I am pleased to announce that For a Life Forgotten has now been published and is available in eBook and Print Book formats!
The concluding volume 4 is nearing completion and should be out in the summer.
For a Life Forgotten by Mark Lord
When the cut from the blade runs deep – You need a heart of Stone
The English army commanded by Robert Knolles has reached Paris – the capital and the honour of the French kingdom is under threat. But against the backdrop of war another drama plays out – will Eolande find her father, who was captured by the French? Will Richard seek the redemption he seeks after the terrible killing of his brother, and what will be the fate of the amoral Minsterworth, a captain in the English army, but only interested in his own gain?
Meanwhile secrets about the fate of Eolande’s father will be revealed.
For a Life Forgotten is the third part of the Stonehearted series, a fast-paced medieval adventure story set during the epic Hundred Year War between England and France.
I am very pleased to announce the publication of By Fire and Sword, which is the second part of my series Stonehearted – and the sequel to By The Sword’s Edge.
By Fire and Sword is a Medieval action adventure story set in the year 1370.
The English have again brought fire and sword to the country of France. An army devastates the country on its march south to Paris, hungry for loot and glory. But redemption is what Richard Stone seeks—having run away from home after a family tragedy for which he is responsible. The French resist as best they can—but to stand and fight the English they learn is a fools game.
Eolande, neighbour of Richard’s, has also left home—in search of the father that was captured years ago and never returned. But even Calais the bastion of the English in France, is not welcoming to her.
By Fire and Sword is the second volume of Stonehearted. You can purchase from:
At long last I have a new story out – seems like ages! Hopefully won’t be too long until the next one though – so stay tuned for more!
This one is something different for me – a short story set in the First World War – something I haven’t written about before, but I would like to again. Smithers will fly again!
Lieutenant John Smith was not a gentleman in the opinion of the pilots of 32 Squadron. He hadn’t attended public school and he was dashedly bad at cricket. To top that his own Captain, Thomas Albright-Parker, looked forward to the day when Smith’s flying career would be ended by the Hun.
But Lieutenant Smith, or “Smithers”, was going to prove his doubters wrong when his Flight went on patrol that day.
Smithers Hits a Six is an anti-Biggles story for the modern reader. This is the tale of an officer not from a working class background and without the natural talented of Biggles. Like many real pilots he survives more on luck than judgement in the dangerous skies of the Western Front.
First look at chapter 5 of the next volume of Stonehearted. The first volume is By the Sword’s Edge. The second volume doesn’t have a title yet, so I’m going to call it Stonehearted 2 for now. I started writing the second volume towards the end of last year and am making fairly good progress on it at the moment. I thought it would be fun to post here each completed chapter as I write them. They’re only drafts at the moment – no fancy editing, so probably riddled with typos and inconsistencies. Once I have finished this volume I’ll publish it in print and eBook format and announce it on this blog.
Other chapters from Stonehearted Volume 2 can be found by clicking here.
It looked so easy. No more than fifty French men-at-arms lined up on foot on a flat field in front of a wood, their horses tethered by a lone tree to their right flank with servants holding the skittish mounts. To the French left flank ran the road that the English vanguard had hoped would take them to the gates of Paris.
“I don’t like it,” said Knolles. “We’ll ignore them and go south away from the wood.”
“Across open farmland?” said Minsterworth. “That’s going to take us a lot longer. All day for the carts if there’s hedges and ditches. We could sweep them aside in a few winks of an eye. We have two hundred men-at-arms, and the same number of archers. On the blood of the holy virgin, a flight of two hundred arrows would scatter them!”
Richard was a few paces back from where the two English captains stood looking at the French force. The rest of the vanguard was in a column of march, dismounted however, along the road they had travelled from Amiens. Knolles and Minsterworth were staring across the wheat field, shielding their eyes against the powerful August sun. Richard hadn’t noticed the heat, but when Minsterworth blasphemed he felt he skin prickle with what felt like fire. God was telling him that he was angry. He crossed himself to ward off the evil of his master’s words.
Knolles turned to Minsterworth and smiled. “Well, sir, if you want to take men of your own retinue from the vanguard and try your luck against them then that is your concern, but I am taking the army away to the south.”
“And split the army?” Minsterworth replied. “Would you leave us behind?”
“Yes, if you disobey my commands for the purpose of seeking your own glory.”
Minsterworth turned to Richard. “How many men of my retinue are here? If you don’t know then ask that damned cur, Hugh, to count the bastards.”
“I know the number, sir,” Richard replied. “Twenty men-at-arms, and thirty mounted archers.” He crossed himself again to ward off the evil of Minsterworth’s continual swearing.
Minsterworth didn’t notice and swung on his heel and looked again at the French forces where they were positioned.
“Richard,” said Knolles smiling not unkindly at the young man, “you have served your master well, and if he neglects to then I thank you for informing him that the odds are in perfect balance.”
“You know that’s not true,” said Minsterworth, a piece of spit flying from his mouth. “You wouldn’t take them! The odds are never equal if one force is in a prepared defensive position. You wouldn’t take odds of eight to one. I know you, you’re no gambling man. Ever!”
“But you are,” chided Knolles. “You want this campaign to give you glory and wealth. You think because the king named you co-captain with I and the others, that means that you command. Then if that is the case take on that duty, but you will not waste my men and those of the other captains on it.”
“They would take the bet as well,” said Minsterworth. “If they were here, they would charge without hesitation at the enemy and run them down in seconds. The truth is it’s you who are getting in the way. We all command this army and will not suffer from your tyranny any longer.”
Knolles looked unconcerned by Minsterworth’s outburst, but Richard noticed that he was now gripping the pommel of his sword in case. “When the army arrives at Paris then we can discuss this with all the captains, but until then I rule. You can’t run an army like a republic.”
Richard nodded his head in agreement to that, and Minsterworth stared at him. “Do you want to say something? Or would you rather go and go and polish my armour?”
Knolles smiled. “The boy is bright, let him speak. It seems that he is even wiser for his years than I thought.”
Richard bowed his head swiftly to the old captain’s praise, and replied. “My lord, thank you for letting me speak. I just could not help but agree with your words explaining the nature of things to my master, Sir John.”
“Oh, for Christ’s sake,” spat Minsterworth, “this whelp should be back in his grammar school!”
“Go on,” said Knolles to Richard.
“God, our Father, does not share his dominion with any others, but rules heaven like a king. So on earth it is natural for men to be ruled by a king in imitation of the pattern set by our Creator.”
Knolles nodded. “You see, John, I was right and this boy’s lesson proved it.”
Minsterworth shook his head. Both captains smiled, and Richard knew that they shared a moment of mockery at his words.
“I am glad that you are able to see the way of God’s will, my lord,” said Richard to Knolles. “It pains me that my master here is an ungodly man, and takes the name of Christ and the Holy Virgin in vain. I will pray for him, and trust in God’s judgment for his soul.”
Both captains were struggling to hold back their laughter.
“Yet I believe it is God’s will that we fight the French wherever we find them. King Edward is by right of God the King of France, and these men stand in the way of God’s will. They must be set right, and if needs must the sword will show them the truth.”
“It looks like you have found a paladin to lead your charge, John,” said Knolles.
“He’ll be out there on his own.”
Richard took a step forward and gripped Minsterworth by the shoulder. “You’re wrong. There are many others in the army who feel the same as I. They will do God’s will.”
Minsterworth shrugged off Richard’s hand as if it were poisonous. “I told you to stop that damn preaching.”
Knolles though came closer to Richard and took his hand in both of his. “How many of the vanguard behind us would follow you, young man.”
“None!” laughed Minsterworth.
“Hundreds gathered in the camp to hear me speak before you banned it, perhaps a hundred of the men here would follow me if God is willing.”
Knolles nodded. “Let this be a trial for you then Richard. If you lead well and win, then you can command men in my army.”
“He’s my man,” said Minsterworth.
“We will see about that,” replied Knolles. “Now go, Richard. Select your men for the attack.”
Richard left the two captains.
“If you raise this boy up then I want compensation,” said Minsterworth.
“You will have it,” said Knolles. “I know how your mind works. I have an instinct about this one. He’s different.”
“He’s burdened with guilt for killing his brother. All he desires is to do penance through death. Probably his own soon enough.”
“There’s something more to it than that, John. This boy has turned. The Stones are no more God-fearing than you or I, but something has happened to this boy. It’s like a fire burns in his soul.”
“Fires burn themselves out.”
“But you can’t help watch them,” Knolles replied. “Tell me are you not going to join the attack? It was your idea.”
“You have chosen your commander for the assault, and besides I would prefer to watch the flames burn.”
If you want to read the first volume of Stonehearted, By the Sword’s Edge, then click here.
Divided Houses is the third volume in Jonathan Sumption’s epic history of the Hundred Years War – the war that everyone knows didn’t really last a hundred years – more like 117. However, one could argue that with the various truces and peace efforts that’s not quite the case. Divided Houses at first glance looks like it might cover one of the less glamorous periods of the war – there’s no headline English victory to write about – no Crecy, Poitiers, or Agincourt. Despite this, or perhaps because of this lack of a landmark battle distracting from the rest of the narrative, what is recounted is completely compelling. The period from 1369 to 1399 was a period of conflict and strife not just between the main two participants – France and England, but also internally in both countries as well. This was the period of the decline of Edward III, the Peasant’s revolt, and the deposition of Richard II in England. While in France power politics amongst the King’s relatives and generals and a bout of madness that lasted most of Charles VI’s reign add to the intrigue.
The narrative is also compelling because it really shows how unrealistic the war with France was for England – they just couldn’t afford it. But even France, who at last got their taxation together and built up some massive armies and fleets to invade England, saw those plans crumble to dust in the face of political uncertainty and bad weather.
There are also the sideshows of the war in Spain and Portugal, where the feudal ambitions of John of Gaunt failed and the Portuguese won their landmark battle of nationhood – Aljubarrota. But for me one of the most interesting sections is on the situation in Gascony, where because of the war a state of chaos reigned. Knights and nobles indulged in what can only be described as gangster-like activities – forcing towns to pay them protection money – or patis – or suffer the consequences. Local counts and dukes used the very same robber barons to form armies to fight various causes – whether in the national wars between France and England, or to supposedly put an end to the problem of outlawry.
Sumption tells his story of these years with an admirable combination of narrative skill while never skimping on interesting detail and exhaustive research. Divided Houses is an essential history of one of the more overlooked periods of the Hundred Years War.
Some of my fiction related to the Hundred Years War
This is one of my favourite periods of history. In fact I have several stories written during the the 1370s. These are:
I am currently writing a new novel set in the Hundred Years War called Stonehearted. As the novel is progressing quite well I thought it would be fun to release it in serial format every month or two. There should be four or five parts in total, each ranging from 15,000 to 20,000 words. I will then release the full novel once the last part has been finished.
By The Sword’s Edge is the first part and I have made it free for the moment to introduce new readers to the series. You can currently download it for free from Smashwords.
Here’s a bit more about the book:
By The Sword’s Edge is the first volume of Stonehearted, a serialized novel.
After a decade of peace England is again at war with France. But England’s warrior king, Edward III, is not the man he was. Ageing and turned to a life of pleasure, he will not lead an army into France again. And his eldest son, the famous Black Prince, suffers from a chronic illness while he tries to hold onto his principality of Aquitaine.
Many men in England have grown rich from war and some, like Sir Robert Knolles, have risen from the lowest ranks to lead great armies, and he will now lead a force into northern France to challenge the French to battle. But first he has a visit to make to a Norfolk manor to visit an old friend.
In By The Sword’s Edge two young people are thrust into the harsh realities of war. Richard Stone is a knight in training and son of a rich Norfolk merchant. Their neighbours are the d’Aubrays, who hold Sarbrook castle, but have sold or rent much of their land since falling into poverty. The lord of Sarbrook is missing in France, captured many years ago and not returned despite the payment of ransom. His daughter, Eolande d’Aubray is desperate for her father to return. Only he, it seems, can save her from the prospect of an unwanted marriage.
Bird Talk is a short story about a young priest, Roger, living in a small medieval English town, who is trying to uncover what he believes are foul magical deeds. But instead he manages to implicate the women he loves in accusations of witchcraft. With only the town drunk to help him, Roger must work out a way of saving the woman he loves.
What do you do when you have accused the woman you love of necromancy?
Roger Draper suspects that a necromancer is at work in a small medieval English town. But rather than uncovering foul magical deeds he manages to implicate the women he desires in accusations of witchcraft. With only the town drunk to help him, Roger must untangle the mess he has created.
Be prepared for a heady concoction of gritty medieval life, humour and magic.
Bird Talk: A Tale of Medieval Magic is an Historical Fantasy short story.
“I am the last survivor of the noble family of Trigoff…This is my confession.”A tale of knights, castles, maidens and werewolves set in Medieval France. This short story is a retelling of Marie de France’s classic Medieval Romance.
“I am the last survivor of the noble family of Trigoff…This is my confession.” A tale of knights, castles, maidens and werewolves set in Medieval France at the height of the Hundred Years War.
What happens when the man you thought would protect you is more than a man? When another suitor comes calling would stand by your werewolf husband or be tempted to seek protection against the dangers of the wild forest elsewhere?
This historical fantasy short story is a retelling of Marie de France’s classic Medieval Romance Bisclavret.
What do you think are these better? Do you think they will help the short stories sell better?
With Bisclavret I wasn’t sure whether to keep the quotation in there or not?
Gweek 041: Under the Moons of Mars Boing Boing By Mark Frauenfelder at 7:00 am Monday, Feb 27 Gweek is a weekly podcast where the editors and friends of Boing Boing talk about comic books, science fiction and fantasy, video games, board games, tools, gadgets, apps, and other neat stuff.
Sinbad sails to France, Canada C21Media Broadcasters in France and Canada have pre-bought domestic rights to fantasy series Sinbad from distributor BBC Worldwide (BBCWW). Sinbad (13×60'), produced by the UK's Impossible Pictures for Sky1 and BBCWW, promises to update the 8th Century fantasy…
What does the Academy have against fantasy (and science fiction)? Examiner.com The Academy does not yet treat science fiction, let alone comic book adaptations with respect. Few science fiction movies have ever been nominated for Best Picture. None have won. Fantasy has fared slightly better, partly due to the "Lord of the Rings" …
Will Scotland Go Its Own Way? New York Times It sounds like a fantasy fiction title. To many people across the world, including the English themselves, it is inconceivable that this deep-rooted United Kingdom, the oldest royal democracy in the world, could split apart. In the last few weeks, …
BOOKS: Dark urban fantasy novelist continues hot streak North County Times "I read a lot of fantasy and traditional fairy tales as well as a lot of science fiction. The fantastical creatures of the fantasy world were my favorite." Harrison was first published in 2001, and has since written and published a slew of novels.
I have been experimenting with some video capture software recently and recorded this brief video of the Battle of Agincourt from Medieval 2 Total War. The game version of the battle is actually pretty accurate.
This is the moment when the French cavalry wings charge the English and are defeated quite easily by the English longbowmen fire! By the way there is not supposed to be any sound!
I am thinking about paying for the full version of the software so I can record longer clips!