Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Historical Fiction Enticements 7/24

Welcome to this week's Wednesday feature, Historical Fiction Enticements. I hope you will find your new favorite book!


The White Rajah
Tom Williams

When James Brooke arrived in Borneo on the schooner 'Royalist', he planned to make a quick profit trading with the natives. He didn't expect to find himself caught up in a civil war. And he certainly didn't expect to end up the legal ruler of his own country.

As the first White Rajah of Sarawak, Brooke was determined to show how the Britain of Queen Victoria could bring civilisation to the native people of the world. But life in Borneo proved more complicated than it seemed. Soon pirates were exploiting the divisions in the country and, when the old rulers staged a coup, Brooke found himself fighting for his life.

Faced with the destruction of all he had worked for, Brooke is driven to desperate measures to reclaim his country. But is he bringing civilisation to Borneo or will his ruthless destruction of the pirates just bring a new level of brutality to the people he had meant to save?

The White Rajah is the story of a man, fighting for his life, who must choose between his beliefs and the chance of victory. Based on a true story, Brooke's battle is a tale of adventure set against the background of a jungle world of extraordinary beauty and terrible savagery.

Amazon US
Amazon UK


A Widow's Crusade
Helena Schrader

Anno Domini 1212

Across France, children are on the march. Seduced by a shepherd boy with a vision of freeing Jerusalem through the power of innocence alone, tens of thousands of children have left their homes to embark upon a new, peaceful crusade. As they stream through the city of Chavigny in Poitou, they are singing the old crusader ballade: The Song of Palestine.

The melody awakens memories in the heart of a rich widow, Blanche. Long ago, when she was still young and beautiful, she had been in love with a poor knight, Abelard. He left her to follow Richard the Lionheart on crusade – and never returned. An oblique reference to a man of the same name in a letter addressed to someone else sparks in Blanche an irresistible longing to go to the Holy Land in search of her lost love.

Blanche sets out on a personal crusade, across the war-torn Languedoc, daring the pirates and slavers of the Mediterranean -- only to find a man, who is nothing like she remembered him, and anything but pleased to see Blanche again.

Amazon US
Amazon UK


Castles, Customs, and Kings: 
True Tales by English Historical Fiction Authors
Edited by Debra Brown and M.M. Bennetts

Madison Street Publishing is pleased to announce that Castles, Customs, and Kings: True Tales by English Historical Fiction Authors will be released on September 23, 2013. The anthology is a selection of essays from the English Historical Fiction Authors blog, a site organized by Debra Brown with a daily historical post contributed by one of the member authors. The release date marks the two year anniversary of the blog.

A compilation of essays from the English Historical Fiction Authors blog, this book provides a wealth of historical information from Roman Britain to early twentieth century England. Over fifty different authors share hundreds of real life stories and tantalizing tidbits discovered while doing research for their own historical novels.

From Queen Boadicea’s revolt to Tudor ladies-in-waiting, from Regency dining and dress to Victorian crime and technology, immerse yourself in the lore of Great Britain. Read the history behind the fiction and discover the true tales surrounding England’s castles, customs, and kings.


Leap the Wild Water
Jenny Lloyd

Megan Jones was meant to marry Eli, but an act of treachery on the part of her religiously zealous and spiteful mother prevented their marriage. Now her Mam has died and Eli has returned wishing to marry her. During Eli’s absence, and believing he would marry another, Megan was driven by desperation to escape the drudgery of her home life and her mother’s overbearing spite and malice. Megan’s escape arrived in the form of Iago, a ne’er-do-well professing love and promises of marriage. But Iago abandons her and her unborn child, and Megan faces being cast out, not only by the religious chapel community at large but by her own mother and brother.

Determined to avoid public shame, when the child is born, her Mam persuades Megan’s brother, Morgan, to steal away the new-born babe and leave it with a woman who takes in illegitimate children for payment.

Fearing judgement and rejection, Megan cannot find the courage to tell Eli about her past, and the marriage is set to go ahead. But Morgan is consumed by guilt and desperate to make amends. Now their Mam is dead, responsibility for what happens to Megan’s child lies solely with him. He knows what Megan does not; that her child lives in squalor and is neglected and abused by the woman who is paid to care for her. If he does nothing he cannot live with his conscience, but he cannot bring the child home without ruining his sister’s reputation and destroying her hopes of marriage. He has badly betrayed his sister once, against his will and better judgement. Now, it seems, he must betray Megan again, for the sake of her child. To do so will destroy his sister, but he may already be too late. As events gather momentum, Megan’s past charges relentlessly towards the present, threatening to destroy her marriage, her sanity and, ultimately, her life.

Set amid the windswept hills of early 19th century rural Wales, Leap the Wild Water is a tale of treachery, secrets, betrayal and sexual double standards, in a community ruled by fear of hell-fire and the religious fervour of the times.

Amazon US 
Amazon UK


The Song of Heledd
Judith Arnopp

In seventh century Powys a feast at the hall of King Cynddylan of Pengwern is in full swing. The torches are burning, the musicians are tuning their instruments and the dogs are snarling over a bone beneath the king’s table.  The men have removed their weapons but the talk is still of war but for the royal princesses, Heledd and Ffreur, the night is one of wonder and excitement. When the reveller’s bellies are full and the war talk mellowed by mead, a travelling minstrel steps forward, his hair shining red in the firelight. As his harp sounds and he begins to sing something in the heart of fifteen year old Heledd stirs, and an illicit liaison is born. A liaison that triggers a chain of events that will destroy two kingdoms and bring down a dynasty.

Set against the backdrop of the pagan-Christian conflict between kings Penda and Oswiu, The Song of Heledd sweeps the reader from the ancient kingdom of Pengwern to the lofty summits of Gwynedd where Heledd battles to control both her own destiny and that of her family. 

The Song of Heledd is a work of fiction inspired by fragments of ancient Welsh poetry known as Canu Heledd (The Song of Heledd) and Marwnad Cynddylan (Elegy of Cyndyllan).  In the poems Heledd is the sole surviving member of the royal house of Pengwern.  Her dynasty and family have been destroyed and, in the poem, her brother, King Cynddylan’s, hall is in ruins.  Her lament for him and the destruction of the royal seat remains powerfully emotive but the most striking thing is her sense of blame.  Judith Arnopp says, “The historical detail of 7th century Powys and Gwynedd is almost as fragmented as the surviving poetry.  We can never know what really became of Heledd and her family but there are enough references to know they existed.  The poems show a strong family bond and that Heledd was a woman whose actions impacted upon the world around her. The Canu Heledd provides rich descriptions of the llys and the people who lived there, Cynddylan in his purple cloak, the richly carved mead halls, the merging tradition of Celtic and Christian religion, the high halls filled with music. And they also mention a sister named Ffreur, whom Heledd once mourned but mourns no longer.  Canu Heledd raises many questions but, for me, this one is the greatest, she no longer mourns her sister? Why? 

I spent many months sifting through the smoke-ruined embers of Cynddylan’s hall to piece together a story for Heledd and Ffreur and produce a fiction of what might have been. It is a heart breaking story but, in spite of that, I hope you enjoy it.”


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