Wednesday, 29 August 2007
The Banners of Alba Review on http://www.nightsandweekends.com
"In the Dark Ages of Scotland, men fight for the crown, sweeping aside contenders by any means available—including murder. Alliances are made or broken by marriages of convenience, and human character is ever the same, no matter what period in history.
Malcolm of Alba sends Daveth mac Finlay to forge an alliance with his nephew, Thorfinn Sigurdarson, Lord of Orkney, by marrying his half-sister, Ratagan. But Prince Duncan prefers Finlay dead—because he’s a real possibility to take the throne. So he plots behind the King’s back, to have Finlay assassinated before he reaches Thorfinn. Finlay reaches his destination without harm, but he has no intentions of marrying the beautiful and clear-headed Ratagan. He’ll choose his own wife—and not a minute before he’s ready to get married. He has no interest in becoming king, but Thorfinn, though he will not force it, advises Finlay that an alliance between them, through his sister, would be a wise thing to consider.
Ratagan doesn’t want to marry Finlay any more than he wants to marry her, but there’s an attraction between them that they cannot deny. Ratagan will not be ruled by her future husband—she has a mind of her own and will not be obedient just because it’s required of her. Finlay wants to control her, but Ratagan is too strong-willed for that to ever happen.
Kilda had her heart set on marrying Finlay. They’d known each other since childhood, and it was understood that they would marry. But the king thought otherwise and forced her to marry Finlay’s cousin, Gille, to keep Finlay from the crown. Any child born to Kilda would be in line for the throne, and any man would be willing to marry her—but would it be for her or just for a chance to rule before her son becomes old enough to take the throne?
Hareth mac Enna has loyalties to no one but himself. He can choose sides at will while disregarding life-long friendships like the one he has with Finlay. The beautiful, spoiled Kilda plays right into his hands—except he may have truly fallen in love with her. Hareth is a devious but intelligent man, and he’s not entirely heartless. His emotions and honor go a long way in deciding his future plans, even if he doesn’t know it himself.
I can’t imagine the amount of research required in writing The Banners of Alba, but Ms. Black has done her homework. The settings, characters, and history are well-written, taking you back to a time when men fought for land and power and women were considered nothing more than possessions to be used to further a man’s standing.
I love it when an author creates real characters with real human flaws. I can say, “Oh, now, that was a really stupid thing to do,” and still like the character. Ms. Black has definitely done this in The Banners of Alba. All of her characters are unique and rich in personality, and they act just as you would expect men and women to act when emotions run high. It’s not always pretty, but it’s honest. Engaging to the very last page, The Banners of Alba entrances you with a bold story of love and deception. It’s a medieval soap opera that will keep you coming back to see what happens next in this epic tale of love and war."
Well, was it worth waiting for? You tell me. I'd love to know if review influence readers at all.
Sunday, 26 August 2007
I went to Newcastle Keep last Wednesday and took lots of pics. What struck me today was that Robert Curthose was probably entertained by scops and travelling bards every night in the Grand Hall of the Keep just as we are entertained by television (or whatever your particular form of light relief might be.) I think I know which was the more improving for the mind, and it isn't today's tv.
Friday, 24 August 2007
I promised to show you some of my favourite faces for the heroes in my stories, so here goes. This one (left) doubles up as Finlay in Banners and Dark Pool except that Finlay's hair is black rather than brown.
The face matched the character I had dreamed up so very well. I don't know the actor, and I don't think I've ever seen him in a film, but I don't need to.
I already have the vague outline of the character in my imagination so when I'm trawling the net, reading posts, or just scanning a magazine, sometimes I'm lucky and see a photo that clicks with the image in my head - bingo! There's recognition. I capture the pic and then I can look at it, study it, decide how best to describe it in words that will carry a picture to the reader. The sad thing was that by the time I found Finlay's "picture" he was already in print.
Wednesday, 22 August 2007
Monday, 20 August 2007
Sunday, 19 August 2007
Friday, 17 August 2007
the right size. As it is, it's a bit like looking in a distorting mirror. Sorry about that. I've added about 20 "hits" to the site trying to get it right, all to no avail.
There's a new review of Banners over at : http://historicalnovelreviews.blogspot.com/
and I see they have used the old cover layout. I wonder if they had the same problems trying to load the newer cover? Perhaps I'll try the older one, too! All that's different is the colour and font of the actual words.
That's the correct size! Phew!
I wonder if I mentioned that I blogged on Unusual Historicals on the 26th last month? and that I'll be blogging htere again on the 26th of every month unless they throw me off. I talked about writing my first book and the pros and cons of writing in a time and place where written records are almost unknown.
There are some well known authors blogging there for your delectation - a different author every day. Today it was the turn of Michelle Styles and she's talking about casting actors as her heroes.
Maybe I'll talk about that next time I blog.
Wednesday, 15 August 2007
Wednesday, 8 August 2007
We found brambles and luckily I had plastic bags in my pocket, so we picked enough fine black fruit to make a crumble. They're early this year, and rowan and elder berries are in hanging in huge swags just begging to be picked or for the birds to eat them. We found wild plums, too, though Bill refused to eat one.
I did, so if I don't survive the night - don't eat the plums!
Another few days and the hazelnuts will be ready, too. I love the idea of free food, and its a lovely way to spend an afternoon. Brings back memories of childhood when we all went out armed with bags, bowls and buckets.
Toothache is fading away, but still present.
Tuesday, 7 August 2007
I've cut a good chunk of description, and I've brought the h/h together in every chapter but one so far. Even if he isn't there in person, she's thinking about him, so I hope I'm closer to the money this time. What I need now is a good title. I called it The Silver Age originally, because I've read that's what the Russians called this period of history. I rather liked it, but I have to admit it doesn't cut the mustard as far as M&B titles go, so I go to sleep at night thinking up racy titles
I'm about halfway through, maybe a third, but its hard to tell when I might decide to add a chapter, or delete one. Anything goes at this stage.