I’m delighted to welcome Charles Moberly and his new book, Try the Leopard’s Mouth to the blog #Thriller #Romance #1970s #BlogTour #TheCoffeePotBookClub

Here’s the blurb

AFRICA. 1970

Briony and Tom, both in their twenties, are very different characters. But opposites attract. In business, as in love, they complement each other.

They buy a farm and discover a rare drug. Tom grows it and Briony markets it. At first, they are oblivious of their responsibilities to the land and its people. But gradually they realise that they have been supporting a racist and colonialist regime.

The onset of the Rhodesian – Zimbabwean War of Independence tears at the couple’s relationship. Misunderstandings arise from their conflicting personalities and from external pressures. Events pull them apart, but also bind them together.

Try the Leopard’s Mouth is a romantic thriller set in Africa. It is also a historical novel, grounded in real events in the period 1970-80.

Buy Links

This title is available to read on #KindleUnlimited.

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Meet the author

Charles Moberly has written three novels to date: The Scrotum Toad, a satirical comedy (Winner of a Chill with a Book Reader Award); The Corncrake, a historical novel set in 1909-10 and 1914-15 (Winner of a Chill with a Book Premier Award).

In The Corncrake, four members of a family share the narration, which passes between them approximately 300 times throughout – this powerful technique allows the reader to enter the minds of the characters as they react to events, so that love, conflicts and misunderstandings are conveyed immediately. This is only possible if the voices of the characters are so strong that they are identifiable the moment they speak. 

Try the Leopard’s Mouth is a romantic thriller with a firm historical base. 

Charles lived and worked in Africa for two years, which explains why two of his novels are set there.

In his writing, he loves tension and how cultural differences can tear people apart, yet unite them through a common humanity. He believes that no two characters should ever have the same voice. He writes in the vernacular of the time and place, using slang where appropriate. 

He now lives in the UK.

Connect with the author

WebsiteAmazon Author PageGoodreads

Follow the Try the Leopard’s Mouth blog tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club

Today, I’m absolutely delighted to welcome Amy Maroney and her new novel, The Queen’s Scribe to the blog, and to share a fabulous post about Queen Charlotte of Cyprus #HistoricalFiction #TheQueensScribe #RoyalHistory #BlogTour #TheCoffeePotBookClub

I’m delighted to welcome Amy Maroney to the blog. I always love to hear about the historical research for author’s novels. So here we go.

Uncovering the story of Queen Charlotta of Cyprus, a forgotten heroine

My new novel, The Queen’s Scribe, features a fifteenth-century monarch with an extraordinary story of ambition, courage, and dedication to her kingdom. Just who was Queen Charlotta of Cyprus, and why was she so mesmerizing that I wrote a book about her?

As is often the case with women in history, very little information remains about this queen (she was baptized ‘Charlotte’, but may have referred to herself as ‘Carlotta’; I call her ‘Charlotta’ in the novel). Most scholars agree that she was born about 1444. 

Charlotta was the only surviving child of King Jean II of Lusignan and his wife Eleni Palaiologina, princess of Morea. The following image is said to portray Charlotta, her mother, and her sister (subsequently deceased).

IMAGE OF QUEEN ELENI AND HER DAUGHTERS, PUBLIC DOMAIN PHOTO

Charlotta’s father, King Jean, was a genial but ineffective ruler who loved hunting, hawking, and spending money. The glory days of the kingdom ended abruptly when his grandfather King Janus was taken captive by Egyptian Mamluks and subsequently ransomed for 200,000 ducats, which put the kingdom in deep debt. By the time of Charlotta’s birth, three centuries of lavish living coupled with a weak military presence had crippled the once-powerful Lusignan dynasty. 

Within the royal court itself, animosity festered like a battle wound. Queen Eleni was a proud Greek and a dominating personality. She purportedly bit off her rival Marietta’s nose when she found the woman in bed with her husband (some sources say she cut it off). Jean and Marietta’s son, Jacques (also known as Jacco the Bastard) was the apple of his father’s eye. A handsome, charismatic bully, he became Charlotta’s protector before his desire for the throne soured their relationship forever.

Thanks to her mother’s influence, Princess Charlotta was thoroughly Greek and her understanding of French was rudimentary at best. Though her father was French and many of the ruling nobility claimed French roots, the French spoken in Cyprus at the time was so distorted that native speakers visiting from Europe could not understand it.This fact underpins the plot of The Queen’s Scribe, which features a fictional French heroine whose skills as a scribe and interpreter become essential to Queen Charlotta.

PHOTO OF NICOSIA OLD TOWN, DEPOSIT PHOTOS STANDARD LICENSE

When she was about 13, Charlotta was married to the Portuguese Prince João of Coimbra. The young couple moved from the royal palace to a house elsewhere in the Cyprus capital of Nicosia, angering Charlotta’s mother and delighting the Western European (‘Latin’) members of the court. Tensions grew between the two camps until Prince João suddenly died under mysterious circumstances; the queen’s chamberlain—who was like a brother to Queen Eleni—was blamed.

In a royal tit-for-tat, the queen’s chamberlain was then killed by Sicilian associates of Jacco’s. Palace gossips said Charlotta had asked her half-brother to arrange the murder. Before he could be punished, Jacco fled for the island of Rhodes and the hospitality of the Knights Hospitaller. 

Meanwhile, Charlotta grieved her dead husband and awaited a new betrothal, this time with her first cousin Louis (of the French-speaking Duchy of Savoy). Queen Eleni, who had been disabled by what might have been a paralytic stroke in early adulthood, slowly lost her health. Still, she fought the betrothal with every ounce of her strength, for in the Greek Orthodox tradition, marrying a first cousin was an unforgivable sin.

In 1458, both Queen Eleni and King Jean died. At 15, Charlotta was crowned queen. Soon afterward, Jacco sailed to Egypt, intent on gaining the sultan’s support for his campaign to seize his half-sister’s throne.

Meanwhile, the powerful barons who had served her father as council members now whispered in Charlotta’s ear. Some of them truly believed in her; others cared only for their own self-interest and survival; a few displayed breathtaking treachery. 

Rumors began swirling that Jacco had charmed the Sultan of Egypt and was building a massive army of Mamluk warriors. Charlotta desperately needed help to preserve her throne, and naturally looked to her new husband, Louis, for support. But far from being the strong partner she’d hoped for, he was a disinterested and weak leader, more interested in fine food and amusements than strategizing for war. 

PHOTO OF KYRENIA FORTRESS, DEPOSIT PHOTOS STANDARD LICENSE

Less than two years after her coronation, Charlotta moved her court to the seaside fortress of Kyrenia, where they survived a massive siege by Jacco. A few months later, she left Louis in the fortress and sailed around the Mediterranean beseeching allies to help save her crown.

I chose to tell Queen Charlotta’s tale through the eyes of fictional Estelle de Montavon, daughter of a French falconer. In The Queen’s Scribe, Estelle—a talented scribe and linguist—becomes as valuable as gold when the royal court retreats to Kyrenia Fortress and civil war looms. When Queen Charlotta voyages across the Mediterranean Sea entreating French-speaking allies for help, Estelle is at her side, witnessing every triumph and disaster along the way. 

Like so many other women in history, Queen Charlotta has been lost in the shadows for too long. I hope The Queen’s Scribe plays a role in bringing her story back into the light.

Thank you so much for sharing. She sounds that an intriguing character, as does her mother:)

Here’s the blurb

A broken promise. A bitter conflict. And a woman’s elusive chance to love or die.

1458. Young Frenchwoman Estelle de Montavon sails to Cyprus imagining a bright future as tutor to a princess. Instead, she is betrayed by those she loves most—and forced into a dangerous new world of scheming courtiers, vicious power struggles, and the terrifying threat of war.

Determined to flee, Estelle enlists the help of an attractive and mysterious falconer. But on the eve of her escape, fortune’s wheel turns again. She gains entry to Queen Charlotta’s inner circle as a trusted scribe and interpreter, fighting her way to dizzying heights of influence. 

Enemies old and new rise from the shadows as Estelle navigates a royal game of cat and mouse between the queen and her powerful half-brother, who wants the throne for himself.

When war comes to the island, Estelle faces a brutal reckoning for her loyalty to the queen. Will the impossible choice looming ahead be her doom—or her salvation?

With this richly-told story of courage, loyalty, and the sustaining power of love, Amy Maroney brings a mesmerizing and forgotten world to vivid life. The Queen’s Scribe is a stand-alone novel in the Sea and Stone Chronicles collection.

Praise for the Sea and Stone Chronicles:

Island of Gold is a nimbly told story with impeccable pacing.”

Historical Novel Society, Editor’s Choice Review

Sea of Shadows is stunning. A compelling tale of love, honor, and conviction.”

Reader’s Favorite Review

Amy Maroney is the author of the award-winning Miramonde Series, the story of a Renaissance-era female artist and the modern day scholar on her trail.

Buy Links:

This title is available to read on #KindleUnlimited.

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Meet the author

Amy Maroney studied English Literature at Boston University and worked for many years as a writer and editor of nonfiction. She lives in Oregon, U.S.A. with her family. When she’s not diving down research rabbit holes, she enjoys hiking, dancing, traveling, and reading. 

Amy is the author of The Miramonde Series, an Amazon-bestselling historical mystery trilogy about a Renaissance-era female artist and the modern-day scholar on her trail. Amy’s award-winning historical adventure/romance series, Sea and Stone Chronicles, is set in medieval Rhodes and Cyprus. 

An enthusiastic advocate for independent publishing, Amy is a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors and the Historical Novel Society.

Connect with Amy

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Follow The Queen’s Scribe blog tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club

Today, I’m welcoming Melissa Addey and her novel, Beneath the Waves, to the blog #bookreview #historicalfiction #highlyrecommended

Here’s the blurb

The Colosseum is being flooded. And emotions are rising to the surface.
Rome, 80AD. The Emperor orders the Colosseum to be flooded. There must be vast battles, spectacular props and epic storytelling. Meanwhile Emperor Titus must somehow be persuaded to give up his love affair with the Jewish Queen, Berenice.

Marcus, manager of the amphitheatre, must face the dangers, mistakes and emotions of the watery depths as new members join his team. His scribe, Althea, must find out what she wants from life, now that she is a freedwoman, but a woman’s choices are not always free.

Words may be dangerous, but desires must be spoken out loud. As the backstage team takes on new challenges, a change is coming.

Beneath the Waves is the gripping second novel in the Colosseum historical fiction series. If you enjoy immersing yourself in the past and finding characters you care about, then join the Colosseum’s tough, loyal and quick-witted backstage team.

Trailer Link – https://youtu.be/CbM54gjiT20

Purchase Link 

https://amzn.to/44Fh43J

My Review

Beneath the Waves is the thrilling second part of The Colosseum series by Melissa Addey.

Picking up the tale of Althea, a Greek slave woman, from where we left her at the end of From the Ashes, this is the story of the ending of the 100 days of Games, begun in From the Ashes, and also takes the reader through to the second year in the life of the Colosseum.

Our much-loved characters reappear in Beneath the Waves, along with a few new additions. While From the Ashes focused very much on surviving the events of Vesuvius, the plague and the fire that our characters suffered, book 2 is perhaps less filled with huge peril for everyone, as instead, it focuses on the peril our main characters experience. Their humanity is very evident. They are people. They don’t always do the right thing. They are perhaps beset with irrational fears. And they also perhaps do what they’re supposed to do when we, as a modern audience, would demand alternatives. Althea and Marcus are characters of their time, which is one of the huge strengths of the novel.

I adore the descriptions of the Games and the minutiae of day-to-day life, and this second novel builds very much to an impressive and potentially dangerous ending for Marcus, Althea and their young charge.

I so look forward to book 3.

Read my review for From the Ashes here.

(And, if you’re a fan of Simon Turney as well, then reading this series alongside his Domitian, will ensure you know what’s happening to the toffs as well as the plebs.)

Meet the author

Melissa Addey writes historical fiction set in Ancient Rome, medieval Morocco and 18th century China. She is a full time self-published author and runs workshops for authors wanting to be entrepreneurial. Her books have been selected for Editor’s Choice by the Historical Novel Society and won the inaugural Novel London award. She has been the Leverhulme Trust Writer in Residence at the British Library, has a PhD in Creative Writing and works with the Alliance of Independent Authors on their campaigns. 

If you’d like to try her writing, visit http://www.melissaaddey.com to pick up a free novella, The Cup.

Connect with Melissa Addey 

www.melissaaddey.com where readers can get a free novella that starts another series (medieval Morocco).

https://www.facebook.com/MelissaAddeyAuthor

https://twitter.com/MelissaAddey

Pagan Warrior is on blog tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club #blogtour – check out the posts for day 9

I’m really excited to share the details of the Pagan Warrior blog tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club.

Pagan Warrior is the story of the battle of Hædfeld, fought in the seventh century between the Northumbrians, and you got it, the Mercians – or rather, Cadwallon of Gwynedd but with Penda of Mercia as his firm ally. You can find more details here.

I might have written this book many years ago, but it’s had a refresh, and is now available in audio, narrated by the fabulous, Matt Coles, as is the second book, Pagan King. Warrior King will be coming later this year in audio.

Now that all three books have been ‘refreshed’ you can read in ebook or paperback, and the books are available from all good ebook/paperback sellers. Check out my latest tiktok video to see Warrior King in paperback:)

You can follow the blog tour, and I’ll be sharing posts here as well. A quick shout out to thank all the blog hosts and Cathie at The Coffee Pot Book Club for organising. Next Tuesday is the final day, and I’m going to be running a competition so pop back and see what’s happening.

For May 9th, check out

The Book Delight

An excerpt on

The Celtic Lady Reviews

For May 2nd, check out the review on

Stuart Rudge’s Official Blog

And a guest post on who King Edwin of Northumbria was over on

When Angels Fly

For April 25th, check out a post about Penda of Mercia.

The Magic of Word(l)ds

Read an excerpt featuring Eowa, Penda’s brother on

Judith Arnopp’s Official Blog

And, read an excerpt featuring Penda on

Carolyn Hughes Official Blog

For April 18th, I answered Paul Walker’s questions on his blog

Paul Walker’s Official Blog

There’s an except over on Wendy J Dunn’s Official Blog featuring King Edwin

Wendy J Dunn’s Official Blog

And a fabulous review on Ruins and Readings

Ruins and Readings

For April 11th, read a guest post about how we know, what we know, about the seventh century.

Deborah Swift’s Official Blog

And a fabulous author interview over on

The Writing Desk

For April 4th, read an excerpt on

Elizabeth St John’s Official Blog

And read about warfare in the Saxon period on

Brook Allan’s Official Blog

For March 28th, check out a fabulous review on

https://gwendalynbooks.wordpress.com/2023/03/28/pagan-warrior/

A guest post about Mercia in the later eighth century on the Historical Fiction Blog.

https://historicalfictionblog.com/pagan-warrior-guest-post/

And, the post that perhaps gave me the most fear to begin will but which was fun when I remembered all the little details, five fun facts about writing the trilogy.

maryannbernal.blogspot.com

For March 21st check out a post about two of the royal residences of Bernicia at the time, Bamburgh and Ad Gefrin (Yeavering). (There are lots of photos, thank you to Helen Hollick for uploading them all).

Let Us Talk of Many Things

And a review from

Candlelight Reading

From March 14th, check out my author interview over on Archaeolibrarian.

Archaeolibrarian

I’m sharing an excerpt over on The Historical Fiction Company.

The Historical Fiction Company

I’ve written a piece about the historical background on Pam Lecky’s official blog.

Pam Lecky’s Official Blog

King of Kings, and the coronation of England’s first king

Athelstan, widely regarded as the first king of the ‘English’ or the first king of England, is one of the main characters in King of Kings. And indeed, the book opens with Athelstan undergoing his coronation. Before his reign, the ruling House of Wessex hadn’t been proclaimed as England’s kings. King Alfred (879-899), Athelstan’s grandfather, was termed the king of the Angles and Saxons (in a charter from 889 known as S346[I]). His son, Edward the Elder, was the king of the Anglo-Saxons, and whether this meant Wessex and Mercia combined has been much debated. But Athelstan was king of the English, (and this certainly included Wessex and Mercia, and parts of the Danelaw that had been reclaimed) and in a departure from earlier custom, was consecrated not with a warrior-helm, but instead with a crown.

Debate still rages as to whether the coronation ordo that has survived was written for Athelstan, his father, or even his nephew (Edgar (959-975), and indeed, whether it included provision for the king’s wife to be consecrated beside him, but for King of Kings, I made use of what is known about the service and reimagined the ceremony for my readers. I hope you enjoy it. Read on for a short extract.

‘This means that only a year after my father’s untimely death, the kingdoms of Mercia, those parts of the East Anglian kingdom that my father lately reclaimed, Wessex and Kent, are reunited again under one ruler. The Saxons, or rather, the English, have just one king. And this is my moment of divine glory, when, before the men and women of the Mercian and Wessex witan, I’ll be proclaimed as king over all.

A prayer is intoned by the archbishop of Canterbury, Athelm, appealing to God to endow me with the qualities of the Old Testament kings: Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David and Solomon. As such, I must be faithful, meek, and full of fortitude and humility while also possessing wisdom. I hope I’ll live up to these lofty expectations.

I’m anointed with the holy oil and then given a thick gold ring with a flashing ruby to prove that I accept my role as protector of the one true faith. A finely balanced sword is placed in my hands, the work of a master blacksmith, with which I’m to defend widows and orphans and through which I can restore things left desolated by my foes, and my foes are the Norse.’


[i]  http://www.esawyer.org.uk/,

books2read.com/King-of-Kings

King of Kings is currently available with Prime Reading.

Map design by Flintlock Covers

I’m delighted to welcome Lindsey S. Fera to the blog with an excerpt from her new book, Muskets and Masquerades HistoricalFiction #HistoricalRomance #BlogTour #TheCoffeePotBookClub

I’m delighted to welcome Lindsey S. Fera to the blog with an excerpt from her new book, Muskets and Masquerades.

His throat thick with melancholy, Jack leaned against an old cherry tree. It had been months since he allowed himself to feel sorrow, to remember the pain endured aboard HMS Lively. The laudanum had numbed everything, but was no longer a part of his life, thanks to Quinnapin, and five grueling days of sickness and agony. Now, he must relearn to feel. 

The cherry tree’s welcoming shade reminded him of the Howletts’ ancient oak. Perhaps Mary and Henry occupied that space this very moment, laughing and climbing the tree’s thick, wide branches. Hopefully they did, for now with a proclamation of independence, war was certain to persist, and perhaps rage on for years to come. These will not be easy times. 

Mr. Greeves, Hancock’s assistant, approached with steadfast step. “Mr. Perkins—you’re required, sir.” 

Jack followed the assistant and reentered the stuffy meetinghouse. 

“There he is, and looking a bit flushed, I must say,” John Adams said with a nod of approval. “The color in your cheeks does improve your complexion. We were quite astounded when first we saw you, looking so thin and pale.” Adams regarded Jefferson. “I’ve known this lad since he graduated Harvard and became my law apprentice. Indeed, he learned well; we’re now partners.” 

“And I’m grateful to you, sir,” Jack replied. “My imprisonment upon HMS Lively did me quite the disservice, but I’m recovering well. My leg grows stronger each day.”

“So I’ve heard, Mr. Perkins,” Jefferson remarked. “We’re right heartily glad for your return to Congress. Pray, what do you think of the declaration?” 

Jack beamed. “’Tis a marvel, sir. Better written than any good man here could’ve done—and each gentleman present is more than capable of conjuring such profound sentiments, but to put it to writing is quite the task. ’Tis been an honor to be part of such a moment, sir.”

“And your moment will come, too, Mr. Perkins. We still hope to court France. They would prove a most powerful ally,” Adams added. 

Father rested a hand on Jack’s shoulder. “I couldn’t have said it better, Mr. Jefferson. I’m most pleased by your fine, diligent work. Have we each signed the parchment yet?” 

John Adams eyed the meetinghouse door. “We’re awaiting Dr. Franklin. He went to the necessary.” 

As Adams finished speaking, the meetinghouse door opened, and in stepped Dr. Franklin. A glint of sunlight reflected off his large patch of receding hairline, which yielded to long, greying hair. Franklin peered at the room from over the edge of round spectacles. “Shall we sign again, gentlemen?” 

The men clamored about the room, surrounding Mr. Hancock at his desk. Jack joined his father and John Adams. He’d met Mr. Hancock several times when living in Boston. It had been at Hancock’s grand manor that George was bequeathed a sum of money from an old life insurance policy held by George’s natural father, Captain Bixby; Bixby had been contracted by Hancock’s late uncle. A night I’ll never forget; and I’m certain, neither will George. The annual sum had allowed his cousin to purchase the Black Water Inn in Portsmouth. 

Mr. Hancock dipped a white quill into the inkwell and scraped off the excess black ink. He scratched a flamboyant signature, quite largely, onto the parchment. “Is it substantial enough to match the one sent to King George?” 

The gentlemen laughed, and each took their turn signing the page. When it came to Jack, he hesitated, and met the eyes of those in the room. 

“Gentlemen, I wish to speak on things I’ve contemplated since the creation of this document.” 

“Go on, Perkins,” Franklin said, though a few others, Congressmen from the southern colonies, groaned.  

“’Tis a privilege to sign such a document, but ’twas equally an honor to fight. I was there at Concord, and likewise present at Bunker Hill. I stand before you today, gentlemen, not as a vessel of Congress, quick to sign my name, but as a militiaman who fought the British on each of those fateful days. The people of Massachusetts have been fighting since 1770.” Jack’s throat clogged, but he composed himself. “’Tis been six long years for the people of Massachusetts, and I pray the rest of these alleged united states partake in the fight that has solely been ours. New-England has long been the head of Dr. Franklin’s famed serpent, and I’m overjoyed to see the other colonies join with us as the body.” 

Jack dipped the quill in ink and signed his name. “This is for each man who remains on the front lines of battle, each man who has fought, and each man whose injury or death has been the cost of this document. This is for Bunker Hill.” Though he spoke the word man, he envisioned Annalisa, the woman who fought and survived Bunker Hill, the woman who’d traveled with him in the name of Congress and had lost her life. For Annalisa, he signed. 

The gentlemen clapped. 

“Hear, hear, Perkins.”

“Huzzah!”

Adams rapped his cane. “For Bunker Hill.” 

Mr. Hancock nodded. “For Bunker Hill, Mr. Perkins.” 

When the last signature was upon the parchment, Jack addressed Congress once more. “Now, we must all hang together, gentlemen.”

Dr. Franklin chuckled, landing a hand upon Jack’s shoulder. “Indeed, young Mr. Perkins, we must all hang together, for if we do not, we’ll all hang separately.” 

 

Here’s the blurb

Jack and Annalisa are married only five months when, enroute to France, a shipwreck separates them. On different shores, each believes the other dead. But when Annalisa learns Jack is alive, she returns to America and discovers much has changed. After a betrayal, she flees town as her alter ego, Benjamin Cavendish, and joins the Continental Army.

Unbeknownst to Annalisa, Jack has also joined the Continentals, harboring shameful secrets from his days in mourning. Against the backdrop of war with Britain, façades mount between Jack and Annalisa, and the merry minuet of their adolescence dissolves into a masquerade of deceit, one which threatens to part them forever.

Buy Links:

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Meet the author

LINDSEY S. FERA is a born and bred New Englander, hailing from the North Shore of Boston. As a member of the Topsfield Historical Society and the Historical Novel Society, she forged her love for writing with her intrigue for colonial America by writing her debut novel, Muskets & Minuets, a planned trilogy. 

When she’s not attending historical reenactments or spouting off facts about Boston, she’s nursing patients back to health. Muskets & Masquerades is her sophomore novel.

Connect with Lindsey

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Follow the Muskets and Masquerades blog tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club

Check out Lindsey’s earlier appearance on the blog.

The River Thames in the Saxon period

In Eagle of Mercia, young Icel and his allies are busily guarding the River Thames against a potential Viking raider attack. The Viking raiders certainly made use of the many rivers running through England at the time (and throughout the British Isles), but the river was also significant as a very definitive and solid boundary between the Saxon kingdoms of Wessex and Mercia, which to the west, where the River Thames doesn’t flow, was continued by the earthworks known as the Wansdyke.

London, now the capital of the United Kingdom, wasn’t always as important as we might assume, and indeed, it wasn’t ever the capital of Wessex or Mercia. These two kingdoms fought most fiercely over the settlement. It wasn’t even overly important to the Romans, either. And this is why I’ve perhaps been remiss in not truly considering its significance. As rivers have changed their course over the years, so has the River Thames. And what’s most fascinating about the River Thames is that, seemingly for long periods during the Saxon era, it wasn’t navigable, as we might expect it to have been. 

Map of Early England by Flintlock Covers

‘During this period, as perhaps as other times, there may well have been a division between use of the Thames in its today reach and use of it above the tidal head. Paleoenvironmental evidence suggests that a relative drop in river levels during the Roman period meant that the tidal head was perhaps as low as Londinium itself, but that it (and thereby the range of easy navigability) generally moved upstream during the Anglo-Saxon period. This trend was not, however, uniform, and there were also brief periods (such as the late tenth to eleventh centuries) when the tidal reach shifted back downstream again.’ p. 271

It seems then, that when considering London, or Londinium/Lundenwic/Londonia, we also need to be mindful of the era in the Saxon period that we’re writing about. For the first Viking age,

‘A combination of the seasonal (and presumably climatic) unreliability of riverine travel and  the need on many occasions to travel upstream cannot have made it easy for the Vikings to use the Thames for shock offensives… and there is no clear example of a Viking force travelling by water up the Thames further than Fulham.’ p.278

Clues to how passable the River Thames might have been can be traced.

‘Without the construction of bridges, the river would have been impassable except by ferry, from its estuary as far as the lowest fording point, perhaps as low as Halliford near Shepperton, and between the various fording points. Even where the middle and upper stretches could be forded, such crossings were not guaranteed to be easy. Lechlade and Cricklade, two potentially treacherous upper Thames crossings, severely affected by flooding in winter were named Old English (ge)lad ‘difficult river crossing.’ p.279

As with all things, we should be wary of assuming that current conditions would have been prevalent in the past. The River Thames certainly falls into that category. So while, yes, it was certainly a decisive boundary between the Saxon kingdoms of Wessex and Mercia, on occasion, it wouldn’t have been as decisive as at others. This, I find fascinating, and just another of those ‘facts’ travellers to the Saxon era should be wary about. While we know (hopefully not a spoiler) that London was attacked in the 840s and 850s, prior to this, it might well have been impossible for the Viking raiders to attack in the way they were used to. This, perhaps, accounts for why they chose more coastal locations, such as the Isle of Sh.

Map by Flintlock Covers for Wolf of Mercia

(Quotes taken from Beyond the Burghal Hidage by Baker and Brookes)

Read Eagle of Mercia now.

https://books2read.com/EagleofMercia

Happy Release Day to Eagle of Mercia

Today is the day, book 4 in The Eagle of Mercia Chronicles is released into the wild. I’m really excited about this one:) And I can’t believe we’re already onto book 4.

Here’s the blurb:

A mercy mission in the heart of Wessex is beset with deadly, bloody dangers.

Tamworth AD831

Icel’s profile continues to rise. Lord of Budworth and warrior of Mercia, he’s acknowledged by King Wiglaf and his comrades to keep Mercia safe from the ravages of Wessex, the king-slayer of the East Angles, and the Viking raiders.
But, danger looms.  Alongside Spring’s arrival comes the almost certain threat of the Viking raiders return. 

When Lord Coenwulf of Kingsholm is apprehended by a Viking and held captive on the Isle of Sheppey in Wessex held Kent, Icel is implored by Lady Cynehild to rescue her husband.

To rescue Lord Coenwulf, Icel and his fellow warriors must risk themselves twice over, for not only must they overpower the Viking raiders, they must also counter the threat of Mercia’s ancient enemy, the kingdom of Wessex as they travel through their lands.

Far from home and threatened on all sides, have Icel and his fellow warriors sworn to carry out an impossible duty?

books2read.com/EagleofMercia

Available now in ebook, paperback and audio, the hardback should be with us shortly.

Read my release day post about the River Thames.

Read all about the Isle of Sheppey

Read my release day post on the Boldwood website about the Eagle of Mercia Chronicles.


I can let you know that book 5 is mostly written, and I know the title and I’ve seen the cover – I know, I’m such a tease. I will update when I can share more.


Check out the blog tour for Eagle of Mercia. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for organising and all the hosts for taking part. I will add the links each day. The initial reviews for Eagle are very positive, so I hope you’ll enjoy it too.

Reviewsfeed

David’s Book Blurg

Sharon Beyond the Books

Leanne Bookstagram

Bookish Jottings

Getting Stuck in the Past

Ruins and Reading

Amy McElroy

The Strawberry Post

Pagan Warrior is on blog tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club #blogtour – check out the posts for day 8

I’m really excited to share the details of the Pagan Warrior blog tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club.

Pagan Warrior is the story of the battle of Hædfeld, fought in the seventh century between the Northumbrians, and you got it, the Mercians – or rather, Cadwallon of Gwynedd but with Penda of Mercia as his firm ally. You can find more details here.

I might have written this book many years ago, but it’s had a refresh, and is now available in audio, narrated by the fabulous, Matt Coles, as is the second book, Pagan King. Warrior King will be coming later this year in audio.

Now that all three books have been ‘refreshed’ you can read in ebook or paperback, and the books are available from all good ebook/paperback sellers. Check out my latest tiktok video to see Warrior King in paperback:)

You can follow the blog tour, and I’ll be sharing posts here as well. A quick shout out to thank all the blog hosts and Cathie at The Coffee Pot Book Club for organising.

For May 2nd, check out the review on

Stuart Rudge’s Official Blog

And a guest post on who King Edwin of Northumbria was over on

When Angels Fly

For April 25th, check out a post about Penda of Mercia.

The Magic of Word(l)ds

Read an excerpt featuring Eowa, Penda’s brother on

Judith Arnopp’s Official Blog

And, read an excerpt featuring Penda on

Carolyn Hughes Official Blog

For April 18th, I answered Paul Walker’s questions on his blog

Paul Walker’s Official Blog

There’s an except over on Wendy J Dunn’s Official Blog featuring King Edwin

Wendy J Dunn’s Official Blog

And a fabulous review on Ruins and Readings

Ruins and Readings

For April 11th, read a guest post about how we know, what we know, about the seventh century.

Deborah Swift’s Official Blog

And a fabulous author interview over on

The Writing Desk

For April 4th, read an excerpt on

Elizabeth St John’s Official Blog

And read about warfare in the Saxon period on

Brook Allan’s Official Blog

For March 28th, check out a fabulous review on

https://gwendalynbooks.wordpress.com/2023/03/28/pagan-warrior/

A guest post about Mercia in the later eighth century on the Historical Fiction Blog.

https://historicalfictionblog.com/pagan-warrior-guest-post/

And, the post that perhaps gave me the most fear to begin will but which was fun when I remembered all the little details, five fun facts about writing the trilogy.

maryannbernal.blogspot.com

For March 21st check out a post about two of the royal residences of Bernicia at the time, Bamburgh and Ad Gefrin (Yeavering). (There are lots of photos, thank you to Helen Hollick for uploading them all).

Let Us Talk of Many Things

And a review from

Candlelight Reading

From March 14th, check out my author interview over on Archaeolibrarian.

Archaeolibrarian

I’m sharing an excerpt over on The Historical Fiction Company.

The Historical Fiction Company

I’ve written a piece about the historical background on Pam Lecky’s official blog.

Pam Lecky’s Official Blog

Today I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for a new historical mystery, Covert in Cairo by Kelly Oliver #blogtour #BoldwoodBooks

Here’s the blurb:

Cairo. December 1917.

Following a tip-off from notorious spy Fredrick Fredricks, Fiona Figg and Kitty Lane of British Intelligence find themselves in the hustle and bustle of Egypt. But ancient mummies aren’t the only bodies buried in the tombs of Cairo.

When a young French archeologist is found dead in a tomb in the desert with his head bashed in, and an undercover British agent goes missing, the threat moves closer to home.

As they dig deeper, soon Fiona and Kitty uncover a treasure trove of suspects, including competing excavators, jealous husbands, secret lovers, and belligerent spies! Fiona wonders if the notorious Fredrick Fredricks could be behind the murders? Or is the plot even more sinister?

One thing is clear – If Fiona and Kitty can’t catch the killer, they might end up sharing a sarcophagus with Nefertiti.

With humor as dry as the Arabian desert, and pacing as fast as a spitting camel, Fiona and Kitty are back in another sparkling adventure, this time in WW1 Egypt.

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/3iB6WGd

My Review

Covert in Cairo is an enjoyable trip to Cairo in December 1917. Fiona Figg is on a mission to prevent the Suez Canal from being attacked, as she finds a Cairo overrun with British troops, very much a Britain away from home, complete with good tea and marmalade.

As in the previous book, Fiona Figg longs to make a name for herself and finally win free from the confines of being a file clerk at the War Office, but not everything goes her way. Kitty Lane is on hand to add her skills to the investigation, and Clifford, their chaperone, but really, a man with an eye for the ladies and very much embodying all that was wrong in the thinking of an early twentieth-century man, including thinking women were fragile, can add his skills as well, most notably being able to talk to anyone.

What ensues is a tale of murder, antiquities, camels and donkeys, night-time shenanigans, and an all-round good mystery.

An enjoyable jaunt to the Cairo of the past, including several well-known historical personalities, and ensuring that Fiona must continue her pursuit of an errant spy and, as such, win-free from returning to dreary London for the time being.

Check out my review for book 1 in the Fiona Figg and Kitty Lane Mystery books Chaos at Carnegie Hall

Meet the Author

Kelly Oliver is the award-winning, bestselling author of three mysteries series: The Jessica James Mysteries, The Pet Detective Mysteries, and the historical cozies The Fiona Figg Mysteries, set in WW1. She is also the Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University and lives in Nashville, Tennessee. She is bringing new titles in the Fiona Figg series to Boldwood, the first of which, Chaos in Carnegie Hall, will be published in November 2022.

Connect with Kelly

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kellyoliverauthor  

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kellyoliverbook  

Bookbub profile: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/kelly-oliver

Follow the Covert in Cairo blog tour with Rachel’s Random Resources