Longsword by David Pilling

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Tobias the Minstrel...

Today I'm hosting a guest spot for the very lovely and talented Prue Batten, author of The Gisburne Saga (based on the character of Guy of Gisburne from the Robin Hood ballads, but very different...) and The Chronicles of Eirie.

Prue has just released Book One in a splendid-sounding new series set in and around the declining Byzantine Empire. The main character, Tobias, is both a minstrel and a dwarf - or vertically challenged, perhaps I should say - and below is the summary of the plot:

"Byzantium stretches a weakening grip across Eastern Europe, trying in vain to hold onto all that has made it an empire. Tyrian purple, the unique dye that denotes its power, is held under close guard by the imperial house.
However a Jewish merchant from Venice has sourced an illegal supply and Tobias the dwarf minstrel and his twin brother, Tomas, begin a dangerous journey to retrieve the purple and deliver it into the merchant’s eager hands.
But is this supply as secret as they had hoped?
Trade is cut throat, men are expendable, money is power and Constantinople provides the exotic backdrop during a time of scimitars and shadows.
This is Tobias – the story of a minstrel and a broken life…"

Below is the rather gorgeous cover

Here is a comment from Prue's editor, John Hudspith:

'Without doubt, Tobias is your most thrilling novel yet. Your skill regarding conveyance of rich settings and situation I was expecting, but it has developed further, sliding down into the contours of the human soul, plumbing the depths of connection.'

And here is the author herself!

Here Prue talks about the challenges of writing Tobias:

Writing Tobias stretched more than I could ever have imagined. Firstly the character is a dwarf, a little person, someone who has the condition; achindroplasia, and that alone required detailed research, particularly when placing that character in amongst the rigours of the Middles Ages. Add to that Byzantine history, a twelfth century city that was destroyed in later years and which made finding my locations almost impossible AND the fact that I have a very weak stomach for violence and it's safe to say I had a challenge on my hands. But I have never given up in the face of a challenge and I had grown to love Toby too much not to tell his story. 

I wanted it to be real, to pull at emotions and make the reader question just what he or she would do if placed in Tony's unenviable position. Toby (Tobias more properly) is the star of the show however. He is by nature an aesthete, being a troubadour, but he is also a spy and it was a challenge for me to combine the two into a believable character, in a believable setting and with a believable plot. I hope I've done little people proud and that readers will hold their breath as Tobias and his brother faces challenges that would leave most of us gasping...


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