“The Shieldmaiden’s Pride” – Book One of the new trilogy, The Song of Madron – is now in the final editing and proofreading stages, with the release scheduled for July 1st – but I can’t wait to show off the maps that will be in the book. Keen-eyed readers will recognise I used one of the earliest maps from Saxon Might as base for this one, but with added detail and some changes in political geography in the 25 years since the period of that book.
In “The Shieldmaiden’s Pride”, the story returns to mainland Britain, as seen by the natives of this land. The characters journey through the island, from hillfort to fortress, from town to villa – so it’s a good moment to run through some of the real-life villas of Roman Britain that have popped up throughout the series so far, and that will appear in the next book.
THE SAXON SPEARS:
ARIMINUM – Beddington Park, London
QUINTUS NATALIUS’s VILLA – Crofton, Orpington
THE SAXON KNIVES:
WORTIMER’S VILLA IN ROBRIWIS – Cobham Park, Kent
Rhedwyn ruled a settlement of Iutes and Britons here for a while, when the villa‘s grounds were confiscated during Wortimer’s brief exile.
CATUAR’S VILLA IN NEW PORT – Brighton, Sussex
A small villa to which the Regin Comes moved from his palace in Bignor as his wealth and importance diminished. Later, Rex Aelle took it for residence, when setting up the South Saxon capital in New Port.
THE SAXON MIGHT:
EADGITH’S VILLA – Newport, Isle of Wight
The half-ruined villa on Wecta, from which Eadgith ruled the small Iute colony.
THE CROWN OF THE IUTES:
MUTUANTON VILLA – Barcombe Mills, Sussex
The white-washed palace on the hill near Mutuanton, where Aelle kept the Briton nobles hostage.
MUTUANTON ISLAND VILLA – Beddingham Sussex
The ruined villa in the marshes, where the Saxon force kept in check the Briton army on the hill fort.
THE SHIELDMAIDEN’S PRIDE:
SOUTH SHORE VILLA – Southwark, London
Recently discovered near the London Bridge, I used this lavish mansio as basis for the South Shore ‘entertainment’ villa.
PUBLIAN’S VILLA – Rutland, near Peterborough
DORCIC PRAETOR’S VILLA – Wittenham Clumps, Dorchester-on-Thames
Another villa only mentioned in the story – the Praetor of Dorcic prefers to live here, in the remains of a hill fort across the river from the town he governs.
When I first started jotting down plot ideas for this book, the main event in the news was the refugee problem on the Polish border, so I set up some of the plot around refugees fleeing from a distant conflict. Little could I suspect that by the time I start writing the manuscript, the crisis will be replaced by an actual *war*, and a refugee catastrophe of proportions unseen since the 2nd World War…
It’s not an easy time to write any book, but perhaps especially one that is so distant from what’s happening around us. Escapism is difficult when reality is chasing you down, pins you to the ground and demands to be heard from. When checking Twitter and news sites replaces all other activity. Still, work can’t wait. Books won’t write themselves, despite the progress in artificial intelligence!
So, here it is. Only a month behind schedule, but going strong. The first novel in the new trilogy, the Song of Madron. A lot is going to be different this time – not least of which is an attempt to write a female heroine. I’m happy with how it’s going so far – hope you’ll all be happy too, when it’s finished!
Madron knows she’s destined to fame and renown. In her veins runs the blood of Wortigern, the great Dux of the eastern Britons, and of Eobba, the mighty warchief of the Iutes. Wars have been fought for her hand. Her union with the western Dux’s son brought peace to the divided land. Their child is the hope for the entire nation’s future.
But there are many who don’t want to see that future. Bands of paid warriors strike at her and her husband, forcing Madron to seek safety in the place she left many years ago, but still calls home: the greatest city in Britannia, Londin. Here, she will stumble upon an even greater conspiracy – one that threatens not only her family, but to engulf the whole island in flames of a new war.
And her only clue to discover who’s behind it all is one half of a golden solidus…
A new heroine – a new band of comrades – a new mystery – and a whole brand new story in the best-selling series The Song Of Britain – The Song of Madron!
These are not easy times, for anyone. But somehow, between bouts of plague, frantically refreshing Twitter for news of war, and general mental chaos of it all, I’m managing to keep only a month behind shedule for the next book. I’m hoping to put a pre-order in motion in a week or so – so it’s time to reveal the next book’s cover and title.
It’s a beginning of a new trilogy, the third in the saga, and a different type of story this time, which is reflected in a slightly different title style. Think more Sharpe than Uhtred; more secret missions, conspiracies and subterfuge than battles and grand campaigns… Can I pull it off? Who knows, but I’ll give it a damn good try!
Introducing: The Song of Madron, Book One: The Shieldmaiden’s Pride
(photo credit: Yuriy Seleznev, via Shutterstock)
Keep safe everyone – and long live free Ukraine.
“The Crown of the Iutes” release – ebook and paperback
A thrilling conclusion to the Song of Octa trilogy!
In the ten years since Octa’s return from Wened, the Kingdom of Iutes has thrived, under the wise and peaceful rule of his father, Rex Aeric. But now, new threats are encroaching from every direction. The Saxon pirates renewed their raids with unprecedented ferocity. Rex Aelle‘s troops are gathering at the border in secret, there is rumour of a deadly plague in Gaul, just across the Narrow Sea… And an ambitious Londin Councillor, Riotham, plots to revive the title of the Dux and subjugate Wortigern’s old domain under his rule.
It will take all of Octa’s strength and wits to save his father’s kingdom from all of these dangers at once… But not before a new adventure sends him back to Gaul, where he will first have to save the Empire itself from a barbarian conspiracy – once again!
Available from TODAY, exclusive to Amazon, as ebook and paperback.
“The Blood of the Iutes” Christmas Promo 0.99p
– A NEW GENERATION OF HEROES. THE DARK AGES SAGA CONTINUES. –
It’s not easy being the son of a king.Octa never wanted to be a mighty warrior, or a great ruler of men – he’d much rather be a clerk or a priest – but he’s resigned to his destiny as the son and heir of the first king of the Iutes. There is only one problem: under his father’s peaceful reign, there aren’t many opportunities for a youth to gain experience in combat and leadership.So when a Roman legate arrives in Britannia, for the first time in a generation, bringing dire news from across the Narrow Sea and requesting help in the coming clash between rival Imperators, Octa jumps on the chance to prove himself before his friends and his father – no matter the consequences…What follows is an epic journey across Frankia and Gaul in the twilight of the Empire, filled with battles, intrigues and romance.
The Song of the Tides – paperback
And lastly, we’ve added The Song of the Tides paperback version – it’s only a small novella, so it’s a small booklet. I haven’t got the author copy yet, but I’m sure it’ll look neat on the shelf next to the larger books in the series 🙂
In 10 days, on Christmas Eve, “The Crown of Iutes” will be released on Kindle. It is time to reveal the main map for the book: Northern Gaul, comprising of the Domain of Gauls, under Syagrius, and the lands of its neighbours – the Franks, the Armoricans and the Goths of Tolosa.
Yes, it’s that time of the pre-publishing cycle when I write a post about all the locations used in the upcoming book, The Crown of the Iutes.
A large part of the Crown takes place in the already familiar corner of Britannia – Londin, Cantiaca, the land of the Regins. But the central story takes our heroes, and the reader, back to Gaul – and to the new, to them, lands beyond the River Liger (Loire).
AURELIANUM – Cenabum, Orléans
PICTAWIS – Limonum, Poitiers
CAINO – Cainon, Chinon
Nothing remains of the Roman castrum built on the shores of the Vienne, where now a medieval castle rises upon the grey cliffs. In 5th century, Mexme, a disciple of St Martin’s, established a hermitage here, which soon expanded into a monastery around which the new town grew.
ANDECAWA – Iuliomagus, Angers
NAMNETES – Condevincum, Nantes
ALET – Aletum, St. Malo
DOL – Deols, Chateauroux
An ancient ford, with a small village and a temple attached, would have likely remained anonymous until the establishment of the medieval abbey if it wasn’t for the battle fought between Euric’s Goths and Riothamus’s “Britons”, part of the tumultuous events of 470-472, the final Roman attempt of securing Gaul.
BREDANNA – La Brenne Marsh
For most of the last half-year I’ve been mostly working on patiently carving out the main draft of the Crown of the Iutes – which has already grown into the longest and most complex book I’ve ever written, as befits the conclusion of Ash and Octa’s long stories. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have other important news coming up.
1. I HAVE AN AUDIOBOOK OUT!
This is the first time ever I released a professional audio version of any of my books, thanks to ACX and British actor/comedian/voice over artist David Lane Pusey. It’s super exciting, and a little bit eerie, to hear my characters actually speak, and he’s done such a great job on the book! (wait till you hear Eirik!)
The audiobook is for the Saxon Spears only for now. Obviously, it’s a lot of work and effort on everyone’s part, so I will probably be releasing these not more often than once a year, assuming the first one pays off, that is. The entire first book is over 13 hours long!
I have some promo codes for free downloads, if anyone wants to review it – just send me a note.
Also, here are the affiliated links to Audible versions if you want to buy/download/use a credit on my and David’s audiobook:
2. HARDCOVERS ARE COMING!
Amazon KDP now allows indie publishers to produce hardcovers! And it’s fairly easy if you’ve already done a paerback. For now, you can buy a hardcover version of the Saxon Spears, but more will be coming over the next few week, and by the time the Crown comes out, all six books should have hardcover versions for your library. I haven’t seen the hardcover copy myself yet – it’s in the post – hope it’s as well printed as the paperback!
Incidentally, this means the Saxon Spears is now my first ever book to be released in all four formats!
3. IN OTHER NEWS…
- “The Shadow of Black Wings” has been translated into Spanish by Sebastian Esparza. For now it’s available on Nook, Kobo and iTunes, Kindle version is coming soon, I’m told. I’ll keep you posted. EDIT: It’s on Amazon NOW.
- “The Crown of the Iutes” is chugging along nicely, but it’s grown so big I may not manage to release it in time. At worst, it will be delayed by a month, though I’ll try my best to avoid it!
- Have you seen the cool new graphics on Amazon pages for Song of Britain? That’s another new promo tool available to writers that I’ve taken full advantage of. Looks very professional now, don’t you think?
That’s all for now – time for me to go back to the word mines!
A simple map this time, for a simple, short story – this is Armorica – today’s Brittany – at the end of the 5th century, just as the old, classic Imperial city names from Tabula Peutingeriana change to common tongue ones, as used in Notitia Dignitatum and later texts.
The Song of the Tides – a Song of Octa novella – is out on pre-order, to be released on August the 1st.