Anne joined her and together they made a crude sketch of the interior of the underground chambers beneath the king’s hall.

“Is this the only entrance?” Merlyn asked, pointing to the sketch.

“Yes,” Anne replied. “It is guarded day and night by two guards. It can be reached from the kitchens at the back of the hall. If I know when you are coming, I can let you in through this door.” She indicated a gap in the outer wall of the enclosure.

“I know the place,” Merlyn said. “The moon will be at its brightest two nights from now and will help with our escape. We shall come to this door when the moon reaches its highest point in the night sky. I shall knock like this.” He rapped his knuckles on the table in a broken beat.

“Then one of us shall let you in,” Morgaise replied.

“We can do no more than that,” Anne added, “and must return to our rooms before the alarm is raised.”

Merlyn hesitated before speaking, “You may only have the briefest of moments with your brother, you must realise.” He did not want any words left unsaid on their plan. “But I shall send word to you where he can meet with you and your mother once we have made good our escape. That is all we can do. Remember this boy, Ulla, for it might be him who brings you news.” He ruffled the dark brown hair of the quiet boy in the corner.

Anne nodded, knowing this was the best that could be expected from a midnight jailbreak, whilst harbouring the faint hope of a snatched moment with her brother.

MERLYN LED HIS gang through the streets of sleeping Venta, beneath the glow of a pale moon. He glanced about for any signs of movement before rounding a corner, where he came face-to-face with a large, growling dog, its bared teeth and arched back indicating a readiness to strike. He held an arm up to indicate his followers should stop and dropped to eye level with the dog. He whispered in a soothing tone and slowly pulled a piece of roasted boar skin from inside his tunic and offered it. The dog approached, sniffing. Merlyn carefully patted its head and was relieved to see its tail wagging. “Come on,” he urged his followers, allowing the dog to tag along beside him.

They avoided a watchman’s tower at the corner of the wooden stockage that housed the royal buildings, and lined up in the shadow of a warehouse opposite the doorway to the kitchen. Merlyn checked both ways and studied the parapet above the wooden barrier across the street before running across to the door. He rapped the code and waited for a response. Sure enough, he heard bolts being withdrawn and he stood back, gripping his staff in both hands, ready to strike.

Morgaise’s face peered out from under a hood and he smiled with relief. “Come quickly,” she whispered. “The guards are drunk and sleeping.”

Merlyn waved for his men to follow and then entered the compound. Once all eight were inside, Varden, their leader, detailed one man to watch the doorway and two others to scout the yard and be in readiness to cover their escape.

Merlyn turned to Morgaise and asked, “Do you know where the sword of Ambrosius is?”

“The one Artorius pulled from the stone? Yes, it hangs on the wall in the Great Hall, behind the throne and under Mordred’s banner.”

When Varden returned to his side, Merlyn conveyed this information in a whisper. With a nod from Merlyn, Morgaise led them into the kitchen and out into a passageway that connected the hall to the sleeping quarters. She met Anne halfway along the narrow hallway, who indicated they should take a left turn. At the top of a circular stairwell Anne whispered to Merlyn, “At the bottom you will find the jailor sleeping on a wooden bed, but the night watchman is awake. He has the keys to the cells.”

Merlyn nodded. “Anne shall lead us down and Morgaise shall remain here to keep a look out and wait for our return. Varden will go to the hall and get the sword.”

“No,” Morgaise whispered, “the hunting hounds sleep in there by the hearth. They will attack him.”

Varden and Merlyn were confounded by this information. “Barking and snarling hounds would wake the guards,” Merlyn said, deep in thought.

“I sometimes feed the hounds,” Morgaise hissed. “They know me. Let me go there with a plate of meat from the larder and pick the sword on my way out.”

“Will they attack you in the dark?” Varden asked.

“Not if they smell the meats on offer,” she replied.

“Then let us try it,” Merlyn said, not wishing to delay further. “Varden will stand by the door with two men, ready to come to your aid if the hounds are restless,” Merlyn added.

Morgaise led Varden back to the kitchen to raid the larder for joints, whilst Merlyn and the rest of the men descended the stairs behind Anne. At the foot of the stairwell was a chamber lit by a solitary torch glowing from a bracket on the stone wall. To their right was a wooden bed on which slept the large form of Ahern, the jailor, snoring on his back. Anne crept forward towards the row of cells and bumped into a startled watchman, holding a lantern in which the candle had died.

“Oy, what are you doing here?” he growled. Merlyn and his companions shrunk back into the shadows, leaving Anne to answer him.

“I… followed my cat down the steps. Have you seen him?”

“No, I have not…” was all he managed in reply as Merlyn stepped forward and banged his head with the ball at the end of his wooden staff. The young gaoler fell to the floor, unconscious, and they checked whether the sleeping man had been disturbed by the clatter of the lamp on the floor. Ahern grunted and rolled over, facing the wall. Anne picked up the keys from the stricken man and passed them to Merlyn. They moved cautiously down a flight of a dozen steps to a tunnel lined with locked doors. A burning torch fixed to the wall lighted their way. Anne plucked it from its sconce.

Merlyn led the way to the first cell door with Anne following behind. The second key clanked in the lock and Merlyn pushed the door open, peering into the gloom. He moved towards a hunched figure lying on a bunk with his back to him. Merlyn put his hand on the sleeping man’s arm, and rolled him onto his back. The light from Anne’s torch fell on Artorius. He woke with a gasp and Merlyn put his hand over the young man’s mouth. He ceased to struggle when he heard a familiar voice by his ear.

“Merlyn!” he croaked through dry lips.

“Be quiet, my boy,” Merlyn whispered. “The jailor still sleeps.”

Merlyn led Artorius, whose heart galloped now, to where he saw a young woman staring at him. “This is your sister, Anne,” Merlyn said, stepping back. Artorius stood, mystified, but Anne stepped forward and looked closely at his face.

“I believe there is a resemblance,” she said, and then hugged the bemused youth.

“We’d better get going,” Merlyn whispered, looking around.

“Wait,” Anne replied, “there are two knights held here. Perhaps they are friends of Artorius?”

Merlyn looked to the hunched youth who shrugged his thin shoulders. “Then let us quickly look to see who they are and if they are worthy of our help.”

They combed the dungeons, finding some stray wretches, and soon identified Gawain and Percival, held in separate cells. Gawain could stand, bruised but otherwise unhurt, but Percival cried out in fear as they approached, in the voice of one who has endured a terrible torment. It soon became apparent that he was in much pain and couldn’t walk, his leg badly broken.

“What of these other wretches who are unknown to us?” Gawain asked, indicating three reed-thin men.

“Let them follow us out of here, then they can decide if they wish to come with us or escape to the forest,” Merlyn replied.

Whilst Artorius and Gawain briefly hugged, Merlyn called up two men to help the lame knight. “Let us hope you don’t have to make a run for it,” Anne whispered to Merlyn as they made their way to the stairwell.

At the top of the stairs Merlyn paused to peer in the direction of the hall. “Anne, lead them out through the kitchen door. I’ll follow soon.” With that Merlyn strode into the gloom towards the hall, leaving Anne and Varden’s men to escort the shuffling escapees towards the exit.

Merlyn found Varden and his two companions hiding in a recess in the wall, daggers at the ready.

“She is still inside with the hounds,” Varden whispered.

“We have rescued the prisoners and now must get away from this place,” Merlyn muttered, the tension apparent in his tone.

“You go and lead them to safety. I’ll wait for Morgaise and the sword,” Varden replied, his eyes shining with resolve in the dim glow of an oil lamp. Merlyn paused for thought. Ideally, they should all leave together. Just then, the hall door creaked open and Morgaise slid out, shutting it behind her. They gathered around her as hounds whined and scratched at the closed door. With a triumphant smile, Morgaise produced the unsheathed sword from a fold in her skirt. Varden took it from her and Merlyn gave her a gentle hug around her slender shoulders.

“Let us make haste, for our luck will soon run out,” Merlyn whispered, turning to lead them back towards the kitchen. They passed out into the cool night air, finding their fellows hiding in a shadowy porch. Clouds shrouded the moon making it much darker than before, causing Merlyn to sigh his relief. The biggest man was able to carry Percival on his back, and they filed out through the open door and into the night. Artorius and Merlyn were the last to leave, exchanging hugs with the two young women. Morgaise was hurriedly introduced to Artorius, to add to his wonder of the events still unfolding.

Anne sniffed back her tears as she kissed Artorius on the cheek. “I hope we meet again soon, dear brother, together with our dear mother who longs to hold you once more.”

Merlyn pulled Artorius away and they melted into the night. “Let us not tempt the fates by delaying, Artorius,” he whispered. “Our horses are outside the town’s walls. It is but an hour to sunrise.”

Artorius started at the sight of a large guard dog emerging from the shadows. His alarm soon turned to bemusement as it wagged its tail and lolled its tongue at Merlyn who bent to pat its head. The beast trotted beside them to the unguarded gates and watched as they slipped out into the night, leaving the sleeping town behind.

Newsletter – May 2020

NEWSLETTER – MAY 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

Follow Tim on TWITTER FACEBOOK GOODREADS

AUTHOR NEWS

NEW – Coming 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.

Pre-order the e-book HERE

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:-
Website  Blog   Twitter   Facebook    Goodreads

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 UK    Amazon US

Website • Blog • Facebook • Twitter

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.

Website • Blog • Facebook • Twitter

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.

Buy Links –  Amazon.com    Amazon UK

Extract – The trouble begins

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.

References: 

(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)

Images:

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.

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