If you have read and enjoyed my short story Chivalry, then hopefully you’ll be pleased to hear that there is now a sequel available: Bring on the Night.
Bring on the Night tells the story of what happened after the events of Chivalry – what happened to Jake and to the boy, all set against the backdrop of the Hundred Years War and with a dash of horror and paranormal fantasy thrown in.
Came across this news today – looks like an interesting new TV series is in the works from the creator of Sons of Anarchy (story via Deadline.com):
Bastard Executioner tells the story of a warrior knight in King Edward III’s charge who is broken by the ravages of war and vows to lay down his sword. But when that violence finds him again he is forced to pick up the bloodiest sword of all. “I love the network. I love the world. I love the blood,” Sutter said.
The Bastard Executioner, which marks FX’s first pilot with Imagine TV, stems from an idea by Grazer, who had been exploring the arena for some time. “I find the executioner to be an incredibly fascinating and provocative character,” he said. “He deals with the highest order and the lowest order in the culture. It’s about as morally complex a profession as you can imagine, and it is going to make for a spellbinding series.”
Definitely worth the watch for any fans of Medieval History – although I’m wondering if it will just be glamourising blood and violence?
Just wanted to update you all that I am currently working on putting together a new collection of my short stories. The title will be Through a Distant Mirror Darkly and it will collect all my short fiction set in a Medieval setting. Here’s the blurb and cover:
Not all is as it seems in this collection of dark tales from the Middle Ages.
Mark Lord, the author of By the Sword’s Edge and Hell has its Demons, weaves five Medieval short stories to excite, scare and enthral you. From the vicious struggle of the Hundred Years War, to legends of werewolves and rumours of necromancers and ghosts, to the bitter conflict of a castle under siege, the action and adventure never stop. These five fast-paced short stories will keep you on the edge of your seat and turning every page until you reach the end. 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.
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.
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.
I am currently reading Azincourt by Bernard Cornwell and absolutely loving it. Azincourt is a nice easy and pleasurable page-turner told in the usual style of Bernard Cornwell – the historical content is fairly light and the characters are very immediate, not to complex but with enough empathy to keep the reader interested in the story.
And of course its about the great battle of Agincourt (or Azincourt) during the Hundred Years War, a battle that I have read a fair bit about and one that I have some quite strong opinions on – i.e. that the contribution of our archers wasn’t as key as some people like to make out – the men-at-arms and the mud were the key players in my opinion. So I wanted to see how Bernard Cornwell treated the portrayal of the battle. At the moment I am reading his depiction of the siege of Harfleur, which he does very well – effectively a medieval siege was like trench warfare and that is well depicted in Azincourt.
There was one jarring moment of disappointment and surprise for me though earlier in the book. A priest is describing his time at Oxford University and how he used to visit a brothel there – all fine and accurate so far. In fact this priest visited the brothel so often that he became a regular acquaintance of the Bishop of Oxford, who was also a regular customer of the same brothel.
But … there was no Bishop of Oxford. No bishop existed in Oxford until the reign of Henry VIII in the sixteenth century. Oxford was part of the huge diocese of Lincoln at the time. When I read this passage in Azincourt it was one of those moments where I simply had to put down the book and do a fact check. Having done a fair bit of research on the University of Oxford for my novel Hell has its Demons, I thought it odd that I hadn’t come across a Bishop of Oxford – such a figure would have held great sway over the interaction of the town and the University I thought – instead the Chancellor of the University was probably the most important clerk around time at this point.
Lessons to be learnt? Even the best novelists make mistakes, and always check your facts even if they seem self-evident – i.e. that a place as prominent as Oxford would be assured to have a Bishop.
Here’s some more details from the publisher’s website.
Divided Houses is a tale of contrasting fortunes. In the last decade of his reign Edward III, a senile, pathetic symbol of England’s past conquests, was condemned to see them overrun by the armies of his enemies. When he died, in 1377, he was succeeded by a vulnerable child, who was destined to grow into a neurotic and unstable adult presiding over a divided nation.
Meanwhile France entered upon one of the most glittering periods of her medieval history, years of power and ceremony, astonishing artistic creativity and famous warriors making their reputations as far afield as Naples, Hungary and North Africa.
Contemporaries in both countries believed that they were living through memorable times: times of great wickedness and great achievement, of collective mediocrity but intense personal heroism, of extremes of wealth and poverty, fortune and failure. At a distance of six centuries, as Jonathan Sumption skilfully and meticulously shows, it is possible to agree with all of these judgments.
Mark Lord gives a very intense and painstakingly depiction of the horrors of war. The setting is an unexpected one and the supernatural sparkle intensifies the atmosphere a lot.
The pacing is excellent and Mark Lord does not waste a word too much. The end is a tricky one. It is not an expected one and it delivers not the 100% solution. But it is as satisfying as the story itself.
I hope there will be more Jake Savage stories (a full novel would be great) soon. Chivalry: A Jake Savage Adventure satisfied my craving for historical fiction with a mystery touch which is taking a greater part within my reading comfort zone of epic fantasy, steampunk and space opera.
This looks quite interesting, but shame there are no screenshots or videos. Wonder how it will compare to Medieval Total War? The screenshots of their previous game HISTORYTM Great Battles of Rome, look very Total War like.
Here’s some info:
HISTORYTM Great Battles Medieval is based on the historical events of the Hundred Years War, the most famous conflict of medieval times fought between France and England that shaped the future of both countries for centuries to follow. It features Slitherine’s cutting edge graphic engine and a brand new game play system that allows players to be in complete control of massive armies. From the thunderous charge of the knights to the men-at-arms fighting for their lives in hand-to-hand combat, the game will recreate the epic feel of medieval battles, featuring thousands of characters simultaneously.
Licensed and TV supported by HistoryTM, one of the best known brands for factual historical programming.
As the English you will fight under the Black Prince, Henry V and other heroic characters from history, and as the French you fight for Joan of Arc and the King.
70 Medieval battles, including 26 historical encounters from the Hundred Years war, 1337-1453.
Command more than 20 different units all accurately researched and carefully modelled in amazing detail.
Customise your squads of archers, cavalry, knights, etc with over 100 unique fighting, combat and weapon skills.
Free form quest maps that allow players to decide when and where to fight within an historical framework.
Innovative Battle Card system that gives realistic bonuses and penalties in battle.
Multiplayer: join a game or host your own in 2 player head to head.
Extensive added historical documentary clips from the library of HISTORYTM TV channel.