Talking about the book: Days of Sun & Glory by Anna Belfrage

Days of Sunlit Glory_eb-pb-tr 160412

Title: Days of Sun & Glory
Author:  Anna Belfrage

A tidbit about the author
Born in Sweden, raised in Peru & Colombia. Anna notes that where her classmates in Bogota “were constantly talking about the future (or football, at which I excelled) I was mostly dreaming about the past. I had no desire to become a business woman – I wanted to be a medieval knight.” Obviously, Anna cannot be a medieval knight, but man, oh man, can she write brilliantly about them!

The story
“…the king’s greatest traitor, Roger Mortimer, has managed to evade royal justice, the king and his beloved Despenser see dissidents and rebels everywhere – among Mortimer’s former men, but also in the queen, Isabella of France. Their suspicions are not unfounded. Tired of being relegated to the background by the king’s grasping favourite, Isabella has decided it is time to act – to safeguard her own position, but also that of her son, Edward of Windsor. As Adam de Guirande has pledged himself to Prince Edward he is automatically drawn into the queen’s plans – whether he likes it or not. Yet again, Kit and Adam are forced to take part in a complicated game of intrigue and politics…”–from the author’s website

Days of Sun & Glory is Book II in Ms. Belfrage’s The King’s Greatest Enemy series and pulls us back into the life of Sir Adam and his wife Kit. Concerned that you haven’t read Book I? Don’t be. This book works fine as a stand-alone. And I say that as someone who is barely familiar with this particular time period.

The scene that made you laugh out loud or cheer; the place where you wanted to throw the book across the room
Usually these are two separate questions, but I have combined them here. I was torn between laughter and groans watching the jealous reactions of both Kit and Adam, the two main characters. In this sequel to In the Shadow of the Storm, they have been married more than two years and have been to hell and back for each other. Their devotion to and love for each other is so vivid and well drawn. The bits of jealousy had me getting impatient with them both after a while.

My cheers are too numerous to count, but I absolutely love Ms. Belfrage’s portrayal of young Prince Edward. In this particular scene he is standing up to his father as Edward II tries to throw Adam out:

“I cannot have a man suspected of traitorous activities in your household.” [Edward] gestured at the men-at-arms “Take de Guirande away.”
[snip]
“You’re shaming me,” Prince Edward said.
“Shaming you?” The king looked at Adam, then at his son.
“Sir Adam is my liegeman. He has pledged himself to me, and I, in return, have pledged to protect him – isn’t that what liege lords do?” The prince turned wide eyes on his father.

A memorable line (or two)

Kit on Hugh Despenser…

…Kit would gladly have nailed his intestines to a tree and have him walk around it until he’d disembowelled himself, she had to admit the man exuded  some sort of magnetic allure, his sharp features enhanced by the neatly trimmed beard that clung to his cheeks and chin, his eyes glittering under dark, straight brows.

Oh, Anna, you have such a way with words!

Kenilworth was like a dog with fleas, always  itching, always restless.

…the autumn wind painted roses on her cheeks.

My verdict – ****4.5 stars****
Book II of Ms. Belfrage’s series The King’s Greatest Enemy, is well researched with plenty of historical details that will transport the reader to the 14th century. Ms. Belfrage makes her characters come to life, and if you aren’t cringing with fear every time Hugh Despenser comes on scene, why not?! Evil radiates from that man.

This is a turbulent era in England’s history and even readers unfamiliar with this particular time period will be drawn into the fictional life of Kit and Adam de Guirande drawn against the reign of Edward II. Kit and Adam find their lives governed and their hands tied by the politics and intrigue surrounding them. Spies are everywhere. Kit serves Edward II’s queen, Isabella, who, untrusted and unloved, plots against her husband. Adam’s former allegiance to Edward’s enemy Roger Mortimer, now exiled in France, makes him a traitor in Edward’s eyes. Adam may have sworn his allegiance to Edward’s son, but Despenser and the king seek any excuse to throw him into the dungeon, or worse, execute him. I was genuinely frightened for both the fiery Kit and the loyal Adam, which shows how much I cared for them.

When they become embroiled in Mortimer’s plot to raise money and an army to fight Edward, the stakes become deadlier. Queen Isabella and Prince Edward are sent to France to negotiate a peace, and Adam and Kit with them. The tale becomes heart wrenching as their family is torn apart and the young prince becomes a pawn in his mother’s hands. Will Adam and Kit stand by the prince, the queen, and Mortimer? The story of King Edward II and his favorite, Hugh Despenser, is one that in and of itself sounds more fiction than fact. But it is true, an incredible twisted history that Ms. Belfrage breathes life into with the help of her fictional characters.

Highly recommended.

Disclosure: I received an advanced copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

A Lost People, A Lost Voice – A Guest Post by Anna Belfrage

Anna Belfrage Banner

Anna BelfrageI am delighted to have Anna Belfrage on my blog today as part of the first indieBRAG Book Blitz. Anna’s eight time-slip novels in The Graham Saga are B.R.A.G. Medallion honorees. Book 6 in the series, Revenge & Retribution, was awarded the 2015 HNS Indie Award for the best indie-published historical fiction. I had the honor of meeting Anna at the Historical Novel Society Conference in Denver this past June. Join us today as Anna highlights Book 4 of the series: A Newfound Land.

A Lost People, A Lost Voice
by Anna Belfrage

columbus-in-the-new-worldWhen I was a child growing up in South America, one of the more important festive days was the 12th of October, El Día de la Raza (Nowadays mostly known as Columbus Day – or the rather beautiful Día de la Hispanidad). This day celebrated the arrival of Columbus in the New World, and as is obvious just by that denominator, our European forebears seemed quite convinced that BEFORE them, there was nothing…

We know better, of course. Those intrepid conquistadores did not set foot on land untouched by man. The American continent was home to such impressive civilisations as that of the Incas and the Aztecs, held the ruins of the ancient culture of Tiahuanaco, was engraved with the Nazca circles. And in the northern half of the continent were all those tribes collectively named the Indians by the first European explorers – even after they’d cottoned on to the fact that America was, in fact, not India. (Columbus may have been a brave and visionary explorer, but he was crap at maths…)

It is estimated that North America was home to anywhere between 7 to 10 million people prior to the arrival of the Europeans in the early 17th century. A century later, the indigenous population had plummeted, down by as much as 80% in some regions. In some cases, entire tribes were wiped out as a consequence of European rapaciousness combined with all those lethal diseases the white man brought over, notably smallpox and measles. One such tribe was the Susquehannock.

If we’re going to be quite honest, we know almost nothing about the Susquehannock. In fact, today we have no idea what they may have called themselves, because there is no one around who speaks their language anymore. Once a language dies, the culture that flourished with it dies as well, and so we have no idea as to what beliefs, what myths the Susquehannock held dear. It’s almost as they never existed – well, apart from the odd artefacts that are presently displayed in one or other museum.

capt_john_smiths_map_of_virginia_1624But the Susquehannock did exist, a power to be reckoned with, masters over a large swathe of land that stretched from Delaware, through parts of Pennsylvania and into Maryland. They were one of the people visited by John Smith as he went exploring along the Chesapeake Bay, and he found them impressive in size and strength. He also found them friendly, and for the first few decades of their co-existence, both the Susquehannock and the colonists prospered – a win-win situation for both.

The Susquehannock were mildly curious about the palefaces who landed on their shores, but did not find them particularly threatening – especially not in comparison with their fiercest enemies, the Iroquois. Compared to the fearsome warriors of this tribe, the white dudes came across as weak and puny. But they offered good trade, these palefaces, and the Susquehannock grew richer and more powerful, thanks to their cordial relationship with the bearded men who came from somewhere very far away.

No good things last forever, and xenophobic colonists had a tendency to lump all Native Americans together. So when the constant skirmishes between the Powhatan and the Virginia colonists escalated into open warfare in the 1670’s, the Susquehannock were dragged into the conflict – this due to unprovoked attacks by colonists on Susquehannock people. A decade later, the once so mighty Susquehannock had hit the dust. Their wooden forts had been razed to the ground, their men had been slain, their women enslaved, and what few remnants remained had fled due north-west, seeking the protection of their erstwhile enemies, the Iroquois.

Some Susquehannock made it over to Pennsylvania and founded a community there, Conestoga Town. There they eeked out a living far removed from their former life, hiring themselves as labourers to adjoining farms. In 1763, the last three dozen or so of true-blooded Susquehannock were massacred by the Paxton Boys, a militant group of white bad boys who killed whatever Indians they could get their hands on in retaliation for the recent French-Indian war. Less than two centuries after their first contact with the European settlers, the Susquehannock had ceased to exist. It was as if someone had used a giant eraser to rub them out. Completely.

9781781321355-100dpiIn The Graham Saga, Matthew and Alex Graham are obliged by various events to flee their homeland and instead make a new life for themselves in Maryland. Their first encounters with this their new home are depicted in A Newfound Land, and it is also in this book that Matthew and Alex (plus my readers) first meet Qaachow, proud Susquehannock chief. Qaachow shares his name with one of the victims of the 1763 massacre (one of the few lists we have of Susquehannock names), and sometimes I worry that the little boy so brutally murdered in the 18th century is a great-great-grandson of my Qaachow. But my Qaachow is not a defenceless boy, he is a leader of men, a chief, a man who views the white settlers on lands that were once his with more curiosity than ill-will – at least initially.

Some sort of friendship springs up between Matthew and Qaachow, two men with similar perceptions of right and wrong, two men intent on protecting their families. But as the Susquehannock lose everything to the white man, Qaachow’s relationship with Matthew changes, developing from an uncomplicated, if cautious, friendship to something far more bitter – as is depicted over the last few books of The Graham Saga. Ultimately, Matthew and Alex will pay a very high price for Qaachow’s continued goodwill, but they have no choice, dependent as they are on his protection.

Qaachow is my homage to a people that no longer is, to a people who extended their hands in generous welcome to the palefaces that landed on their shores – a gesture they were to bitterly regret. As Qaachow says to Alex, “We should have listened to our wary brethren of the north and pushed you back into the sea.” In retrospect, of course they should. But then, most of us don’t know today what tomorrow’s consequences of our actions will be. That’s probably a good thing, I think. Just as it is a good thing if people do extend a helping hand to those that need it.

Sadly, I’m not sure the restless shades of the Susquehannock agree. The price they paid was way too high, and where once it was their voices that rang through the forests of Maryland and Delaware, now they are forever silenced. Forgotten, as if they had never existed at all. But they did exist. They lived and hoped, they loved and lost, leaving nothing behind but a whisper in the soughing wind, a sudden burst of sunlight in a silent glade.

About the Graham Saga
This is the story of two people who should never have met – not when she was born three centuries after him. But sometimes impossible things happen, and so Alex Lind ends up at the feet of Matthew Graham. Life will never be the same for Alex – or for Matthew.

Anna Belgrage Banner of books-2

Buy A Newfound Land: http://mybook.to/ANL
Anna’s website: http://www.annabelfrage.com
Anna’s blog. https://annabelfrage.wordpress.com
Anna on twitter: @Anna_Belfrage

Anna has been visiting numerous blogs this week. Don’t miss any of her stops! And visit indieBrag for a Book Giveaway.

Blog Schedule

  1. September 21-
    The Maiden’s Court – www.themaidenscourt.blogspot.com
    An Interview with Matthew Graham
  2. September 22-
    Of History and Kings – www.ofhistoryandkings.blogspot.com
    All at Sea – chatting with author Anna Belfrage about sea travel in the 1600s
  3. September 23-
    everyday happy foods – www.everydayhappyfoods.com
    Food blogger Susan visits Alex’s 17th century kitchen 
  1. September 24-
    Just One More Chapter – www.JustOneMoreChapter.com
    Anna shares an excerpt from Revenge and Retribution
  1. September 25 –
    The Many Worlds of Char… charlenenewcomb.com/
    A Lost People, A Lost Voice
  1. September 26th
    Stuart S. Laing – stuartslaing.wordpress.com/
    The Misfortunes of War
  1. September 26th
    Layered Pages – layeredpages.com
    IndieBRAG Book Blitz with Anna Belfrage: Historical Fiction & Meaning

Anna Belfrage, bio

Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a professional time-traveller. As such a profession does as yet not exists, she settled for second best and became a financial professional with two absorbing interests, namely history and writing. These days, Anna combines an exciting day-job with a large family and her writing endeavours. 

When Anna fell in love with her future husband, she got Scotland as an extra, not because her husband is Scottish or has a predilection for kilts, but because his family fled Scotland due to religious persecution in the 17th century – and were related to the Stuarts. For a history buff like Anna, these little details made Future Husband all the more desirable, and sparked a permanent interest in the Scottish Covenanters, which is how Matthew Graham, protagonist of the acclaimed The Graham Saga, began to take shape.

Set in 17th century Scotland and Virginia/Maryland, the series tells the story of Matthew and Alex, two people who should never have met – not when she was born three hundred years after him. With this heady blend of romance, adventure, high drama and historical accuracy, Anna hopes to entertain and captivate, and is more than thrilled when readers tell her just how much they love her books and her characters.

Presently, Anna is hard at work with her next project, a series set in the 1320s featuring Adam de Guirande, his wife Kit, and their adventures and misfortunes in connection with Roger Mortimer’s rise to power. The King’s Greatest Enemy is a series where passion and drama play out against a complex political situation, where today’s traitor may be tomorrow’s hero, and the Wheel of Life never stops rolling. The first instalment in the Adam and Kit story, In the Shadow of the Storm, will be published in the autumn of 2015.

Rocky Mountain highs amidst the Historical Novel Society Conference

What a way to begin my first HNS conference – a 3 hour broadsword workshop with writer/actor/swordsman David Blixt and his associate Brandon St. Clair Saunders.
david and brandon

These two gentlemen were superb swordsmen and were incredibly patient with some of us who were a bit uncoordinated, i.e., me!

Sword and shield

 Mary (from Iowa) and me!

Sparks flew. (Yeah, right.) We had a blast. And no humans were maimed in the process.

Even better, I met authors Sharon Kay Penman (Lionheart;and, A King’s Ransom; and many more) and Patricia Bracewell (Shadow on the Crown; and, The Price of Blood) in the workshop.

Sharon is such a lovely woman. I’d ‘met’ her through social media a couple of years back. She emailed me about 2 weeks before the conference and invited me to have lunch with her. Novelist Priscilla Royal joined us. This was the best conference moment ever! We talked of our love of the Angevins, of writing, deadlines, and marketing, of our favorite medieval fiction writers, and of the books we were working on and had already written.

me and Sharon Kay Penman
Me & Sharon Kay Penman
Priscilla Royal & me
Priscilla Royal & me

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

at the indieBRAG booth
with Geri & Stephanie at the indieBRAG book

 

And if that wasn’t enough, I met Geri & Bob Clouston and Stephanie Moore Hopkins of indieBRAG, who are extremely supportive of indie-published writers and made me feel so much at home. Stephanie also writes and hosts LayeredPages.

 

I’ll save the description of sessions I attended for another post – and there were many I enjoyed. It was surreal stepping into an elevator with two of my favorite authors: Diana Gabaldon and Patricia Bracewell. But the absolute highlight – beyond lunch with Sharon – was spending time with two individuals I’ve come to know through Twitter and Facebook: Anna Belfrage and Alison Morton. Both are indieBRAG Medallion honorees (multiple times!) and were such fun. Two of the warmest people I know.

Anna & me
Anna & me
with Alison Morton
me & Alison

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post-conference blues hit when you have to say goodbye to friends, but I headed north to Rocky Mountain Park to enjoy some time with family and great scenery.

Rocky Mountain National Park