First look at chapter 4 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.
Eolande clutched the wooden rail of the ship that was named the Dame of Good Chance by its crew, and steadied herself against the deepening swell. A gust of wind tugged at her wimple and threatened to pull of the woollen cap that sat on top of her head. She pulled the cap down hurriedly. What lay beneath was worth hiding.
The winds had been erratic, and after two days at sea out of Lynn, it had only been that morning that the poor scamp of a boy they kept at the top of the mast in a small wooden open box had cried out “Land ho!” The boy had shouted down repeatedly after that telling the captain of the Dame and her crew everything he could see. The land was green, but there were snow capped mountains in the distance. Eolande had listened in amazement as the boy told of the dark purple peaks of hills that he could see. Until that was the captain sent two men up in the rigging to pry the boy from his perch.
“First time out and already touched in the head,” muttered the captain’s mate, and old shipman with a thick but close cut silver beard by the name of John Scot, “Jock” to the others, who spoke with a deep burr and seemed to have made it his main job to follow Eolande around the ship to make sure she kept out of trouble and that she didn’t get knocked overboard.
Despite their rough manners the crew of the Dame had treated her well. The captain had respected the purse of money enough to ask no questions of a lone young woman dressed like a woodsman, but with the manners of a gentlewoman.
Now, coming into view, was the harbour of Calais, England’s toe-hold on the north coast of France, a friendly port for any English ships. Eolande could make out the bay of the harbour and the smudge of buildings bumping up to break up the flat coast-line. Other wooden cogs, like the Dame, bobbed in the bay like a clutch of corks in a bucket.
“You’ll be a’right when you step ashore, will ye?” asked Jock. “Got somewhere to go, like. I expect, you got a fine young man waitin’ for ye?”
“Yes, of course,” she replied. “I’d better be getting my things together.” With that she turned and staggering, almost expertly now, to the rhythm of the sea’s swell, she made for the single passenger’s cabin under the Dame’s stern-castle.
When she was inside with the stiff wooden door shut behind her, she kicked out at the low wooden cot that had been her bed. Her boot made a satisfying thud against it. She should curse herself for a fool and a wretch. Jock had been nothing but courteous and kind to her for the whole voyage, and now one question that touched a nerve triggered her to rudeness. That was no way to win friends. And perhaps onshore she would need one.
She pulled of the cap and the wimple and rubbed her short chopped hair. She liked to do that when she was thinking. It could become a habit.
The truth was she had no idea what she would do in Calais. Where would she start looking for her father? She would have to leave Calais and venture into French territory, through hostile lands. Her French was passable; she was a noblewoman after all. But travelling on her own, on uncertain roads with little knowledge of where she should be searching would be difficult.
No, surely the quest she had set herself was impossible.
She picked up her travelling bag from the peg on which it hung and started stuffing the small amount of clothes she had brought into it. She wore a simple woollen dress now, but she had brought more boyish clothes with her. Clothes that she didn’t want the shipmen to see her in. To pass as a boy? How stupid she was. It would never work.
There was a knock on the door, and before she could react the door was opening, and in leant the Dame’s captain.
The captain was a normally quiet man. Eolande had been nervous of him during the voyage, always feeling that there was a brooding anger beneath the surface ready to boil over. But he had never given her any trouble. But that looked set to change.
He looked at her with puzzlement. “Your hair?”
Eolande resisted the temptation to cover her hair with the cap and wimple. He had seen her short boyish crop now, so what would it help if she denied it.
“What of it?”
The captain weighed his words before speaking. There was an uncomfortable knowingness in his expression. “Your hair is shorter than I expected from a lady. I have never seen hair so short on any woman, and did not expect it of the wife of a knight in the King’s pay, en route to visit her husband.”
The captain stepped into the small cabin, unconsciously ducking his head as he did so to avoid the low beams, he was a tall man to be skulking below the decks of a cramped vessel like the Dame, and Eolande wondered if that discomfort of posture did not impinge on any fellow feeling he might have for others.
“What did you say his name was again?” asked the captain. “Did you say he was a knight of the Calais garrison? I don’t remember his name being familiar to me.”
Eolande had made up a name to make her journey at least appear more possible. A young, unmarried, noblewoman, travelling on her own was just not believable. A married woman, whose treacherous servants had stolen her travelling belongings (but not her purse) and deserted her, at a stretch she had thought, might.
“Did, did, I give you a name?” she said. She backed away, until her legs met the side of the narrow cot, and as the ship swayed on the swell, she found herself sitting. “Do I need to justify myself to you, captain. You have received an honest payment for my passage to Calais, have you not?”
The captain, despite his height, had steady sea legs, and remained standing looking down from her from his crooked height. As she looked up, she could see black hairs jutting like a brush from his large nostrils. She gripped the sheet of the bed tightly in her left hand, and felt for her bag with the other where it lay near the pillow, not taking her eyes from the cruel face of the captain.
“Sir Richard Malfoy you said his name was. I’ve never heard of him. Who’s his lord?”
Eolande hesitated. She knew the game was up. She had no idea which lords or commanders were part of the garrison of Calais, a simple collection of facts, which surely the captain of the Dame would know.
“He has no lord. He is one of the King’s knights on a secret commission for the King only.” Her voice grew in power and certainty as she boldy worked her way into the lie. So outrageous that the captain might think twice. “Do you want to jeopardise the work of one of the King’s own knights by questioning more? Would you like me to tell my husband that the captain of the Dame of Good Chance asks too many questions?”
The captain grimaced. “This is nonsense. I smell a lie here.”
“And I smell a spy.” Eolande stood up and pushed the captain back in defiance, and this time he did lose his footing as the Dame jarred in the water, and he landed with a clatter in doorway of the cabin, bashing his elbow against the door. He winced in pain and scrambled to his feet.
Clutching his elbow he looked with what seemed close to hatred at Eolande. “We’re not finished yet. I have many friends in Calais, and be assured that I will be watching you, but don’t call me a spy. I am no traitor. I am not running away from anything.”
He left the door that had done such hurt to his eblow swinging, and Eolande rushed to shut it firmly and standing with her back against it unless anyone else tried to barge in on her, she stood there and breathed deeply, filling her lungs. She felt that she had been holding her breath ever since the captain had appeared in his cabin. He knew there was something wrong, and now she was even more caught in a lie that the captain could only disprove. But he was wrong about one thing. She wasn’t running away from anything, she was running to someone. Running to her father wherever he was.
If you want to read the first volume of Stonehearted, By the Sword’s Edge, then click here.
Here’s a quote from the review:
‘Chivalry’ is the first story of his I have read and liked it a lot. Aside from his choice to play with the definition of chivalry, I also liked the setting, that of the aftermath of battle. I don’t think it is covered enough, which is a shame as the ashes of war give rise to some of the most history and alternate history tales I have read.
You can read the whole review at http://sfcrowsnest.org.uk/chivalry-a-jake-savage-adventure-by-mark-lord-short-fiction-review/
So since last week’s update I have started actually looking at the sources for the Pontvallain campaign. First up is the Anonimalle chronicle – an English chronicle written at the Abbey of St. Mary in York, which covers most of the fourteenth century and is best known for its account of the Peasant’s Revolt of 1381. It’s written in Anglo-Norman, so this week I transcribed a page of it and started translating it into English. The section that I was started with gave details of numbers of soldiers in Knolles’s army – suggesting that the army consisted of 2,000 men-at-arms (gentz darmes) and 6,000 archers (darchiers) – Jonathan Sumption thinks this can’t be right if you compare it with some of the other figures, so here the chronicler must have been mistaken.
Luckily I did GCSE French so I can just about read most of the text and get the gist of it. For the rest I have been reliant on an excellent resource called the Anglo-Norman Dictionary. More resources on how to use it can be found at the Anglo-Norman Online Hub. Fantastic to have this and easy to use as well – it provides examples of usages and variants of spellings of each word.
I have a feeling I might be using it a lot over the next few weeks!
st by Juliet Barker about the English Kingdom of France at the end of the Hundred Years War – I’m thinking GRR Martin might have based a lot of his history of Westeros on these events – terrible intrigue mired with chivalry, assassination, massacres and mystical inspiration!
Also playing Crusader Kings 2 – not sure how I missed this before – shines a light on the convoluted personal politics of the Middle Ages like no other game I have played – the combat system is rubbish (just sums!) Will probably blog about this a bit more sometime.
Only a few words since Saturday. Definitely seem to have a problem picking up the writing at the moment. I think it’s because with Dragon’s Above it is very much a blank canvas. I know where the first chapter is going to end, but that’s it.
Well I have finished the first chapter now, so that leaves the rest of the book. Rather than just wade into the next chapter, I decided I might be better motivated if I do a little bit of planning. Not a lot – just get to know something about the characters I am going to write about – or at least the main character of the next chapter. What I am trying to avoid is doing loads of outlining. Dragons Above is the short novel that I am writing to keep myself writing every day while I more thoroughly plan the next installment of Stonehearted, which as its a historical novel I need to do research on (to some extent at least).
So I have made some notes this morning and feel pretty happy that they give me some basis to keep moving forward, and what’s more I am quite excited with the ideas for the characters and setting that I came up. I don’t think they’re groundbreaking, but they’re of enough interest to me to keep writing.
First a little update on words. 109 since Saturday – that’s it!
Here’s the stuff I came up with for Dragons Above.
Dragons Above – Main Characters – their conflicts.
Injured in dragon bombing attack
- Wants to get back home to Throfunar to marry his betrothed, Frea
- Do his duty for the dwarves – but not sure as to the point of the war.
- Technical interest in defeating the dragoneers
After his injury he becomes obsessed in engineering and how to come up with a weapon to defeat the dragoneers bombing.
He is crippled by the attack – wheelchair and partially deaf.
He thinks Frea won’t want him. Throws his energies into weapon design.
He’s a love-smitten technie nerd.
Field Marshall of the Alliance. Currently appointed field commander of the Army of the North.
Responsible for protecting the borders of the Locked Kingdom and has been charged by the Garland Council with the ultimate defeat of the Lord of Despair and his armies.
Maximilian is a famous general, who in his prime was an undefeated leader of men – during the Wars of the Hundred Cities and the War of the Intercession, he never lost a battle. Called out of retirement by an Alliance sick of defeat after defeat, Maximilian has struggled to rediscover his lost successes. He is old, and his memory is not as good as it was. He wants to rediscover his lost powers of leadership and generalship, but he knows that he can’t.
- Against the effects of old age – he is proud and can’t let go and admit himself incapable. He is too hard on himself – he has something to offer, but the pressures of leadership are too great for him.
- To hold the Alliance of men, dwarves and elves together.
- To defeat the Hosts of Despair.
- To protect his son who is anxious for a field command.
Hosts of Despair
Religiously motivated, end-of-days militants who believe that the peoples of Midgard must pay for the offences to the gods with blood.
Armies consist of human, dwarves and elves who have lost hope or that are just cruel enough to love killing.
Lead by the Lord of Despair, an unseen warlock of unknown provenance – at least by his enemies. The Alliance spy services are intent on finding out more about the Lord of Despair and have attempted to capture high-ranking Host generals to question them and also to infiltrate into the Lord of Despair’s Headquarters, but without any success so far.
The Lord of Despair supplements his followers from the three main races of Midgard (humans, dwarves and elves), with other creatures – dragons and various other monsters of the northern mountains where his fastness is located. He also works in uneasy alliance with the enemies of the free people of Midgard – orcs and goblins, who now invest much of the Locked Kingdom. He sees these creatures as a punishment from the gods and sees no harm in encouraging them, although they are opposed to any alliance or control by him – as yet.
Other characters to develop later in the novel
- Maximilian’s son
- Lord of Despair
- A mother character – mid-30s? Which side? What’s her role? Minding the castle/farm while her husband is at war?
- A dragoneer
- An orc/goblin junior war-chief
Well you’re unlikely to be able to attend this course (if you are then you’re very lucky!), but if you want to read up on what the supernatural meant in the Middle Ages then I would recommend looking over the course notes for Eileen Joy’s The Medieval Supernatural.
I have created a page on this blog that captures the reading list as I just wanted to make sure I had all the suggestions recorded somewhere. In particular I would recommend the work of Robert Bartlett as a good introduction to the subject.
In a world which is indeed our world, the one we know . . . . there occurs an event which cannot be explained by the laws of this same familiar world. The person who experiences the event must opt for one of two possible solutions: either he is the victim of an illusion of the senses, of a product of the imagination — and the laws of the world then remain what they are; or else the event has indeed taken place, it is an integral part of reality — but then this reality is controlled by laws unknown to us.~ from Tzvetan Todorov, The Fantastic: A Structural Approach to a Literary Genre
A new research paper, Diaspora and identity in the Viking Age, published in the Early Medieval Europe journal by Lesley Abrams looks into the terminology and evidence for a ‘diaspora’ amongst the Vikings in the early medieval period. There are a number of issues involved:
Is diaspora an appropriate term – is it friendlier than colonialism for instance, and is the use of it by historians intended to present the spread of the Vikings in a particular way.
Are all Scandinavian people Vikings? And if so, is Viking a good term, or should Norse be used?
What nature did the spread of the Vikings take? Was their a consistent approach and did the different communities maintain links with each other?
Lesley Abrams matches the characteristics of the spread of the Vikings against Robin Cohen’s Global Diasporas summarized as follows:
- dispersal from an original homeland to two or more foreign regions;
- expansion in search of work, in pursuit of trade, or to further colonial ambitions;
- a collective memory and myth about the homeland, real or imagined;
- an idealization of the homeland and a collective commitment to its thriving;
- a movement to return to or at least maintain a connection with the homeland;
- a strong ethnic group consciousness, maintained over time;
- a troubled relationship with the host society;
- a sense of empathy and co-responsibility with co-ethnic members in other countries;
- the possibility of an enriched creative life in the host country.
And she concludes that in the end the was a diaspora of sorts:
Broadly speaking, however, we might already be able to speculate that for a period the dispersed Scandinavian communities of the Viking Age acted like a diaspora, retaining, synthesizing, and expressing a sense of collective identity and constructing a common cultural discourse, while new circumstances generated innovations and developments which flowed back and forth between them. ‘Diaspora’, then, is arguably not just a buzzword, nor simply a fashionable synonym, but an exploratory concept that offers a new perspective on the Viking Age. Its adoption should give the overseas settlements a greater cultural profile and a more significant role as agents of change, both in their new environments and back home.
- Viking invasions brought mice everywhere, except Canada (canada.com)
- Vikings on stadium situation: “There is no next year” (profootballtalk.nbcsports.com)
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!
- Left Hand of God and Agincourt – not sure about this one? (marklord.info)
- French soldiers weighed down by armour at Agincourt (telegraph.co.uk)
- Agincourt and other great British ‘myths’ (bbc.co.uk)
- The Battle of Agincourt (readingshakespeare.wordpress.com)
Some of the top stories and most interesting blog posts on Medieval History and Medieval Historical Fiction in the past week or so:
Medieval Bookworm reviews Bernard Cornwell’s Death of Kings
Medievalists.net discusses evidence for Scottish Medieval Football – although is this any real surprise? Football was around for a long time in the Middle Ages.
Medievalists.net also has news that the British Library launches new Medieval and Renaissance images app
About.com tells us about the Viking Ship Burial Discovered in Scotland
ABC News and many other news sites tell about how a father forced his daughter to take part in a medieval duel
Live Science has news of how Computers are helping to piece together Medieval scrolls found in a Cairo synagogue
Gamershell.com has news about an interesting MMO game set in the Middle Ages. Goldon Age is currently in Closed Beta
Stay in Touch
- Top 5 Medieval People (marklord.info)
- Review: Periodization and Resistance in Medieval Japanese History (somervillejj.wordpress.com)
- New Medieval History Book: Chivalry in Medieval England by Nigel Saul (marklord.info)
- Forthcoming Medieval History Book: Divided Houses: Hundred Years War Vol 3 by Jonathan Sumption (marklord.info)
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.
- England in 1376 – new page added on the Black Prince’s Household Retainers (marklord.info)
- Who are the four kings of the middle ages 1066-1500 (wiki.answers.com)
- War, Budget Deficit and Taxation (marklord.info)