Leader of Battles (V): Medraut by David Pilling

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Medraut review

The first review of Medraut is in, and 'tis a goodie:

'As usual with a David Pilling novel, blood and ale flow freely and the reader lives through the terror of battles as they must have been with characters who feel real enough to call friends or enemies. With his Arthurian saga, Pilling has put his scholarship and research to good use in reconstructing a rousing, conflicted world of fifteen centuries ago where the most civilized legacies of Roman Britain are gradually eroded by new conquerors and the failures in men's hearts. In this final installment, as Arthur grows old, making provision for the future of his kingdom, he faces the last great challenge to his vision of a strong, unified British federation against the Saxon invaders. As we so often find today, the ruin of a great nation is bred not without but within and Pilling unfolds the tale of Arthur's final days with grace and finality, bringing the fairy tales of old back to Earth but hanging on to just enough magic to keep the story's timeless resonance. Recommended.'

Friday, 14 July 2017

Monday, 10 July 2017

Medraut on pre-order

The Kindle version of Leader of Battles (V): Medraut is now available on pre-order and will be released on Friday 14th July. Paperback version to follow...

"All the world's wonder, no grave for Arthur..."

Britannia has been at peace for six years. With his enemies defeated, Artorius reigns as High King over a golden era of peace and prosperity. Yet his doom is near. A new generation of young warriors has reached manhood, who care little for the victories won by their fathers. To them Artorius is a relic, an ageing symbol of a bygone era.

These restless young men find a leader in Medraut, the High King's youngest son. Since his return from the East, Medraut has bided his time at Caerleon. Now he steps out of the shadows to take advantage of the growing resentment and unrest against his father. When the Yellow Plague hits Britannia, a lethal sickness that sweeps across the land and spares neither young nor old, Medraut seizes the chance to make his bid for power. All the while, the ever-present threat of the Saxons under their formidable leader, Cerdic, looms in the background.

Leader of Battles (V): Medraut is the fifth and last installment in the Leader of Battle series. A lonely figure, surrounded by enemies, Artorius will ride out to battle one last time and leave the memory of a deathless legend...'

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Medraut cometh...

The last installment of my Leader of Battles series, Medraut, is striding ever closer to publication. This, the fifth book of the series, chronicles the rise of the arch-traitor, Medraut (better known as Sir Mordred in later versions of the story) and his efforts to tear down Arthur's kingdom. The following is an extract...

"Gwarae lay on his back in the wet mud between Cei and the intruders. The old servant’s crutch lay beside him. Dark red blood leaked sluggishly from the gaping knife-wound across his throat. His eyes were wide, as though in shock, staring glassily at the night sky.

Cei sighed. “Poor Gwarae,” he muttered, “poor old fool. They would never have taken you so, in the days of your golden youth.”
One of the figures stepped forward. Cei glanced at him in contempt. A tall, willowy man in a shirt of ring-mail, his face partially hidden under an iron helm. Unlike his companions, he grasped a sword.
“Step outside, old man,” this one said. He was the owner of the shrill voice. Cei was amused to notice his sword tremble slightly. The swine was on the verge of fouling himself.
“I don’t know you, pig,” Cei answered coolly. “Why have you and your band of thieves come to my hall and murdered my only friend left in the world?”
The tall man reached up with his free hand and slowly removed his helm. Cei frowned as he studied the face beneath. Long, white and narrow, with a drooping black moustache and absurd tuft of beard on the end of the pointed chin. There was a weak cast to the face, the thin mouth and little eyes.
Many years had passed since Cei last beheld this unlovely visage. “Gwyddawg,” he breathed. “Gwyddawg fab Menestyr. What rat-hole have you crawled from?”

Friday, 19 May 2017

Medraut - the cover!

I've just received the new cover for Leader of Battles (V): Medraut and couldn't wait to show it off. Here she be! This will adorn the Kindle and paperback versions of the book, which is steadily galloping towards completion - a mid to late summer release date looks most likely.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Leader of Battles (V) - Medraut

Following my book on the wars of Edward I, I have now started work on the fifth (and last) installment of the Leader of Battles, my effort to retell the story of King Arthur set in the bloody, dirty and generally grim world of 5th century Britain. This last book is subtitled Medraut and tells the story of the famous traitor, better known as Sir Mordred, who brought about the final destruction of Arthur's kingdom. Medraut or Mordred has been depicted in many previous versions of this very old story. Mary Stewart recast him as a sort of misunderstood hero, driven by fate, and there is an element of this in my version of the character. On screen he was memorably played by the late Robert Addie in John Boorman's 1981 film Excalibur; here Mordred was the bastard son of Arthur's unwitting incest with his half-sister, Morgana, and played as a perverted angel in golden armour/fetish gear.

Mordred owes much of his villainous reputation to later French and Breton romancers. In the early Welsh chronicles he isn't necessarily Arthur's enemy, and his exact relationship to the king is unclear. In some versions he is Arthur's bastard son, in others his nephew. The earliest known reference to him, from a 9th or 10th century entry in the Annales Cambriae (Annals of Wales), doesn't mention any blood-connection between the two men at all:

'The strife of Camlann, in which Arthur and Medraut perished, and there was plague in Britain and Ireland.'

From this all we can gather is that Arthur and Medraut were thought to have died together at the final battle or 'strife' of Camlann, implying some internal war among the Britons. At the same time a plague was raging in Britain and Ireland. This brief line in the AC forms the basis for my version of the downfall of Arthur, played out amid the mud, carnage and disease of his decaying kingdom...

Monday, 3 April 2017

The Leopard strikes!

I've been very slack with updates for this blog recently - various writing projects and social media groups have kept me busy! Today I can announce that the Kindle version of my first effort at non-fiction  is released - THE WARS OF EDWARD I (I): THE LEOPARD 1255-74. As the title implies, the book focuses on the military campaigns of the young Edward I of England (reigned 1272-1307), and is the first of a three-part study. Later books will focus on his wars in Wales, Flanders and Scotland. 

The altogether fab and groovy cover was painted by Matthew Ryan, historical illustrator extraordinaire! I'll announce the paperback version when it is ready for publication.