I have been mulling over what to write next. Currently I have a novel that’s a Work In Progress, with the first draft nearly completed – Hell has its Demons. I broke off this to put the finishing touches to Chivalry: A Jake Savage Adventure and also to work on some ideas about how a series might develop involving the two principal characters of Hell has its Demons – Jake Savage and Roger Sotil.
I now have a good idea on paper for a follow-up tale to Chivalry, involving Jake Savage. It will be a dark fantasy tale again based in war torn Medieval France. My plan is to write the first draft of this story and another story with the same setting and Jake as a central character during the month of November. These will then get sent out for critiquing and I’ll turn once again to finishing off Hell has its Demons.
Hell has its Demons is my first novel and the task of creating characters that will work across such a large piece of work is one that I have been grappling with – indeed the characters have changed during the course of the book more than I expected. So once the first draft is nailed down, I’ll need to go back and re-evaluate the characters and determine what is going on, what stays and what goes, and what needs to be added in. I can see that taking the first part of 2012.
However, its also likely that there will be two new Jake Savage Adventures out early next year!
And hopefully with any luck I’ll find a publisher for Hell has its Demons sometime later in 2012 – that’s the plan anyway!
Random post of the week – who are my top 5 people from the Middle Ages – real historical medieval people, not characters from any of my stories that is!
Frederick II Hohenstaufen – not quite the Renaissance prince that earlier historians such as Kantowicz would like to think, but even so still quite amazing in what he tried to do – a cultured, yet autocratic prince, rather than a fanatic oaf of a king.
Geoffrey Chaucer – he had the wit and charm to poke fun at all around him, but in quite a nice way – a bit like the Stephen Fry of the Fourteenth Century perhaps?
Richard I the Lionheart – complete opposite of Frederick I at number the one above, but for bare faced oafish medieval kingly behaviour I think he has to be in my arbitrary list of Top 5 Medieval People. Hated England, hardly set foot in the place, but thanks to Hollywood’s portrayal of Robin Hood and Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe I grew up with him as the quintessential English Medieval King. Robin Hood wouldn’t be on my list, but he’s fictional anyway so can’t be!
Dante Alighieri – the great Italian poet who gave us the Divine Comedy and the quintessential image of hell, while sniping at all and sundry, a bit nastier than Chaucer, and in my view not as great a poet, but still fascinating and able to conjure up great images.
Owain Glyndŵr – rebel with a cause, but ultimately a doomed one. Not a man I knew a lot about until I read the Welsh Wars of Independence, but what a guy, what crazy guy, deciding to go up against the might of Lancastrian England and nearly pulling it off too! The Welsh are getting a lot of good press recently for their passion and determination, and this chap certainly had that.
What do you think? Agree/disagree? Who would be in your top 5?
At present I don’t have much information on these individuals – indeed I suspect that for some of them there won’t be much information available, but they may well be key characters in Hell has its Demons, so it will be fun to bring them to fictional life.
This is something that has been bothering me for a while now. I’m a fan of PC computer games such as Medieval II: Total War and the other titles in that series, and I have also occasionally played a few other PC strategy wargames. Most of these vary in the amount of realism that they include, but usually they aim to get things like the effects of weapons, terrain, morale etc fairly accurate. You can argue about the finer details of how effective crossbows or longbows should be, but at the end of the day the differences aren’t too great, and if you’re into modding can be corrected by access to the game’s source files.
Where I feel that all such PC games always fall down is on the realistic portrayal of command and control. All PC games tend to allow the player pretty much omnipotent control of his forces. You click on a unit and command it where to go, and usually pretty soon it gets going. There might be a slight delay sometimes, but the order is obeyed and carried out.
Back in the 1980s when I was a schoolboy I was interested in actual wargames with lead figures etc, and although I didn’t get much further than playing a bit of Warhammer, I did buy War Games Rules: 3000 BC to 1485 AD by the Wargames Research Group, published in August 1980. These guys did wargaming properly, and for them it was all about accurately portraying what might happen on a battlefield, as well as the thrill of commanding troops and all the excitement associated with a game.
Now as any military historian will tell you, the ability of a commander to actually change the course of a battle in pre-modern times was fairly limited – things got better in the times of Napoleon I think, mostly because battles just took a lot longer – whole days, so things could be changed, but once troops were off and marching you would have to send them a message to change their orders. You would have to hope the messenger got through alive and then that the subordinate commander actually understood and correctly implemented the new order – by which time of course the situation of the battle may have changed radically.
War Games Rules: 3000 BC to 1485 AD actually recreates such situations. Commanders are required to write orders for their units prior to the start of the battle. You can write standing orders which can be applied if certain circumstances occur, which is quite handy, but if you want to change orders during a battle you actually have to send an order to your units and tell them to do something different – this can be by some sort of pre-arranged signal, or by sending a messenger. And each type of order despatch is subject to realistic chances of success. If your General figure is engaged in combat then quite rightly you can’t send any commands – something that’s quite important during battles before the Early Modern period. For instance Henry V was engaged in hand to hand combat during Agincourt, and probably had the opportunity to change very few of his orders once the battle was under way – in fact the only decision he made during the battle was probably to kill the French prisoners because of the threat to English rear.
Should PC games reflect reality in this way? I think so. I think it would make games actually more challenging for players, more exciting and more realistic. You wouldn’t have the arcade style click and shoot style action, but I think the there would be a lot more involvement in actually planning and trying to react to events in time to make a difference, that would actually add to the excitement.
As part of my research for the novel Hell has its Demons, I have been doing some further research on the English Royal Family in 1376, and in particular the Black Prince. I have just added a page Key Retainers of the Black Prince in 1376.
Hell has its Demons features a plot against the life of the Black Prince and his son Richard of Bordeaux (the future Richard II), so gaining more knowledge of the Prince’s household is a key part of the research process for me!
The historical PC game experts Paradox Interactive seem to have a new game featuring the War of the Roses coming out. The video below was uploaded in August, but there doesn’t seem to be any news on a release date. If it’s historically accurate, which some of Paradox’s games are, then it could be very interesting for any fans of Medieval history.
Here’s some more information on the game from Paradox’s website:
War of the Roses is a new IP that transports players back in time to the battle-ravaged, dynastic civil war era of 15th century England where ownership of the throne of England was brutally fought over between supporters of two rival branches of the Royal House of Plantagenet – the house of Lancaster (the reds) and the house of York (the whites).
A team-based multiplayer melee combat experience, War of The Roses sees players and their band of knights going toe-to-toe with their opponents using authentic and visceral weapons of the time period including broad swords, long bows and battle-axes. Built on a stunning graphics engine which vividly portrays the fighting from an up-close-and-personal third-person perspective, War of the Roses features both online multiplayer and a single-player campaign. Players will get the chance to lead their warrior through a rich progression system, gaining upgrades and unlocking new content on their path from filthy peasant to unstoppable armored killing machine.
The years of 1455-1485 in England is an extraordinary and underused setting filled with conflict, treachery and bloodshed. In the wake of the “death of chivalry” at Agincourt in 1415 and the introduction of gunpowder, warfare changed; the gloves came off, so to speak. The old and the new clashed on the battlefield while personal vendettas persistently motivated the desire for war. War of the Roses – ambitions and goals In War of the Roses, Fatshark take what was learned from Lead and Gold and apply it in a medieval setting, using the Bitsquid tech-engine for high quality visuals and performance. The driving focus of the game is creating a multiplayer game with the same accessibility as the best competitive shooters currently out there, but in a medieval setting with a primary emphasis on melee combat. The focus of the core gameplay is on the Multiplayer experience, but we will have an engaging and immersive story driven single player campaign designed to prepare and train players for the multiplayer experience. The single player campaign will give the players direct rewards to use in the multiplayer battles.
As the world economy appears to collapse around our ears perhaps it would be well to think about some of the historic events that have lead us here.
I am blaming war. In the Middle Ages the high cost of warfare created the need for the first time to tax a realms subjects on a regular basis, and the need for immediate cash lead governments such as Edward III’s to borrow on the basis of future tax receipts, the first government bonds in effect. And from there one can see how the need to finance such large projects (governments and armies) lead to the development of more sophisticated banking systems, such as those managed by the medicis for instance.
In the Middle Ages for the first time governments borrowed more than they could pay back, based on the security of a steady source of future income, the new regular taxes based on trade and possessions.
The UK has been in fairly serious national debt since the 17th century, and all of this down to war, Napoleonic, First and Second World Wars.
More recently it has been estimated that the Iraq and Afghanistan wars of recent years have cost the UK approximately £18 billion.
In Matthew Paris’s Chronica Majora for 1255 he tells how a wonderful sea monster was cast up by the sea on the coast of Norfolk. Intriguingly the monster was not a whale as one might think, but was larger than one! Unfortunately we don’t get any further description of what this beast might be!
During that same time the sea cast up in the districts belonging to the diocese of Norwich an immense sea monster, which was disturbed by the violent commotions of the waves and was killed, as was believed, by the blows and wounds it received. This monster was larger than a whale, but was not considered to be of the whale kind: its carcass enriched the whole adjacent country.
I had been having my doubts about the original cover for Chivalry – the Lady of Shallot Pre-Raphaelite picture – I thought it perhaps conveyed the mystery of the female antagonist in the story, but it didn’t convey the tone of the story, which is all about the gritty awfulness of medieval combat and its consequences.