I’m really quite bad at remembering all the publication dates of my books, but The Last King has certainly stuck in my mind. What started quite inauspiciously, with a few die-hard fans preordering the book, has become my most popular series, and most popular book to date.
Perhaps I shouldn’t be so surprised, but I am. The book, a few years in development, burst from me in a flurry of excitement early in 2020, when I opted for a ‘harder’ character, a man who is simply so good at what he does, he doesn’t understand that others can’t do what he can. It’s not arrogance. It’s confidence.
So, why the hesitation? It takes a lot to stomp, and I mean, stomp all over a time period made so famous by another giant of the field – Bernard Cornwell with his Uhtred, or The Last Kingdom books. And yet, I couldn’t move away from the temptation of the little known Coelwulf, and the story of Mercia which has never been told.
Yet, I needed to do it in a different way to BC. I remember handing the first few chapters to my critique partner and editor and saying ‘is this edgier?’, ‘would a warrior speak like this?’ It came back with a ‘yes’ and also some pencil marks and a bit more swearing added in, and a comment that if I was going to cauterise a wound, then I needed to do it properly, gore and all.
I’d previously written what I thought would be an opening scene, while sitting in hospital for an appointment with lots of different bits to it – but while that gave me the characters, it didn’t give me quite what I was looking for. Still, you can read ‘A Meeting of Equals‘ over on my author platform on Aspects of History.
And that was almost it (apart from a dose of my own confidence drawn from watching The Gentlemen by Guy Ritchie – which truly made me think ‘anything goes,’ and gave me the idea for the opening scene – if you’ve read the book you’ll know what I mean.) Coelwulf reared his head, and so too did a cast of characters that are unique, complex, enjoyable to write about, and often, a bit pushy.
Here’s the blurb for The Last King
“They sent three hundred warriors to kill one man. It wasn’t enough.
Mercia lies broken but not beaten, her alliance with Wessex in tatters.
Coelwulf, a fierce and bloody warrior, hears whispers that Mercia has been betrayed from his home in the west. He fears no man, especially not the Vikings sent to hunt him down.
To discover the truth of the rumours he hears, Coelwulf must travel to the heart of Mercia, and what he finds there will determine the fate of Mercia, as well as his own.”
This is the Ninth Century in England, but not as it’s been reimagined before.
(Read a free preview – WARNING – contains strong language from the beginning)
Books in the series
To celebrate the release of Book IV, The Last Enemy, I sent my intrepid interviewer to track down a few of the characters.
The Last King went on a blog tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club in 2020 – here’s all the links and details.
July 14th The Coffee Pot Book Club Meet the author
July 21st The Writing Desk Author Interview
July 28th The Historical Fiction Blog Guest post about Coelwulf and Mercia in the Ninth Century
August 14th Judith Arnopp’s Official Blog Excerpt from The Last King
August 11th The Road to Hastings and other stories… Mapping the 870s
August 18th LoupDargent. Net Inspiration for writing about Coelwulf
August 25th Zoe’s Art, Craft and Life Excerpt from The Last King
September 1st Let the words shine… Guest post – inspiration
September 8th The Books Delight Review of The Last King (there’s gore and fighting and swearing)
September 15th Candlelight Reading Excerpt
Thank you to all the hosts for allowing Coelwulf onto their blogs.
In January 2021, The Last King went on tour with hfvirtualbooktours
Check out the posts below.
Blog Tour Schedule
Monday, January 11
Review at Hoover Book Reviews
Wednesday, January 13
Excerpt at Historical Fiction with Spirit
Friday, January 15
Feature at Pursuing Stacie
Saturday, January 16
Excerpt at Passages to the Past
Monday, January 18
Interview at Books & Benches
Review at Rajiv’s Reviews
Wednesday, January 20
Review at Gwendalyn’s Books
Thank you to all the hosts for such fantastic posts, and to HFVBT for organising.
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