Thursday, 2 May 2013

Welcome to the Great Heroes & Villains Blog Hop! This is an exciting event where you book mad fans get the chance to win some prizes on every blog you visit. On mine I have 5 e-book copies of my novel to be won, not just one copy but 5! that means you have plenty of chance to win. All you have to do is read my blog post and then follow the easy instructions at the end of the post. Its so easy! Then hop over and take a look at everyone else's blog posts for the chance to win more prizes! there are 21 blogs to visit so that's 21 chances to win a prize! The winners of the blog hop prize will be posted here on my blog for all to see and then all you have to do is message me either on FB or twitter and I will send you your prize.

To contribute to this fun blog hop, I wanted to explore the character of my protagonist in my novel, Sons of the Wolf. Wulfhere is more hero than villain, but he is extremely flawed and although he could neither be considered evil or bad, he struggles with the side of him that is selfish and immoral. In some ways, he is both hero and villain. To get some idea of the overview of Wulfhere's story read a synopsis of the novel.

At first glance, Wulfhere is everything a stereo-typical hero should be, steadfast, loyal, loving and protective of those close to him, putting others before himself. He perhaps models himself on his Lord, Harold, who is all of these things and generally unwavering in those qualities unless he has to be. But Wulfhere has weaknesses. Women. These come in all sorts of forms, one is his wife, one is his mistress and the other is his daughter Freyda. Imagine a huge lion  lying patiently  in the cool of the outstretched branches of a tree in the hot African  plains,   while his cubs play around him, climbing over him, swatting him with their little claws and annoying him like flies. The females hunt for him, provide him with his lunch and look after his offspring, but they nag him too, because he is lazy and he doesn't do anything they want him to. When lunch is served, the little ones continue to annoy him and no one badgers the head of the family when he is at table! Suddenly, the lion roars and everyone scatters in fear. This is how it is with Wulfhere. He will patiently endure his wife, Ealdgytha's  efforts to chastise him and punish him for his discretions or his lack of motivation or advancement; he will allow his mistress, the beautiful and enigmatic Alfgyva to pressure him and make him feel guilty; as for Freyda, his vivacious young daughter, she gets away with murder because she is his favourite child and he can deny her nothing until one day they over step the mark and his anger, slowly brought to boil, suddenly reaches its maximum heat and he explodes in rage, roars like the lion and everyone is sent running, just as the lion cubs have done, in the tornado of hot wind that emanates from his great jaws. It is then that Wulfhere becomes the villain, he lashes out, either on some poor human or on some inanimate but necessary object. If only he could have asserted himself more carefully and not allowed these women to cudgel him into action. He might then have remained on the moral high-ground and stayed even-tempered like the Earl, whom he looks up to.

It is during the Battle of  Hereford that we see this other side of this man. Wulfhere morphs into Hero Mode when he is forced out of necessity to fall into that role, taking command not only of his own unit but of all the men  when the English cavalry flank he is part of is thrown into chaos, betrayed and deserted by their commander-in-chief, Earl Ralph. The King's nephew had left the field with his own mounted men before the battle had even started, leaving the already overwhelmed English army, even more depleted. Wulfhere takes charge, he is an experienced horseman, but not experienced in fighting on horseback with organised cavalry. As a thegn, he is used to being a leader among men and he knows that his forces will look to him as he rallies them to him, shouting orders in the mayhem, bringing some order to the pandemonium that has ensued the Earl's desertion. The men rally to him and he manages to instil some inspiration in them, calling upon them not to be cowards and flee the field as the yellow-livered Franko/Normans had done. He knew that either way they would die, but at least if they stood their ground and fought, they would have a chance and if that chance did not come, he for one would die like a warrior with his sword in his hand till the end and not be taken down with a spear in his back.

And so here we have the many facets of our Wulfhere. He is neither the ultimate saintly hero who will fight against all evil and maintain that saintly, chivalric characteristic as he goes about the business of life, forging a road through to Heaven that is as unobstructed by rocks and boulders as his copy book is unblotted. Nor is he the villain of the piece, without conscience or a sense of guilt at his shortcomings; never trying to put the wrongs he has committed, aright. He is proud, often to his detriment. He cannot always see the full extent of what his actions have done to those he cares for, but he truly does try to make amends when he does. He is the lion, majestic and proud, considerate and protective, loyal and steadfast, expecting love and affection in return for his love and regard. He is the roar of the beast when pushed too far and his pride explodes in a tornado of wrath that everyone should do well to fear. He is neither devilish, roguish or villainous, saintly, patient or subservient. He is human and that is what I believe are the qualities that make my readers feel empathy for him.


Who do you love? Is your favourite character a hero, villain or a flawed human being like Wulfhere?

To enter for a chance to win an e-copy of my novel Sons of the Wolf, tell me who your favourite character is and why and you will be entered into the draw. there are five copies to win! Please leave your answers in the comment boxes below the boxes and click on the links to the other bloghoppers for more chances to win prizes! Thanks so much for visiting us here at Sons of the Wolf!

Don't forget to hop on over to the others!!! We're here for the longweekend!

List of Links

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

A preview of an Excerpt from The Wolf Banner

            “You are very pensive today, min deore,” Harold said when he and Eadgyth, having broken their fast that Sunday morn, attended mass with everyone in Waltham present to welcome their lord home. He was surveying the work in progress, the new Church of the Holy Rood. Harold had commissioned the new church to replace the old ramshackle building in thanksgiving for surviving a serious illness when he had been younger. His mother had prayed for him at the altar in the old church for his recovery and it was where he had first met Eadgyth and fallen in love with her as she had tended him when he was sick. He had made the oath to rebuild the old church in new finery some years ago, inspired by King Edward’s work on his own project, the great church of St Peter in Westminster.

The children skipped around them with Ranulf acting as their guardian and although the day which had started bright with sunshine and blue sky was now cloudy with a chill in the air, there was nothing but warmth between them as Eadgyth held on to her husband as if he were nothing more than a vision that would soon vaporise into thin air if she didn’t.

            Eadgyth had been preoccupied, vague and hardly participating in her usual effervescent manner. Harold’s head canon, Adelard and the chief stonemason, a Frenchman called Robert Deschamps showed them around the half built church, explaining in his captivating style the machinations of the work. But Eadgyth seemed lost in a world of her own and although she was educated, knew how to converse very well in the French language that they were all speaking, she maintained a low profile throughout. As the party had paused to admire the building, the laughter of the children echoing as they skipped around the stone foundations and the half built walls, Harold stopped and leaned in closely to her and repeated what he had said to her earlier which had gone ignored. “Min Deore, you are lost in a world beyond here, what ails you this morning?” He emphasised ‘you’ as if he were referencing his own brooding manner from the previous night.

            She turned dreamy eyes toward him and they were moist, as if ready to break into tears. “’Tis nothing, Harold...” She hesitated as if there were more.

            Harold lowered his chin and raised thick brown eyebrows that contrasted to the lightness of his hair. So attuned to each other’s nature were they, that each one could read the other’s mood like a missive.

            “Nothing is ever nothing when it is nothing,” Harold said, his voice low and encouraging.

            “There is something that I wish to say to you, but I do not know where to begin,” she stated.

            “Then say it, Sweeting. What is it?”

            “Nay, I cannot here. Not with company around us.”

            “Then let us walk,” he suggested. And he indicated to Skalpi that he wanted to be alone with his wife to walk back to their manor, knowing that the children would be safe with their nurse and Ranulf and the rest of his companions.

            They walked on ahead and Eadgyth diverted to a peaceful place where she thought they could be in private for a while to talk. She had thought of nothing else all morning, all through the mass and then as they walked around their new church.

            “I want you to marry,” she said after a few moments of silence. Her voice was confident. They sat by the mill pond on the wooden seating that Harold himself had made so that she could go there with the children when the weather was good.

            For a moment, sitting beside her, it was as if he hadn’t heard her, for he didn’t move or make any acknowledgement. She heard him breathe and wondered if he was ever going to answer her. “It is the only way,” she said.

            He looked at her, bemused. “My love,” he said and he gave a little laugh that sounded fake. “What on earth has gotten into you? Have you tired of me already?”

            She shook her head and put her hand in his. “Never, never, never ever would I tire of you, my Lord. It is not for me that I ask this, for I could never imagine being without you... and you have, not ever in our time together, given me cause to be displeased with you, or want to be away from you. It is for Wulfnoth and Hakon that I ask this.” She paused and showed him intensity of her pale blue eyes that betrayed the self-assurance of her voice.

 He was looking at her with sudden understanding of the sacrifice she was attempting. “Eadgyth, lufestre, there is no point in asking this of me for I will not marry, not while I have you.”

“Even if it would get Hakon and Wulfhnoth back?”

“How would my marrying someone else help?” he asked.

“If you were to marry one of those women your sister is always urging you to marry, someone whose family could get you the influence you need at the court of the Duke – perhaps even the Duke’s niece, Judith. I have heard her name mentioned at court, or perhaps one of the Duke’s daughters, Agatha or something. Then the boys would be bound to come home.”

He looked at her with an amused smile and taking her hand to his lips, said: “You are such a clever little bee. I would never have thought of this idea myself.”

“Oh you!” she cried, smiling at his gentle teasing. “So why not do it then?” She gave him a playful slap on his upper arm and he winced, clasping the spot, pretending it had hurt.

“You want me to do this?” he asked. He was looking at her seriously.

“One day I will lose you Harold, we have always known that. If I have to lose you to another woman, then I would rather you did it for the boys.” She looked away and wiped the corner of her eye where a tear had formed. “It would make it easier...”

For a moment, Harold set his lips together and sighed. She did not look at him, but sensed that he was frowning. “You say this to me?” he asked suddenly, but it was not a question, more of a statement. “After all that we have meant to each other – I thought you knew me, Eadgyth. I thought you knew me better than myself! But I must have been wrong to think that, for if it were true, then you know I would never leave you for anyone else.” He stood and took a few steps away from her. Her words had made him angry.

She and Harold rarely exchanged heated words. When they had first met, she had thought him conceited and brash and mistook his outward show of self-confidence as arrogance. The second time she was to meet him, he was lying close death, grateful that she had taken the time to bathe him, change his soiled sheets and spoon feed him like a child. She had grown to love him in the months that followed and although she fought against it, he had won her heart. She came to know that she had loved him from the moment he brazenly kissed her hand with those mocking blue eyes of his gazing at her like some lecherous rogue. She just hadn’t realised it. Since she had agreed to become his handfastned wife, there had been very few times like this, where either one had hurt the other. Now it made her feel uncomfortable. She went to him and from behind, put her arms around him. He tautened, but did not pull away.

“If I have hurt you, my Lord, then please forgive me. It was not my intention,” she whispered as a lone tear rolled down her cheek. “I was trying to make it easier for us...”

“Easier?” he swung around and faced her, his face creased in a frown. “First you tell me to marry, then you tell me you could bear it if it was for Wulfnoth and Hakon. Do you think that when I said to you I would never marry anyone as long as I have you, that I did not mean it?”

“Harold, please, do not be angry with me. You said when you told me you wanted me to be your handfastned wife, that as the son of an earl, you may one day need to make an official alliance at the behest of the King for the sake of the kingdom. I have known all these years that we are together on borrowed time.”

“That was then, before I knew that our hearts and souls would always be as one. I couldn’t have known then that I would not want to put you aside, as I do not now.”

“But it will happen one day Harold –”

“And have I not resisted any attempts the King or my sister has made to wed me to some foreign princess?” She made to protest again, but he caught her shoulders. “I wish I could shake some sense into you, my beautiful, selfless Swannehaels!”

“Please, my love, do not be angry with me,” she cried, throwing herself into his arms. “I only thought of it because I saw how unhappy you were for Wulfnoth and Hakon.”

He stroked her hair. “My lady has been told that she need never worry, for she will never lose her lord, no matter what happens. You and the children are all I could ever need, Eadgyth. You are the one most constant in my life and will always be.”

As they stood there, in the strengthening wind, locked within each other’s arms, his words comforted her. She felt a sense of relief that although she would have been prepared for it, she didn’t have to lose him. Not right then, anyhow.
The Wolf Banner is the sequel to Sons Sons of the Wolf which you can purchase on Amazon UK/Com and Waterstones, The World Book Depository and Barnes and Noble.
Photograph care of Rich Price