Tag Archives: Middle Ages

Through a Distant Mirror Darkly – new Medieval Short Story Collection out soon!

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:

hrough a Distant Mirror Darkly Front CoverNot 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.

I’ll post again as soon as its published.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Naked Writer #17: Getting Anglo-Norman

English: illustration intended for the mid-nin...
English: illustration intended for the mid-nineteenth-century history of the European Middle Ages. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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!

Reading

Listening to the excellent Sol Stein‘s Stein on Writing and reading Conque

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.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Hell has its Demons – Free on Kindle this weekend

Hell has its DemonsMy new novel, Hell has its Demons, will be free on the Kindle this weekend.

The promotion should be starting today, Friday, 28th June, and will last until Saturday.

Get it while you can at Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | and their other stores!

Here’s a bit more about the book:

What if the demons portrayed in the Middle Ages were real and could be conjured by necromancers?

And what if those seeking power decided to use demons to get what they wanted? 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.

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.

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

Enhanced by Zemanta

eBook Blurbs Experimentation

Yesterday I decided that the blurbs for my short stories might be, how shall we say, rather poor! And decidedly boring!

Well last night I decided to update a couple of them. See what you think of the changes:

Bird Talk: A Tale of Medieval Magic

Old Blurb:

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.

New Blurb:

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.

Bisclavret (The Werewolf)

Old Blurb:

“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.

New Blurb:

 “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?

Enhanced by Zemanta

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.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Guest Post on Chivalry at Tanzanite’s Castle Full of Books

Daphne who runs Tanzanite’s Castle Full of Books has kindly allowed me to write a guest post for her blog about Chivalry: A Jake Savage Adventure.

In the post I ramble on about how I came to write Chivalry, the background for the story and some of the important themes: Arthurian romance, the terrible generalship of John of Gaunt etc.

You can even sign up to win a free copy of the eBook!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Full Text of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Translation Online

In the Medieval History and Literature section of this site I’ve recently posted the full modern English translation by Jessie L. Weston of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight – a rather fine poem, and a good translation.

Here’s an excerpt from the first section of the translation:

After the siege and the assault of Troy, when that burg was destroyed and burnt to ashes, and the traitor tried for his treason, the noble Æneas and his kin sailed forth to become princes and patrons of well-nigh all the Western Isles. Thus Romulus built Rome (and gave to the city his own name, which it bears even to this day); and Ticius turned him to Tuscany; and Langobard raised him up dwellings in Lombardy; and Felix Brutus sailed far over the French flood, and founded the kingdom of Britain, wherein have been war and waste and wonder, and bliss and bale, ofttimes since.

And in that kingdom of Britain have been wrought more gallant deeds than in any other; but of all British kings Arthur was the most valiant, as I have heard tell, therefore will I set forth a wondrous adventure that fell out in his time. And if ye will listen to me, but for a little while, I will tell it even as it stands in story stiff and strong, fixed in the letter, as it hath long been known in the land.

Weston’s translation is clear for the modern reader, but retains the power of the original poem (although in prose format).

Enhanced by Zemanta

The Worst 5 People from the Middle Ages

henry v of england Painting is in "The Ro...
Image via Wikipedia

Who gives the Middle Ages a bad name? They were bad, but without them history wouldn’t have been so interesting. Again like my article on the Top 5 Medieval People, this list is completely arbitrary. The villains of the medieval age are in my opinion:

  1. Innocent IV – the implacable enemy of Frederick II. Innocent’s political ambitions tore Italy apart and prevented Frederick from fulfilling his (possibly enlightened) political ambitions.
  2. John of Gaunt – the younger brother of the Black Prince, and terrible as a military commander (although a stickler for the rules of chivalry and not bad in single combat), and venal and worse as a politician and stand-in for his dotard father Edward III.
  3. Bernard Gui – the famous Inquisitor and author of Practica Inquisitionis Heretice Pravitatis is an easy target as a hate figure – the archetypal oppressor and symbolic of what is always wrong with the Middle Ages – dogmatic, cruel repression. His reputation is cemented by being the baddie in Umberto Eco‘s The Name of the Rose.
  4. William the Conqueror – gave us an Anglo-Norman aristocracy, French speaking until the fourteenth century to rule over us. Would England have been less riven by class divide if the English hadn’t been subject to a French ruling class for so long?
  5. Henry V – a great tactician on the battlefield and a leader of men, but was his ambition to conquer France really a good idea? Consigned England to humiliating defeat at the hands of the French, and the disastrous Wars of the Roses.

A bit controversial maybe? I’d love to hear your comments.

Stay in Touch

Want to read more posts from Praeter Naturam, don’t forget to sign up to the RSS Feed, or get an email subscription.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Weekly Medieval History Round Up

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

Want to read more posts from Praeter Naturam, don’t forget to sign up to the RSS Feed, or get an email subscription.

Enhanced by Zemanta