29 August 2013

Mind Your Language! - Thursday Fun Thought

 So English isn't confusing? 
Hah! Think again!


We'll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes,
But the plural of ox becomes oxen, not oxes.
One fowl is a goose, but two are called geese,
Yet the plural of moose should never be meese.
You may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice,
Yet the plural of house is houses, not hice.

If the plural of man is always called men,
Why shouldn't the plural of pan be called pen?
If I speak of my foot and show you my feet,
And I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet?
If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,
Why shouldn't the plural of booth be called beeth?

Then one may be that, and three would be those,
Yet hat in the plural would never be hose,
And the plural of cat is cats, not cose.
We speak of a brother and also of brethren,
But though we say mother, we never say methren.
Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him,
But imagine the feminine: she, shis and shim!

Let's face it - English is a crazy language. 
There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger; 
Neither apple nor pine in pineapple. 
English muffins weren't invented in England .


We take English for granted, but if we explore its paradoxes,
We find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square, 
And a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.
And why is it that writers write, but fingers don't fing, 
Grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham?
Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend?
If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them,
What do you call it? An odd or an end?


If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught? 
If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?

Sometimes I think all the folks who grew up speaking English
Should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane.
In what other language do people recite at a play and play at a recital?

We ship by truck but send cargo by ship...
We have noses that run and feet that smell.
We park in a driveway and drive in a parkway.
And how can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same,
While a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?

You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language
In which your house can burn up as it burns down,
In which you fill in a form by filling it out,
And in which an alarm goes off by going on.

Oh well, we can all shake our heads as we nod in agreement!


27 August 2013

The Irish Famine - Charles Egan's novel The Killing Snows

Please welcome my Tuesday Talk guest, Charles Egan, author of The Killing Snows, an historical novel about the tragedy of famine in Ireland - 
based on the true story of his own family



The Killing Snows
The book is fiction. 
The story that inspired it is not.

In 1990, I came into possession of two documents which were fascinating, and in their own way, quite savage. My father had been brought up on a small farm in County Mayo in the West of Ireland. Following the death of one of his brothers, he gave us a box of documents which, by their dates, had been stored for over a hundred years. They included a lease, a number of letters and two payrolls from the 1840s.

It was with a sense of shock that I realised what they really were. These were the documentary evidence of the Great Irish Famine in East Mayo. They were also the confirmation of the stories I had learnt as a child as to how my family survived the Famine. The two payrolls were the most horrific. They detailed the wages for gangs of men, women and children working on two roads in east Mayo in the winter of 1846. The desperately low rates of pay – as low as three pennies a day - proved that this was Famine Relief. Local research filled in more of the story, a brutal one of hunger, fever and death.

The Irish Famine had started with the partial failure of the potato crop in the autumn of 1845. In 1846 the potato failed again, and this time the failure was nearly total. The Workhouses could not cope, and so the enormous Famine Relief schemes were started, and kept running through the coldest and worst winter of the past 300 years. Hundreds of thousands of starving people were employed on roadworks, building and repairing roads all across Ireland.

Hunger killed thousands of them. The murderous blizzard of December 1846 killed many thousands more, and brought the Works to a halt all across the country. But they opened again in January 1847, and the arctic cold went on. By the time the soup kitchens took over in March, the Works were employing three quarters of a million survivors, mostly in the West of Ireland, all trying desperately to feed their families on pitifully low wages. Then, as the winter receded, a vicious fever epidemic killed hundreds of thousands of people right across Ireland. 1846 was shocking, but Black ’47 would never be forgotten.

Research also confirmed an old family tradition which I had never believed. This was the story of utterly impossible love set against the terror of the times. So in the end ‘The Killing Snows’ is much more than historical fiction. It is an attempt to understand how such a love could have happened and how the impossible became true.

"The snow lay deep and undisturbed. Many of the features of the landscape had disappeared under gentle curves of snow. The two men fought their way back to the Works without their animals. After the hedges gave out, it was almost impossible to follow the line of the road. When they arrived, there were less than twenty people there, and no fires. One man lay in the snow, face down."


"If you are looking for a nice little story this is not for you. However if you want an exciting, earthy, heart rending read following families through the famine years, this is the one."
Amazon comment

Buy Here:
Amazon.co.uk (paperback)
Amazon.co.uk (Kindle)

Amazon.com Kindle
Amazon.com (paperback)

published by: SilverWood Books

Biography


Charles Egan was born in NottinghamEngland, of Irish parents.
When he was five, the family returned to Ireland as his father had been appointed Medical Superintendent of St. Lukes, a psychiatric hospital in Clonmel, in County Tipperary. They later moved to County Wicklow.
Every summer they visited his father’s family’s farm, outside Kiltimagh in County Mayo for a month, where his grandmother and uncles spent many evenings talking about family and local history.
Charles attended the Jesuits’ Clongowes Wood College (James Joyce’s alma mater), and subsequently studied Commerce in University College Dublin, graduating in 1973.
After an initial career in the private sector, including Marubeni Dublin, (where he met his wife, Carmel), he joined the Industrial Development Authority (IDA) in Dublin. After a few years, the desire to be his own boss led him to resign and set up his own business, which has now been running for over 30 years.
Apart from business and writing, his main interests are history, film and worldwide travel. Find out more at www.thekillingsnows.com.

22 August 2013

Weigh Anchor For A Voyage On A Nautical Blog Hop

A Sea Witch, a Surpriseand a Rose by any other name...



Some fabulous writers have got together for an exciting Blog Hop: a selection of interesting articles on a nautical theme. Please do read (and enjoy!) my contribution (part one, with parts two and three to follow) and then browse the list of 'crew' aboard the Blog Hop listed below. 
Plus! Leave a comment for a chance to win one of my books!

Part One : Sea Witch
(scroll down for PART TWO and PART THREE)
I know nothing about ships or sailing. Apart from the Cutty Sark, the Victory and a few lesser-known  vessels that were firmly moored to shore I haven’t been aboard a Tall Ship in my life. Certainly not one that was actually sailing. I have sailed in a Mirror dinghy, but even then I just sat there and tried to keep dry. And it was only on a lake. On a fine sunny day. I can row though. Does that count as one point towards being an unable seaman?
So why on earth (on sea?) did I decide to write a series of nautical pirate-based novels – the Sea Witch Voyages
Ruling out I must be mad, I blame it all on Johnny Depp and that Sparrer Feller.


I, like many another, adored the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie; The Curse of the Black Pearl (I’m afraid I didn’t think much of the other subsequent movies though.) It was a sailor’s yarn. A tale of fantasy and daring-do with a loveable rogue for a hero, crammed with swashbuckling adventure and oozing romance. Fantastic entertainment. It wasn’t meant to be historically, or nautically, accurate.  (No Jack, you can’t sail the Interceptor all on yer oncey!) The movie intrigued me – what was accurate? What was the truth behind the real pirates of the Caribbean in the early 18th century?

Being interested in history (and an established writer of historical fiction) and with a week’s vacation approaching I decided to do some research, on the surface stuff, reading a few interesting-looking books. I picked up three: Nigel Cawthorne’s A History of Pirates; Peter Earle’s The Pirate Wars and David Cordingly’s Life Among the Pirates (I now have many more books!). They were all a fascinating read, but what primarily ran through my mind was ‘What a superb story this would all make.’ Following this thought was the desire to read some fiction about pirates. Something like P.O.C.#1 with a charmer of a scruffy hero (drop dead gorgeous, of course) an exciting adventure, a love-interest sub-plot and something with an element of fantasy included. It was the skeleton ghosts that added to the movie; Barbosa and crew added that tingling dash of the ‘yarn’ element. It’s not true but it’s fun.

There are nautical novels a-plenty (see Julian Stockwin aboard this Blog Hop for one) and pirate novels to boot (see James L. Nelson for two  – loved his Brethren of the Coast series! And there are several other very good authors on this Hop!) but  none of these novels have fantasy or magic in them, they are all serious nautical fiction, and, mostly, about men at sea. Hornblower, for instance, has  few ‘female’ scenes, but there’s very little for a female reader to identify with – possibly because many of the older nautical-type stories were written when there was a finer definition between fiction for men and fiction for women (back in the days when the ladies read Romance, and the men read Cowboy or War Stories – or nautical fiction.) Thankfully that has changed now, but still, I wanted a pirate fix. I wanted an adventure ride. Wanted more of Captain Sparrow. I couldn’t find anything.
So I wrote my own.

Captain Jesamiah Acorne, his ‘love interest’ - a white witch, Tiola - the plot, the minor characters et al were conceived beneath a grey-sky, beside an even greyer-sea on the coast of Dorset, England. I also had the name of my star character, the ship herself – Sea Witch. Now all I had to do was write the story – which turned out to be easy as it wrote itself. The words poured from me like seawater through the scuppers. I even wrote over the Christmas period, only stopping on Christmas Day.


The hard part was researching enough sailing detail to not make the story seem a nonsense. In my book Jesamiah could definitely not sail Sea Witch on his oncey!  Then I saw the movie Master & Commander. HMS Surprise was ‘played’ by a replica ship,  Rose – and I fell in love all over again, only this time not with a pirate played by a handsome actor, but with a ship.

I had the good fortune for author James L. Nelson to edit the sailing bits for me  (all errors are mine, not his) I owe him another debt, too, for he had introduced me to the Rose; the replica ship, that is, not the original! Jim sailed aboard her for a while, and when I decided to visit Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia for research I asked him if he knew of any good B & B places. He directed me to John Fitzhugh Millar, who runs Newport House with his wife, Cathy. John was responsible for building the Rose


My original intention had been to model Sea Witch on the Whydah or Queen Anne’s Revenge, but the plan never gelled. It did not seem right to use either of them as a ‘template’ for Sea Witch. Rose/Surprise, however, fitted my imagination like a glove.
Except she was built several years after the period that the Sea Witch Voyages are set – 1715 to about 1725 (can’t say for definite yet – I have only written the first four Voyages in the series!) But then my series is part fantasy, it is fiction and it is not meant to be taken seriously. Light hearted fun read –  a sailor’s yarn of magic at sea… with a handsome hero, a beautiful woman and a treasure chest of adventure to enjoy. 
Well, hopefully.

Part Two : Rose

Moored in San Diego, California is a beautiful ship -  she is a replica of HMS Rose,  an 18th century Royal Navy frigate that was, in part, responsible for the outbreak of the American War of Independence and cruised the American coast during the Revolutionary War.
The replica was built in Nova Scotia in 1970 by Newport Historian, and resident of Colonial Williamsburg, John Fitzhugh Millar, using original construction drawings from 1757 obtained from the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, England. From 1985 to 2001 she operated as a sail-training vessel and in 2003 starred as HMS Surprise in the 20th Century Fox movie Master and Commander: Far Side of the World. She is now officially called Surprise – but in this second part of my article, I will call her Rose.


The original Rose was built in Hull, England in 1757.  In naval history all  ships were divided by ‘rates,’ a First Rate being the largest carrying 100-110 guns on three individual gundecks. Rose was a sixth rate ship, being the smallest class and commanded by someone with the rank of Captain. A frigate’s duty was to be a scout ship for the fleet and to patrol the coasts of any enemy country during the time of war, Rose would not have participated in any engagements except to relay messages through the fleet. In 1768 Rose was sent to America, which was a Colony of Great Britain, to patrol the eastern coastline where high taxes were causing unrest - and in 1774, command by James Wallace, she sailed to Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island to put an end to the extensive smuggling which was making Newport one of the wealthiest cities in America - the wealth being amassed due to not paying many taxes!

Rhode Island held a charter of self-government dating back to the time of King Charles, which meant this was the only Colony permitted to appoint its own Governor and customs agents. Combined with the natural protection of Narragansett Bay, this allowed merchants of Rhode Island to broker lucrative trade deals, even during the disruption of the French & Indian war.


America had no navy of its own at that time, Wallace was an efficient Captain and Rose was much larger than any American vessel. Wallace soon destroyed the smuggling and the economy of Newport was decimated to such a degree that four-fifths of the population fled inland. The merchants petitioned their Colonial legislature -  relocated to Providence - to create a navy to deal with Cpt Wallace (regarded as a pirate!) and provided money for  refitting a merchant vessel, the square tops'l sloop Katy, for naval service. Renamed Providence, she became the first naval command of John Paul Jones.

On May 4th 1776 Rhode Island was responsible for initiating the Declaration of Independence by declaring independence from Britain, two full months before the rest of the Colonies. It is often widely believed (especially in the UK) that the famous ‘Boston Tea Party’ where a cargo of tea was thrown overboard in Boston Harbour as a protest against the payment of taxes started the American War of Independence. In fact, it was the petitioning to Congress to form a Continental Navy in order to rid Narragansett Bay of the Rose, and the subsequent creation of an American Navy which fanned the flames of unrest among the Colonies. American Independence  is therefore due to the efficiency of HMS Rose and Captain James Wallace!

In July of 1776  Rose played a part in the British attack of New York by shelling  the land-based fortification and making forays up the Hudson River. Captain Wallace was later knighted for helping to drive George Washington from the city. Rose finally met her end in 1779 in Georgia, which was occupied by the British. The French, fighting on the side of the Americans, sent a fleet up the Savannah River and the British scuttled Rose in a narrow part of the channel, effectively blocking any advance along  the waterway. She was eventually destroyed after the war. An inglorious end to a valiant vessel.






PART THREE - meet HMS Surprise!

The movie Master & Commander – The Far side of the World is (in my humble opinion) the best movie ever (ranked next to my second and third favourite Last of the Mohicans and Pirates of the Caribbean – Curse of the Black Pearl. ) I think many off us ‘fall’ for actors and actresses, those drop-dead gorgeous eye-candy males and stunningly beautiful ladies. In M&C I didn’t drool over its star, Russell Crowe, I was awestruck by the ship: the replica of HMS Rose (see part one and two above.) After the movie, in 2004, Rose was renamed for her screen-character HMS Surprise and found a new home at the Maritime Museum of San Diego.

The movie is adapted from the novels HMS Surprise and The Far Side of the World by maritime author Patrick O’Brian, it is a 2003 drama co-written and directed by Peter Weir and stars Russell Crowe as Jack Aubrey, with Paul Bettany as Stephen Maturin and was  released by 20th Century Fox, Miramax Films and Universal Studios.
At the 76th Academy Awards, the film was nominated for 10 Oscars, including Best Picture. It won in two categories, Best Cinematography and Best Sound Editing but lost out in the other categories to The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

The action takes place in 1805, during the era of the Napoleonic Wars. Captain ‘Lucky Jack’ Aubrey of HMS Surprise is ordered to pursue a  French privateer Acheron, and ‘Sink, Burn, or take her a Prize.’ Following the privateer south, Surprise rounds Cape Horn and heads to the Galapagos Islands, where Aubrey is sure Acheron will prey on Britain's whaling fleet. The ship's doctor, Maturin, is interested in the islands' fauna and flora and Aubrey promises his friend some exploration time, but they find survivors of a destroyed whaler and go instead after the Acheron. Surprise is damaged twice by her foe, and Maturin is accidentally shot before the final battle between the two ships.

Perhaps more intriguing than the superb plot and acting is the attention to detail. I have been reliably informed that there is only one ‘error’ on board this movie – the rope (cordage) used to film the scene where an unfortunate crewman falls overboard and the rigging he is clinging to has to be cut free, is modern rope. If that is the only blooper then I think it can be lived with!


These are Suprise’s specifications:
Rig - Full Rigged Ship  
Length Overall - 179 feet
Length On Deck - 135 feet
Height of Main Mast - 130 feet
Displacement - 500 tons
Sail Area - 13,000 sq feet
Draft - 13 feet
Beam - 32 feet


I thought you might like to round of this most enjoyable Blog Hop by watching some  You Tube videos of Surprise… enjoy!


 HMS Surprise

The tall ship HMS Surprise went out sailing for a commercial 
and The Parade of Ships in Festival of Sail. 
Her crew uses the same techniques sailors in the 19th century 
would have used to set sail. 
Videography and editing by Sarah Marcotte
Shots from aloft by Art Pryor

HMS Surprise off the coast of San Diego in 2008.
Filmed from the yacht, "Medea."

I so hope you have enjoyed our nautical Blog Hop the authors who have come aboard have shared a variety of nautical-based articles from Roman Galleys to women masquerading as men via dastardly pirates. Why not weigh anchor with us for this last day of our voyage and set sail for other Ports of Call where a warm welcome awaits in harbour for you!


Buy the Books
Amazon US
Amazon UK


Crew Members 'oo were aboard the Blog Hop
original photo 'Instow Beach' Simon Murgatroyd
Helen Hollick's website: www.helenhollick.net 
for full information about all her books.


Thank you for Voyaging with the Blog Hop!



The Thursday Thought - A Poem

I was sent this fantastic poem by a new "virtual" friend - just had to share it as any book lover will know exactly what this poem is about!




Books

My home is crammed with many books
Books are here and books are there
Books are lying everywhere.
My family have a secret wish
How can they spirit them away?
The bad news is for all of them
These books are simply here to stay.
Falling from the mantle-piece
Piles propped up around the floor,
They can cover all the table-top
Bagfuls sit bashfully behind the door.
Thick books and thin books
Of every colour shape and size,
So many different kinds of stories
They dance about before my eyes.
 Historical and fantasy, more than just a few
Adventures and poetry, children’s stories too.
Mysteries and magic, testimonies true.
Legends, journeys, far off distant shores
Novels, non-fiction, the choice is yours.
One room has only books in its entirety
For reasons very clear it’s called “The Library”.
Here books of every kind, are always to be found
The problem is, there’s little space for me to browse around.
Books overflow to more shelves, sitting in the hall
Soon there’ll be no room left for anything at all.
Did I mention the books at my bedside?
 Heaped there for the nights when I can’t sleep.
For all the books I decide to give away
I naughtily buy more of them to keep.
Who could dream without their books?
Could you? Or you? Or you?
They’re impossible to live without
So what am I going to do?

L.M. Wilson  July 21st  2008



15 August 2013

Wonder of Rome - Blog Hop


Join the tour  - Roman Blog Hop

Logo designed by www.avalongraphics.org
original cover art: Chris Collingwood


Arthur
the boy who became a man, 
who became a king, 
          who became a legend
So what has King Arthur got to do with a Blog Hop entitled The Wonder of Rome?
Nothing at all if you are thinking of the traditional Medieval tales of knights in armour and the turreted castle of Camelot, but a lot if you consider that Arthur - if he had truly existed - should rightly be placed in that 5th/6th century Dark Age period of British history between the going of the Romans and the coming of the Anglo Saxons (the English).

~ ~ ~ 
Like most avid history book-a-holics my attention was drawn to the stories of King Arthur in my early days of reading anything and everything remotely historical. But I was never too keen on them. Lancelot seemed to be a bit of a show-off, Arthur was a drip and I had no patience with that silly woman, Guinevere. I quite liked the horses and the knights though. 

As my taste in reading matured I realised that the reason I had no time for the Round Table, Holy Grail and Merlin was because there was no historical accuracy in the stories. 

None at all. Not a jot. 
The Arthurian myths are just that – myths. 

Not that there is anything wrong in that, but I was interested in the reality of history and the Matter of Arthur came not remotely near. Until I read Mary Stewart’s Crystal Cave and Hollow Hills. In her author’s note she mentioned that if Arthur had existed he was more likely to have lived in the post-Roman era, that highly turbulent time between the going of Rome from Britain and the arrival of the Anglo Saxons and the formation of England.

This is what I had been craving! The real Arthur, the true place of where and when he had lived, loved and fought – I was hooked. I devoured every history book I could lay hands on about this fifth/sixth century legend – but the more I discovered, the more I became dissatisfied. IF Arthur had existed he was not the ultimate chivalric King of All Britain. IF he had existed he was more likely to have been a small-time warlord of …. Well of somewhere in Britain. Maybe what is now Wales, or Scotland, or the West Country, or Somerset… for the crunch truth is, there's absolutely no evidence whatsoever that Arthur was a real person. All the supposed and offered evidence doesn’t stand up in court; as with Robin Hood it seems that Arthur is a legend that over the centuries became more and more exaggerated.

My other frustration was that all the novels I read about Arthur (with the exception of Mary Stewart and Rosemary Sutcliff’s Sword At Sunset) were even more annoying – I was forming my own opinion of what might have happened, and other novels did not fit what I had in mind. So I wrote my own.

It took me ten years to complete what eventually became the Pendragon’s Banner Trilogy – the manuscript I submitted to an agent became book one, The Kingmaking and the first half of Pendragon’s Banner (the third book, Shadow of the King came after publication of book one).

There were three things I was determined to achieve in my interpretation of this Dark Age King:

Arthur would not be the chivalric, god-fearing King apparently obsessed with Holy Relics  who appears in the Medieval Tales.
Guinevere was not going to be a namby-pamby spoilt brat of a girl who screamed at spiders. Nor was she going to betray her lord King and husband.
I would write the ‘what might have really happened’ tale – with a warts an’ all Arthur set in the earlier than usual era of 450-500 AD.

I researched Roman Britain in the fifth century to the best of my ability – and I do confess here that a good part of the knowledge I gained then is now out of date. Smoke holes, for instance. Twenty to thirty years ago it was believed that the British (Celtic/Iron Age) roundhouses with their almost conical thatched roofs had a central “smoke hole” as a chimney. We now know that, in fact, the smoke seeped out through the thatch – British Villages would not have had neatly interspersed columns of smoke drifting upwards from each house-place, but would have been enveloped within a general fug of smoke.


Nor is the old theory that the Saxons came, invaded, settled and drove the native Britons westward into what is now Wales and the West Country  true. (The word Welsh/ Wealas is an English [Saxon] word meaning 'foreigner.) Yes, there were a few battles, yes there were a few families who probably abandoned their farmsteads and went elsewhere, but on the whole the few Saxons who first migrated from Germany and Jutland settled along the coastline and rivers of what is now England in relative peace. The Englisc took British women for wives, the daughters married British men - and England and the English emerged.


It was only during my research that the truth about Roman saddles came to light. Thirty-odd years ago it was presumed that a Roman rode bareback or on a pad of some sort. (And I do use the word'Roman' in general – the ‘Roman’ army and cavalry was made up from many and varied creeds and cultures – most of whom were not Italian!)

Then a Roman saddle was found. The illustration shows what it looked like. 


The rider tucked his back and hips against the two rear pommel horns, and his thighs under and into the two front horns – giving a very secure seat, much as a modern side saddle does.

Note how the leaping head and fixed head "pommels" of a side saddle
tuck over and into the rider's legs
We are also used to big horses today – that old image of a knight in armour being hoisted into the saddle is another nonsense myth (in fact knights were very agile in their armour, despite the weight).  I read one Arthurian novel that referred to Arthur riding on a great big horse with feathered (hairy) legs – clearly intending the Shire horse. Absolute nonsense. The Shire breed developed during the sixteenth century. War horses were not heavy horses (the Shire is known for being a placid ‘plodding’ breed – ideal as a draught horse, not agile enough to be used in battle.)

The Shire - about 18 hands high
In the years before the eleventh century horses were of a height that we would now call a pony (the term pony is also a relatively modern word!) The average height in the fifth century for a mount would have been about 13.2 – 14.00 hands (a ‘hand’ being the width of a man’s hand, about four inches)
As with the modern Native Breeds of Britain (Exmoor, Dartmoor, Welsh etc) these sturdy animals could easily carry a full grown man – here’s the proof of my own Exmoor pony with my son-in-law-to-be riding him.

This Exmoor pony is 12.1 hands high
I gave my King Arthur something a little flashier to ride – an Arabian breed, which were known here in Britain during the Roman period of occupation. The Arab is a breed of horse with its skeletal spinal frame slightly different to other horses – and bones of a distinctive Arabian-type horse were found near Hadrian’s Wall.
It is easy to imagine why Roman officers and men of wealth would want to own a horse of this kind – they are beautiful creatures. And if Romans could import lions, elephants and giraffes for use in the arena there is no reason why the Arab desert-Breed could not be transported overseas either.

The Arabian horse - Kathy is 5'7 the horse is 15.2 hands high
So my Arthur was a rough, tough, rugged warlord who had to fight hard to gain his kingdom, and even harder to keep it. His wife, Gwenhwyfar (as I named her) was equally as capable – she possessed a sword and knew how to use it. 

Following the early legends my Arthur and Gwenhwyfar had three sons, Llachue, Gwydre and Amr. One is referred to as the son of Arthur the soldier. Another died killed by his father, Arthur, another, was killed by a boar. 
Oh and Mordred? In the early references he is Medraut, and his demise is recorded as “Medraut who fell at the battle of Camlann”.
There is absolutely nothing to say, however, that he was killed fighting against Arthur.





For those reading this who are grumbling that I have things wrong – that the word King is an English term – I thought long and hard about the use of language in my novels. I use the Latinised place names (Londinium – London, Eboracum – York) because it seemed right to do so, but Dux Bellorum seemed clumsy. Everyone knows Arthur as a king. So I kept the term.
After all, if you are going to be really picky I should have written the entire thing in Latin or British (Welsh) so I regard the story as a “rough translation.”

And at the end of the day anything about King Arthur is just that, a story. Be he real or nothing more than a man of legend, long may he reign in the world of Imaginative Fiction.


~ ~ ~ 


Competition to win a copy of the Kingmaking now closed. Winner announced shortly.
And the winner is (picked at random : Jacqueline Baird. Thank you to everyone who entered & congratulations Jacqueline.


Click HERE to read more of the Pendragon's Banner Trilogy and to where you can purchase the books
(available in paperback and as an e-book)

If you enjoyed this post - or even if you didn't LOL)- please travel onward to these other Blogs for more interesting articles by a variety of authors on the Wonder of Rome:
recommended reading: There is an excellent book about the facts & fiction of  King Arthur - the myths, legends, history, and what we can ever really know about him:
Worlds of Arthur by Guy Halsall 

The latest (favourable LOL)  Amazon.co.uk review for The Kingmaking:

"Spell-binding, magnificent, gutsy, heartbreaking, raw with bloodshed, triumphant! Helen Hollick's Arthurian trilogy quickly draws you into the world of legend. No genteel fairytale story of Camelot, this! Gutsy, sweaty, and real. The Dark Ages brought vividly, to life! This is the legend I want to believe in. Yes it is cruel in places, but they were cruel times. I want to read about them, but I'm glad not to have lived through them. Still, I feel as though, for a while, I was there - and it was breath-taking!"



13 August 2013

What to do when you get stuck - Tuesday Talk

I thought I'd follow on from last week's Tuesday Talk with a bit more about my Pendragon's Banner Trilogy.

Original cover of 1st edition

My first novel, The Kingmaking, published twenty years ago,  took me over ten years to write. Mind you I had long periods when I wrote only a few words – and even then I crossed them out again. I had one patch of real writer’s block which lasted for over six months. In hindsight I realise I had completely lost my confidence. Why on earth was I scribbling this rubbish which no one in their right mind would bother to read? The urge to write, however, was strong so I decided to attend a creative writers class. What a disaster – although it did get me writing again! 


I discovered that the class was attended by depressed women who all had “personal” issues. They wanted to write their experiences of divorce, failed romantic attachments and the like. I wanted to get back to writing my epic novel about King Arthur – not quite the same agenda! 
The woman taking the class set us the task of writing down our feelings. I stifled a yawn but had to write something. What? Not a single idea was in my head, so I scribbled down the first words that came to me: Pen, paper, idea, storyArthur. King. Sword…Battleand suddenly I found myself writing a battle scene.
“OK, you can stop now!” came the voice of the class leader. 
No way! I had not written anything worthwhile for months, I wasn’t going to stop now!

As  it turned out, that brief passage eventually became the opening chapter of the second book in my Arthurian Trilogy – which did, of course, evenually get written and accepted by William Heinemann of Random House.


The editions in print now are published by Sourcebooks in the US and indie published in the UK by Helen Hart’s Assisted Publishing company SilverWood Books.

And I suppose the moral of the tale is: if you really want to do something, don’t give up on it.

(Don't forget to call back later in the week for the Wonders of Rome Blog Hop - more on here about King Arthur!)



To read the battle scene: click here