Today I welcome Penny Ingham to my blog with an exclusive excerpt from The Saxon Wolves and a fabulous Guest Post too! I am excited to kick off the tour with Cathy @ What Cathy Read Next and Karen @ Hair Past A Freckle, so please do before to check them out!! This was meant to be a review today but due to my crash last week I have struggled with my reading and Ms Ingham so very kindly gave me content to share with you today – so I wanted to say thank you! <3
So, shall we check out what the book is about?The Saxon Wolves by Penny Ingham
Series: The Saxon Wolves #1
on September 1, 2016
Buy on Amazon UK, Amazon US
Britain 455AD.The Roman Empire has fallen.
As the daughter of a king and a priestess of the sacred grove, Anya’s life in Germania is one of wealth and privilege – until she dares to speak out against the high priest’s barbaric human sacrifices. Her punishment is exile. Forced to leave her homeland, she sails to Britannia, to an island is sliding into chaos and war, as rival kingdoms vie for power. Alone and far from home, Anya must learn to survive amidst the bloodshed, treachery and intrigue of fifth century Britain. Can she find a place to belong - a home, a hearth, a welcome?
This is the first book in the series and I am excited to read this book! So, shall we check out the Guest Post that Penny has written for us today
✮ Guest Post ✮
Researching historical novels
The idea of researching a historical novel can seem a daunting task, but if you’ve chosen a period you’re genuinely interested in, then you should find yourself down a rabbit hole full of boundless, inspirational ideas for both your plot and your characters. Read everything you can get your hands on, and keep on reading until you feel comfortable in your chosen period, until you can walk through its cities or stroll through its countryside and see (and smell and hear ) everything clearly in your mind’s eye.
Of course, history is written by the winners, not the losers. There is bias in every piece of original source material, and in every history book you read – no matter how expert the author. But looking out for the bias and analysing why it’s there, can be a great insight, and a wonderful source of ideas for a novel. When I was researching my first novel, ‘The King’s Daughter’, a story of Aethelflaed, the Lady of the Mercians, I discovered her extraordinary achievements had been largely written out of The Saxon Chronicle. I wondered if her brother, King Edward of Wessex, might have been jealous of his big sister, and this idea became one of the main themes for the novel.
The Saxon Wolves is set in post Roman Britain, a period we still know very little about. Few written records survive, which gave me the opportunity to use my imagination to fill in the gaps. Having said that, archaeology is finally beginning to shed light on the so-called Dark Ages, especially at the spectacular fortress of Tintagel in Cornwall which features in The Saxon Wolves. Long associated with the legend of King Arthur, recent archaeological discoveries have proved there was a high status fortification on the clifftop, at the time a historical Arthur would have been fighting the Saxon invaders.
In my view, nothing can beat the ‘feet on the ground’ research method. Get out there, visit museums, get a feel for the artefacts, and walk the paths your characters trod all those years ago. Today, the wind on the cliff top at Tintagel smells of salt and fish and seaweed, just as it did fifteen hundred years ago. In The Saxon Wolves, Anya also travels to the Roman baths of Aquae Sulis (modern day Bath). Here you can still smell the sulphur in the air and feel the steamy heat of the spring water.
My research for The Saxon Wolves and indeed, for all my historical novels, is very ‘hands on’. I am a member of the Basingstoke Archaeological and Historical Society and have ‘dug’ at sites all over Britain, including Fishbourne Roman Palace and Silchester Roman town. Finding a coin or a piece of pottery which has not been touched by human hands for two thousand years is an inspiring, tangible link to the past.
I also volunteer at Butser Ancient Farm in Hampshire, which specialises in experimental archaeology. Spending a day in their reconstructed Saxon long house is a wonderful source of research and ideas for my novels.
And finally, a word of warning – readers of historical fiction are an erudite lot, and will quickly pick up on any errors you make. The internet may be the marvel of our age, but it can also be a snake pit of fake news. It is worth taking the time to fact-check everything
Wow I love this!! It is so interesting!! Thank you Penny!
Shall we now check out the exclusive excerpt from the book?
✮ Excerpt ✮
Aquae Sulis, kingdom of the Dobunni, Britannia
Rufus Aufidius Maximus, quaestor to Vortigern, high king of the Dobunni, was in a hurry. His rapid footfall echoed like the sound of rain drops upon the high, vaulted roof of the old Roman council chamber. He was an unimpressive man, slightly built with a thin, pointed nose and black, greasy shoulder-length hair. With his hunched shoulders and scuttling gait, he gave the appearance of a frightened rat. Rufus dropped the armful of scrolls onto the long table and tried to catch his breath.
Vortigern eyed him with a look of disdain. ‘You wouldn’t last a heartbeat on a battlefield! You’re wheezing like an old woman.’
Rufus ignored him and began to sort the scrolls so their edges were exactly parallel to the edge of the table.
‘Shall I call the barber, Lord?’ he asked, when he was satisfied the scrolls were all perfectly aligned.
Vortigern ran a hand over his close-cropped stubbly head.
‘What for? He will find no employment here.’
‘To trim your beard perhaps, Lord?’ Rufus suggested hopefully. Vortigern’s coarse features and pock-marked skin were fast disappearing beneath a straggling brown beard flecked with grey.
‘Trim my beard?’ Vortigern mocked. ‘Since when do I primp and preen? I’m a man, not a simpering eunuch!’
Rufus eyed Vortigern thoughtfully. The high king of the Dobunni was now more than forty years old. He was a big man, tall and broad. In his youth he had been an intimidating mass of pure muscle, but over the years his body had softened like a loaf of bread left out in the rain. His huge belly now hung over his breeches, as plump as a cushion beneath the fine purple linen of his tunic.
‘Forgive me, but I thought perhaps, for your betrothed -’ Rufus began.
‘You think too much, Rufus. You always have.’
‘I think for both of us,’ Rufus mused, ‘because you do not think at all.’
He stared fixedly at the unfurled parchment on the table before him. He gave every appearance of reading the neat Latin script, but his mind was elsewhere, dwelling on life’s injustices.
He had known Vortigern his entire life; they had grown up together in Aquae Sulis. Vortigern, and his father and grandfather before him, had held positions of high authority under Roman rule. Just as Rufus, and his father and grandfather before him, had held less influential positions. The words blurred on the parchment as he continued to seethe. His own family were renowned for their honesty and integrity and as such, remained as poor as a landless peasant.
Vortigern’s family on the other hand, were a corrupt, bullying brood, growing rich from receiving payments for court judgements in a plaintiff’s favour and farming out public offices to the highest bidder. As the last Roman tax-collector had withdrawn from the island, Vortigern had remained the elected Governor of Western Britannia. He was extraordinarily wealthy, owning vast tracts of rich agricultural land, and his authority was far reaching.
Rufus had hated Vortigern all his life. Hated him, and envied him and longed to be just like him. Even as a child, Vortigern’s ambition had been plain for all to see. He would always play the king, always wear the hawthorn crown, whilst the other children would always play his men. Childhood led to adulthood and in a world of anarchy and chaos, a charismatic bully with a forceful personality would always make his mark.
Rufus forgot all about his pretext of reading the parchment and stared blankly into space, remembering the day Vortigern had been accepted as the unopposed leader of the Dobunni, simply because there was no-one else with the strength of arms to challenge him. He had stood on the steps of the basilica of Aquae Sulis, arms raised to the crowd as if he was a Christian priest blessing his congregation. They had clapped and cheered and shouted his name, but all Rufus could see was the hawthorn crown of their childhood. Yet again, it sat upon Vortigern’s head.
‘What’s that noise?’ Vortigern asked sharply.
Rufus realised he had been grinding his teeth together.
Hope this has got you all excited and will follow the rest of the tour!!
Until next time xxx
Thank you so much to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the tour invite and the author for a copy of this book in return for my honest and unbiased review