An Argument of Blood by J.A. Ironside & Matthew Willis

 

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It is my privilege to be part of the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour for An Argument of Blood. First, a brief summary of the story:

William, the nineteen-year-old duke of Normandy, is enjoying the full fruits of his station. Life is a succession of hunts, feasts, and revels, with little attention paid to the welfare of his vassals. Tired of the young duke’s dissolute behaviour and ashamed of his illegitimate birth, a group of traitorous barons force their way into his castle. While William survives their assassination attempt, his days of leisure are over. He’ll need help from the king of France to secure his dukedom from the rebels.

On the other side of the English Channel lives ten-year-old Ælfgifa, the malformed and unwanted youngest sister to the Anglo-Saxon Jarl, Harold Godwinson. Ælfgifa discovers powerful rivalries in the heart of the state when her sister Ealdgyth is given in a political marriage to King Edward, and she finds herself caught up in intrigues and political manoeuvring as powerful men vie for influence. Her path will collide with William’s, and both must fight to shape the future.

An Argument of Blood is the first of two sweeping historical novels on the life and battles of William the Conqueror.

And the review:

An entertaining tale of William the Conqueror (or Bastard, depending on who’s talking), as a young man shaken out of his young man’s revelry and into the harsh reality of life as a Duke.  It is also a tale of Godwin’s youngest daughter, Aelfgifa, the unlovely, yet extremely intelligent girl who finds herself a player in the game for the English throne of the heir less Edward.  The authors have combined to deliver an intriguing look at how these early years led to the eventual history making/changing year of 1066.  The characters come alive, the youthful exuberance of William turning into a fierce determination, the misjudging and dismissal of Aelfgifa are perfect examples, and by no means the only ones.  It was a strange time and everyone who has the slightest link to the throne gets involved, and while this is all historical fact, it takes a good fiction writer, or in this case fiction writers, to take that history and piece together a tale that falls into the realm of believable possibility.  We all know the outcome awaiting William, but it is still an intriguing take on the path leading to his destiny, and an intriguing look at the easy to overlook woman who played an important part in that destiny.  4.3 stars and am looking forward to the sequel.

About the Authors

J.A. Ironside (Jules) grew up in rural Dorset, surrounded by books – which pretty much set he up for life as a complete bibliophile. She loves speculative fiction of all stripes, especially fantasy and science fiction, although when it comes to the written word, she’s not choosy and will read almost anything. Actually it would be fair to say she starts to go a bit peculiar if she doesn’t get through at least three books a week. She writes across various genres, both adult and YA fiction, and it’s a rare story if there isn’t a fantastical or speculative element in there somewhere.

Jules has had several short stories published in magazines and anthologies, as well as recorded for literature podcasts. Books 1 and 2 of her popular Unveiled series are currently available with the 3rd and 4th books due for release Autumn/ Winter 2017.

She also co-authored the sweeping epic historical Oath and Crown Duology with Matthew Willis, released June 2017 from Penmore Press.

Jules now lives on the edge of the Cotswold way with her boyfriend creature and a small black and white cat, both of whom share a god-complex.

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Matthew Willis is an author of historical fiction, SF, fantasy and non-fiction. In June 2017 An Argument of Blood, the first of two historical novels about the Norman Conquest co-written with J.A. Ironside, was published. In 2015 his story Energy was shortlisted for the Bridport short story award.

Matthew studied Literature and History of Science at the University of Kent, where he wrote an MA thesis on Joseph Conrad and sailed for the University in national competitions. He subsequently worked as a journalist for Autosport and F1 Racing magazines, before switching to a career with the National Health Service.

His first non-fiction book, a history of the Blackburn Skua WW2 naval dive bomber, was published in 2007. He now has four non fiction books published with a fifth, a biography of test pilot Duncan Menzies, due later in 2017. He currently lives in Southampton and writes both fiction and non-fiction for a living.

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During the Book Blast we will be giving away a signed copy of An Argument of Blood


To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on February 7th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

– Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.

– Only one entry per household.

– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.

– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Enter the giveaway here

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1066 What Fates Impose

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Once again this old reader of books was asked to read and review an author’s muse inspired work.  Once again this old reader of books was glad he said yes.  1066 What Fates Impose is, as the title indicates, a story of the Norman invasion of England and William the Bastard’s attempt to claim the throne.  One of the reasons I like this book is that while William has his place in the story, it is King Harold Godwinson who is the main protagonist.  The author does an excellent job in setting up Harold’s eventual rise to the crown and the problems he faces in keeping it.  The story is rich in the feel and flavor of the times due to the historical research done by Mr. Holloway and the main characters are all well written.  While the first third of the book does run a little slow(as the author sets up the rest of the book) the remainder qualifies as page turning material.  An adventurous ride awaits the reader as the action flows from place to place setting up the climatic clash at Hastings and the world changing outcome of that battle.  Give yourself a treat and delve into the world of 11th century life, warfare and history in this well written tale.  4 stars.

About G K Holloway

I was born in a small anonymous little town in the north of England where I lived the first twenty five years of my life. On leaving school I worked in a variety of jobs until I decided it was time for a change. Having always liked history, I thought I’d enjoy studying the subject for a degree, so, enrolling onto evening classes at my local college to take O Level and A Level courses, seemed the obvious thing to do.

After graduating from Coventry with an honours degree in English and Politics, I spent nearly a year in Canada before returning to England to train as a Careers Advisor in Bristol; a city I like so much I’m still living here thirty five years later. Once I’d qualified, I worked in secondary education before moving onto further education, adult education and eventually higher education.

The inspiration for my novel, ‘1066: What Fates Impose’, came from reading a biography of Harold Godwinson, that my wife bought me. I found the book really opened my eyes to the late Anglo Saxon era. Once I’d finished it I wanted to know more, so I read books about William the Conqueror, the Godwin family and then more and more about Anglo Saxon England. I found the history fascinating, full of marauding Vikings, papal plots, blood feuds, court intrigues, assassinations, so much so, I couldn’t believe the story hadn’t been covered more. So, I decided to do something myself. I researched everything I could about the period, including court etiquette; sword manufacturing techniques; everything. I also visited many of the locations that appear in the book, usually on family holidays and once I’d done all that, and it took quite some time, I wove together facts and fiction to produce the novel.

When writing the book I decided to stick as close as possible to the events and be as true to the characters as possible. For me it’s important to get the research right, so the reader has confidence in the story, knowing what they’re reading is the real thing. This is why Lady Godiva doesn’t ride naked through the streets of Coventry – It never happened. Besides, there was enough going on at that time for me not to have to add any additional spice to the story. Most of the events depicted in my book really happened with perhaps, one or two exceptions or manipulations. That is, I think, why the history comes alive.

Wasteland: Book 2 of The Lost King by Martin Lake

The further I go into this wonderfully written series the more I want to know about William the Bastard and the Norman conquest of England, a subject that doesn’t receive due justice or scrutiny on my side of The Pond in my humble opinion.  All I ever learned was the date 1066, nothing about the reality of the time.  English resistance and rebellion during this period is the focus of the author’s work and I couldn’t help but wonder how things would be different if the Normans had been thrown back to Normandy.

The main character is Edgar, the rightful King of England as proclaimed by The Witan after the disastrous defeat at Hastings.  In book 2 he has raised an army and allied himself with a large Danish force with the intent of recovering his crown.  There is little that goes right for Edgar as he is faced time and time again with adverse results in battle and with treachery and betrayal.  The author has given the reader a steady glimpse into the mind of Edgar as he deals with these defeats and betrayals and how he subjects his doubts and fears to an indomitable spirit to survive and to succeed.

I heartily recommend this very readable and enjoyable journey into the England’s history and look forward with great anticipation to the next volume in the series.  4 stars and a thank you for kindling my desire to know more.