New Pre-order! What, already? Yes!

But it’s only been a week since “The Shieldmaiden’s Pride” Release!

Sure, I hear you. However! The writing on “The Shieldmaiden’s Honour” has been going so well – so far – that I can already announce the pre-order going live today, as an Amazon exclusive. The tentative release date is December, which should give me plenty of time to polish the manuscript, but I may be able to launch it even sooner than that.

So head over to Amazon and click that Pre-order button!

All is not well in Britannia Prima.

Though Princess Madron had helped her husband Honorius defeat the four-year-long revolt, and was blessed with a second child – a son – dark clouds are still gathering over the Dux’s throne. The rebellious nobles remain unplacated, the borders are still aflame, and a new menace of the Gewisse Saxons threatens the lines of trade and communication with the rest of Britannia.

Worse still, the old Dux Ambrosius is dying. Before he leaves this mortal world, he wants to ensure his legacy, and secure the inheritance of his son, Honorius – and the newly-born grandson – against the rebels and barbarians.To this end, he agrees to an alliance with the Bishop of Lindocoln on the eastern coast – a coast ravaged by a mysterious, newly arrived pirate fleet.

Madron joins her husband and his warriors on a expedition to aid the Bishop – but as she ventures into the inhospitable marshes around Lindocoln, she’s about to discover a conspiracy of vast proportions, stretching far beyond the Narrow Sea, all the way to the Imperial Gaul and Frankia.

Return to the Britannia of the Arthurian Age, and travel to Frankia of the Merovingians, in this new adventure in the best-selling The Song of Britain saga – second book of the The Song of Madron.

The Shieldmaiden’s Pride – Release Day!

The third trilogy in the Song of Britannia saga – Madron’s story starts here!

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!

I admit I’m a bit worried about how this one will be received. It’s my first time writing from a woman’s POV – never an easy task for a male writer – and it’s the first book in the saga that is less focused on war and battles – though there still are some! – and more on a kind of detective, introspective work, a sort of Dark Age-Noir story. We’ll see how it goes – too late to stop now, I’ve already got half of the next book plotted out! I like it – hope you will too!

– James Calbraith

The Shieldmaiden’s Pride – locations

It’s two weeks until release of “The Shieldmaiden’s Pride” – the adventures of a young half-Iute girl in eastern Britannia at the fall of the Empire… It’s been a while since I spent such a significant amount of story time in Londin and its immediate neighbourhood. All the familiar places and faces are coming back – some, perhaps, for the last time…? But with so much focus on Britannia Maxima, I can dive into this part of the island in more detail, and visit some regions that until now have only been mentioned in passing.

WERLAM – Verulamium, St. Albans, Hertfordshire

The capital of Catuvellauni, and a city which at times wished to rival Londinium for primacy over the entire province. It grew to renewed prominence when relics of St Alban were ‘found’ here by Germanus of Auxerre, and the modern town grew around the mighty cathedral that holds them.

DORCIC – Dorchester-on-Thames, Oxfordshire

A tentative name, one of the few proposed for the fortified town guarding an important crossing on the upper Thames, future Dorchester’s main claim to fame is that it’s purported to be the original settlement of the Gewisse tribe, who would later come to rule Wessex, and eventually all of England. It boasts some of the earliest Saxon settlement remains outside the coastal areas.

SPINIS – Speen, Berkshire

Now a tiny village in Berkshire, it was once the place where the Ermine Way, the main highway from Corinium to Londinium, met the road from Aquae Sulis.

DUROLIPONS, DUROBRIWA, DUROWIGUT – Duroliponte, Durobrivae, Durovigutum – Water Newton, Cambrige, Godmanchester

A confusingly similarly named cluster of settlements in what is now Cambridgeshire, strewn along the road to Lincoln astride the borders of Britannia Maxima and Britannia Secunda.

BELGIAN WENTA – Venta Belgarum, Winchester

Once a capital of the Belgian civitas, it suffered severe decline after the end fo Roman rule – only to be rebuilt as the capital of Wessex, and the heart of Anglo-Saxon England, centuries later.

CLAWSENT – Clausentium, Southampton

We last saw Clawsent when young Ash visited it searching allies against Aelle, in the Saxon Might. It hasn’t changed much since then – still a backwater harbour, dreaming of its ancient glories. It will remain thus until the Saxons build a new market town of Hamtun, on the other side of the estuary – later renamed Southhampton.

LEMAN – Portus Lemanis, Lympne

A Saxon Shore fort, a navy base, and the second largest harbour of ancient Kent after Dover, though the current village of Lympne has little in common with its predecessor except the name.

CORIN, GLEWA, SULIAN WATERS – Corinium, Glevum, Aquae Sulis – Cirencester, Gloucester, Bath

The three great cities of Western Britannia, surviving the longest against the Saxon onslaught of later centuries. We know they were sometimes grouped together as one powerful cluster, since they are recorded to have all been lost to Ceawlin’s West Saxons after the Battle of Dyrham in 577.

The Villas of Song of Britain

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

The one that started it all – the Beddington Park villa, near which I lived for a few years in London, and which inspired me to start writing The Saxon Spears.

QUINTUS NATALIUS’s VILLA – Crofton, Orpington

Ten miles due east from Ariminum, a crumbling villa belonging to Pascent’s neighbour, Quintus Natalius – where Ash and Eadgith last saw each other before parting ways for years.

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

Though not visited in the story itself, Publian’s house – and its Homeric mosaic – plays a crucial part in the plot.

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.

The Song of Madron, Book One – Cover Reveal

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.

Christmas Gifts – New Release, Promo and more!

The Crown of the Iutes” release – ebook and paperback

The Crown of the Iutes cover

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.

TODAY AND TOMORROW ONLY: 99p in UK, CA, AUS and IN


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 🙂


Oh, and DON’T FORGET – “The Saxon Spears” is now AVAILABLE AS AUDIOBOOK on AUDIBLE AMAZON – and ACX! FREE with an Audible Trial!

News, news, news (aka, I’ve been working)!

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!

The Song of the Tides – locations

Tomorrow is release day of the Song of Octa novella – or Book “5.5” of the Song of Britain – “The Song of the Tides“. The entire story takes place in Armorica – today’s Brittany.

LAUREA – Ile de Brehat

Aerial view of the island of Bréhat in Brittany
A sparsely inhabited island in antiquity, just off the northern coast of Brittany. Other than as the place of disembarkation of several legendary saints arriving in Armorica, there is little mention of it before the Middle Ages.

WORGIUM – Vorgium, Carhaix-Plouguer

Centre d'interprétation virtuel de Vorgium
Capital of the Osismes, and an important cross-road town in Western Brittany. In its heyday, the largest city in all of Armorica. Its modern name comes from “Caer Ahes” – the Fortress of Ahes.

GESOCRIBATE – Douarnenez

Remains of an ancient Garum factory, from Gallo-Roman peri… | Flickr
Gesocribate is only mentioned in Tabula Peutingeriana, as the last stop on the road from Vorgium. Though many historians identify it with the city of Brest, there is also possibility that it refers to the harbour of Douarnenez, famed for its garum factories, as seen above.

CAIR INIS – Ile Tristan

Douarnenez. Un exercice incendie en cours sur l'Île Tristan -  Brest.maville.com
A small tidal island in the bay of Douarnenez. Inhabited since ancient times, long associated with the legend of Sunken City of Ys, and the romance of Tristan and Iseult. It is said that the tomb of the two lovers is somewhere on the island.