Many of my books, particularly the Heir to the Crown series, involve battles. Just this week, as I was working on Fury of the Crown, I came to a part of the story that involved a massive clash of arms. I have, of course, written these sorts of scenes before, but it’s always important to me to make each one as distinctive as possible.
When there are multiple combat scenes in a book, or series for matter, describing an individual battle can, at times, get very repetitious, both to the reader and the writer. For this reason, I always find it works better to give the reader a personal connection to that action. In my experience, the best way to do this is to reveal the details through its central characters.
However, this particular book gave me the opportunity to highlight some personalities who have not had much time devoted to them. Their contributions are as deserving of note as the main characters, but, just as in real life, their successes are often ignored.
Everyone has heard of Napoleon or Alexander the Great, but how many know about those under their command? I hope in the writing of my most recent battles, I have given my unsung heroes their due.
Having just finished writing the first draft of Flames (The Frozen Flame: Book 3), I sat down, ready to delve into a Brother Cyric adventure. It was to be a murder mystery of sorts, complete with a mystical element. It involves him learning of the arrest, for murder, of a man whom he feels is innocent. The story-line then delves into how he finds the guilty party. I had what I thought was an intriguing outline and so I began fleshing it out, adding in clues and such to point to the culprit. That’s when I discovered that I had made a huge mistake. It was still an interesting concept, but I had only presented one suspect. What kind of a mystery is that?
So I took some time, talking over the situation with Carol and even taking some time out to watch an episode of Murder She Wrote, to get an idea of how to frame the story. No, I won’t tell you which episode I watched, not that it matters, the story-line was quite different.
Next, I scribbled out some notes and then began furiously typing out the series of events leading up to the death and what happens afterwards. This includes how the murder took place along with the when and where. Now there is more than one suspect, and since I changed whodunit, even Carol doesn’t know the ending! The true test will be when she finally reads the finished product and tries to figure it out.
The Battle of Waterloo took place on the 18th of June, 1815, and marked the end of Napoleon Bonaparte’s career, bringing a peace to Europe that lasted for more than forty years. The battle itself is well documented elsewhere and far too complex to write about in a blog post, but there is an interesting offshoot I would like to share.
In September of 1815, the Duke of Wellington wrote to the government, recommending that a medal be issued to each soldier present during the campaign and subsequent battles, of which there were three (Quatra Bras, Ligny and Waterloo). The medal was eventually issued in 1816/17, and each survivor was credited with extra service and pay, giving them two years of added seniority. In addition, the medal was also awarded to the next-of-kin of those that died in the campaign, a first for this type of thing.
Later on, the government would issue a General Service Medal that would award soldiers for their experience prior to Waterloo, but that particular award was not issued until 1848. This means that the Waterloo Medal is the first British medal to be awarded to all soldiers present during a battle. It was also the first medal to include the recipient’s name, rank and regiment, which were inscribed around the edge, a technique that is still in use today (although the regiment is not always applicable).
While researching things for my latest book, Flames, I stumbled across an article about something called an Enteledont, a prehistoric creature that ranged the earth for several million years. It is sometimes called a hell pig or terminator pig, but the truth is it isn't a pig at all, rather it is more closely related to whales and hippos.
I found their physical description to be quite interesting, for these creatures reached nearly seven feet tall at the shoulders, with bulky bodies and cloven hooves. They also had extremely powerful jaw muscles within a mouth that could open more than ninety degrees at the jawline. Thankfully, they died out many years before humanity evolved, but it is interesting to wonder how they might be seen if they were still in existence.
For comparison's sake, these enteledonts may have weighed as much as 900 kilograms or more, remarkable considering that a draft horse weighs in around 850 kg. Whether or not these creatures were carnivores or not is up for debate. They have canines, but also flat, crushing molars, leading experts to believe they were, in fact, Omnivores. Scars on bones would indicate they fought each other as well, leading one to the possible conclusion that they were solitary. Of course, we are looking at all this evidence through the mantle of time, and bones and fossils can only provide so much information.
Still, it is a fascinating idea and one that I have decided to adapt for use in my own story.
To find out more about these fascinating creatures, simply search for 'Enteledont', or, if you prefer, look for 'hell pig or terminator pig'. There's even a video of one, prepared for the BBC documentary series 'Walking with Beasts'.
Until next time, Happy reading!
I just finished the first draft of Tempered Steel, my new prequel, and I have to say I’m really looking forward to diving right into writing Temple Knight, book one of my new series, Power Ascending!
This is my thirteenth book and it also marks almost a complete year of full-time writing! I must admit, when I started this journey with Servant of the Crown, little did I realize how many people would enjoy tales from my fantasy world.
I look forward to sharing even more stories in the future!
In my newest work, Tempered Steel, readers are introduced to a female smith named Charlaine deShandria. Purists might balk at the thought of a woman working in a traditionally male profession, but a little digging into history reveals that such a thing was not only possible but actually happened!
A book called the Holkham Bible clearly shows a woman working a forge. The story that accompanies it indicates that the smith refused to make nails for the crucifixion and so his wife made them instead. In 1435, a guild in London, called the Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths, noted the membership of 65 brethren and 2 sistren, which is an odd term to use these days, but still illustrates that women held that position. It was not uncommon for women to take on the role when a smith had no sons, or for a woman to take over the business on the death of her husband.
Now it was not, admittedly, all that common, but it was certainly not unknown, and even in the case of the guild, there is no mention that this representation was unusual in any way.
Fantasy is, of course, entirely up to the author, but it always nice to have a little corroboration from history.
Until next time, happy reading!
Hard to believe, but I’ve now been a full-time writer for a little over ten months. When I first started writing Servant of the Crown, I only had evenings and weekends to complete my first story. Now, having just completed the first draft of my twelfth book, I can honestly say I am feeling fulfilled. It’s always nice to be able to work at something you like, and while I thoroughly enjoyed my career in IT, it doesn’t compare to being able to write stories all day long!
I often think the best part of writing, for me, is being able to work with my wife, Carol. We have collaborated on a wide variety of things over the years and enjoy working together, something that has made the transition to a full-time author that much better. We are now approaching our thirty-fifth wedding anniversary and just getting started!
Here’s to many more years of working together!
Till next time, happy reading!
Though work on Defender of the Crown is continuing, I have also been hard at work on a couple of other projects. Those readers who subscribe to my newsletter will now have part of that work in their hands in the form of Into the Maelstrom, an origin story.
It’s a tale about how Cyric, a secondary character in Ashes, became a Temple Knight. Of course, that’s not all, as this week's newsletter will reveal. I’ve also spent some time starting the outline for my next series, Power Ascending.
This storyline will deal with two people who meet several times during their careers as they both climb to the heights of power, one within the church, the other within a political landscape. The prequel will introduce both characters when they are young, forming a friendship that will last a lifetime, despite their separation.
And what else have I been up to? Research, of course. I’ve had to delve into a number of subjects to make sure I can give the characters their due. Thank goodness for YouTube!
Until next time, Happy reading!
I was reading through a Facebook group today and came across an interesting posting that led me to do so some research. Here, thanks mainly to Wikipedia, is the story of an attempted coup in the US and calls for an American Dictator.
First off, I need to set the tone, for this all occurred during the ’30s, in a far different time than today. Then, the Italian Dictator Mussolini was quite popular, and fascist regimes existed in several countries. This was, of course, before World War Two and the US, and much of the world was in the grip of the great depression.
Franklin D. Roosevelt, the president that would rise to the world stage in the Second World War, was newly elected, waiting on his inauguration. People at the time, including some newspapers, were calling on him to be given extraordinary powers, including the ability to abolish government departments and suspend congressional appropriations.
At his inauguration address of March 1933, he stated that he was considering taking authority equal to what a president might be granted during an invasion. Shortly after taking office, he addressed the American Legion in his first public speech. Thanks to archives, it is now known that the first draft of his speech included a call to arm them and have them swear allegiance to him, personally.
In the end, he changed his mind, coming to the conclusion that dictatorship was unnecessary, but his political adversaries continued to use the threat of this suggested dictatorship against him. Roosevelt went on to become one of the most respected presidents in history, guiding the US through one of the most challenging events of the twentieth century, World War Two.
For more detail on this fascinating subject, simply search Wikipedia for “Roosevelt Dictatorship”.
Until next time, Happy Reading!
I have now been a full-time author for eight months, an accomplishment I never thought I’d reach when I first started writing Servant of the Crown. One of the greatest joys of being an author (other than writing, of course) is the feedback and friendships I’ve made along the way. It’s always a thrill to read reviews of my books, not to mention receiving emails from fans around the world.
The impact of social media has also been an immense help, allowing me to come into contact with other authors and aspiring authors along the way. Of course, I couldn’t have done any of this without the love and support (and editing) of my wife, Carol.
This is a journey we are taking together, and I cannot imagine the ride without her. So here’s a special shout out to Mathew Harffy, Griff Hosker, and Carolyn Arnold, who all make social media so much more fun.
Paul Bennett is a self-published author of Epic Fantasy books.