Longsword by David Pilling

Friday, 12 October 2012

Belaying Pins and Pirate Kings...

...S.G. Rogers Sets Sail! Suzanne has the platform for this post, centred on things nautical and her spiffy-sounding new fantasy novel, Tournament of Chance - clew up the futtock shrouds, Ms Rogers, and Roger the Cabin Boy!

'Research poses many challenges, whether an author writes historical fiction or fantasy literature.  In the former, a writer must do his or her due diligence as part of the craft.  Although some readers might assume fantasy worlds are just completely made up, that’s not necessarily true.  For me, fantasy worlds work best when I can picture them clearly. As a writer, I try to have clear and concrete details available before I pen a scene. Since the setting for my latest release, Tournament of Chance, is Earth-like, the medieval-ish setting required a surprising amount of research. 

One particular area of inquiry involved maritime transportation.  The plot required the main characters to make two voyages in a two different ships.  My challenge was to describe the ships in such a way to paint a picture in the mind of the reader, but avoid immediate association with any particular nation.  Fortunately, as a fantasy writer, I’m able to fudge eras!

I was looking for a vessel that was small, maneuverable, and could be sailed by a very small crew.  I chose the cutter, which is a single-masted sailboat. Although the ship in the illustration above (Louis Le Breton (1818–1866)) is a French cutter from the 19th century, it had the look I wanted and the generic name I needed. 

For the second voyage, I needed an armed ship manned by a larger crew, so I selected a corvette.

The vessel above is a type of corvette, which is a small warship about 40 to 60 feet in length.  The term dates back to the 1700s. I found this illustration (used with permission) on Rob Ossian’s Pirate’s Cove website, dedicated to pirate and nautical information: http://www.thepirateking.com/index.htm
The Pirate King has a wealth of information for authors and enthusiasts, from biographies of historical figures to rum reviews.

Although neither illustration appears in Tournament of Chance, I referred to them when I was writing the nautical scenes. I began my research on Wikipedia, by the way, and moved on from there. For attention to detail, I discovered beautiful ship models at The Art of Age of Sail: http://www.ageofsail.net

Writing a fantasy novel with historical detail takes a lot longer, but the results can be well worth the effort. My research in no way made me an expert in historical sailing vessels, but I have a much greater appreciation for them than I did before.  For example, I discovered a belaying pin makes a mighty fine weapon in a pinch.  Who knew?

~ S.G. Rogers


Heather peered at Ariel. Despite his tough fa├žade, the boy radiated loneliness and deprivation. “If you make it back to Ormaria, call on Lady Parker at the castle. Tell her Heather sent you. She’ll help.”

Ariel gave Heather a mistrustful glance. “Why should she help me? I’m nothing to her.”

“She’s very kind,” Heather said. “And you’re not nothing; you’re a person.”

Bast’s uninjured hand descended on Ariel’s shoulder and knocked him to the deck. “You’ve been told not to talk to Heather. I’ll whip you for this.”

“You will not,” Heather exclaimed.

Ariel scrambled backward as she stepped between him and Bast.

“Get out of my way, girl,” Bast roared.


Bast shoved Heather aside and advanced on Ariel, who cowered in a quivering lump of fear. Heather plucked the nearest belaying pin from the pin rail alongside the bulwark and brought it squarely down onto Bast’s injured hand. He screamed in pain.

“Run, Ariel!” she yelled. “Hide in the cargo hold.”

Bast turned his murderous temper on Heather. The crystal around his neck flared, and she found herself tumbling through the air with the belaying pin still clutched in her hand. When she landed at the base of one of the four cannons, everything went black.


In Tournament of Chance, a hunter’s daughter becomes the spark that ignites a revolution—in time.

 When a beautiful commoner enters the Tournament of Chance archery competition, her thwarted victory sparks a revolution in the oppressive kingdom of Destiny. Although Heather never believed the legends about the restoration of Ormaria, after three shape-shifting Ormarian wizards awaken from a long magical slumber, she joins their perilous quest to regain the throne. Heather battles vicious predators and angry trolls to free the wizards’ magic, but at a horrendous cost. She is unexpectedly torn from the arms of the man she loves and hurled back in time to fulfill a prophecy not yet written. The ensuing maelstrom tests Heather’s survival skills, wits, and endurance. Will she become an unwritten footnote in history, or can she trust the magic to lead her back to her one true love?

Now available in all e-formats from Musa Publishing HERE. Also available for the Kindle at Amazon. Coming soon to BN.com and wherever fine e-books are sold. To learn more about author S.G. Rogers, visit her blog at www.childofyden.wordpress.com


  1. Thanks for having me on your blog, David.

  2. It was a really nice post. thanks for sharing it.
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