Longsword by David Pilling

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

The King Stag

The lovely folks at Musa Publishing are set to release THE KING STAG, first of a series of planned mini-sequels to Folville's Law, on the 13th January!

The King Stag is set five years after the events in Folville's Law, and picks up with the adventures of the young Edward III of England, chafing under the controlling influence of his mother, Queen Isabella, and her paramour Roger Mortimer. Since taking over England in 1326 Isabella and Mortimer have had a high old time, executing their political opponents right and left and indulging in a spot of large-scale corruption.

The dubious pair have reckoned without young Edward, though, no longer an easily manipulated child but a man grown, itching to tear away the reins of power from the grubby hands of his mother and her appalling bedmate.

While the struggle for power hots up, one lingering question remains in the troubled young man's head...what happened to his father?


Friday, 16 December 2011

The Might of Kings!

I recommend all readers of Norwegian to check out the following historical epic by Egil Moe...

Kongsmakt. (The Might of Kings).

Written by Egil Moe

Published 2010 by Sogesmia publishing. www.sogesmia.no

The Might of Kings is an epic historical saga set in the bleak, war-torn landscapes of the Isle of Skye, the Isle of Man, Bergen in Norway, and the Hebrides, and features the bloody Battle of Largs.

This 566-page novel follows the adventures of a young man, Torleif Haraldsson, and his struggle to survive after his father kills his own nephew, the King of the Sodor Isles and the Isle of Man, to claim the throne for himself. Travelling to Norway to swear fealty to his overlord, King Haakon Haakonsson of Norway, Torleif’s father is imprisoned for the murder and his son is left with the responsibility of ruling the kingdom.

Torleif finds himself surrounded by enemies as the Scots try to claim the Sodor islands, and the younger brother of the murdered king is crowned by Haakon Haakonsson. The young man is pitched into a deadly war between Norway and Scotland, and forced to fight for his life and his claim to the throne of the Isle of Man.'

Friday, 9 December 2011

Slag ende Stoot!

Something a little different today, because I like to keep things varied. Slag ende Stoot is a group of professional musicians based in Holland specialising in medieval and early 16th century acting and music.

Some rather splendid photos of them in action can be seen on their website below:


And you can see and hear more of them on Myspace, Youtube and Facebook!


Wednesday, 7 December 2011

The Swords of Albion

Some very fine blades for you all to admire today, made by the talented folks at Albion Swords, based in New Glarus, Wisconsin!

Albion Swords is a small company in New Glarus, Wisconsin, hand-crafting what can only be described as “painfully authentic recreations” of swords – both historical and fantasy/film pieces.

Their recreations not only look like the museum originals, but function just like them as well, (when newly made.) They are far more expensive than the swords you see made elsewhere, but their customers agree that they are well worth the added expense!

Please see the links below if you would like to more about this very fine-looking company:



Monday, 5 December 2011


Today sees the return of the rather wonderful Suzanne G Rogers, fellow Musa author, to this blog, to promote her rather wonderful-sounding new short story, "Apocrypha."

Suzanne, you have the floor...

Being dedicated to the diabolical doesn’t seem to satisfy Jem anymore. When the gorgeous demon poses for elderly artist Greer Richmond, the two form a connection. Greer senses good in her, but Jem rebels against the idea by going on a Vegas bender. After Jem gets word Greer is about to die, she inexplicably wants to make sure he gets to heaven—but her boss has other plans. As penance for her interference, Jem is assigned to take one of Greer’s descendants instead. Unfortunately handsome Dare Richmond awakens feelings in Jem a demon isn’t supposed to have. Will Jem be able to complete her task, or has fate dealt the demon an impossible hand?

Apocrypha…because sometimes, even for a demon, love is in the cards.


“I’ve been experiencing a little job dissatisfaction,” I said.

It just popped out. I couldn’t believe I’d said it, but the old man had the sort of face you could talk to. He didn’t respond, however, and I flicked a glance at him to make sure he was listening.

“Hold steady, my dear,” he said. “After I get your mouth right you can tell me about it.”

I sighed and waited for the geezer to finish sketching my mouth. To be honest, I really did want him to get it right. I have a very nice pair of lips for a demon, even if I do say so myself. It was too bad he couldn’t just take a picture, but since demons can’t be photographed, we were stuck doing my portrait the old-fashioned way. I shouldn’t have called him a geezer, even though technically that’s what he is. His name is Greer Richmond and he’s older than dirt. Of course, I am too, but I look considerably fresher than he does.

“You were saying?” Greer prompted, a few moments later.

“Oh, yeah—well, when I started out as a young demon, it was all fun and games,” I continued. “I made a big splash with the whole missing Roanoke colony thing.”

“That was you?” Greer asked. “I’ve often wondered what the Lost Colony was all about.”

He was sketching my hair at that moment. I had to squelch the temptation to toss a lock of it over one shoulder. That took some doing—squelching temptation isn’t one of my strong suits. I’m usually better at egging it on.

“Yeah, Roanoke was one of my first projects. I really scored points with the Boss on that one.

"Lizzie Borden was another high point,” I gloated. “Those were the days.”

“What has changed?”

“A lot of up-and-coming newbies are total buzzkillers. It’s become a demon-eat-demon world, and a bunch of recent flashy ‘inexplicable’ events have made it impossible to stand out from the crowd,” I said.

“Don’t get me wrong—9/11 was impressive, I’ll grant you. But it seems as if demons are increasingly sacrificing quality for the quick thrill.”

Greer leveled a look at me that had nothing to do with the sketch. “Are you sure that’s all there is to it?”
As it turns out, no, that’s not all there is to it. What would be the fun of that? And to celebrate the twelve days of Christmas, Musa Publishing will release Apocrypha as a free read on December 7th.
Download Apocrypha through December, 2011 HERE. Happy Holidays!

Author Bio: In her former lives, S.G. Rogers was a lawyer and an actress, but she’s now grown up and settled down as an author. Drawn to fantasy literature, she’s lived in some of the most magical places in America, including La Jolla, California, Asheville, North Carolina, and currently Savannah, Georgia. She resides with her son, husband, and two hairless cats—which look and act quite a bit like dragons. When she’s not writing, she enjoys practicing martial arts. You can find S.G. Rogers at www.childofyden.com.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Medieval Mafiosos

Back on topic again, with the antics of James Coterel/Cottrill and his gang. James is another player in Folville's Law, a ruthless outlaw and accomplice to Eustace Folville, though he was also very much his own man.

The Coterel gang haunted the Peak District in Derbyshire and the northern part of Sherwood Forest from the late 1320s to the early 1330s, their high period being from about March 1331 to September 1332. Professor J.G. Bellamy of Nottingham University made a study of the gang and in 1964 published his findings in a paper entitled "The Coterel Gang: an Anatomy of a Band of Fourteenth-Century Criminals". His paper is comprehensive and contains all one might wish to know about this particular gaggle of charismatic medieval thugs.

Like his sometime partner in crime, Eustace, James was of minor gentry stock, his father Ralph Coterel having held a few small manors scattered about Derbyshire. Ralph died in 1315 and within a few years his fiery sons were making a nuisance of themselves. One of them, Nicholas, was an adherent of the rebellious Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, and received a pardon in 1322. In later years the gang were to work alongside the Bradbourn gang of Derbyshire, who had also been among the doomed earl's followers, suggesting that the Coterels were affiliated with those who opposed Edward II's catastrophic rule.

Whatever their political allegiances, the Coterels wasted no time in taking advantage of the collapse of Edward's government. Like the Folvilles and the various other well-heeled armed mafiosos roaming up and down the country, they enjoyed the profits of pillage, robbery, extortion, kidnapping and murder, though they weren't formally outlawed until 1331. By 1330 they had been accused of pillaging the estates of Henry, Earl of Lancaster (clearly their Lancastrian sympathies had evaporated by this time), were 'attached' (accused) of a spate of murders, and had formed alliances with other criminal fraternities.

Despite his long criminal career, James was never arrested. Shrewdly, he cultivated support from the nobility and the church, often by hiring out his violent services to them in exchange for cash and protection from the law. When the young King Edward III made a determined effort to stamp out the criminal gangs ruining his kingdom, James escaped arrest because he was warned beforehand of the approach of the justices by one of his hugger-mugger chums, the Prior of Lenton. The canons of Lichfield were also repeatedly mentioned as receivers (shelterers) of the Coterels and their wide network of followers.

Possibly realising he could not survive much longer as an out-and-out highway robber and murderer, James had the bright idea of eschewing actual violence and demanding money with menaces and blackmail. This has some correlation with the peculiar form of blackmail practised on travellers by Robin Hood in the medieval ballads, and like the famous ballad hero James Coterel would have had intimate knowledge of Sherwood. It's quite feasible that his career had some influence on the legend.

Such was his reputation and his links to the church and nobility, his victims usually paid up without him having to lay a finger on them. He also set to work currying royal favour, and managed to get his brother Nicholas appointed as bailiff of Queen Philippa's liberty in Derbyshire and Leicestershire. Nicholas later distinguished himself in this office by being hauled before the court on charges of embezzlement and corruption.

Having found a way of making outlawry a profitable business, James went on to purchase lands and properties and serve as a tax collector. At one point he was even entrusted with powers of arrest, though he was obliged to obtain a royal pardon for 'extortions, oppressions, receivings of felons, usurpations, and ransoms'. All in a day's work. In 1351 he received his pardon at the Queen's personal request, but his date of death is unknown.

So what's the moral of his tale? Crime does pay, unfortunately, providing you work hard at it!