I am a former librarian and current history teacher who read your first novel literally without putting it down. I was from a small town in Arkansas, US, and had to rent your book through the public library in order to have it for our readers. I just purchased all four of your Oathsworn Series as a January birthday gift to myself.
I have told everyone I know about you and your work.
I am surprised you are not more widely known in the States. Your research and attention to detail are evident!
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Thanks for all of your hard work — I will be reading your next series soon. I love hearing about where my books have reached. It amazes me just how far they travel and the diverse people who take the time and trouble to let me know how they enjoyed them. Thanks - and happy birthday! I am an archaeo-osteologist, an old bone person, as I'm sure you understand without the translation. My initial training is in human osteology, but since the burials I was studying included horses, I broadened out to include zooarchaeology.
I'm currently working on a project on horse burial, sacrifice and ritual in 1st millennium AD Britain. I've read Bede, Saxo Grammaticus good fun if you haven't read him and bits and pieces from other sagas and chronicles. If there's any chance you could give me any of your references for your material, I'd be very grateful, particularly about horse-fighting. Good of you to take the time to let me know you are enjoying the books - and aren't too put off by the inevitable errors that creep in, since I am neither a bone-kicker nor a historian but a bit of both.
Chapter 29 of Gretti's saga tells of a horse fight at Langafit. The story describes Grettir holding his stallion back by the tail during a fight while goading him with a stick. His opponent, Oddur, jabbed at Grettir with his stick during the horse fight. Later, Grettir jabbed Oddur so hard that Oddur and his horse fell into the river. Hope this helps. I have just finished reading The Lion Wakes. I enjoyed it and I'm looking forward to the next book. One point that amused me no end was the cover: did you realise you have Orlando Bloom from the Siege of Jersualem in the film Kingdom of Heaven on the front?
I'm going to give your Viking books a read next. Glad you enjoyed it - hope you like the Viking ones as much. I like the new cover… and if it looks a bit like a scene from KoH, all well and good for me! I have just finished reading your excellent first novel. It is one of the best depictions of the 10th century I have read. I have studied medieval history and can find no fault in your historical background, except that I wonder how many warbands would have kept going on such short commons as the Oathsworn.
After all, at the end of the day it was about the gold in your armpit, as you would put it. Your description of the way shields were used, with a leather strap over the shoulder as well as the handle behind the boss, is intriguing. Also your description of the use of outrigger oars is the first I have read, anywhere.
But you seem to have read all of the Eddas and sagas so I am going to take your word on those details. I look forward to reading more of Orm Shorthand's adventures. High praise indeed and thank you for it - Cecilia Holland has been a favourite of mine since The Firedrake and Rakossy. As to the warbands - you are correct. Usually, a leader of a shipload of such men would be ousted if he did not constantly feed his men with plunder, but that's the difference between the casual seasonal raider and the ones who took the hard journey down from Kiev to Byzantium.
Beset by dangers on all sides, they had to be sure of each other and so they took binding oaths - they were all called 'oathsworn' - varjazi, - which was turned into varangii by the Greeks and comes down to us as Varangian. The use of the shield is practical archaeology - you try fighting in a shieldwall for a long time and enjoy, in the moments when you can step out of the fighting, the relief to let the strap take the weight if only for a minute.
The handle behind the boss is the only way to hold it, though so many folk think it is those straps you slip your arm through. Which would not permit you to let it go, or punch with it, or scythe someone with the edge As for the outriggers - that, I confess, is a modern theory which struck me as practical.
It has been done, though on smaller boats. I think I may have read the series back to front. I have just read The Prow Beast. Only by chance when browsing through a bookshop did I come across it and it took my interest. I've only just found out that it is part of four. I will be now investing in the other three books. It was a most enjoyable read.
You have quite a talent. Many thanks for entertaining me with such a fascinating novel. I wish you good luck with future novels. Thanks for that. Hope you enjoy the others, even back to front. Look out for next September, when you can get the further adventures of little Crowbone when he has grown a bit! It was a real pleasure to meet you at the Lanark festival. My good wife has plastered the photos on that Facebook thing.
What a surprise to meet a man who is down-to-earth and shares a passion for history and has a great talent. Iwas wondering if your publishers will ever release Crowbone? Good to meet you, too - Lanark is always a great venue, with lots to see and do.
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As for Crowbone - it will be published in , I'm glad to say, and more information will appear on this website in the coming months Just a line to say how much I enjoy your books. Excellent page turners, read all to quickly by me in long bum-numbing sessions. What I really enjoy is your use of descriptive similes and metaphors.
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As a Welshman, Cardiff, I was happy to read of the Welsh bowmen. Yes, the original Celts were dark and swarthy and of short stature. However, Due to raids and trade amongst Irish and Dane Many along the coast are fair Anglo of face, blue of eye and long in bone.
More especially with all who live near harbour or coast have a hard "A"to the tongue. I was reminded of the sheer hell and fear of close quarter combat when taking part in the siege of Wells Cathedral. Lying on my back looking up through the cross grill of my helmet against the blue of the summer sky, I became aware of the same sounds that I would have heard if it had been for real.
Horses whinnying in panic. Cannon shot and musket fire. Clash of steel swords and sabres. The yelling and shrieking of men.