Tag Archives: Historical fiction

New Historical Fiction Novel from Bernard Cornwell 2017

I’m a big fan of historical fiction (as you might guess from the stories that I write and the content of this blog!) So I was interested to hear that there will be a new Bernard Cornwell book later in this year – and one that’s not part of his normal series – or on a subject that he would normally write about.

I really enjoy Cornwell’s action stories–he writes well and creates strong stories. You could argue that the books are a bit formulaic after a while, but they’re good reads nevertheless.

His latest is set in Elizabethan England and follows the life of one Richard Shakespeare – it’s not out until October and there’s not a great deal of information on it – not even a cover image at the moment – but it sounds intriguing – probably the most notable difference from most of his work is that it does not involve military matters.

Here’s what I have from the Amazon website:

Fools and Mortals Kindle
by Bernard Cornwell

A dramatic new departure for international bestselling author Bernard Cornwell, FOOLS AND MORTALS takes us into the heart of the Elizabethan era, long one of his favourite periods of British history.

Fools and Mortals follows the young Richard Shakespeare, an actor struggling to make his way in a company dominated by his estranged older brother, William. As the growth of theatre blooms, their rivalry – and that of the playhouses, playwrights and actors vying for acclaim and glory – propels a high-stakes story of conflict and betrayal.

And the link to it on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk for pre-orders.

 

The Best Historical Fiction of All Time – have you read them all?

I was doing some research recently into which historical fiction novels are recognized as being the best of all time – the books that every budding historical fiction author and reader should have read. Of course there is no definitive list – such a thing can and should only ever be a matter of opinion. I found lists on the Telegraph site, Publisher’s Weekly, and of course Goodreads has several reader-curated list- as well.

The most reference one however seemed to be a list published by the Guardian/Observer back in 2012. Here’s what they have:

  • War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  • Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
  • Romola by George Eliot
  • The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa
  • Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín
  • Pure by Andrew Miller
  • The Blue Flower by Penelope Fitzgerald
  • I, Claudius by Robert Graves
  • Property by Valerie Martin
  • The Regeneration Trilogy by Pat Barker

I have to confess that I have only read War and Peace, Wolf Hall, I, Claudius and the first of The Regeneration Trilogy – so no idea about the others. I think given that this is the Guardian its quite a literary fiction based list. I’d agree with these 4 titles that I know being on the list for sure, but I think for pure entertainment value I would have to add The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas well. But also what about Tale of Two Cities by Dickens?

What about you? What else should be on the list – please comment below – I’d love to hear what you think.

Alt Hist Issue 7 is here! | Alt Hist: Historical Fiction and Alternate History

Alt Hist Issue 7 is here! | Alt Hist: Historical Fiction and Alternate History.

I am pleased to announce that Alt Hist Issue 7 has now been published!

You can purchase eBook and Print copies from: Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | Barnes & Noble

And eBook copies from:

Smashwords | Kobo | iBooks

Alt Hist returns with the seventh issue of the popular magazine of historical fiction and alternate history. This is the biggest issue of Alt Hist so far and this time we have seven wonderful short stories for you—including two parts of the popular Battalion 202 series and stories from Alt Hist favourites Priya Sharma and Andrew Knighton. If you like historical fiction, then you are sure to love this issue of Alt Hist.

Alt Hist Issue 7 features the following stories:

  • “The Vivisectionist’s Daughter” by Jason Kahn
  • “Cold Flesh” by Andrew Knighton
  • “The Independence Day” by Pavel Nikiforovitch
  • “Heff in Dearborn” by Michael Fertik
  • “Battalion 202: The Sheep and the Goats” by Jonathan Doering
  • “Set Britain Ablaze” by Jonathan Doering
  • “The Red Vortex” by Priya Sharma

 

In Search of Historical Fantasy

 

Medieval
Medieval (Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn)

I think that I may have a problem as a writer. Hopefully not in the quality of what I do, but in the choice of one of the genres that I like to write in. I do write mostly historical or fantasy fiction, and quite often what I enjoy most is to write historical fantasy. However, I think there’s a problem with that.

The problem is that Historical Fantasy (note switch to capital letters – to provide some more gravitas) is a slippery genre to define. If you check out the listings at online retailers or on places like Goodreads – or reader discussions online – then you realise that Historical Fantasy means different things to different people – and don’t get me started on Wikipedia.

The issue is that my definition, I believe, doesn’t match with that of some others. For me Historical Fantasy should be a piece of fiction actually taking place in an historical setting. So for instance, for my Hell has its Demons story, the setting is Fourteenth Century England. I then add in fantastical elements – basically demons and magic in my story are real.

Yet it seems for other people – and for those genre listings on online retailers particularly – the genre is in fact anything that has a vague historical tinge to it. So you get books by Tad Williams, G R R Martin, Brent Weeks, Michael J Sullivan and Joe Abercrombrie all appearing. If you then look at the sub-genre of Medieval Fantasy – which I think I’m writing in, then you get pretty much the whole Epic Fantasy genre. I just can’t understand how those books muscle into my ghetto and claim historical/medieval definitions!

But another issue with the genre, even if you take a stricter view of it, is that it is a bit of a mash-up. There’s no Historical Fantasy section in traditional bookshops or libraries. There’s actually not that many well known authors/books in the genre. I would say a handful really still writing – Gabaldon, Novik. Susanna Clarke – who wrote what I would say is the defining book of recent Historical Fiction – doesn’t seem to be producing anything new at all, which is a great shame.

So in a sense I am writing in a genre without much of a real fan base. But hey, maybe that’s a good thing! I think there is a desire for this kind of fiction, and it would be great to see it better defined and promoted by the big retailers – kick out the second-world fantasy that includes armour and swords please!

 

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Hell has its Demons – my latest novel published in Print and eBook formats

My most recent novel, Hell has its Demons, is now available from all major retailers

Hell has its DemonsHell has its Demons by Mark Lord

Volume 1 of The Sotil and Savage Adventures

Available as an eBook and in Print at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, see Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | Barnes & Noble

Available as an eBook from Kobo | iBooks | Smashwords

A roller-coaster ride of medieval action, adventure and magic!

Roger Sotil, Master of Astronomy and his sceptical servant, Jake Savage, are called upon to rid a town of its demons.

Investigating an infestation of demons in the town of St Brett’s is the last thing that Jake Savage wants to do this summer. But for his master, the controversial Oxford scholar Roger Sotil, it is a chance to prove that demons can be conjured and avoid charges of heresy.

In St Brett’s, Roger sees demons possessing the townspeople. Jake thinks they are just acting very strangely. The people are scared and want answers fast. A beautiful woman, Isabel Haukwake, is accused of witchcraft. Roger feels sure that she isn’t guilty. Jake knows she isn’t. He was once engaged to marry her, until his father took her from him.

In Hell has its Demons a plot unfolds to use demons to take the ultimate prize of all – the crown of Edward III, King of England.

Hell has its Demons is the first novel in a trilogy.

Click here to read Chapter 1 for free!

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Through a Distant Mirror Darkly Now Published

Through a Distant Mirror Darkly

hrough a Distant Mirror Darkly Front CoverMy latest short story collection has now been published. Through a Distant Mirror Darkly is now available in all eBook formats and as a printed edition. The collection is dedicated to short stories with a medieval theme – some of them are straight historical fiction, while others contain an element of fantasy and the supernatural.

Buy print and eBook at: Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk

Buy eBook at: Smashwords | Kobo | Nook | iBooks

Here’s a bit more about the contents of the collection:

In “Stand and Fight” Richard Hope must overcome treachery to defend the castle of Montmal from the French. Jake, an English archer in “Chivalry” must choose between his comrades and the path of honour. In “Bird Talk” a young priest discovers the woman he loves may also be a necromancer. Frederick II, the “Stupor Mundi”, the wonder of the world, is haunted by the ghost of his dead chancellor. And in “Bisclavret” a French noblewoman discovers there is more under the skin of her English husband than she could imagine.

 

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Naked Writer #15: But the Rent

Still at the research for the next volume of Stonehearted! Nothing much to report other than that.

Not much done over the weekend, but otherwise I have made some progress on getting ready to read through the source material references I have gathered for the Pontvallain campaign. That includes matching up events with each of the footnotes in Divided Houses by Sumption, and also gathering copies of the source material. Nearly finished on getting the source material, much of it has come from archive.org – which is the historical writer’s friend! (more on that site another time). When that’s compiled I will be starting to translate some of it – most of it is in Latin or French, so the plan is to use the Sumption footnotes to make sure I just translate the few pages I need from each source.

Other than that I am gearing up to produce the next issue of Alt Hist – I have gathered all the author manuscripts together and will be typesetting these this week.

Reading

I am listening to Robyn Young’s Brethren – it’s OK, but I wish it was a bit faster paced. Just started reading an ebook from my local library of People’s Queen by Vanora Bennett, which is based on the life of Alice Perrers, Edward III’s mistress. This is right on the money in terms of the time period that I write about, so its fascinating to see how the author portrays things. As with much of historical fiction a lot of the characterisation and interpretation of what actually happens is speculative. I think the author is doing a great job on this at the moment!

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Starting the Editing Process for my novel Hell has its Demons

The last few weeks have been spent editing my historical fantasy novel set in the Middle Ages: Hell has its Demons. At present I am half way through reading the first draft. I am not making too many edits at the moment, unless I spot a glaring typo. This is my first time editing a full novel length story, and I wasn’t quite sure how to approach it. But I have found that the most valuable thing to do is to just remind myself of what happens in the novel, what I wrote, and to get an overview of the major things that need fixing. For instance I have realised that there are a number of inconsistencies in the middle of the book – chapters out of order etc. Also there are some characters I introduce early on that die away, so I need to make a decision about whether to keep them in and develop them further in the book, or to get rid of them completely, or at least minimize their importance.

I’m enjoying this phase of the process. It’s nice to read through what I have written again as a holistic exercise rather than just reading bits and pieces here and there to check what I should be writing next. The good thing (or perhaps the dangerous thing) is that I like what I have written so far!

My experiment with writing a novel from different first person perspectives – see the Vulture posts, lead me to realize that it would be a lot of work to do this for Hell has its Demons, and I think not necessary either. My reread so far leads me to believe that the three different third person POVs will work quite well. First person POV writing gives fiction a completely different flavour, especially over an extended piece such as a novel, but I hadn’t appreciated that fully until I started writing the Vulture as an experiment. Who knows maybe I’ll take the experiment further at some point in the future, but I know it definitely has helped inform my writing of Hell has its Demons.

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War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy – new Page on Praeter Naturam

Following on from my posting of information about Leo Tolstoy’s The Cossacks, I have now created a new page about one of Tolstoy’s greatest classics: War and Peace.

War and Peace is one of those novels that a lot of people think about reading, but never get round to, probably being put off by the sheer size of the thing. But it’s really a page-turner in my opinion. If you have any interest in either human relationships, warfare or history, then War and Peace I would say is a must read for you.

On my War and Peace page I provide a bit more information about the book, and links to the first chapter, a list of characters and a bibliography for further reading.

A number of eBook editions of War and Peace are available as well asprinted versions. I’ll leave it to you take your choice.

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