Oraiáphon

I might have just left this story to the reader’s imagination, except three things happened.

Some myths are true

Orpheus with his lute made trees,

and the mountain tops that freeze,

bow themselves when he did sing:

To his music plants and flowers

ever sprung; as sun and showers t

here had made a lasting spring.

Every thing that heard him play,

even the billows of the sea,

hung their heads, and then lay by.

Shakespeare; Henry VIII

Without readers, where would writers be? We are storytellers, and while I like telling my characters’ stories to myself, I prefer telling them to other people. But some of those readers become highly invested in the characters, and want to know more.

The last book of the Empire’s Legacy trilogy ended on an ambiguous note, with an epilogue that makes things clearer (for most readers. Some truly didn’t get it, even then.) But between the end of the last chapter and the brief epilogue is a three-year gap, and some important things happened in that time. I might have just left them to the reader’s imagination, except three things happened.

One was that in beginning the next, related trilogy, I realized there were a couple of major backstory pieces that had to be explained, and two, quite a few of my readers begged to know what happened in those missing years. The third consideration was that I was switching narrators (I write in 1st person), and while readers knew my new MC as a supporting character from the first trilogy, I thought they needed an opportunity to get to know him a bit better.

So I wrote those loyal readers a story that I hope meets their wishes, explains the backstory, and moves the character Sorley from supporting actor to a leading role. It launches February 29th in all markets. Here are the links:

Amazon US

Amazon Canada

Amazon UK

Amazon AU

Second Books are like Second Children

Do me a favour? Pay my second book some attention; it wants to be read.  And its older sibling is free right now, on Amazon, for the Kindle reader or app….so for a minimal price, you can have them both.  Think of it as a kindness. If I know other people are giving them their share of attention, I can focus on gestating the third baby!

I’m the third sibling of three…the baby.  My father was an amateur (and then professional, for a while) photographer.  There are hundreds of pictures of my sister, the oldest. (Remember this was 1948, when black & white film had to be hand-developed.) Hundreds. 

When my brother came along, six years later, there are fewer.  A couple of requisite baby shots, the christening, a few more.  But his presence clearly wasn’t as exciting, didn’t need to be recorded in the same way.

This is fairly typical, from what I’ve seen with the photos and video of my nieces and nephews, too.  The first baby gets a lot of attention; the rest…not as much. (There are even fewer photos of me.)

And that’s pretty much how I’ve been reacting to the publication of my second book, Empire’s Hostage. Yes, I’m pleased to see it in print. I’m doing my part to promote it.  But I lack the ‘look at what I produced!  It’s the best baby ever!’ excitement that first child/book engendered. Don’t get me wrong…I think it’s a fine book, a worthy sequel to the first. I’m proud to have written it. Some of the reviews have blown me away. But it’s the second child. I’m more realistic about its prospects and the work involved in getting in out into the world. And with the first still needing attention, and my mind already pregnant with the third, it’s going to fight for its share of my time. Do me a favour? Pay it some attention; it wants to be read.  And its older sibling is free right now, on Amazon, for the Kindle reader or app….so for a minimal price, you can have them both.  Think of it as a kindness. If I know other people are giving them their share of attention, I can focus on gestating the third baby!

Empire’s Legacy Book One is FREE

For a limited time (Sunday July 23rd to Thursday July 27th), the Kindle edition of Empire’s Daughter, Book I of the Empire’s Legacy series, is FREE on Amazon.

For a limited time (Sunday July 23rd to Thursday July 27th), the Kindle edition of Empire’s Daughter, Book I of the Empire’s Legacy series, is FREE on Amazon.

Empires_Daughter_Cover_for_Kindle

 

“… the world building is quite remarkable and the characters incredibly real. The reader is pulled in by the rich descriptions – the action scenes are brilliantly done, and the romance is unforced. This is a good one.” Rebecca Rafferty

 

 

 

While you’re there, you might want to check out Empire’s Legacy Book II, Empire’s Hostage. It’s not free, but it’s priced as low as Amazon will allow for the Kindle edition.cover ebook under 2MB smaller

Involving, evocative, intelligent—an outstanding historical fantasy.” – Maria Luisa Lang

For some of the background to the Empire’s Legacy series, take a look here.

Empire’s Hostage Now Available

“Involving, evocative, intelligent – an outstanding historical fantasy.” – Maria Luisa Lang

“Involving, evocative, intelligent – an outstanding historical fantasy.” 

Arboretum Press announces the publication of:

Empire’s Hostage

Book 2 of the Empire’s Legacy series.

“Marian delivered a fantastic sequel.”  Cover to Cover

Marian- book cover final

Paperback available from Arboretum Press:  arboretumpress@gmail.com

Canada/USA: $12.95 + $11.00 shipping/handling ($23.95); payment via Paypal or personal cheque

For international rates please contact arboretumpress@gmail.com

Payment via PayPal or personal cheque.

Kindle and paperback editions also available from Amazon.

 

Cover Reveal!

I’m pleased to share with you the cover – back and front – for Empire’s Hostage, again the work of the talented A.J O’Brien (check his own psychological thriller out here.)

Marian- book cover final

‘Hostage’ is currently with its beta-readers and I’ll be making the last changes, copy-edits, etc., in the next few weeks. I’m hoping to release in late June or early July, just in time for summer reading!

I still have a few ARCs available for Kindle or e-pub….and if you haven’t read the first book, Empire’s Daughter, I can provide an e-book of that as well, if you’d like.  Send me a message!

 

What may still lie between the mountains and the sea….

Interested in reading? Send me a message.

 

“…will you face east with me, and bow to that memory, and to what may still lie between the mountains and the sea?” 

Those enigmatic words seal a truce called in the fifteen-month war between the Empire and Linrathe, the country north of the Wall, binding the Emperor Callan, the Teannasach Donnalch, and their people. But in additional surety of peace, the truce requires hostages, children of the leaders. 

Lena is a Guardswoman on the Wall when this peace is negotiated, one of many women who rode north to defend their land. When the General Casyn asks her to take the place of one of his daughters as a hostage, Lena agrees, to learn that she will be sent to a Ti’ach, a house of learning, for the duration of the truce. Here, perhaps, she can learn more about the east, and what its place is in the history of the Empire.

 But not every student welcomes her, and Lena soon learns that the history of both the countries beyond the Wall and her own Empire are more complex, and more intertwined, than she imagines.  When circumstances take her even farther north, into lands of a people unknown to the Empire, all her skills of leadership and self-defense are needed to avert danger to herself, the Empire, and its fragile allegiance with Linrathe…at an ultimate cost beyond her imagining.

Empire’s Hostage, book II in the Empire’s Legacy series, is fast approaching release. It follows Lena, the protagonist of Empire’s Daughterinto a larger world and into greater danger, testing her loyalties once again.

ARCs will be available soon in either e-pub or mobi format.  Interested in reading, rating, and/or reviewing?  Send me a message.

Lena’s World: Sexuality in the Empire. Empire’s Daughter Backgrounder IV

Like most of the cultural structures in Empire’s Daughter, the sexuality is rooted in historical fact, although I do not pretend it is historically accurate.

This is the fourth in an occasional series on the history and geography that lies behind and informs my historical fantasy series, Empire’s Legacy.  Book I, Empire’s Daughter, is available on Amazon: Book II, Empire’s Hostage, will be released around June of 2017.

 

In Lena’s world, the world of the Empire, sexuality is varied and fluid.  This is, I hope, presented simply as part of the background and the culture of this world, but to some extent it is also based on history.

Sexuality is both innate, sexual preferences and gender identity something we are born with (and that do not necessarily conform to the gender identity we are assigned at birth) but the strength of sexuality as a basic human need can also mean that sexuality can be situational.  Men or women deprived of the company of their preferred sexual partners for long periods will seek and find sexual release and comfort where they can.  In the Empire, the structure of the society, where men and women live separately for all but a couple of weeks per year makes situational sexuality a normal and accepted practice in the lives of both men and women.

But of course, there is a wide range of sexual preference within this society, as there is in any, so the partnerships range from the men and women who prefer their own sex: Finn, the young officer; Siane and Dessa, at Tirvan; those who prefer the opposite sex: Tali, whose love for Mar keeps her living alone throughout her life; and those who are more fluid: Lena, the protagonist;  many of the women of the villages, many of the men of the army.  One or two characters may be construed as transgendered: Halle would be one.  My intent was not to define the characters by their sexuality, but let them be whatever they are, incidental, for the most part, to the story.

Where did this come from?  Greek and Roman societies were well known for accepting sexual love among athletes and soldiers of the same sex.  The Oxford Classical Dictionary, paraphrased on Wikipedia, states:

The ancient Greeks did not conceive of sexual orientation as a social identifier as modern Western societies have done. Greek society did not distinguish sexual desire or behavior by the gender of the participants, but rather by the role that each participant played in the sex act. (Oxford Classical Dictionary entry by David M. Halperin, pp.720–723)

The Sacred Band of Thebes was a 4th Century BCE troop of elite soldiers, comprised of 150 pairs of male lovers from the city of Thebes in Greece.  The troop, whose historical existence is accepted by most scholars, given its mention by classical writers such as Plutarch, was destroyed by Philip of Macedon (Alexander the Great’s father) in 338 BCE. Indeed, some military commanders of the classical era believed troops of lovers fought the hardest, because they were defending those whom they loved, not just the state.

Less is known about female same-sex relationships.  The Greek poet Sappho was head of a thiasos, an educational community for girls and young women, where same-sex relationships were part of life. The same may have occurred in Sparta.

Moving forward to the Roman era, many of the same attitudes regarding male to male sex continue, with the exception being within the military. In the Republican period (4th to 1st centuries BCE) soldiers were forbidden, by penalty of death, to have sex with each other, although sex with male slaves appears to have been acceptable. In the Imperial period, this prohibition may have been lifted, as marriage was forbidden to soldiers.

Hadrian, the Roman Emperor from 117 – 138 CE, whose British wall is the model for the

Wall in Empire’s Daughter (and the upcoming sequel Empire’s Hostage) had a lover named Antinous, one, likely, of Hadrian’s ‘harem’ of both male and female lovers.  But when Antinous drowned, Hadrian mourned him publicly, founding the Egyptian city of Antinopolis in the boy’s memory and having him deified, suggesting (strongly) that his attachment to him was deep and serious. In the British Museum’s exhibition marking fifty years since the decriminalization of homosexuality in England and Wales, the heads of Hadrian and Antinous stand side by side, honoring their relationship. (Hadrian’s the one with the beard.)

So, like most of the cultural structures in Empire’s Daughter, the sexuality is rooted in historical fact, although I do not pretend it is historically accurate. I write alternative history, or historical fantasy, (choose your category), not historical fiction!  But I also chose to honor the existence of these relationships in history, because so many books of this type seem to gloss over or totally ignore love that is not heterosexual, and that’s just not the way it was, or is.

For the previous installments in this series, click the links below:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Lena’s World: MidWinter Celebrations (Empire’s Daughter Backgrounder 3)

While religion is a background element in Empire’s Daughter, not a component of the plot, its world would not have felt real to me without including some acknowledgements of how its culture marked the turning points of the year, especially Midwinter.

The Empire is a northern nation, analogous to Britain or northern Europe.  In common with its real-world cultures, Midwinter is a time of celebration.

“…Midwinter’s Eve being a traditional time of fun and feasting. I thought about the games and song and food I would miss tonight in the meeting hall at Tirvan. Even the littlest babies came, and toddlers fell asleep on benches or the floor as the night progressed.”

While religion is a background element in Empire’s Daughter, not a component of the plot, its world would not have felt real to me without including some acknowledgements of how its culture marked the turning points of the year, especially Midwinter.  The darkest days of the year and the rebirth of the sun – far enough north, that’s literally true, as the sun disappears for several weeks – have been marked by cultures around the world: by Jul, or Yule in pre-Christian Germany and Scandinavia; by Saturnalia in Roman culture, and in the cult of the Roman ‘soldier’s god’, Mithras, as the birth of the Unconquered Sun. It is this god that the Emperor Callan addresses when he says “The god of soldiers receive you, my brother, or I will know the reason why when I stand before him myself.”

So, both the women’s villages and the military celebrate Midwinter, although the women’s celebrations have more in common with Jul, and the military’s with Mithraic ritual.  The Empire’s tradition of making major proclamations at Midwinter, however, is based on the later Christmas Courts of the monarchs of England, when many political decisions (including coronations, notably of William the Conqueror) occurred (but not necessarily so formally as at the Emperor’s Winter Camp proclamations).

And here it is December 21st….at home in Tirvan, Lena would be partying at the Meeting Hall, eating and drinking, dancing and singing.  The Jul log, a massive root, would be burning in the hearth, the fire started with a piece of last year’s log.  Some of the women would stay awake until dawn, to greet the newly-born sun.

The military too has its Saturnalia: food and drink, dance and song, which Lena is happy to participate in, but somewhere outside the camp, a more secret ritual is taking place, acknowledging the birth of the soldier’s god. (This is neither mentioned nor described in the book, by the way, as it had no place in the story. But likely both Casyn and Callan are there.  Turlo?  Probably not.  I think he’s out on the hills with Pan, personally.)

Of course, Midwinter is a plot device, in that it is a turning point in the year, and a turning point in the story, for both the Empire and for Lena. The book begins roughly on May 1, May Day, Beltane, traditionally the day when young women can see their future husbands by various divinations (or, in the book, meet the man who will change their lives) and ends at Midwinter and the dawning of a new year.

The land has its rhythms and pacings, its periods of calm and its periods of change, reflected and acknowledged in the rituals and celebrations of pre-Christian northern Europe, which in turn provides the background structure to the action in Empire’s Daughter. Did I set out to do this, consciously?  No.  It seems that my own internal rhythms, which are set far more by the natural world than by the artificial calendar we have imposed upon it, simply insinuated themselves into the writing.  That doesn’t surprise me: so much of what we write comes from places inside us we barely know.

Blessed Yule, Happy Solstice, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Kwanzaa.  (If I’ve left your celebration out, it’s due to me not knowing about it, not a deliberate oversight, and I wish you joy.)

Sunrise photo: By Fabolu (selbst aufgenommen von Fabolu) [GFDL 1.2 (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Freebies and Giveaways!

Empire’s Daughter asks hard questions about gender roles, the personal price of a stable society, and the demands of love and loyalty in a time of war. Download for free on Amazon until Dec 11, or enter the Goodreads giveaway for a paperback.

Empire’s Daughter is the critically-acclaimed first book in my Empire’s Legacy series. Set in a world inspired by Britain after the fall of the Roman Empire, Empire’s Daughter asks hard questions about gender roles, the personal price of a stable society, and the demands of love and loyalty in a time of war.  For a few days (Dec 7 -11) you can download  Empire’s Daughter for free on Empires cover 3Amazon.

If you’d prefer a chance at a paperback, enter the giveaway on Goodreads (Canada, US, UK and Australia only for this one, sorry!)

Lena’s World: Empire’s Daughter Backgrounder part 1

I started writing Empire’s Daughter with nothing more than an image in my mind, an image of a young fisherwoman, a fishing village, and the harbour and hills.

This is the first in an occasional series about the historic and geographic background to my historic fantasy series, Empire’s Legacy.

Lena’s world, in the Empire’s Legacy trilogy, is imaginary, but at the same time it isn’t: it is firmly rooted in the landscape and history of Britain and Northern Europe.  I started writing Empire’s Daughter with nothing more than an image in my mind, an image of a young fisherwoman, a fishing village, and the harbour and hills.  But the picture in my mind wasn’t imaginary: it was Anglesey, Ynys Môn, an island off the coast of Wales.

porth_swtan_or_church_bay_-_geograph-org-uk_-_414251

So, when I picture Tirvan, this is, more or less, what it looks like in my mind.(Remove the modern aspects!)  The fishing harbour would be where the beach is; the village houses close to the harbour (perhaps the cliffs aren’t quite so steep, at least in one area), and the meeting hall, the baths, the forge and the sheep-fields further up the hillsides.

This landscape isn’t unique to Wales; you’ll find similar coastal coves along much of the West Country of England, on both coasts, and throughout Scotland.  And I’ve only been to Anglesey once, but still, it was that landscape that began the book.

And likely influenced its development.  Anglesey was a holy island to the pre-Roman people of Britain, and associated with the resistance of these people to Roman rule, that resistance centred in their priests, the Druids.  In AD 60, the Roman general Paulinus attacked Anglesey, destroying sacred groves and shrines, and in folk memory driving the Druids into the sea. It took a few years (and a few more battles for supremacy within Britain) but by AD 78 Anglesey was firmly under Roman control, the Romans building forts, mines and roads on the island. (At least one road is still in use).

I knew all this, from various courses I’d taken and books I’d read. So, when Anglesey arose in my consciousness as the referent for Tirvan, it brought with it all these Roman associations…which in turn led to me modelling the Empire’s military on that of Rome, and indeed the basic infrastructure of the Empire on that of Britannia (Britain) during its time of Roman rule.

In further installments, I’ll talk about how other aspects of Roman military and non-military life influenced Empire’s Daughter, and where and why it deviates completely from any known history. (That is why I call it historic fantasy; there’s no magic, which the word ‘fantasy’ usually connotes, but it certainly isn’t history! Maybe I should call it ‘imaginary history’!)

Photo: Porth Swtan, by  Graeme Walker [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons