Blog about my writing, my travels, archaeology, medieval times, my rants...and anything else that takes my fancy! Interested in Stonehenge,prehistoric Britain, Richard III...and the author of
STONE LORD and MOON LORD--novels set in the era of Stonehenge
SACRED KING- Historical fantasy about the death, afterlife and return of Richard III
I, RICHARD PLANTAGENET-- Epic 2 part novel about Richard III, told from his first person perspective.
An interesting post about the unusual neolithic site of Wor Barrow. The burial in the ditch seems to be a mummy bundle kept some 30-130 years before burial; it was of a man who appears to have died violently, but being short with an arrow. Similar evidence of violence within a framework of ritual deposition is found at Stonehenge (Stonehenge archer, 3 arrowheads in back), the final burial at West Kennet (old man, arrowhead near throat) and at a Welsh timber circle where the central male cremation also contain arrowheads that were probably in the man's body. One of the burials at Wor Barrow was also of a young male who had physical abnormalities that might have included facial deformity and walking problems.
Anyone who has known me for, ah, centuries, knows that my favourite TV series of all time is the wonderful ROBIN OF SHERWOOD by Richard Carpenter. Although I have been writing for years, I really 'cut my teeth on writing Robin fanfic in the 80's, totalling probably several hundred thousand words. At least. I won lots of prizes at conventions (I also used to run conventions--I was bonafide insane!).
Toward the end of my fan period, I started a Robin Hood novel of my own, Ros-inspired by darker, grittier, while utilising real historical events and other facts of the legend that Kip Carpenter hadn't. I got 100 pages done, then life events changed everything. It went into a closet, sat there, moved with me, grew yellow as nearly 20 years went by. I knew it was there, knew I liked it, but as it was typed and not saved on any kind of media, the thought of retyping something from the past was unappealing. And then, this year, I discovered OCS scans. Not without their own problems--they scan in simple words as something else quite frequently. Robyn was often Tobyn, Dobyn, Mobyn!
Still, better than retyping everything. There was a second problem facing me, however. It was a half finished story. I had to start midway, try to get into my characters' heads again. Luckily I remembered the plotline well so that wasn't a problem. I was fearful though that the two halves of the book would be in stark contrast to each other; that my writing of the 90's would be vastly different to my writing today. Fortunately, with a few edits of the first bit, I managed to tie the two together.There wasn't a shocking difference, save that my more recent stuff is a bit lighter with more hints of humour. I did have to cut some of the 'mystical woo', however; funnily enough, my opinions on certain tropes have changed over the years. I prefer a more subtle approach of 'less is more' although I left a fair bit as it seemed integral to this particular story.
Anyway, about 4 months after I decided to resurrect it, THE HOOD GAME is now out on Amazon worldwide with a cracking cover by Sheri McGathy.
Here's a blurb to whet your appetite...
THE HOOD GAME
New historical fantasy of the Robin Hood legend, in the vein of Robin of Sherwood, where myth meets history. Robyn wins the Hood in a ritualised Midwinter game. Fleeing to Sherwood after killing a Norman knight, he forms his band, guided by the Hobs of the forest and 'Saint' Anne the Holy Fire, as aspect of the Goddess worshipped by Robyn and his cousin Will Scarlet.
Then the 'Devil is Loose' and Richard Lionheart returns to England. A pardon is promised to Robyn for his service at the siege of Nottingham...but there is a price too great to pay.
On Amazon worldwide, free to KU/Koll subscribers; print book out in the next few days.
A time of the first emerging kings. When Stonehenge was complete but the world was changing. New cultures, new seekers for tin sail along the Atlantic facade--not all of them friendly
No chief had ruled the Great Trilithon for untold years...and the Shaman known as the Merlin decided to change this and find one who will lead.
Ardhu the Dark One will find the sword within the Stone, wear the golden lozenge and carry the Lightning Sceptre. He will gain the Breton dagger prince, An-kelet, as his companion, and wed the beautiful white-haired princess Findabair the White Phantom. He will hunt the magical boar from the Prescelli mountains to Cornwall....He will sire a tainted son by his own half sister...
A reworking of the ARTHURIAN MYTHS within a Bronze Age context. A look at the legends of Arthur and a possible pre-Dark Age root for some of them. Based on real archaeology and anthropology, mixed with a dollop of fantasy (though there is NO magic involved.)
For the first time since its release only .99 WORLDWIDE for a limited time!
COME, LITTLE CHILDREN. This dark, haunting poem by Edgar Allan Poe was used as a song, with a few words changed for the kiddies, in the 1993 movie HOCUS POCUS. I found this eerie cover on youtube by Gothgamo8/katethegreat. It reminded me very much of the wintry, unnatural world of MY NAME IS NOT MIDNIGHT, where the children are brainwashed into believing the lies of the Sestren, the teachers and their cruel masters, who secretly lead them to doom--the mass sacrifice known as the Feast... (MY NAME IS NOT MIDNIGHT-DYSTOPIAN FANTASY AVAILABLE ON AMAzON IN KINDLE/PRINT! free with KU, .99 kindle edition)
It certainly has been the year for Shakespeare. No sooner was Cumberbatch's gurning gorefest out of the way, than we were on to a Ralph Fiennes version at the Almeida theatre. Once again, we were treated to the trotted out statement 'we've made his back look just like the real Richard's.'
Although not as alien-grotesque as the ludicrous prosthetic in Hollow Crown, the Almeida production also did NOT show his back 'as it was';in both recent version the curvature was on the WRONG SIDE OF THE BODY, the left instead of the right, following the tale of Thomas More (and who knows, More's error may have been deliberate...another story!)
The Fiennes version, while I am sure it is brilliantly acted, having seen him play Hamlet, also has new additions of suggested sexual violence, which I find slightly repugnant as that 'charge' is not something ever levelled at RIII. What irritates me most is that the publicists almost seem to be implying that this version is somehow more 'real' because of some added prosthetics and this bit of brand new rapey 'edginess.' Well, if you want it to be more 'real' maybe you should choose an actor the same age as Richard III and not one old enough to be his father...and get rid of the withered arm myth and the limp,both of which are now discredited.
It made me think about how, even today, some seem to still be 'shaming' someone for a physical condition and believing that because old Shaky was correct that Richard had a spinal condition (although this was exaggerated to pantomime proportions for drama's sake!), it means everything else he wrote was also somehow 'true.' Shakespeare was not a historian...he was a playwright for Pete's sake, making drama for his audience! Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall was a brilliant book of the Tudor era...but it's not non-fiction. Same with Shakespeare. Why does that seem hard for some to understand?
I have lost track of how many articles I've seen saying 'Shakespeare was right' since Richard's remains were discovered in 2012. It can make me a bit crazy at times lol.
These articles were all relating to Richard's spine of course. Whether people were being deliberately obtuse or not, I can't say, but I think most of us, being supposedly better educated and more understanding than our forebears, realise that scoliosis and kyphosis are not the same thing. Sure, no one could have really told the difference back in Richard's time, but the difference is this...one could be hidden with clothes, while the other far less likely. One would not have impeded the wearing of armour; the other, with its often forward leaning neck, would have been a real problem.
No contemporary ever mentioned Richard's scoliosis; the first mentions were some years after his death, with Rous, who had seen him, saying 'his right shoulder was higher than the left.' When Richard was a young man of 18, in his first battles, he was called 'a young Hector' in a poem praising the victory of Edward IV and his army. No mention of any deformity or surprise that he could fight so well with an obvious 'disability.'
Anyway, NOT ONE of these 'Shakespeare is Right' features even mentioned any of the glaring historical errors in the Bard's works, preferring to harp on about the infamous spine (as if it was a condition solely exclusive to Richard III, and not a fairly mundane condition.) . No mention of the withered arm or limp (which you would assume would come up as they are so intrinsic to the Shakespearean monster and are wholly fantasy), not the fact that Shakespeare hasn't even got his subject's age correct, having him kill notables in battle when the historical Richard was just an infant. Did baby Richard kill his enemies with his rattle, lol? Likewise, he has him at Mortimer's Cross, where Edward IV saw the Parhelion; again, not possible, since Richard was just a young boy, years away from picking up a sword. In reverse, Shakespeare made Richard's older brother Edmund (killed by Clifford after Wakefield) his junior, almost as if reversing the two brothers. This must be why middle-aged actors (or even older) often end up playing a man who became king at 30 and died at 32....using Shakespeare's chronology he should be at least ten years older than he actually was.
I won't go into a list of other anachronisms in Shakespeare; it's been done before, in more depth than I can give it here.
Next post I will put a list of other myths about Richard III, including modern ones, that have just popped up since he was found. It certainly shows how tales DO grow in the telling!
One week kindle countdown sale on the second (but standalone!) part of my epic novel on King Richard III, which is, ususually for the Ricardian genre, written in first person AND from Richard's point of view. Wherever possible, I have used the content of his actual letters and documents--modernised, of course. Here I cover the final two years of his life--Kingship to death. The 'famous' events are covered here-- the sudden appearance and rise of Buckingham, Stillington's revelations, the mystery of the princes, the death of Edward of Middleham and Queen Anne, the Elizabeth of York rumours, and Bosworth itself. As before in part 1 other lesser dealt with situations are described, and I have tried to inject a little mild humour amidst all the gravity--such as the visit by the Silesian knight Von Popelau (I have them get drunk.) The final scenes of Bosworth are probably the most up-to-date fictional account of Richard's last moments. A good foil to some of the Shakespearean stuff floating around recently--a Richard who is not the psycho of Hollow Crown nor yet some kind of ever-solemn cardboard 'saint.' A real person, neither all goodness and light nor some kind of ultimate evil.... https://www.amazon.com/Richard-Plantagenet-Book-Two-Loyaulte-ebook/dp/B01ESBD2GA
Shakespeare's Richard III has given people a lot of what they know (or think they know) about the last Plantagenet King. (In fact the play may have been based on Shakespeare's contemporary Robert Cecil as much as Richard.) Of course more recent books and organisations have tried to redress the balance...while the play continues on as it always has, providing entertainment. (It was never meant to be history!)
I have no real problems with Shaky's classic play, regarding it as what it is--fiction and partial fantasy.
However I was less than enamoured to see the recent pictures from the Benedict Cumberbatch Hollow Crown version, which are meant to depict Richard III's back.
Richard did of course have scoliosis, a sideways curvature. He was 'fortunate' enough that it was a large C curve that missed his internal organs and left his neck and lower spine straight, resulting in a normally placed head and straight hips. The only mention of his appearance was a 'raised right shoulder', hardly something significant or even that unusual; medieval archers for instance often had unequal shoulders from drawing the bow constantly.
However, this new production is filled with grotesque prosthetics that look like they could have come from Alien! I have never seen anyone's scoliosis look anything like that and yes, and I know several people including family who have significant scoliosis. A bit of a kick in the teeth for anyone who suffers a spinal problem and more than a bit insensitive. It's not as if it's a disorder suffered only by one 15th century King! About 4 in a thousand people have it to some degree including athlete Usain Bolt, actress Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy), Princes Eugenie, Elizabeth Taylor and Kurt Cobain. It is almost always able to be concealed by clothing. It is not a 'hunchback' (a term I hate as it is as disrespectful as 'cripple' etc etc) which is another condition called kyphosis.
Benedict is supposed to be a distant descendant of Richard's family and had a rather prominent place at the reinterment where he read out a poem. That actually makes me feel sad, that he now is participating in what promises to be an even more grotesque and overblown version of Shakespeare, that takes the calumnies already heaped on Richard and intensifies them tenfold.
I know actors need jobs, lol, and they only have limited say on the ins and outs of their character, but he was apparently insistant on keeping his anachronistic and rather silly looking modern hair cut for the later part of the show (as he didn't like himself with long hair-hey, I though he was playing a character, not himself) , while evidently not worrying about having some gruesome looking prosthetics lumped on his back. Strange.
Maybe the production should donate some money to a scoliosis charity; certain it seems as if research and understanding is in short supply here....
I, RICHARD PLANTAGENET :LOYAULTE ME LIE My latest novel about Richard III, written in first person for Richard's point of view. Combined with its prequel, this is probably the second or third longest novel ever written on Richard's life, and has the most recent information--ie regarding the battle of Bosworth and Richard's last moments.
In writing it, I tried to have a well rounded character, neither the psycho Shakespearean version or a glum, solemn 'saintly' figure who seemed to have never had even one iota of happiness or enjoyment. I also tried to include incidents and minor events that have been generally skipped over by other authors as they aim for the big denoument.
My strong point in my writing has always been in creating a sense of 'place', of people in their landscape, and it was a real pleasure to a history buff like me to research how various buildings no longer extant may have appeared in Richard's day.
The new book has been selling steadily since release and has been between 6-25 in the biographical historical fiction category.
Part 1 I, RICHARD PLANTAGENET-TANTE LE DESIREE (about Richard as Duke of Gloucester) has continued to sell strongly too!
Books are presently in kindle on Amazon, and print versions are just beginning to appear on the various Amazon sites.
#RichardIII #plantagenets #historicalfiction #warsoftheroses. #Bosworth
My author page on Amazon.com.
Please look to see my various stories, long and short.
STONEHENGE/PREHISTORY : STONE LORD and MOON LORD--novels set in the era of Stonehenge.
GODS OF STONEHENGE-non fiction, mythology, anthropology
I, RICHARD PLANTAGENET, parts 1 and 2. Epic novel for those who like Sharon Penman, Rosemary Hawley Jarman etc. Not Shakesapare's monster but not a sullen 'saint' either. Bawdy, bloody, lighter account of the Wars of the Roses
SACRED KING- historical fantasy about Richard III's last days, the Afterlife and his return in Leicester
WHITE ROSES, GOLDEN SUNNES. Collection of short stories covering Richard's life from birth onwards