Saturday, 9 November 2019

Nanthild visits! #Ocelot Press Character Blog Hop

Happy Saturday wishes to you!

It's my turn to interview during the Ocelot Press Character Interview Blog Hop!  I can't be more delighted because it's a truly exclusive interview with Nanthild since Love Lost In Time is only now at the Pre-order stage! 
It's a fabulous story ( I've read an ARC and loved it) and Nanthild is a very interesting character. There were some really empathetic moments as I read, some almost creepy ones, and others that left me stunned. So, it's with great pleasure I've been able to interview Nanthild, sometimes known as Hilda. 
Welcome to my blog, Nanthild (I love that name) and make yourself comfortable. Let's start with this question...

On your arrival at Bellon’s home, just before your wedding, do you think you were determined to find fault with him because you imagined he would curtail your freedom to make many of your own choices. Or was there an even greater fear involved?
Oh, I was so annoyed, let me tell you! First, at my father for making me travel in rain and sleet – what was he thinking? And at Bellon, too. If it hadn’t been for him, I likely would have stayed at my home at Vaulun, safe and dry. But I guess my greatest fear was that of discovery. Women are now treated very unfairly by the Church. We used to have far more freedom in preceding centuries, but lately, these old bishops have nothing better to do than to vilify us and curtail our influence. If word about my pagan beliefs had escaped, I may have been killed. Just look at what King Charles did to those Saxons! ~shudders~

After the wedding, what excited you most about your journey with Bellon around the countryside?
Mostly I wanted to get to know ‘our’ area. It was all new to me, and it’s such breath-taking countryside. You can see the high peaks of the Pyrenaei mountains to the south, their peaks glistening with snow. The sweeping hillsides around us where deer and boar roam ancient forests, and of course the vines, which the Romans brought with them all those centuries ago. Our wine is delicious, by the way.
That trip made me appreciate Bellon’s challenge to keep the peace in such a vast area. Oh, and he asked me for my opinions. He sounded very interested in what I had to say. I was positively surprised. What more could I ask?

Carcassonne-courtesy of Carcassonne Photography Tour

What dismayed you most when King Charles arrived at Carcassonne after the disastrous battle at Roncevaux? 
Oh, don’t remind me! He left my father and my husband to die! I’m still furious about it. It had been weeks since the battle (if you can call it such; it was more like carnage), and I had no tidings from Bellon. The king disappointed me greatly for simply leaving Father, his adviser and friend for decades, behind. How could he?!

Clovis wasn’t a nice man, ever. When Bellon returned after Roncevaux were you more relieved that he came home in timely fashion or more disgusted with Clovis’ behaviour?
Bellon couldn’t have chosen a better moment! I had run out of ideas of what to say or do, and then there he was. I’m no match against Clovis’ physical strength, and Dagobert was fortunate not to get booted out by that cur. You can imagine my utter relief when Bellon appeared. The Goddess was truly smiling upon me at that moment.

Bellon has many wonderful qualities. If you were asked to number the five best in order of which you admire most - what would they be?
Oh, only five??

There is his shrewd intelligence. I don’t appreciate stupid men, and Bellon thinks before he speaks or acts. He is different from many young men at court who are all full of fancy words, with little of substance to follow. 
Then, of course, he is a handsome man. Perhaps the moustache could be trimmed a little shorter, but it’s his style, so I don’t mind too much. And it tickles… Well, we’re getting into personal territory here! 
Bellon is loyal. Say what you want about us Franks, but we are committing some vile atrocities! Yet Bellon maintains his loyalty to the king. He swore to follow him, and so he does. Unlike many regional leaders…
He is a wonderful father. Overseeing our sons’ training in the yard, they have so much fun together, but the boys learn valuable lessons in fighting and battle techniques. And he adores Alda, our daughter. If something were to befall her, he would pursue the culprit until the end of his days.
And lastly, he is a supportive husband. He is caring, seeks my advice, much like Father did, and I couldn’t have found a better man. Little did I know it before my arrival, but I was very fortunate.

I warmed a lot to Bellon, too!  But back to the interview: You’re a headstrong character but do you have any regrets about being so determined to tend to the sick and needy, even at the expense of your own safety?
I do not really have any regrets other than having to watch my daughter grow up without me. I’m heartbroken, but we never know in advance what fate has in store for us. In hindsight, a larger group of men-at-arms might have kept me and poor Amalberga safer, but it may have been too intimidating to those who sought my help, or Bellon may have stopped me. Now, I shall never know.

What do you think is your greatest legacy, Nanthild?
My children. The boys are wonderful. They don’t fight, like the sons of many titled men. (Just look at the king – his brother died in ‘mysterious’ circumstances. We all know what that means!) My boys have each other’s back, and they are over-protective of their little sister. I have a feeling Alda will turn out like me, and my mother before me. I only hope she won’t ever come across a brute like Clovis again.

Thank you for inviting me to chat. I have enjoyed talking about my family and our life in beautiful Carcassonne.

It was my pleasure, Nanthild! It's been excellent to meet you since I know very little about early medieval France. Here are some more details about the Dual-timeline book that Nanthild wasn't able to tell you herself...

A tale of love, death and redemption…

AD 2018
Languedoc, south-west France
 Madeleine Winters discovers ancient female bones under her kitchen floor. How did the woman end up buried, all alone, in that particular spot in the Cabard├Ęs hills?
And why was her back broken?
AD 777
Septimania, on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea
Seventeen-year-old Nanthild must marry Count Bellon of Carcassonne, a Visigoth, as part of his peace agreement with Charlemagne. As a wise-woman, she continues to visit those in need of her help during Bellon’s frequent absences. But dangers lurk on her journeys…

International buy link:

About Cathie Dunn:
Cathie writes historical mystery & romance.
She has been writing for over twenty years, and she loves researching for her novels, delving into history books, and visiting castles and historic sites. 

Cathie Dunn
For three years, she has been teaching creative writing in south-west France and runs writing retreats twice a year in the beautiful Languedoc countryside. She also works as a freelance editor.
At the moment, Cathie is working on two novels: The sequel to Dark Deceit, and the first instalment in the Loup de Foix Mysteries, a medieval murder mystery series set around Carcassonne in the 13th century during the Albigensian Crusade.
Cathie's stories have garnered praise from reviewers and readers for their authentic depiction of the past.

Twitter:  @cathiedunn
Instagram: @cathiedunnwrites

My thanks to both Nanthild and to Cathie for visiting, today. Very best wishes for the launch day of Love Lost In Time.


Thursday, 7 November 2019

#AfterWhorlBranReborn 's limelight time continues!

Thursday Thinking for you!

Today, it's Bran of After Whorl: Bran Reborn's turn to be the spotlighted character in the Ocelot Press Blog Hop character interviews. Bran had a set of amazing questions to answer at Jen Wilson's blog that you can read in full HERE.

This is one of the thoughtful questions that was asked of my lovely Brennus... and of course my equally lovely wounded  Bran.

Q: It must have been terrifying when you first realised you were in the care of a stranger; how did you relax under her care, as you seemed to develop an incredibly close bond by the end?

Bran's answer: 
Close to old Meaghan? I suppose we became close, of a kind. When the mist of her herbal potions eventually ceased, and left me feeling more clear-headed, what infuriated me was that the old crone had tied me down to the cot! You talk of relaxing? That never happened. How could it when I felt she had made me live and condemned me to being only half a man. She forced me to take stock of myself, badgered me to think forwards and not backwards. It took many weeks before my temper subsided, and by the time I accepted my new state poor old Meaghan had given me her all. When she died I was ashamed because I had never allowed her to see how important she had become and I never thanked her properly for giving me a new life.

Pop over to Jen Wilson's Blog and read the rest of his answers. Don't forget to #enter to #WIN a free ecopy of Book 1 of the Celtic Fervour Series on her blog.  Or hop on over to Amazon and get copies the Celtic Fervour Saga for 99p (Books 1 & 2) and just a tiny bit more for Books 3 & 4!

Look out for the last of the Ocelot Press character interviews here on this blog where I get an exciting *exclusive* pre-launch interview with Nanthild from Cathie Dunn's Love Lost In Time. (currently on pre-order)


#BlogTour Round Up!

What a fantastic Blog Tour!

Once again, I'm really impressed with Rachel of Rachel's Random Resources blog tours. The tour for After Whorl: Bran Reborn is now officially finished and the last posts and reviews are now in- and fabulous they've been!

Here's the gist of the ones from the second half of the 7-day tour (If you can halve 7!)

Click the links below to see the full reviews of After Whorl: Bran Reborn because these lovely bloggers have a lot more to say about their favourite elements! 

From Chelle of Curled Up with a Good Book  

"...Again, this is well researched and I loved that it gives you an insight into Britannia when the Romans were here and the tribes were fighting for their land and livelihood.  It’s an area of history that truly fascinates me.  And I love that the Druids are in here!
As with the last book, I now can’t wait to read Book 3 to see what pans out!..." 

"Another thing I also enjoy is how we get to view the Roman forces from the outside perspective. We all read about them in school but then we viewed them from a different angle. The way Jardine has managed to make the Roman so «foreign» to her readers is really amusing to witness. I think this is one of the things that really kept me engaged whilst reading this story. That, and that you, of course, get the feeling that you really want to root for team Brigante! Who wants those filthy Romans on their lands? We sure don’t want them! There are also some elements of from a spy novel here."

"...I can keep on gushing to you on how much I loved and enjoyed this amazing sequel so much, that I actually read this book in one sitting I couldn't put this book down at all I had to finish reading this book in one day.  Ohh my what an emotional ride was reading After Whorl: Bran Reborn was for me...."

My thanks to all of the reviewers and those who featured my writing during this tour - you are all a joy to work with and to have experience of. I wish you lots of happy reading.

Massive thanks, again,  to Rachel Gilbey for organising the event- you're a star.  


Sunday, 3 November 2019

Blog Tour and Blog Hop

Touring and Hopping!

Blog Touring and Blog Hopping  - Are they the same thing? In a way they are but the current ones happening this week have two different emphases. 

The Blog Tour for After Whorl: Bran Reborn has 3 main elements for the 21 bloggers who are involved in featuring the novel. During the Rachel's Random Resources organised tour the bloggers are all featuring the book details: some with a unique excerpt chosen by me; some who have interviewed me; and others who have read and reviewed the novel. At each stop there is the opportunity to ENTER the draw to win #FREE copies of the novel- a signed paperback and an ecopy.

**Till Sunday 10th November 2019 After Whorl: Bran Reborn is reduced in price across Amazon to only 99p. Snatch your bargain if you haven't yet read it. **

I've already posted some of the excellent reviews received so far and will add more to the end of this post. 

The Ocelot Blog Hop, on the other hand, centres around character interviews. Each participating Ocelot Press author is interviewing a character from someone else's novel. you can look forward to me posting next week my interview with Nanthild from Cathie Dunn's Love Lost In Time. My fellow Ocelot author Jen Wilson will be interviewing Bran from Aften Whorl: Bran Reborn and that will happen on Thursday 7th November. 

Stephanie of Litflits Blog had some wonderful things to say about After Whorl: Bran Reborn.
(With all of the blogs below please click the links to see their full reviews)
"I think that Jardine has done an excellent job of depicting the Romano-British world in the Celtic Fervour series and I felt that After Whorl: Bran Reborn was an even more engaging novel than The Beltane Choice. I'm now looking forward to the third in this series, After Whorl: Donning Double Cloaks."

Donna of Donna's Book Blog   has highlighted the connections between Books 1 and 2 and quite rightly recommends reader take full advantage on the continuous story by reading the series from the beginning. 
"I thought that the story was addictive and after I had started I wanted to carry on reading to see where it would go and I thought that the ending was great."

The Over The Rainbow blogger is another satisfied reader. 
"The story is historical with a lot of action and a bit of romance to keep the reader absorbed in the story. I thought it was a very entertaining read and I look forward to reading more in this series."

Here's a bit of Jen's review on  Historical Fiction with Spirit 
"In this series, there’s so much about the politics, geography and sentiment of the time, and yet, it never feels like it is being ‘told’ to you, as a reader. Instead, the relationships between clans, and the Romans, and the individuals involved, are shown through great character development, and interactions."

I am so delighted that all of the bloggers involved in the tour have taken the time to feature my novel and thank every one of them. 


Saturday, 2 November 2019

#This Blighted Expedition by Lynn Bryant

Happy Saturday and Welcome Back Lynn Bryant! 

I'm delighted to have Lynn back today with a guest post about her brand new novel This Blighted Expedition. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Paul van Daan from her Peninsular War Saga and have more books of that series sitting waiting for me to read on my kindle. Having now read today's post, I think I'll have to find more leisure time and get on with my reading pile because I'm sure to enjoy this new Manxman Series too!  The question will be how to slot them in! When you've read Lynn's excellent post below, you'll see why I'm saying that.....

The Peninsular War Saga and the Manxman Series: the Links between the Series

This week has seen the publication of This Blighted Expedition which is set during the disastrous Walcheren Campaign of 1809. It’s the second book in the Manxman series, which began with An Unwilling Alliance and on Nancy Jardine’s blog today, I’m going to talk about both the Manxman and the Peninsular War Saga, and how the two series connect.

For anybody new to both series, the Peninsular War Saga is a series which follows a fictional battalion of Wellington’s army and its colourful young officer through the long years of the Peninsular War. The series begins in An Unconventional Officer, with the twenty-one year old Paul van Daan joining the light company of the 110th infantry which is about to set off for India. During the course of the series, we follow Paul’s progression up the ladder of promotion, and in book five, the most recent book, he has reached the rank of full colonel and is in charge of the regiment in the field. He has also been appointed by Lord Wellington, who is his mentor and his friend, to command the third brigade of the light division, under General Charles Alten. In reality, there were only two brigades in the light division. In my fictional world, we have arrived in winter quarters at the end of 1812. Paul’s intrepid wife Anne has just given birth to her second child, and the army is recovering from the horrors of the retreat from Burgos.
Middleburg Abbey -
Army HQ during The Walcheren Campaign
Courtesy of Lynn Bryant

Two years ago, I was being regularly asked by friends and family, if I was going to write a book set on the Isle of Man, which has been my much loved adopted homeland for the past seventeen years. I could see no easy way of connecting my army series to the island, but it occurred to me that many Manxmen served in the Royal Navy, the most famous of whom was Captain John Quilliam, who was first lieutenant on the Victory under Nelson at Trafalgar. I read up about Quilliam and decided that I wanted to write about a character who took a similar but not identical career path. I began an intensive crash course on Nelson’s navy, and Captain Hugh Kelly, the Manxman of my title, came to life on the page.

An Unwilling Alliance proved popular with my readers, and was shortlisted for the Society for Army Historical Research fiction prize in 2019. I really liked the characters. By the end of the book, Hugh had married his Manx love, Roseen Crellin and I could foresee more adventures for him. I was also very taken with his awkward, loquacious, highly intelligent first lieutenant, Mr Durrell. But what really appealed to me was the fact that I had linked the book very firmly to my main series, by giving the newly-promoted Major Paul van Daan, a big part to play.

Paul was only supposed to have a walk-on part in this book, but as always he walked on and took over. In An Unconventional Officer, I mentioned that Paul and his battalion had sailed from Ireland to Copenhagen with Wellesley to take part in the joint operation between the army and the navy in 1807. This was the campaign Hugh Kelly was about to join. I did not give details of what happened to the 110th during that campaign; the book was long enough already. Suddenly, I realised I could write a book where my two leading men could not only meet, but could get to know each other.

In 1807, Paul is still only twenty-five, newly purchased up to major and still has a lot to learn. Hugh is thirty-two, has been in the navy since he was a boy and is a post-captain, which was roughly equivalent to an army colonel. Paul has ambivalent feelings about the navy since his experience of being mistakenly press-ganged as a boy. It was clear that this relationship could go either way. Without giving away too much of the story to new readers, by the end of the book Paul finds himself in a disciplinary mess which Hugh and young Durrell help to pull him out of and a friendship is cemented.

It’s a long-distance friendship. In the period between the two books, it’s clear that there is an ongoing correspondence. The Iris is on blockade duty off Gibraltar and Paul spends a very memorable period in Yorkshire and then sails with Wellesley to Portugal. He fights at Vimeiro and Rolica but manages to avoid Corunna due to an outbreak of camp fever. In 1809 when Hugh, Durrell and the Iris set sail for Walcheren, Paul is marching with Wellesley into Spain and the bloody field of Talavera.

One of the complicated things about running these two series, is that I am writing two different timelines. In the Peninsular War Saga, Paul is married to Anne by now and they have two children. At the end of This Blighted Expedition, when Hugh receives a letter from him, he is still married to his first wife who is carrying their second child. To maintain the links between the two series, I constantly have to remind myself who knows what, at which point in the story.

Paul and Hugh are not the only characters to move between the two series. Until the end of 1810, the seventh company of the first battalion were not with Paul, and in 1809 they sailed for Walcheren along with the second. This gave me the opportunity to go back in time to the early days of one or two characters, particularly the young Lieutenant Giles Fenwick, who is later to play a significant role in both the Peninsular War Saga and my associated Regency romance novels. Vincent Longford and George Zouch also make an appearance during This Blighted Expedition.

Bridge over the Coa-
featured in An Unconventional Officer
It’s quite odd, this two-way time travel because I know a lot about the future of some of my characters, since it is already written. After the end of This Blighted Expedition, off camera, as it were, I already know that Giles, Longford and George Zouch are about to receive orders to go to Portugal, and will arrive in Lisbon in the middle of An Irregular Regiment to add to Paul’s headaches with the commissariat and the 112th infantry. I also know, from a brief reference in book 5, an Untrustworthy Army, that while in Madrid, Paul receives a letter from Hugh Kelly, who is serving off the coast of Spain, once more under the command of Sir Home Riggs Popham.

The next episode in the Manxman series, will follow Hugh’s adventures during the 1812 campaign with Popham. As for the next book in the Peninsular War Saga, without giving too much away, it is definitely going to feature one or two guest appearances from characters in This Blighted Expedition.

Is anybody confused yet?

Essentially, all my readers really need to know, is yes, the series are very much linked. In fact, if you include the two books in my Regency romance series, all three are linked, which is why I have decided not to write any more Regencies until the other series have reached the end of the war, since it is impossible not to introduce too many spoilers. Certainly, reading the Peninsular War Saga and the Manxman series will enhance the reader’s enjoyment of both. While each book covers a particular campaign or section of a campaign, and can be read in isolation, the two stories and the lives of the various characters weave together, touching hands and then drawing apart again until the next contact. Characters meet and then separate, letters are exchanged and shared experiences may be mentioned.

Eventually, it is my aim that the two timelines will catch up and run seamlessly together. This should happen. There are more Peninsular books than Manxman books, mainly because there was a lot more action in the army than in the navy. Poor Hugh is likely to have another long spell of blockade duty at some point, and since he is a good officer who does his duty, he’ll stay aboard his ship and endure the boredom which doesn’t make for a good novel.

I have a sketch plan in my head. It may not work out, we will have to see. If it does, we should see a campaign where Paul and Hugh are once again in the same theatre of war. It is called San Sebastian, and it’s going to be a rough ride.

On a final note, there are two other books which were published before the Peninsular War Saga, and are of a different time period. Both are currently standalone novels, but because I have that kind of brain, I wanted there to be a link to those too.

In a Respectable Woman, the hero, Kit Clevedon, had some financial independence from his objectionable father because he inherited his childless uncle’s estate. The same uncle helped him obtain his first commission in the army. It is mentioned several times in the Peninsular War Saga, that Major Gervase Clevedon was the younger brother of an Earl. Gervase is, in fact, Kit’s uncle.

A Marcher Lord is set on the Scottish borders in the sixteenth century, so there can be no close link. But Jenny and Will Scott had children and the name endures through the centuries. Don’t be terribly surprised if at some point, a red-headed borderer turns up somewhere in the Peninsula. It could happen.

In the meantime, please enjoy the latest book. I’m currently embarking on the madness of my first attempt at NaNoWriMo so follow my progress on my blog or on social media, and please feel free to contact me with any questions about any of the books. I love talking to readers and I will answer.

Nancy Says: I'm breathless and in complete awe just reading about your connections, Lynn. I do understand, though, the difficulty of keeping things straight in your own mind when writing about slightly different eras. I have to be really careful with aspects of Ancient Roman Britain history when creating promotional materials for both my Celtic Fervour Series set in A.D. 71-84 and The Taexali Game set in A.D. 210. No anachronisms allowed!! the Roman Army was not the same all through the Roman Britain period. 

This Blighted Expedition is available on Amazon kindle HERE and will be available in paperback very soon. 

Lynn's website and blog, Writing with Labradors HERE

Find Lynn on Facebook HERE

Lynn Bryant
About Lynn

Lynn Bryant was born and raised in London's East End. She studied History at University and had dreams of being a writer from a young age. Since this was clearly not something a working class girl made good could aspire to, she had a variety of careers including a librarian, NHS administrator, relationship counsellor and manager of an art gallery before realising that most of these were just as unlikely as being a writer and took the step of publishing her first book.

The first book in her Manxman series, An Unwilling Alliance, was shortlisted for the Society for Army Historical Research fiction prize 2019. She now lives in the Isle of Man and is married to a man who understands technology, which saves her a job, and has two grown up children and two Labradors. History is still a passion, with a particular enthusiasm for the Napoleonic era and the sixteenth century. When not writing, she waits on the Labradors, reads anything that's put in front of her and makes periodic and unsuccessful attempts to keep a tidy house.

Thank you for sharing your news about your latest book, Lynn, and best wishes for a really super launch week.

#rReviews #After Whorl Bran Reborn

After Whorl:Bran Reborn's blog tour continues!

Reviews are coming in from some of the bloggers who have signed up to the Rachel's Random Resources Blog Tour for After Whorl Bran Reborn, Book 2 of my Celtic Fervour Saga Series. It is with some trepidation that I'll be reading what they say about this novel because it's quite different in style from the first book. I was therefore absolutely over the moon to read the first reviews because these readers really appreciate what I was intending for my characters! 

The first comments came in from Ellesea on the 31st October. Read the full review here...

And this is how it ends...
"....The narrative is bursting with facts and the author's attention to detail is admirable. All this, wrapped around an intriguing narrative with fascinating characters. Still, in 71AD, I absorbed the lifestyle of these resilient people with respect and admire how they managed to survive in such hostile surroundings. Now I need to find out the fate of Bran and Ineda in Donning Double Cloaks."

And then came Jessica Belmont's incredibly boosting review. You can find that complete one here:

"... A fabulous novel that depicts the efforts of the Celtics to drive the Roman invaders out. I’m obsessed with this plot and determined to read book 1 now.
The characters are realistic. So realistic, I found myself very concerned for their lives. I was invested in their romances and worried that something would happen to them. I’m still thinking about them!
Nancy Jardine’s writing is epic. She describes settings, characters and such beautifully. My favorite parts were the battle scenes. Her ability to clearly describe the scene while being character driven is inspiring.
I loved this book. I highly recommend checking it out! Definitely reading this whole series (as if I needed more on my TBR!)

Rebecca of Reviewsfeed also posted some excellent comments. Read the full review here:

Here's the ending of it...
"As with the first book, the pace of the story entertains the reader without sacrificing taking the time to link back to the back-story and elements of the first book. The references are done subtly and at the appropriate time to help us follow other characters in the series. Perhaps we will get to see more of them in the next book, After Whorl: Donning Double Cloaks.

I am really enjoying reading about a new era of British History. There is a lot of detail is being put into the progress of the Roman invasion and what is being done by the early Celtic tribes to try to repel them! I haven’t read anything like it before, so I am looking forward to seeing how the rest of the series pans out!"

There are loads of lovely comments for me to use in future promotions. My thanks to all of the reader/ reviewer / bloggers on this tour! 

A quick reminder that during this first week of November the ebook of After Whorl: Bran Reborn will only be 99p on Amazon


Thursday, 31 October 2019

Samhain greetings plus a #FREE Excerpt...

Samhain greetings to you on this the 31st October.  

The 31st October is an exciting time for my grandkids who love to dress up and pop over to my house where we 'dook fir aipples'. I'm not sure if that's happening this year, since their time for visiting me now competes with visiting friends' houses. Whatever happens, there are enough left of the apples from my garden to indulge them in the traditional ‘dook’, or to just eat them instead along with the nuts and special shortbread shapes that I usually make for Halloween. This year the shortbread will be pumpkin shaped, so long as I stop my formatting for Ingram Spark publishing for a while and get around to baking the shortbread!

But what would my characters in the Celtic Fervour Saga Series be doing on Samhain? Samhain is the Celtic word for the quarter year beginning of winter festival. Samhain is traditionally a different festival from the other three and has more spooky associations. At Samhain, when the land is asleep and unproductive and the weather has turned cold and often frosty, the veil between the living and the dead is thinner. At Samhain, during the long hours of darkness till the first rays of the new dawn of the 1st November the dead can mingle with the living…

Hence the modern commercial concept of Halloween with its ghouls and ghosts and witches and warlocks.

In After Whorl: Bran Reborn, Book 2 of the Celtic Fervour Series, At Samhain in A.D 73, Ineda is not experiencing anything like the commercial Halloween that pervades western society just now, and neither is she able to observe her tribal traditional Celtic Samhain. Why is this? Ineda has been captured by an Ancient Roman Tribune and kept as his personal slave, a bed slave and more.

In the following extract Ineda has already found that not everything is the same between her Celtic worship of multiple deities and those of the Romans. If Ineda wants to pray to her goddess Rhianna, or Brigantia, she needs no trappings around her. Tribune Gaius Livanus Valerius is different…

After Whorl: Bran Reborn is currently on a fantastic blog Tour organised by Rachel Gilbey of Rachel's Random Resources and will be visiting around 21 Blog during the coming week! Look out for the special competition if you've not yet read the Celtic Fervour Saga Series!

Inside the wooden temple building were many cubicles separated by simple wooden walls to a little above head-height. Ineda had not seen what lay in each niche as Tribune Valerius used only one when he dragged her along. Whether, or not, he prayed to other gods or goddesses when he was alone, she could not say. At present she could detect only the murmurs of a few other worshippers.
That seemed to be how he preferred it. For reasons unknown, he always waited if the building was full of worshippers. She guessed he wanted his deity to have no confusion over who might make a plea.
She knew the drill, could have slipped to the floor, but preferred to make him do the ordering – that way she accommodated her forced capture better.
The niche he had towed her to, dedicated to the goddess Etain, had a small altar just of sufficient height for the average soldier to top when kneeling with bent head. As Tribune Valerius knelt down beside her she could not fail to notice that the bowl set in the stone showed traces of dark brownish-red, indicating a sacrifice had not long since been offered. Attempts had been made to wipe it clear, but the smears across the rim, and the drips to the side, coupled with the acrid blood tang that lingered in the air, told it was a recent event.
It mattered little to her, and did not surprise her; she was now well used to the frequency of the rituals. The aedes was a temple used by the whole garrison, and the altar she faced was only one of many.
“Etain hear my plea…” Tribune Valerius’ words were low, suffused with zeal.
He had never had a sacrifice conducted in her presence, though to her knowledge, his secutore organised it often enough for him. His main scribe, Pomponius, was a bustling little man full of his own importance, yet she knew Gaius Livanus Valerius relied heavily on the man to carry out his duties faithfully and competently.
She understood Tribune Valerius’ need for privacy at such times, but wondered why. Bloody sacrifice was a ritual she had witnessed often enough to her own goddess Rhianna and to Taranis before battle, the Celts being no stranger to the proceedings. He understood that about her.
Sacrifice was denied her, but in this frequent ritual he now conducted she was included. Roman ways were definitely strange, and the tribune was a very perplexing man.
“Worship, Ineda!”
Fierce. He sounded fiercer than she had ever heard before.
She joined his low mutterings, praying to Etain, the goddess not unfamiliar to her. He murmured feverishly alongside, his pleas louder than hers, never appearing aware of what she always asked for. Her request never varied, but if he ever heard her murmurs he never acknowledged it.
“Freedom, my lady, Etain,” she whispered a repeated refrain. “I beg my freedom. I hate him, hate him…” She made her usual pleas though added a new one, whispering it so that it was not overheard. “Give my King Venutius the means and the opportunity to overcome this Roman dung horde, and make Agricola and Cerialis capitulate like they make the Celts do…and…expel the Roman oppressors from our land!”
She never had anything personal to offer the goddess in turn for the favour, but she prayed, nonetheless.
Directly behind the stone focus of the altar was a representation of the horse goddess in carved wood. It was a crudely-made image depicting Etain riding a horse, the beast’s forelegs high in the air. Etain was partially naked, breasts proud and bountiful, her open bratt flying wide to her sides. Contemplating the goddess Etain drew her attention for a while.
Tribune Valerius’ mutterings grew louder, more harried, too fast for any comprehension.
She allowed her head to dip further, surreptitiously checking to see if the fool tironis remained in place at the door. Too bad that he was; he had no wit to disobey and wander off.
“Etain, lady, hear my pleas…” Tribune Valerius was so intent.
Ineda scoffed silently. Etain was not heeding any of her pleas for freedom.
His murmurs continued. She knew this bit, since he always chanted it very slowly, nearing the end of his ritual. Why he towed her along every now and then to the aedes she had not yet worked out. Perhaps the frenzied part of the prayers concerned her? If so, she never ever detected her name as part of it. To discover all of his ritual she knew she would need to learn a lot more of the Latin tongue, though learning more of the Latin tongue was something she wanted to do anyway – regardless of the tribune’s instructions.
As his intonation tapered off, she tried to read the letters that decorated the pedestal, but knew only the part which stood for Legio XX.
He held on to her shoulder as he rose to his feet. Not because he was in poor health or incapable: it was more that he was somehow claiming her in the sight of his deity. Turning back to his assistant his voice seemed much calmer now, though she felt a great tension in his fingers as his full power seemed to fall on her through his heavy squeeze.
“The herbs.”
Tribune Valerius gathered the bunch proffered by his secutore. Splitting the greenery to each side of the focus, he went on to the next part of his ritual, the conclusion.
The mumbling coming from behind her was usual as his scribe made his own prayers.
Monosyllabic orders from Tribune Valerius were the norm in the aedes.
Towing after him, she side-stepped the scribe who went to lay down an apple to each side of the stone basin before kneeling at the altar. The underling always produced something of his own for the focus, but only after his superior officer was completely finished.
“Take her back to my quarters!”
The tironis outside the door acknowledged the order accordingly before Tribune Valerius turned away from her without any further speech.
Deep, deep anger simmered. Ignoring her as though her value was again redundant was a habit she could well do without, his treatment constantly exasperating her. Desperation to escape surfaced to swamping level at such times as these.
She sensed Tribune Valerius was desperate to get along to Antonius Pulis Praefectus Castrorum – the camp commandant – who was the third most senior soldier at the garrison fortress and a man who did not ever like to be held up. She had seen him before, and he was a formidable veteran soldier. Pulis was not one she would want to cross – except if it gained her the freedom she sought every single day. 
(Chapter Nineteen – After Whorl: Bran Reborn)

Buy from Amazon 

Happy Samhain / Halloween!


Wednesday, 23 October 2019

Meet the Ocelots- Bran Reborn!

 Bran Reborn? Who is Bran?

It’s my turn today on the Ocelot Blog to introduce you to some more Ocelot Press fiction! Since I can’t directly reblog to this page from a Wordpress site, this is the core of it with a more of the historical detail added on below.

To answer my own question above I need to separate the Fiction…some Historical Facts of A.D. 69-71…and give an Outline of the Events that come before Bran is reborn!

After Whorl: Bran Reborn is the second book of my historical fiction Celtic Fervour Saga Series. Zoom back to A.D. 71, to the territorial area of the Brigantes Federation of tribes.

The After Whorl part of the title refers to the Battle at Whorl which takes place during the last part of Book 1 of the series, The Beltane Choice.  At Whorl, my Brigante warrior clan from the Hillfort of Garrigill fight against the Ancient Roman Legio IX and Legio II Adiutrix – led by General Q. Petilius Cerialis, the Governor of Britannia and commander of all of the Roman Legions stationed in Britain – and Gnaeus Iulius  Agricola Commander of the Legio XX.  During the battle at Whorl many Late-Iron Age warriors are killed, many are injured and some remains are never retrieved from the battlefield. Brennus of Garrigill doesn’t return and is presumed dead!

Fact: (with a good dose of interpretation!)
A lot was happening in A.D. 68/ 69. Across the Roman Empire there were dire rumblings and a very nasty civil war raged amongst different commanders of legions in different area of the Roman Empire. This time was later referred to as the Year of the Four Emperors (I’ve written about this elsewhere in this blog) when one after another took charge of the throne but didn’t last. After Nero’s death, Galba grasped power, followed by Otho, then Vitellius, and finally Vespasian took firm control after which Vespasian reigned as emperor for around ten years.

The possibility of less firm control across Britannia in A.D. 68, probably spurred King Venutius to finally act more forcefully against his former wife Cartimandua in Brigantia, discord also having rumbled there for some years prior to A.D. 68. But, as well as fighting against Cartimandua’s loyal followers, at least some of Venutius’ confrontations also included soldiers of the Roman Empire.

Ancient Roman writers like Cornelius Tacitus wrote that Roman soldiers of General Cerialis engaged in pitched battles against the followers of Venutius, King of the Brigantes in Brigantia. The exact dates of these full-on battles are not known but it’s likely they occurred between the years of A.D. 69 and 71 for the following reasons.

Till c. A.D. 68, Queen Cartimandua had had ‘Client Queen’ status with the Roman Empire, a situation which had probably lasted for more than a decade. It’s thought that in exchange for bribes from the Roman Empire, Cartimandua restrained her warriors from attacking encroaching Roman forts and installations in the south of Brigantia during her ‘Client Kingdom’ status. That situation was not to last, though, because having divorced her husband Venutius, Cartimandua found herself fighting against rebel forces across Brigantia led by Venutius. Cornelius Tacitus recorded that the Ancient Roman Army came to Cartimandua’s aid during one such battle against Venutius and she had to be spirited away from the battlefield.

It seems that this unstable political turmoil in Brigantia gave the Roman army a good excuse to intervene on her behalf. However, in approximately A.D. 69, the records for Cartimandua cease, perhaps meaning she died during one of the civil war skirmishes against Venutius, or she was secreted away by the Roman Army for a subsequent time. I’ve read references that she perhaps then spent the remainder of her life in the safety of obscurity; possibly even in Rome itself as it wasn’t unknown for Rome to harbour exiled persons of high status from Britannia.

By c. A.D. 71, King Venutius also fades into obscurity possibly because he was no longer in a position to gather sufficient men to have further pitched battles with Rome. Or maybe it was because the situation in Rome had stabilised under the new Emperor Vespasian who assumed the throne in A.D. 69 after the Roman Empire’s own tumultuous civil war and Venutius cut his losses and disappeared. However, another likely scenario is that Venutius was killed during one of the battles which raged in Brigantia.

There is sufficient archaeological evidence to show that around the A.D. 69-71 period there was a significant expansion in Roman fort building throughout southern and central Brigantia, which was a considerable geographical area. More evidence is being uncovered giving credence to the fact that under General Cerialis that expansion of Roman domination also covered parts of north Brigantia and maybe even into what is now Southern Scotland.

After Whorl: Bran Reborn locations cover rugged Cumbrian hill country; flatter landscapes near Eboracum (York); coastal north-west England (Deva/ Chester); and Shropshire where the fourth largest Roman city in Britain was located (Viroconium Cornoviorum/ Wroxeter).

  • My clan warriors are entirely fictional characters.
  • Garrigill, a village in Cumbria, is an ideal location for a Late Iron Age (Celtic) hillfort.
  • An Ancient Roman temporary camp was sited at the nearby town of Alston.
  • Gnaeus Iulius Agricola, as Commander of the Legio XX (a genuine historical figure who plays a large role later in the series), campaigned in the area c. A.D. 71
  • In Book 1, my Garrigill warriors fight against the legions of General Cerialis and Commander Agricola at a place called Whorl.
  • The village of Whorlton is in County Durham and topographically is an ideal site for a Celtic/Roman battle. 
  • General Q. Petilius Cerialis, the Governor of Britannia and commander of all of the Roman Legions stationed in Britain (also a genuine historical figure) engaged in battles against the Brigantes Federation of tribes in Brigantia in approximately A.D. 71.

  • Brennus, younger brother of main character Lorcan of Garrigill of Book 1 doesn’t come home after the Battle at Whorl and is presumed dead! However, since I really loved creating Brennus, and since he’s such a lovely man, I couldn’t possibly let him die. Brennus becomes the main male character in Books 2 and 3, though lives for some years under the alias of… Bran of Witton.

  • After Whorl: Bran Reborn (Book 2) begins with Meaghan, an elderly healer, ensuring that Brennus survives the battlegrounds of Whorl but it’s a hard-won task. When thrashing around a raging temperature, Brennus imagines himself being cooled down by the cascading waters of the waterfall near the hillfort of Garrigill.

Fact: This image is the authentic waterfall named Ashgill Force near the village of Garrigill.

  • Visibly maimed, Brennus can’t resume duties as tribal champion and instructor of the younger warriors at Garrigill. How could he with part of one hand lopped off, a dragging leg, and having lost the sight of one eye?
  • He lets Meaghan believe his name is Bran, and as Bran he forges out a new life for himself. Brennus’ original sunny personality becomes deeply buried. Bran is dour, bitter and hard to live with! In modern terminology, the man is suffering from something akin to PTSD.
  • Bran dons the mantle of a spy aided by Ineda, Meaghan’s granddaughter. Their spying careers develop with ease but their romantic entanglement is sluggish! And… in the nature of a family saga, there are many pitfalls and highly dangerous encounters with the Roman invaders before a happy ending is eventually reached for both of them…but that doesn’t happen till Book 3 After Whorl: Donning Double Cloaks!

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed creating all of my Celtic Fervour Saga characters but I have a real soft spot for my lovely Brennus of Garrigill aka Bran of Witton. I’m hoping that (if you’ve not already read my series) you’ll join the list of other readers who enjoy Brennus’ transformations!

Here are a few useful sites, references used when choosing sites and information to use in my series.

Happy Reading.