I’d like to welcome David Pilling to the Feast to tell us a little about his new book. If it sounds like your kind of thing, read it!
___________________________________________________________________________________________________________KareKaren has kindly allowed me a guest spot to talk about Book One of The White Hawk, my new series of novels set during The Wars of the Roses. This period, with its murderous dynastic feuding between the rival Houses of York and Lancaster, is perhaps the most fascinating of the entire medieval period in England. Having lost the Hundred Years War, the English nobility turned on each other in a bitter struggle for the crown, resulting in a spate of beheadings, battles, murders and Gangland-style politics that lasted some thirty years.
Apart from the savage doings of aristocrats, the wars affected people on the lower rungs of society. One minor gentry family in particular, the Pastons of Norfolk, suffered greatly in their attempts to survive and thrive in the feral environment of the late 15th century. They left an invaluable chronicle in their archive of family correspondence, the famous Paston Letters.
The letters provide us with a snapshot of the trials endured by middle-ranking families like the Pastons, and of the measures they took to defend their property from greedy neighbours. One such extract is a frantic plea from the matriarch of the clan, Margaret Paston, begging her son John to return from London:
“I greet you well, letting you know that your brother and his fellowship stand in great jeopardy at Caister… Daubney and Berney are dead and others badly hurt, and gunpowder and arrows are lacking. The place is badly broken down by the guns of the other party, so that unless they have hasty help, they are likely to lose both their lives and the place, which will be the greatest rebuke to you that ever came to any gentleman. For every man in this country marvels greatly that you suffer them to be for so long in great jeopardy without help or other remedy…”
The Paston Letters, together with my general fascination for the era, were the inspiration for The White Hawk. Planned as a series of three novels, TWH will follow the fortunes of a fictional Staffordshire family, the Boltons, from the beginning to the very end of The Wars of the Roses. Unquenchably loyal to the House of Lancaster, their loyalty will have dire consequences for them as law and order breaks down and the kingdom slides into civil war. The ‘white hawk’ of the title is the sigil of the Boltons, and will fly over many a blood-stained battlefield.
The head of the clan at the start of Book One: Revenge is Edward Bolton, an ageing veteran of the French wars. His wife, Dame Elizabeth, is the hard-nosed matriarch. They have three sons, Richard, James and Martin, and a daughter, Mary. Richard is heir to the Bolton estates, an impulsive and vengeful young man whose actions during the course of the book almost lead to the destruction of everything he holds dear. The second brother, James, is a drunken chaplain who must master his demons before he can fight for his kin. Martin is a small boy, much affected by the violence he sees all around him. Mary is a strong-willed and intelligent young woman faced with the task of holding everything together in the face of war and calamity.
If all this whets your appetite, then please check out the paperback and Kindle versions of Book One below…