Welcome to my blog, Elizabeth. You are my first ever guest author so please, come in, sit down and make yourself at home.
Congratulations on your recent release WARRIOR’S SURRENDER! I loved your first published novel MOONSTONE OBSESSION—set in Georgian England, and post-revolutionary France. However, WARRIOR’S SURRENDER, is set in medieval England. What inspired you to write about such a different period of history?
Believe it or not, there is a connection between the two!
When I was researching Enlightenment philosophy to get a better understanding of the political and philosophical underpinnings of the French Revolution and its aftermath, I learned that belief that people in the Medieval world thought the world was flat was a myth that was begun in the early 1800s – when there strong anti-Catholic church sentiment which was fostered in universities from the French Revolution onwards.
That had me thinking, what else do we believe about the Medieval period that is false? The more I started reading about the period, the most I appreciated that it was actually a vibrant, inventive and stimulating time!
Your attention to detail and the historical accuracy in your books is impressive, Elizabeth. I also love the way you effortlessly weave historical facts into the fabric of your story without overwhelming the reader. Would you like to share a particular aspect of early medieval history that you incorporated into WARRIOR’S SURRENDER?
One of the fun and most demanding parts of writing Warrior’s Surrender was accurately depicting a trial by combat scene which occurs at the climax of the book.
Fortunately, just as Warrior’s Surrender was beginning to form in my mind, I happened across a documentary by National Geographic that took a look at the works of a medieval German fightmaster by the name of Talhoffer, who in 1459 wrote an illustrated book on effective fight techniques and these were re-enacted by stunt men. It was fascinating stuff.
For instance, if you are unarmed (apart from your sword) and were ambushed by a fully armoured man, you might think you were toast.
All of the sword is designed to be used as a weapon. As you can see from this image here…
The unamoured man is using the pommel of his sword as a weapon. Swung with enough power, it would give someone a pounding headache at the very least! At the worst, a depressed skull fracture.
Medieval swords were not sharp all the way to the blade. The steel was quite dull close to the hilt, which means you could use the sword like a dagger in close quarters combat.
Trial by combat was a method of Germanic law to settle accusations in the absence of witnesses or a confession in which two parties in dispute fought in single combat; the winner of the fight was proclaimed to be right. In essence, it was a judicially sanctioned duel. It remained in use throughout the European Middle Ages, gradually disappearing in the course of the 16th century. Wager of battle, as the trial by combat was called in English, appears to have been introduced into the common law of the Kingdom of England following the Norman conquest and remained in use for the duration of the High and Late Middle Ages.
Strange but true – women could elect to have a trial by combat. Talhoffer describes it here:
Da Statt Wie Man vnd Frowen / mit ainander kempffen soellen vnd / stand hie In dem anfanng.?Da statt die frow / fry vnd wyl schlahen vnd / hatt ain stain In dem Sleer / wigt vier oder finf pfund. ?So statt er In der / gruben bis an die / waichin vnd ist / der kold so lang / als Ir der Schleeer / von der hand.
Here is how a man and woman should fight each other, and this is how they begin. Here the woman stands free and wishes to strike; she has in the cloth a stone that weighs four or five pounds. He stands in a hole up to his waist, and his club is as long as her sling.
And this illustration particularly:
Hie hatt Sie ain schlag / volbracht. ?Nun hatt er den schlag versetzt / vnd gefangen vnd wyl Sie zu / Im ziehen vnd noetten.
Here she has struck a blow. Now he has deflected the blow and caught it, and wishes to pull her to him and subdue her.
Fascinating stuff, Elizabeth! Now I think it’s time for a completely frivolous question! The Norman hero of WARRIOR’S SURRENDER, Baron Sebastian de la Croix and your heroine, the Saxon, Lady Alfreya, are both very strong characters. If your book was made into a movie, who would you love to cast in their respective roles?
I love this question! I do have a fantasy cast and that is Ian Somerhalder as Sebastian and Julianne Hough as Lady Alfreya
Five quick hot-seat questions. Choose your favourite…
- Tea or coffee?
- Coffee first up in the morning and a cup of tea last thing before bed.
- French fries or chocolate?
- Oooh chocolate! Definitely chocolate – especially dark chocolate.
- Red or white wine?
- Both! It’s mostly red wine, but there is nothing like a glass of chilled crisp white on a hot summer’s afternoon.
- Beach or mountain retreat?
- Mountain for me!
- Mr. Darcy (Colin Firth or Matthew MacFadyen) or James Bond (Daniel Craig of course)?
- Daniel Craig, he has a slightly ‘bastard’ edge which I love.
About Warrior’s Surrender:
A shared secret from their past could destroy their future…
Northumbria, 1077. In the years following William the Conqueror’s harrying of the North, Lady Alfreya of Tyrswick returns to her family home after seven years in exile. But instead of returning victorious as her dead father had promised, she returns defeated by Baron Sebastian de la Croix, the Norman who rules her lands.
To save her gravely ill brother’s life, Alfreya offers herself hostage to her enemy. As Alfreya gets to know her new husband, she finds he’s not the monster she feared, and their marriage of convenience soon becomes a bond of passion. But Sebastian is a man with a secret—one that could destroy him.
As a series of brutal murders haunt their nights, the man who betrayed Alfreya’s father returns claiming to be her betrothed. He has learned Sebastian’s secret and will use it to further his own ambition—using Sebastian’s own family—which will destroy Sebastian and mark him a traitor, and plunge an unprepared England into war with the Scots…
Excerpt from Warrior’s Surrender:
Frey suppressed a scream as she watched her husband duck and the blade scraped noisily along the edge of his helmet.
Sebastian dropped his own shield, pivoted, and answered with an upward-angled drive that missed his opponent’s thigh by a finger’s width.
Talbot sat bolt upright and turned back to Duncan.
“Did you see that? The baron’s helmet shifted; the blow must have sliced the leather chin strap.”
Duncan glared at Talbot and pointedly nodded at Frey. The young knight murmured his apologies, which Frey acknowledged with a distracted nod.
The absence of shields spurred both men on. Attacks and answering blows increased in pace.
Drefan concentrated his attack with left and right broad swipes now centered at Sebastian’s head. On a return swing, Sebastian swept his blade upwards, opening a gash along the length of Drefan’s right forearm. Red rivulets seeped through the tunic where flesh was exposed.
Drefan dropped his sword and clutched at his arm. Sebastian held his sword at the ready, waiting for his opponent’s next decision. Drefan bent at the waist, gasping from the long exertion and the pain of his wound.
“End this now!” Sebastian told him, loud enough for the crowd to hear. “Call craven and it will be over.”
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