Medieval Fantasy for Adults: My Life Quest to Entertain Lettered Medievalists and Historians (Perfection is for the Few)

When we were children it was easy for us to become enchanted by stories and films that were riddled with unrealistic combat, scenarios and outcomes. Stories designed for children and the wider audience are more often than not unrealistic on purpose. After all, fairy tales, stories written by brilliant minds in the Middle Ages, intentionally contain absolutes and one-dimensional characters because they’re important for the growth of our children’s moralities and identities. This is why many modern fantasy novels, if inspired by medieval fairy tales, which most of them clearly are, continue this pattern of ‘writing for children and the wider audience’ and so, if you’ve chosen the path of a medievalist or simply are passionate about medieval living like I am, you probably already know that it’s very hard or near-impossible to be satisfied by the current fantasy genre despite our love for it. There are of course gems like The Traitor Son Cycle and A Song of Ice and Fire which are intentionally inspired by actual history rather than fairy tales and these end up being the books younger audiences can’t enjoy because, as they sometimes say, they’re too complex or complicated. In other words there aren’t that many medieval fantasy books that are purely designed for adults only. And by ‘designed for adults only’ I don’t mean more blood and sex; I mean an academic vocabulary and impressively realistic detail that, for true medievalists, never fails to hit the G-spot so to speak.

My life purpose is to create medieval fantasy stories that even the most scholared of academics can not only enjoy but also lose themselves in just like they do when they read actual historical documents in their preferred niche. Currently I am extremely far from reaching my life purpose but (here’s a brief update on book three of the Siege after Siege trilogy) I have been doing more studying and editing than writing lately and, after personally learning the valuable lesson of never revealing something half-finished first hand, I will be releasing third editions of “Knights of the Dawn” and “Knights without Honor” before I release book three, “Knights on the March”, (hopefully in 2018) because I’m never making that mistake again! When I release book three I want to be able to sit back and know that the trilogy is finished so I can finally make physical copies and move on, and doing that requires more work than you’ll believe because, as I said, I’m intentionally writing for those rare people who appreciate medieval realism and not those who are easily enchanted by the current state of things. And more passionate than this dream of satisfying scholars is my dream of directing movies. Not yet to this day is there a medieval fantasy movie, a medieval historical fiction movie that deserves the description ‘realistic’ no matter how many of them claim to be so (excluding historical epics from the 1920s to 1980s like A Man for All Seasons).

Once you’ve truly delved into medieval history–like I have just recently started doing with my learning about Bretwalda, chevauchée, cheminage, curtanas, moss-troopers, the impressiveness of Robert the Bruce and the Black Prince, etc–you too will realize how unrealistic even the newest of medieval films and TV shows really are. For instance the movie “Ironclad” has thatch that’s only as thick as my thumb; “The Last Kingdom” shows everyone, even the rich, wearing drab clothing; “Game of Thrones”, perhaps worst of all despite its reputation, shows swords stabbing through breastplates!

Realistic fantasy will never be better or worse than unrealistic fantasy because at the end of the day the wider audience will still need something to read. All I’m trying to do is give those rare fans of a certain kind of fantasy what they’re craving because, frankly, there’s very, very little of it! I decided to share these thoughts today, despite it not being the wisest move, because some people have been wondering why it’s taking so long to release my next book. My standards are growing daily and if you’re at all interested in this ‘niche’ or ‘style of realistic fantasy’ then I, out of respect for your time and value of life, suggest that you check back here every few years because things are going to get AWESOME!

And for further reading consider the volume Misconceptions About the Middle Ages edited by Stephen Harris and Bryon L. Grigsby

Once again I make a shout out to http://manuscriptminiatures.com/ for the amazing photograph!

 

 

 

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An Innovation in LitHEMA

realistic swordplay in books and entertainment

I dream of media that presents historical combat as realistically as possible, especially combat in the Middle Ages. Perhaps soon my dreams will come true. Enjoyment from debunking misconceptions in fantasy is a new but rapidly growing means of entertainment, made possible by the discovery of historical combat treatises and expressive historians like Lindybeige and Matt Easton.

sword fights in fantasy compared to real life

In a previous post I talked about the three rules of this exciting new niche. I mentioned that LitHEMA is a subgenre of fantasy and historical fiction, but what about other genres? To prove that realistic swordplay doesn’t have to take place in a historical context or a medieval fantasy, I am writing a post-apocalyptic action & adventure novel about a HEMA practitioner who must rely on his skills as a swordsman to survive. This novel will also fall into the science-fiction genre, therefore proving that LitHEMA can be a subgenre of anything, even horror for example, as long as it follows the three rules, staying true to facts and straying from popular myths, only saving the odd exaggeration for drama’s sake.

media that shows siege warfare realisticaly

Fantasy written before the discovery and availability of historical combat treatises are the classics that motivate me to write today, but the swordfights are lame. With that said, I hope there will soon be a long lasting web of HEMA-inspired entertainment available to the public.

Until then I have a lot of work to do.

Free Short Story (Knights without Honor hits Kindle March 16!)

To celebrate my excitement for the release of Book Two of Arcanum of the Dolmen Troll, I want to share a brief snippet of the book with you all! This snippet stands as a complete story and I promise no major plot will be spoiled by reading it. Thanks so much for all your support! Click here to check out the book.

Now here we go. I hope you enjoy!

A MOTHER DUCK’S webbed feet flapped up an arrow-riddled bogside. The light of the moon and stars made the mud of the bogside look blue, and the bog itself was a pit of blackness. A score of screaming horsemen completed a circuit around the bog and the mother duck pronked back down the slope in fright. She flapped her wings and quacked desperately. A train of yellow ducklings answered her from the middle of the bog, chirping and chirping as they kicked and kicked through the blackness towards the bogside. Looming high above the ducks, a crooked siege tower filled with men was groaning and creaking, taking volley after volley of arrows and bolts from distant castle walls. Yelps of cessation filled the night with a palpable misery.

A dying man fell from the top of the tower and splashed in the bog water beside the train of ducklings. In the throes of the splash, the teensy chirplings were yellow petals tossing in a rapid river. The man’s screams turned into bubbles as he drowned in his armor. The ducklings kicked and kicked away from his flailing arms, swirling in waves of madness.

On the bogside, the mother duck craned her head to show her babies a nervous eye and quacked. The screaming cavalry completed another circuit and their galloping hooves kicked up a splash of mud that pushed the mother duck into the bog. Soon she was floundering with her ducklings, quacking at their chirps in the waves. She bit one of her babies by the scruff of the neck and used her wings to gather others. As she quacked at a few who had been tossed far away by the splash, she caught eye of a passing sparkle.

One of the horsemen racing around the bog was brandishing a sword above his head. The sword shimmered in the moonlight and made the hen tilt her head for a better look. It was a momentary flash—a spark of determination. The man on the horse was wearing a black hauberk, and the twenty horsemen at his rear were clad in blackened plate. The silvery chanfrons on the heads of their horses gleamed brightly like wraiths. The chanfrons turned blue and white and blue again in the moonlight, and would turn red every time they passed the siege tower. Moments ago, shieldmen and engineers had been trying to unstuck one of the siege tower’s wheels from the mud, but the screaming wraiths had cut them all down. Now the foot of the siege tower was ablaze and the wraiths were throwing up jeers and japes at the men dying inside.

The rider in the black hauberk made another spark of determination as he galloped under the crooked tower. Dirty men were up in the wooden arrow slits, shaking their shields in anger at the circuiting wraiths below. But no matter how angrily they shook their shields, none of them were mad enough to jump down to the wraith’s level, not unless they wanted to get hewed. From the castle on the other side of the warground, arrows arced over the sky and bolts hissed long and true. Some shafts cracked or glanced off the wooden tower. Others hissed through loopholes and hit marks.

The rider in the black hauberk was determined not to quit until the tower was down. After each circuit around the bog, the tower’s groans became louder, the flames higher, and the mother duck and her chirplings were lost in the middle of it all. One man inside the tower knew he would die soon, and so he observed the ducks with love, placing his mind far away into a much more beautiful place. An arrow thudded against the wall by his head, but he didn’t flinch a bit as he stared down through a gap in the wood. He smiled at the mother duck as an image of home lingered in his mind. A bolt hissed through the gap and made his head jerk back. Mind-muddled, he got trampled by the dozens of desperate men swaying about in the crooked tower.

Every time the mother duck felt like she was close to gathering all her babies, another body would fall from the tower and scatter them all again. As the rider in the black hauberk showed yet another spark of determination, the mother duck made hers. Hope glistened in her watery eyes. She quacked and kicked and gathered her chicks all over again. She would not give up until her babies were safe.

One angered man in the tower had had enough. He crawled through a crevice in the wood and leaped down into the mud.

The fire at the foot of the wooden tower was roaring now, and so the surface of the bog was illumed with hundreds of snaking yellow streaks. The light was dancing off the wetness, glistening and splashing around the angered man’s boots as he trudged up the muddy slope. He swung his sword at a passing horseman. It bounced harmlessly off the rider’s greave. Anger rising, the man swung at the next rider. At that moment he too created his own spark of determination as his sword flashed in the firelight.

The approaching rider saw the flash and directed his stallion with a push of his knee towards it.

The angered swordsman was thrown by the horse’s shoulder. He went rolling back down the muddy slope and lost his sword before he splashed in the bog water. His spark of determination had been bright, but now it was gradually extinguishing for he refused to get back up. He decided to lie there and stare at the moon. He listened to the chirplings. They suddenly sounded so close. If he lied there in the water and pretended to be dead, he could walk away in the morning. That was his hope, until a sudden loud snap heralded his doom. His eyes opened wide to see the siege tower tilting. It was falling right towards him. In another life he would’ve tried to swim away, he promised himself, but not in this one.

The siege tower smacked the bog’s surface, devoured the loser and created an eruption of muddy water. The ejecta filled the air for a time, then came back down in flapping heaps as the tower settled into its new place. The tower was creaking and groaning like a capsized wreck and all the while men were spewing up out of the loopholes. Swords and axes hacked away to make new exits, and one by one men crawled from the wreck to gawp at the stars with faces raped by madness. One by one they came and one by one arrows and bolts from the commanding castle put them down again. Arrows thudded into them relentlessly and many slipped off the side of the wreck to die in the bog. A few who made it to the bogside were cut down by the circuiting wraiths. Soon the last dying man’s screams were quelled by the end of a broken lance.

The victor in the black hauberk remounted, then led his wraiths away. When their galloping hooves were far, quacks and chirps began to dominate the atmosphere. The chirps were frantic and the quacks were distressed at first, but after a time they collected and quieted and settled. The ducklings were safe with their mother again, waddling up out of the bog. Within a cozy tussock at the top of the slope, the chicks nestled under their mother’s wings and closed their eyes to sleep. Somewhere yonder, another battle was beginning. That was sure. But here by the bog, everything was peaceful.

The End

There we go! That was just a brief taste of what Knights without Honor has in store. For those of you who prefer hardcover books, I’ll be creating box sets once I finish Book Three of Arcanum of the Dolmen Troll in mid-2017! Thanks again for all your love and support!

Vermiform and Silver Lining: Eveland’s Word and Wisdom of the Week

Due to my hectic schedule, I’ve decided to change my ‘Word of the Night’ service into a ‘Word and Wisdom of the Week’ service. Building a vocabulary goes hand in hand with collecting worldly wisdom, so I’m sure this service will benefit anyone who’s willing to follow.

WORD

This week’s word is vermiform. Vermiform is an adjective which means ‘having the semblance of a worm.’ For example, the vermiform sea monster wriggled onto shore.

WISDOM

This week’s wisdom is a gentle reminder to always see the silver lining. Some people always look for faults in things, commenting on what’s ugly and wrong. These tend to be the least happy of people. Others who train their minds to observe the good in things are more prone to smile when something goes amiss.

A few years ago, during what my friends would call my spiritual phase, I got really good at seeing the silver lining. I’ve since gone back to my old ways, and now I have to train myself all over again. I believe learning to see the good, even when the bad seems too burdensome, can not only improve your mental mood but increase your overall health as well.

Happy daydreaming.

P.S. If you’re a lover of blogs, my friend has started up a great news/motivational blog called The Canadian Spire. Check it out 🙂 http://thecanadianspire.com

 

Knights of the Dawn is now available on Kindle!

Click here to check it out!

Swords to take a land. Castles to keep it. The return of an ancient magic to change everything.

When the war began, Lord Spywater galloped from his gate to answer the call of his king. Knowing all his might would be needed abroad, he left his castle with nothing but a garrison of five loyal men to defend it. Now after a long and bloody campaign, he journeys back with a score of knights to see if his banners still fly at home. Little does he know, a series of calamities awaits.

“Hone your blade and don your armor, brave reader. Knights of the Dawn will blow your chair out from under you and bestrew your carpet with splinters!”
Knights without Honor: Book 2 of Arcanum of the Dolmen Troll is also out for pre-order. Get it here!
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