In my soon to be released novel, Warrior Knight, the main character has a habit of looking skyward when thinking. This leads to an amusing scene when he is in the company of a man named Linden Herzog, an Earth Mage. Here is the excerpt:
Ludwig looked up towards the ceiling, going over things in his head. In answer, Linden leaned forward, craning his neck to see the object of his companion's fascination.
Ludwig's eyes came back down. "What are you doing?"
"I was going to ask you the same thing. Is there something up there?"
"No, I was just thinking. Sometimes it helps to stare off into the distance to focus my mind."
"That's a bizarre custom, my friend."
I wrote that some time before Christmas. Now imagine my surprise when we were watching The Queen's Gambit on Netflix last night, and the main character, who plays chess, looks toward the ceiling, working out her moves. Her opponent, though he doesn't speak, looks up, trying to see what she's staring at.
An amazing coincidence that made me laugh out loud, especially as my wife and I had just been talking about that scene in my book earlier in the day!
Until next time, happy reading!
It just occurred to me that it’s been three years since I published my first book, Servant of the Crown. Since then, I’ve written a further sixteen books, including those currently in the editing progress. Also, I've expanded further on my original series, Heir to the Crown, by adding two more: The Frozen Flame and Power Ascending.
When I first started I had no idea how popular my stories would become, but readers have responded with great enthusiasm. It is that very response that has inspired me to continue writing, allowing me to transition from part-time to a full-time author over eighteen months ago.
I look forward to bringing more stories to the world.
Until next time, happy reading!
I started outlining my new book this week, Warrior Knight, and in the early stages, the main character becomes involved with a company of mercenaries. This led me to research the 'Free Companies', which were armies of mercenaries formed between the 12th and 14th centuries. They first appeared in England during the wars over succession between King Stephen and Empress Matilda (1137 – 1153). Similar groups appeared in France and were integrated into the armies of Phillip II.
Unfortunately for the mercenaries, the hundred years war had a period of peace, resulting in the dismissal of large numbers of soldiers. Many of them formed armed bands and made a living by pillaging the region of southern France. The name 'Brigands' was eventually applied to these troops, a term that was used for many centuries afterwards.
Perhaps the most notorious free companies were those that fought in 14th century Italy, where they became known as condottieri. This stems from the Italian word Condottiero, which means 'contractor'. Condottieri (note the 'i' on the end) eventually became synonymous with a military leader and was then applied to the people in charge of these groups of mercenaries.
The end of the Free Companies came about as the Italian states centralized their power and raised their own armies. In 1889, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (the creator of Sherlock Holmes) attended a lecture on the Middle Ages. He was so impressed by what he learned that he dove into further research about the period, including the Free Companies, eventually producing a story called "The White Company". This story was originally published in installments in a magazine called Cornhill Magazine, but is available now, free of charge, from the Gutenberg Project.
Fascinating what you can learn when you go down the rabbit hole we call the Internet.
Until next time,
The other day, I was sitting here, contemplating a battle scene. Having written quite a few of these in the past, I'm always on the lookout for something unique to add to the narrative. Movies can be an inspiration in this regard, but to really find something interesting, I find history to be far more rewarding. From the Dambusters to the Doolittle Raid, there are all sorts of daring raids that caught the enemy by surprise.
One in particular that springs to mind is the Special Boat Section (later renamed the Special Boat Service, similar to the SAS). This elite group was founded in 1940 by a commando officer named Roger Courtney. He first tried to convince the Admiral of the Fleet that his idea of a group of men infiltrating enemy lines using folding kayaks was worth pursuing but got little response. To prove the validity of his theory, he picked a target, HMS Glengyle, a landing ship that lay at anchor in a nearby river and paddled his kayak over to the ship. Once aboard, he stole a deck gun cover and left his initials on the door to the captain's cabin, escaping undetected.
He took the cover to a nearby hotel, presenting it to a group of high ranking naval officers. As a result of his actions, they promoted him to captain, and gave him command of twelve men, thus launching the SBS. They went on to perform other, more serious missions, but the very nature of their origin shows how 'thinking outside the box' could revolutionize warfare. This very same idea empowers many special forces to this day.
If you want to learn more about the SBS, check out their article on Wikipedia, or watch 'The Cockleshell Heroes' (1955), a somewhat fictionalized version of their origins.
Until next time, Happy reading!
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!
Paul Bennett is a self-published author of Epic Fantasy books.