It would appear that what I said at the end of yesterday’s post has done some good.
It would appear that what I said at the end of yesterday’s post has done some good.
…but well worth the wait. Here is what the Flemish author of the award winning crime novel Baudelair’s Revenge – Bob Van Laerhoven, had to say about my extremely short historical novella Autumn 1066.
As a Fleming, I knew that my knowledge of Britain’s entry into the Middle Ages was sketchy before I started reading Jack Eason’s Autumn 1066, but, after having read his novella, I must admit that it was also based on clichés and vague concepts. Autumn 1066 remedied this thoroughly. Eason has the gift of condensing and presenting historical facts in such a way that, although manifold and thoroughly researched, they hinder in no way the suspense of his war-story. Eason paints a clear portrait of the growing tensions between various factions competing for the throne, and the leaders of various armies, but also of the common soldiers, ordinary men who were forced to fight the wars of the nobility. For his vivid, and shocking, description of the battlefields, Eason focuses on two such ordinary warriors, Aldred and Cynric. When he describes the man-to-man fights and the deadly swarms of arrows, the reader can actually feel the fear and the agony of the warriors. In spite of the extensive historical background, Eason’s cast of characters, high and low, doesn’t degrade into stereotypes. They remain people like you and me, tackling life as best as they can when they are poor, and victims of greed and the overwhelming desire for power when they are rich. Writing historical fiction is all about keeping equilibrium between a passionate story and historical facts. Jack Eason has done that remarkably well.
Hopefully Bob’s review will appear soon on all Amazon sites. So if he and Sally Cronin can deliver, why can’t everyone else who promised to write a review!
By the way, I uploaded the Kindle version yesterday at the KDP base price of US$2.99. Depending which Amazon outlet you use, determines the price you will pay. But if your quick off the mark, you will be able to get yourselves a free copy tomorrow (Friday 30th June 2017) and (Saturday 1st July 2017).
…I’ve got to get people interested in my latest novella Autumn 1066 somehow. So, here is the opening chapter as a teaser.
Down the centuries, particularly during the period known as the ‘Dark Ages’, the British Isles was always seen by invaders as a legitimate target for exploitation. This novella concerns the last few weeks of Anglo-Saxon dominance, ending on the 14th of October, 1066.
Aldred shivered in his blanket beneath his shield. The weak light of dawn began to illuminate where the warriors of the Fyrd slept in a series of shallow frosty depressions on either side of Ermine Street, the old Roman road. The ancient route stretched from London to Lincoln and on to York. Where they were was a mix of open grassland and salt marsh. In this part of England, there was precious little cover for the countless number of housecarls and thegns already following King Harold northward. The flat landscape Aldred lay shivering in, is typical of the waterlogged fenlands in the northern part of the shires of Cambridge and Norfolk as well as those of the East Midlands.
By the time they eventually arrived at their destination there would be no hiding the swelling ranks of the Anglo-Saxon Fyrd, which steadily increased in number with every mile, as they marched northward. In an attempt to make the army far less conspicuous, at least from a distance, the king banned anyone from lighting a fire at night to cook and to keep warm, on pain of death. For the moment at least, surprise was still on his side. The further north they marched, the greater was the chance that enemy spies would soon spot their approach. The glow of a fire, even hazy wisps of smoke, could so easily be spotted at a distance or smelt on the wind by anyone on the lookout for any sign of the King’s approach. Especially on a cool clear September day like today. With daylight steadily increasing, the king’s older brother, Gyrth, the Earl of East Anglia, would soon begin the rounds by kicking the backsides of Harold’s housecarls, who in turn would wake the thegns of the Fyrd in a similar rough manner for what lay ahead.
Only a few days earlier, troubling news had reached Harold Godwinson at the palace of Westminster in London after he had been elected king by the Witan in accordance with Edward the confessor’s dying wish, naming Harold as his legitimate heir over that of his teenage nephew Edgar Ǽtheling.
Harold’s banished brother Tostig and the Norwegian King, Harald Sigurdsson, known as Hardradå (hard ruler) by his warriors, had joined forces in southern Scotland, after his large invasion fleet of three hundred long ships manned by warriors eager for battle, had just arrived. Tostig’s smaller contingent of Norman mercenaries, loaned to him by Duke William of Normandy, soon joined the fleet, while Tostig was temporarily elsewhere.
The disgraced Anglo-Saxon earl had set off to recruit Scots mercenaries of his own after first crossing the North Sea to the Low Countries to obtain additional Flemish warriors from his father-in law. Now that he was back, Tostig was impatient to be on the move to reclaim his earldom in Northumbria. To his astonishment and annoyance, the seasoned Norwegian campaigner was in no hurry. As far as Harald was concerned, he had more pressing matters on his mind.
A few weeks earlier, Tostig had set off from Normandy with Duke William’s blessing to retake his lands in Northumbria in exchange for promising him his support for what was seen by William as his legitimate claim to the English crown. Hardradå’s reason for invasion was also to lay his own claim to the English crown. Both William and Harald shared a common ancestor with Harold Godwinson in the Dane Canute who had previously ruled England. For his part, Tostig wanted his brother either driven from England’s shores forever, or executed. Not entirely sure that William had the stomach for the task at hand, meant that encouraging the bloodthirsty Norwegian king to do the deed was probably the better option.
Tostig first landed on the Isle of Wight where his men ran amok among the local Anglo-Saxon population. Eventually he and his small force of Normans were routed by an overwhelming force when word of an invasion rapidly spread across the island. This left him no choice but to head back out to sea to travel up England’s east coast to seek a temporary safe haven. On his eventual arrival in southern Scotland he immediately swore fealty to the terrifyingly short tempered Norwegian king, purely for fear of his own life.
Aldred kicked the shin of the shivering youth sleeping with his back to him. Cynric still had his arms wrapped lovingly around his longbow, minus its plaited and bound bowstring made from deer sinew. Whenever the temperature fell below freezing, he always kept it inside his shirt next to his skin to keep it pliable. His quiver of fire hardened, hazel shafted arrows with Goose feather fletchings, each bearing his mark as their manufacturer, lay across his crotch.
“Come on lad wake up!” Before they left to join the Fyrd, Aldred had promised his sister that he would look after his nephew, since the youth had been told by their Housecarl Betlic, that he was now old enough to serve the king in time of war. Growing up, Cynric had made a name for himself in the small farming community where both he, his mother and uncle lived in the southern part of the shire of Cambridge. His reputation as a meticulous fletcher, together with being an excellent shot when it came to hunting wolves or boar with his grandfather’s well-seasoned Yew longbow, spread far and wide.
“I’ve never been so far away from home before uncle. Where are we?” Cynric yawned before adding, “have you got anything to eat? I’m hungry.”
“We’re barely a day’s march from home lad. You’d know that if you kept your mind on why we’re here. Now come on, shift yourself daydreamer. If you’re hungry, nibble on one of your mother’s excellent oatcakes.”
“But they dry my mouth out! Haven’t we got anything else to eat uncle?”
“No! Now bite off a small bit and chew it slowly. Better that than what you usually do at home!” Aldred growled. “Get a shift on and join the rest of the Fyrd. The king still has to recruit more thegns, housecarls and their levies from Northampton, Rutland and Lincoln before we reach the river Humber. If your belly is still complaining after the piece of oatcake we can always find something else to eat along the roadside. For god’s sake boy – shift yourself! I’m damned if I’m being punished by Betlic because you want to drag your heels to admire a tree! While you’re at it, remember that from now on, before we start out each morning you’d best string your bow. The king may have need of it before the day is over,” Aldred replied while shouldering his shield, and hefting his spear. As they set off he checked that his father’s scramasax was secure at his belt, as well as his trusty all-purpose seax.
“How much farther north are we going uncle?”
“I’ve already told you all I know. We’re heading for the Humber! It’s not for the likes of you and me to question where or why we’re heading there. You’re in the king’s Fyrd now! We just follow orders lad. When the time comes, I’ve no doubt we will fight alongside king Harold.”
As the Fyrd began marching behind Harold’s horse and those of his brothers, Gyrth, the earl of East Anglia, and Leofwine, the earl of Kent, friendly banter could be heard breaking out among the ranks.
“What do you think Beadurof?” Colby wondered.
“The shapely hips on the comely wench yonder. Hey Aldred, we’re glad you brought your beautiful niece with you,” Colby added, “Oh Beadurof my heart is rapidly beating. Will you just look at the way her hips swing and sway?” he sighed. “Not to mention how the cheeks of her beautiful backside quivers as she walks. Very desirable, don’t you think?”
“Well if she gets cold sleeping on her own tonight or any other night from now on, I’ll fight you for the honour of protecting her Colby. I’ll keep her warm at night, always providing she lets me have my way with her that is. What say you my beauty? Do you want to be the lover of a lusty man with fire in his veins?” Beadurof replied with a huge grin as he blew a kiss in Cynric’ general direction while continually thrusting his crotch back and forth.
Aldred bit his tongue as he fought hard not to smile. When viewed from behind, because of his slender build, long blond hair and tender years, his nephew could so easily be mistaken for a young female at a distance. Smirking to himself, he briefly glanced in his direction. Cynric’s face flushed bright red with anger at the good natured jibe by his uncle’s oldest friends.
If after reading the opening chapter, you wish to read the entire story, click on either of the following links to buy a copy, or go to the amazon link relevant to your country:
Don’t forget to write and post a review for it on the Amazon link you bought it from. Far too many good stories like Autumn 1066 fall by the wayside, due to public apathy these days…
I was gifted a copy of the book by the author in exchange for an honest review.
This novella may be a short read, but it so packed with authentic detail and action, that you feel you are reading a much longer book.
Our heritage is founded on the backs of ordinary men such as Aldred and his nephew Cynric pressed into service as were thousands of farmers and craftsmen who were sworn to the feudal Anglo-Saxon lords. The story is factual but told through the eyes of these two fictional characters as warring armies battle to gain control of Britain.
One army is led by the barbaric King Harald of Norway or Hardradå as he is known by his men. He has formed an alliance with the Anglo-Saxon Tostig, claimant to the throne, now held by his brother King Harold, following the recent death of Edward the Confessor. This invasion force has the backing of Duke William of Normandy who has made promises to Tostig should there be victory.
With all the various factions identified, the story then takes us through the build up of forces led by the Norwegian king in southern Scotland, the defeat of the army entrenched in York and the significant and decisive victory by the forces of King Harold at Stamford Bridge.
This leads to the battle that was to change the life of every man, woman and child in Britain on October 14th 1066.
The main characters are portrayed vividly, and their backgrounds and involvement in this pivotal time in history, demonstrate how human traits such as greed, revenge and jealousy leads to the deaths of thousands who follow them.
The battle scenes and the acts of barbarism are very realistically portrayed both through the eyes of Aldred and Cynric, as well as those leading the various forces. The action maintains its pace throughout the story and Jack Eason has recreated the terrifying and brutal results of hand to hand combat and archery.
This was a dark time in our history and 1066 was a turning point for a Britain about to move into the Middle Ages, Jack Eason has captured this moment excellently.
If you enjoy a fast paced story and historical accuracy then I recommend you read 1066.
Down the centuries the British Isles has always been seen by invaders as a legitimate target for exploitation. This novella concerns the last few weeks of Anglo-Saxon occupation, ending on the 14th of October, 1066.
At long last my historical novella Autumn 1066 (paperback only) is now available for purchase.
Please take note of the following number:- ISBN-13: 978-1546685302.
First of all, may I suggest that you order your copy directly from CreateSpace by inserting the above ISBN number when looking for it. Ordering directly from the printer is by far the cheapest purchasing option.
I ordered six copies to give to my friends at US$2.15 each as opposed to US$5.38 each on Amazon US, and UK£4.17 on Amazon UK. The CreateSpace price for my latest book works out at roughly what you pay for the average ebook these days. Which makes it value for money, I’m sure you will agree…
Buying from CreateSpace is a no-brainer in my book!!!
Of course if money is no object, you can always order it from your nearest Amazon outlet. Here are the links for Amazon’s two main outlets:-
Unfortunately, the one thing you cannot do on CreateSpace is post a review. That can only be done at Amazon sites. Here’s hoping that you enjoy reading the novella. If that is the case, do please post a review on Amazon.
PS – Are you one of those strange individuals who do not believe in ordering anything online? In that case, write down the title and the above ISBN number together with CreateSpace’s link – https://www.createspace.com/. Then head off to your local bookshop armed with all the information, and tell them (don’t ask) to order a copy for you…
I forget how many times I have told people, especially new writers, to pace themselves. I was having a conversation on Facebook with one of my female writer friends yesterday. She has bought copies of five of my eBooks, which I am eternally grateful to her for. Three of them are short novellas, averaging 168 pages. I don’t know about you but I can read a novella in an afternoon, or a morning. For instance, if I start reading at twelve noon, I will have finished it by seven in the evening, barring interruptions and calls of nature. When I read a full length novel (150 – 200,000 words) it takes me the best part of three twelve hour days.
As writers, if we are going to do justice to our own writing, there is nothing more stimulating than spending hours reading other people’s books. From them we glean those ideas that hadn’t necessarily occured to us. With every book I write comes endless reading beforehand. Its called research. The writer in question makes me laugh. She claims that she has no time to read. When I told her about my reading a novella in seven hours, she assumed that what I’m doing is speed reading. Sorry to disagree with you my dear friend but it isn’t. It’s just a normal reading pace. She seriously needs to make time to read. In other words, she needs to pace herself.
I’ve seen photographs of her with a library of books in the background. I’m assuming that given her profession, the library is her own. Maybe not. If, as she claims, she has no time to read, why does she have access to one, if not to read the books? in my case my own library is divided up into actual physical books in my five shelf bookcase, as well as eBooks and PDF files on this laptop. I’ve read every single one of them at least five times. Some like Graham Hancock’s epic work Fingerprints of the Gods, several dozen times. In that case it will usually take me a week, simply because its seven hundred and nineteen pages are jam packed with information…
Currently I have one hundred and thirty three eBooks and one hundred and twenty physical books. I also have one hundred and forty-two PDF files which I constantly refer to when I’m in research mode, as I am at present.
How many books do you have? Have you read them all?
A lot of people buy books, millions of us in fact. But how many can truthfully say that they have read every book in their possession? Some people like to kid themselves that by having a large physical library in their home, it will impress their visitors, by creating the illusion that they are well read, and therefore intelligent. If you want to impress your visitors, to begin with read the damned books, all of them. That way when your visitors ask you about a certain book you won’t be caught out in a lie.
Books are not for decoration, even though the multicolours of the jackets creat a splash of colour. Every one of them contains the end product of a writer’s accumulated knowledge and hard work. They are meant to be read, not just looked at.
PS – I will admit that since I became a fulltime writer, I no longer read for pleasure. Plus, these days when I read a book, any book, the editor in me is constantly on the lookout for poor grammer, spelling and punctuation.
That is the one major drawback; the end of spending hours reading for pleasure… 😉
People in general are probably the most complicated, dangerous, confusing, annoying, tiresome, argumentative, frustrating, angry, illogical, emotional and idiotic creatures roaming this planet of ours. Don’t even get me going on the differences between the genders…
To begin with, the greater majority of mankind believes in some form of non existant all powerful entity. Why? What’s wrong with standing on your own two feet? To any logical thinking being, any form of religion makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Where is this all powerful being when we need them the most, like when we are involved in a war, or are suffering a family crisis? Nowhere, that’s where! So why bow down to them? It makes no sense at all.
Religion is hardly peaceful or benevolent, despite everything its devotees preach. Each religion believes it is the only true one, conning its faithful into thinking that all the others are unbelievers to be destroyed! I’ve lost count of the number of wars that were, and still are, being fought in its name – an ugly trait of those who still believe that they are still the masters of all mankind. It seems that we can’t get through a single century without declaring war on each other. Once again, why is that? In the days of yore the common people were given no choice in anything. Once upon a time we were ruled by Emperors, Kings, Dukes, Earls, Barrons and tribal Chieftains. What they decreed simply happened.
I’ve got news for you people. These days we do have a choice, despite what our political and religious leaders may say. Our politicians, backed by the more fantical religions, have taken over from any kind of royalty, prosecuting wars in other lands like there is no tomorrow, usually because those countries are oil rich. While we can’t do much about the religious fanatics, except ignore them, every few years we do get the chance to vote out the political party that is annoying and frustrating us the most. The real trouble is that instead of thinking first, many simply give their vote to a specific political party because that’s the way their family members and them have always done it. In my own case, I usually vote for the Labour party. Why do I do that? Habit, pure and simple!
More and more these days people simply don’t bother to vote, believing that their one vote won’t make any difference. Total rubbish!
With barely a fortnight to go, the good people of Scotland will get the chance to vote, either for independence from the rest of the UK, or to maintain the status quo. This is a historic moment in the history of these islands. The Scots won’t get another chance like this in the forseeable future. The political pundits and polls suggest that both sides of the argument, for and against, are about even. When have polls and pundits ever got anything right when it comes to elections, or in this case, probably the most important referendum that Scotland will vote on?
Since the Jacobites were beaten in the eighteenth century, ending any previous thoughts of Scots’ independance, the proud nation has been nothing more than a vassal state of England. Despite all of the scaremongering and threats from the UK parliament, personally I hope that Scotland achieves it dream to break away from the houses of parliament, otherwise known as Westminster, once and for all.
Role on the eighteenth of September…