Tag Archives: Normans

James Wilde: Wolves of New Rome (Review)

James Wilde

james w

James  is a Man of Mercia. Raised in a world of books, James studied economic history at university before travelling the world in search of adventure.
He was unable to forget a childhood encounter in the pages of a comic with the great English warrior, Here ward. Wilde returned to the haunted fenlands of Eastern England, Herewards ancestral home, where he became convinced that this legendary hero should be the subject of his first novel. Wilde now indulges his love of history and the high life in the home his family have owned for several generations, in the heart of a Mercian forest.

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Wolves of New Rome (2014)
(The fourth book in the Hereward series)

Hereward WONR

1072 – The great battle has been lost. King William stands victorious. And for the betrayed and abandoned English rebels, the price of their crushing defeat is cruel: exile.
Cut adrift from family, friends, home, their hopes of survival lie with one man, their leader Hereward. But can even that now-legendary hero navigate a safe course across a world torn by war? Their ultimate destination is the jewelled heart of the Christian emperor in the East, the New Rome – Byzantium. Here the English hope to find gold and glory by joining those pledged to protect the emperor, the elite and savage Varangian Guard. But this once-mighty empire is slipping into shadow. Beyond the vast walls, the endless Turkish hordes plan for an attack that could come at any moment. And within the sprawling city, rival factions threaten bloody mayhem as they scheme to seize the crown.

Here begins a new chapter in the stirring tale of England’s forgotten hero. But now the enemies are hidden, their methods bloodier, the battlefield and weapons unfamiliar and to stay alive in this cauldron of plot, betrayal and murder, Hereward and the English must fight as never before.

Review

Its that time of year again, Hereward is back and every year he gets better and better, the book and the writing at least, Poor Hereward himself seems to find himself in bigger and bigger sh!t every book. This book is no exception, its also not glorious trouble, its just the mad bad and crazy world of 1072, its a hard bitter world, life is cheap and its truly rules by those with power and money and the strength to hold it. Hereward and his crew have the will and the skill, but they don’t seem to have the luck to hold on, they have been battered by the winds of fate, by the sweeping plague that is the Norman conquest, a group of singularly nasty, single minded tough, uncompromising nation hell bent on conquest.

This the fourth book in the series see’s our group away from England and travelling to Constantinople, to join the fames Varangian Guard, somewhere they can be lauded for their prowess , gain wealth and start to mend the wounds or their lost home of England. Only fate has other plans, the grass isn’t greener, and their are worse people out there than Normans.

James Wilde is one of the nicest people i have met since i started going to reading events, signing etc, a truly generous chap, always willing to spend time and energy having a conversation and boosting confidence to “have a go” myself at writing, always appreciative of a nice comment about his books, and accepting of any criticism. With this book i have nothing but nice things to say. To say i was lost in the book, doesn’t do it justice. From first page to the last i was member of Herewards crew, i suffered every mile , every mishap and every setback, I was rewarded with the camaraderie of his men and belonged with them fighting my way to and in Constantinople. Thats the joy and experience of his books and writing, that you become part of the book. The only thing wrong is its an experience that ends too soon and then there is a year to wait for the next one.

So thank you James for one again giving me a unique, immersive truly historic experience.

(Parm)

 

Hereward
1. Hereward (2011)
aka The Time of the Wolf
2. The Devil’s Army (2012)
aka The Winter Warrior
3. End of Days (2013)
4. Wolves of New Rome (2014)
HerewardThe Devil's ArmyEnd of DaysWolves of New Rome
Also writes under the name  Mark Chadbourn

Novels

  • Underground (1992)
  • Nocturne (1994)
  • The Eternal (1996)
  • Scissorman (1997)

The Age of Misrule

  • World’s End (1999)
  • Darkest Hour (2000)
  • Always Forever (2001)

The Dark Age

  • The Devil in Green (2002)
  • The Queen of Sinister (2004)
  • The Hounds Of Avalon (2005)

Kingdom of the Serpent

  • Jack of Ravens (2006)
  • The Burning Man (2008)
  • Destroyer of Worlds (July 2009)

The Ghost Warrior

  • Lord of Silence (July 2009)

Swords of Albion

  • The Silver Skull (November 2009, UK (Title: “The Sword of Albion”: April 2010)
  • “The Scar-Crow Men” (February 2011, UK: April 2011)
  • The Devil’s Looking Glass (UK: April 2012, US: tbc)

Novellas

  • The Fairy Feller’s Master Stroke(2002)
  • Dr Who: Wonderland (2003

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Stewart Binns: Anarchy (review and Q&A)

Author

binns

Stewart has spent most of his professional life in television. Initially trained as an academic, he was variously a teacher, soldier and copy-writer before joining the BBC, where he worked in documentary features and current affairs, including stints on Panorama and QED.He was Director of Special Projects at TWI and later Head of Production at Octagon CSI. He produced a wide range of innovative programmes from sports magazines like Trans World Sport, Futbol Mundial and Golazo to historical documentaries like Britain at War, Century and Indochine.He has won over thirty international television awards including a BAFTA, Grierson and Peabody, was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and is Visiting Professor at the University of Bedfordshire.The author of several non-fiction books connected to his work in television, his first work of historical fiction, Conquest, set around the pivotal events of 1066 and the life of legendary hero Hereward of Bourne, was published by Penguin in February 2011. Stewart now lives in Somerset with his wife, Lucy and their twin boys, Charlie and Jack. Their home is also the base for Big Ape Media International, the independent media company run by Stewart and Lucy.

Book Description

anarchy

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Anarchy is the knuckle-whitening third novel in Stewart Binns’ The Making of Englandseries.

Ruthless brutality, greed and ambition: the Anarchy

The year is 1186, the thirty-second year of the reign of Henry II.

Gilbert Foliot, Bishop of London, has lived through long Henry’s reign and that of his grandfather, Henry I. He has witnessed the terrifying civil war between Henry II’s mother, the Empress Matilda, and her cousin, Stephen; a time so traumatic it becomes known as the Anarchy.

The greatest letter writer of the 12th Century, Folio gives an intimate account of one of England’s most troubled eras. Central to his account is the life of a knight he first met over fifty years earlier, Harold of Hereford.

Harold’s life is an intriguing microcosm of the times. Born of noble blood and legendary lineage, he is one of the nine founders of the Knights Templar and a survivor of the fearsome battles of the Crusader States in the Holy Land.

Harold is loyal warrior in the cause of the Empress Matilda. On his broad shoulders, Harold carries the legacy of England’s past and its dormant hopes for the future.

Review

Anarchy:

It’s such an apt name for the time period of this book, and one I’m ashamed to know little about.

This title by Stewart Binns is something on the surface I should have found fault with, should have picked holes in. There is a certain amount of generality to the people, the nations, the time period. The plot misses so much rich depth that could have been added to the time period.

And yet none of this matters, because the plot powers along at a wonderful pace, the characters are real, humble, flawed and at the same time stylised in such a fashion that it appeals at a different level, (for me). This series has for me been about a journey to find and explore the innate elements that make the British, British. What are the character building blocks that created the stiff upper lip, the boys own childish delight in tinkering, the genius for innovation, the intrepid explorers, and the do or die trying spirit. When you break it down to Celts, Saxons, Danes, Normans etc. Mix all of this into a pot that is the unique landscape and history of the country you get the British.

Harold of Herford is the latest incarnation, the latest ingredient in the mix, and all of it is done with power pace, style and a little I believe humour.

The Historical content, to be honest I didn’t even give it a thought. I’m sure there are many fictional elements in here driving the story against a flat background of real history. But the power and charm of this book is the telling not the facts. I will go an learn more about this period and I expect there to be many differences. At the same time this is more about the mix, the moral and the tale telling. EG: the introduction of Robert of Hode and William of Scarlette. It Should have added an element of farce, but instead added a great little side legend and the development of the Robin Hood legend and its possible tie to the Hereward legend. The whole book was a pleasure to read and I think shows the authors talent in television, how to engage with the audience and carry them on a journey with his cast of characters. This book was devoured in a single sitting and went past so fast it left me missing the people involved and wondering what comes next and how long do I need to wait. (for me a sure sign of a really good read)…and a book can be a damn fine read whilst not being the best book ever.

I have no issue recommending this very Highly as a splendid way to spend the day.

(Parm)

Author Q&A

Stewart
Many thanks for taking the time to answer some questions.

1) What was the inspiration behind the series?

Because the 11th/12th centuries were full of great stories, many of them, like the Anarchy, not often told. Also, because the period was the anvil upon which England and Britain was forged, especially through the struggles between the indigenous English and Celts and those nasty Normans!

2) What is more important to you, Historical accuracy or story pace/ plot?

I’m ducking this: both – I love to weave dramatic fiction into real events, but to retain the historical integrity of the events.

3) Was Hereward always your first choice to write as lead, or did you toy / write others?

Always Hereward; I see him as the symbolic embodiment of my answer to 1 above. Thus, the parallel stories of him and his descendants and their relationships with, in turn, the Cerdician, Norman and Plantagenet kings is the central thread of the Making of England quartet. Admittedly, he’s a tenuously contrived symbol, but his story survived (just) the Norman purge, so is a powerful one all the same.

4) Was the need to explore the innate British character a deliberate plot ploy, or something that developed?

Deliberate. It was sparked by the contemporary debate about ‘Englishness’ in the light of the resurgence of Celtic consciousness, which left the English wondering who we are, having lost ourselves in our invention of the ‘British’. As I’m sure is obvious, my view is that much of what we are – especially our political and social proclivities – were born through the synthesis of the English, the Celts and the Normans between 1066 and 1215.

5) Who is your favourite character so far in the series?

Hereward – mighty, mythical, legendary – every little boy’s (and girl’s) hero.

6) How far can this go (Richard the Lionheart is next… is he the last?)

He’s the last; a new era beckons. Watch this space.

7) What do you read for enjoyment?

Non-fiction – the next quartet.

8) Who is your favourite author?

Bernard Cornwell.

9) Sell your series to a new reader in your own words…Why should they buy it?

What else would you want to do during a long, wet English summer?

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