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.
Slainthe! 


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