05 November 2015

Excerpt Thursday: CASTLES, CUSTOMS & KINGS, Volume II - True Tales of English Historical Fiction Authors

This week as a special feature, we're offering insight into Castles, Customs, and Kings: Volume II - True Tales of English Historical Fiction AuthorsThe Second Volume of a Special Anthology. The works of fifty authors are included.  Join us again on Sunday for an author interview, with more details about the story behind the story. The author will offer a free copy of Castles, Customs, and Kings to a lucky blog visitor. Here's the blurb:

An anthology of essays from the second year of the English Historical Fiction Authors blog, this book transports the reader across the centuries from prehistoric to twentieth century Britain. Nearly fifty different authors share the stories, incidents, and insights discovered while doing research for their own historical novels. 

About the Anthology

From medieval law and literature to Tudor queens and courtiers, from Stuart royals and rebels to Regency soldiers and social calls, experience the panorama of Britain’s yesteryear. Explore the history behind the fiction, and discover the true tales surrounding Britain’s castles, customs, and kings.

For those who have read Volume 1, you know this book will contain great information, a book you can pick up when you have ten minutes to spare, but a book that will be hard to set down. Fifty authors contributed articles on British history from pre-Roman times through World War II, not dry dates and documents, but the interesting stuff.

In both volumes, the book starts with the authors and their biographies, a list of their historical novels, and then begins a parade of persons from the past, from druids moving freely across tribal boundaries to the uncovering of Lady Godiva to Sir Geoffrey Luttrell who commissioned the Luttrell Psalter to the London life and paintings of John Singer Sargent—truly a varied and fascinating ensemble. Some interesting excerpts follow; each is but a paragraph from an essay:

**Excerpts from Castles, Customs, and Kings: Volume II**

From Mark Patton’s “The Flavian Palace at Fishbourne: Luxury Unparalleled in Europe North of the Alps”:

“Close to the modern city of Chichester is a Roman Palace that bears comparison with Nero’s ‘Golden House’ and the Palace of Domitian in Rome itself. Much of it is now hidden beneath modern housing, but in its heyday it had a larger footprint than Buckingham Palace. Not only is it, by far, the most lavish Roman dwelling ever built in Britain, it is also one of the earliest, having been built within a few decades of the Roman invasion of 43 A.D.”

This article goes on to discuss the palace, and it is followed by fascinating information about what existed inside a Roman home, including reason to believe that graffiti and even sexually explicit paintings adorned the walls. It is nice to have an archeologist in our group of authors!

Patricia Bracewell, in her article “The Science of History” brings out the horror of an unknowable (at the time) event:

“Part of the entry for 1014 reads: ‘his year, on the eve of St. Michael’s day, came the great sea-flood, which spread wide over this land, and ran so far up as it never did before, overwhelming many towns, and an innumerable multitude of people.’

“Anyone reading this today would recognize it as a description of a tsunami. We’ve already experienced two such massive sea floods in this young century, and we knkow what devastation such events can cause. The word itself would not be incorporated into the English language until the nineteenth century, thanks to the Japanese who, like the English, live surrounded by water. But although the word we use today did not exist in 1014, the great sea-flood of that year was corroborated all over southern Britain by annalists writing in Wales, Cornwall, Kent, Sussex, and Hampshire. In addition, a chronicl written at the Convent of Quedlinburg Abbey in Saxony states that in that year a great flood struck Juteland, Holstein, Friesland, the Netherlands, and Belgium.”

Patricia goes on to explain what apparently caused the tsunami; perhaps not what you think.

For Tudor lovers, the book has, among other essays, “Unveiling Marie Stuart: The Poetry of the Queen of Scots” by Linda Root.

“It is small wonder that one of Scotland’s two contributors to the list of technically accomplished royal poets of the sixteenth century wrote her verse in French.
“It is more puzzling to explain how easily the creative aspect of her character is trivialized. The poet of whom I speak is Marie Stuart, a woman we know as the French Queen Consort and anointed Queen of Scots, but often forget that she was a student and life-0long confidante of Pierre Ronsard, the leader of the Pleiade, frequently called the Prince of Poets, and that both Ronsard and the scholar-historian Brantome acknowledged her expertise….”

Linda goes on to write about the poetry of the French child and the later Regnant Queen of Scots.

To see more of the variety of topics and to meet the authors in each of the volumes, please see the Table of Contents of each using Amazon’s Look Inside feature.