Monday, April 16, 2012

Invasion and Conquest invaluable gifts for the writer

Hello, I'm Joanna Fulford, another avid scribbler of stories with a medieval theme. This is a broad definition. However, historical boundaries are fluid rather than rigid, with the Dark Ages flowing into the Early Medieval period. In recent years I have become engrossed in both, specifically the Viking era and the Norman Conquest because they were such important watersheds in English history. The year 1066 is probably the most memorable date of all, but 793 isn't far behind. What fascinates me is the vast web of connections between the two. From their first recorded raid on Lindisfarne to the Battle of Stamford Bridge and beyond, the Vikings were an integral part of the social and political fabric. Their influence stretched across great swathes of the known world. King William had to buy them off in order to consolidate his hold on England in the years after the Battle of Hastings. It's a deliciously ironic touch, given that he was descended from Viking stock himself.

  My books, The Viking's Defiant Bride and its sequel, The Viking's Touch, cover a 25 year period involving massive social upheaval. This began with the Great Viking Invasion of 865AD when the sons of Ragnar Lodbrok, incensed by the news of their father's death at the hands of King Aella of Northumbria, sought vengeance. Thus they gathered a huge army and took ship for England. Aella's death was equally gruesome when the Vikings caught up with him: the ritual blood eagle sacrifice, with salt thrown into the wounds for good measure. Unlike previous incursions though, this time the invaders had come to stay. The transition period, before the conquerors became established settlers, seemed to offer numerous possibilities for the writer and it was something I was keen to explore.
   My hero, Wulfrum Ragnarsson, is a warlord with the Great Army. Loyal service wins him an estate and with it a beautiful and fiery Saxon bride, Elgiva. Marriage to the Viking means that she is forced to live between two worlds, tested by both and torn by divided loyalties. Complicating matters further is the increasing attraction she feels for Wulfrum whose heart seems an impenetrable as his mail shirt.

   The Laird's Captive Wife is also concerned with a time of political and social turmoil: The Harrying of the North in the winter of 1069-70. Harrying is something of a euphemism. These days we call it genocide, and the episode ranks as the most infamous of all King William's deeds. William the Bastard seems to have lived up to his name in every way. On his deathbed he may have caught a whiff of sulphur because, allegedly, he confessed that the harrying troubled his conscience.
   My heroine, Ashlynn, and her family are caught up in these events. When her home is destroyed and her relatives slain, she becomes a penniless fugitive. Nevertheless, nothing is so bad it can't get worse, as she discovers when she falls into the clutches of the notorious warlord, Black Iain McAlpin. He has an agenda of his own and Ashlynn isn't part of it, until King Malcolm takes a hand and commands him to marry her. Alone and powerless, Ashlynn is forced to comply. She is taken thence to Dark Mount, an impregnable fortress in remote Glengarron. There she must come to terms with life in the wild and lawless Scottish borderlands, and with the dangerously charismatic man who is now her husband and who means to claim her for his own.

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