All posts by V.M.Sang

I was born and educated in the north west of England. I trained as a teacher in Manchester and taught in Salford, Lancashire, Hampshire and Croydon. I write fantasy novels currently. I also make cards, knit, crochet, tat, do cross stitch and paint. I enjoy walking on the Downs, cycling and kayaking. I do not enjoy housework, but like cooking.

Some thoughts on relationships.

One of my Facebook friends, Mark Tomlinson Allen, from Croydon, Greater London, posted this on his timeline. I thought it was so amazing that I had to post it here.

Mark actually asked his friends to forward it with a photograph of themselves and their partner/spouse, but I forgo this as my spouse is very anti social media and would not appreciate being added. So sadly, I have no photo of us, but I’ve posted Mark’s with his wife.

These comments are something everyone should read, especially people just embarking on a relationship. Please feel free to reblog it. I’m sure Mark won’t mind.

For couples so eager to call it quits after the infatuation wears off, to throw in the towel on your relationship because everything isn’t ‘perfect’… here is some food for thought.

Lifelong commitment is not what most people think it is. It’s not waking up every morning to make breakfast and eat together. It’s not cuddling in bed until both of you fall asleep. It’s not a clean home, filled with laughter and love making every day.

It’s someone who steals all the covers, and snores, it’s slammed doors and a few harsh words at times. It’s stubbornly disagreeing and giving each other the silent treatment until your hearts heal, and then offering forgiveness. It’s coming home to the same person every day that you know loves and cares about you in spite of, and because of, who you are. It’s laughing about the one time you accidentally did something stupid.

It’s about dirty laundry and unmade beds. It’s about helping each other with the hard work of life. It’s about swallowing the nagging words instead of saying them out loud. It’s about eating the easiest meal you can make and sitting down together at a late hour because you both had a crazy day.

It’s when you have an emotional breakdown and your love lies down with you and holds you, and tells you everything is going to be okay. And you believe them.

It’s about still loving someone even though sometimes they make you absolutely insane. Loving someone isn’t always easy, sometimes it’s hard. But it is amazing and comforting and one of the best things you will ever experience.

Stuck for a present for someone you love?

What about a copy of Viv’s Family Recipes?

An excellent stocking filler for the cook in your life.

The recipes in this book date from the beginning of the 20th Century and cover the time up until the present day.

The very old ones come from a little book that Viv’s Grandmother had, in which she jotted down some recipes and her accounts, and dated them as 1909. Other recipes are from recipe books that belonged to Viv’s mother and aunt, many of which are mid 20th Century. It gives an interesting picture of how the foods we eat have changed over a century.

But this is not only a recipe book. Viv has put in comments that she remembers about the various people who supplied the recipes. There are also hints and tips about cleaning from early times as well as some of her grandmother’s old-fashioned ways of getting rid of coughs and colds.

Why not buy a copy for your favourite cook? They will be delighted with the historical information, and maybe wish to try out some of the old recipes that we no longer cook.

To buy, click here and the link will take you to Amazon where you are. Or click on the book cover in the side bar.

I would love to hear from you, especially if you choose to give the book as a present. Let me know how your loved one liked it. Or better still, post a review on Amazon.

Carthinal’s Story 8

Carthinal moved from the spot where Mabryl found him. The archmage now knew where he practised and so he decided he would be safer elsewhere. Even so, a little nagging thought dogged him that Mabryl would be able to find him in the same way he did previously. He did not want to become part of the established society. Since the theft of his inheritance, he thought of The Beasts as his family. They had been good to him. So what if it involved criminal activity, and possibly killing or being killed in a fight? He had a home and friends, and a lovely girlfriend, too.


He sat in some shrubs practising his magic spell. Cantrip, Mabryl had called it. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it did not, but it was beginning to work more often than it did.


Mabryl found him again, of course.


“I see you’ve made progress. Are you sure you don’t want to learn more? How are you going to find out how to do more spells?”


“Go away. I don’t want your help.”


Mabryl raised an eyebrow. “Really? As I said—how are you going to learn to do more spells?”


“My friend’ll come and steal a spell book. I know you mages have spell books with your spells written in them.”


“But perhaps the books are trapped with magic. What then?”


“Oh, go away and leave me alone.” Carthinal shouted as he jumped to his feet. “I don’t want to come to your house. I’ll find a way to learn. Just leave me.”


The life of The Beasts continued as normal. Carthinal had to go out picking pockets with Wren as usual. Cat continued to improve his burglary skills and Bull grew into an impressively muscular young man, and took over the running of the security of the gang.


Then one day, Rooster called Carthinal to one side. “Fox, I believe you’ve had an offer to learn magic.”


Carthinal puckered his brows. “Who told you?”


“Wren, of course. Who else? She also told me how useful she thinks magic might be in the gang. I agree. I think you should take this man’s offer.”


“No!”


“You should go and learn, then come back here to us.” Rooster continued as if Carthinal had not spoken.


“I said ‘No’.”


Rooster walked away shrugging his shoulders, and said no more of it, but Carthinal did not forget about how he felt when he managed to conjure the flame. He wanted that feeling and more.


He realised he craved the power of a mage, too, so one afternoon, he found himself standing opposite Mabryl’s house. He stood there for an hour, just looking.


The house was a modest one by the standard of his Grandfather’s house, but was not one of someone of little means. There was a front door under a porch between two sets of windows, and there were windows above them as well as one over the porch. It had no third storey like his Grandfather’s had, and no apparent basement. He took a couple of steps towards the door, but then, like a young fawn confronted by a wolf, he turned and fled.


He returned three days in a row, but each time lost his nerve. Finally, on the fourth day he approached the door and raised the knocker. Holding it in his hand for a few seconds, he almost ran again, but then, taking a deep breath, he let it fall.


There came the sound of footsteps approaching the door and it slowly opened. A woman in her mid forties stood there. She had dark hair with greying strands peppered through it, and blue eyes.


She frowned when she saw Carthinal. “What do you want? We need no beggars here. Be off with you!”


She went to close the door.


“I want to speak with Archmage Mabryl”


Her frown deepened. “What does the likes of you want with a respected archmage? He doesn’t want to see you. Go away.”


Carthinal heard heavy footsteps approaching, then a familiar voice saying “What is it Lillora?”


She turned and spoke to Mabryl. “A young man, about sixteen by the looks of him. He says he wants to speak with you. I told him to go away. He looks dirty and untidy.”


“Ah! I know who it is. Let him in. I’ve been expecting him.”


The door opened wider to reveal a hallway with stairs on the right hand side.


“Come in, Carthinal.” Mabryl beckoned to the young man as he continued to stand at the threshold. “Come into my study and we can talk.”


With faltering steps, Carthinal entered the house and followed Mabryl into a room on the left.


The young man stopped as he entered and gazed around him. The room was a treasure trove. Two windows faced the street with a floor to ceiling bookcase between them. Opposite the windows was a fireplace, again with shelves filling the spaces on either side. On the shelves were bottles and jars, all filled with things Carthinal could not name.


In the centre of the room stood a large table. Books covered that, too. He had never seen so many books in one place before. No, that was not right. He’d never seen so many books in his entire life.


Sitting at one end of the table, a young girl of about twelve or thirteen looked up as he and Mabryl entered. Carthinal appraised her. She had brown hair and eyes, and a rather plain face.


“You said you can read.” Mabryl walked over to the bookshelf, paused, searching the books, then pulled one from the shelf. He walked over to Carthinal and handed it to him. “Read me some of this.”


Carthinal turned the book over in his hands. He read the title. ‘History of The Forbidding’and opened it at random, He began reading aloud.


“The mage war ended eventu…eventually, but it had taken a great toll on the inno…cent. Innocent.” He looked up. Mabryl was looking at him intently.


He continued reading. “King Consyl the third was deter…determin…determined?” He looked at Mabryl, who nodded. Carthinal continued.

“Determined such a war would not happen again. He forbade the practice of magic on pain of death. All spell books, he… decreed, must be burned.”


“That will do, Carthinal,” Mabryl told him. “You can indeed read, even if it needs some polishing. Now, about writing. Let’s see how you do at that. Copy out what you’ve just read on this sheet of paper. There’s ink and a pen on the desk.”


Carthinal sat in the chair, picked up the pen and began to laboriously copy the passage he had just read, frowning all the time. His tongue stuck out at the side of his mouth as he concentrated. He had not written anything in the time he had been with The Beasts. He dropped a few spots of ink on the paper and scowled all the more. Mabryl would never want him as an apprentice if he made a mess of this.


“That’ll do.” Mabryl came over and peered at what Carthinal had done. “A bit messy, but that’ll come with practice. Now, is there anything you need to go and get? I’ll show you where you’ll be sleeping.”


Carthinal’s eyes widened. “Sleeping? I’ll be sleeping here?”


“Yes, of course. Apprentices always stay with their master. Follow me.” He walked through the door, leaving Carthinal with no choice but to follow him.


They ascended the stairs onto a landing. To the right was a door, but Mabryl passed that door and led Carthinal to the left and along the landing. Two doors opened on his right and another on the left. It was to this one that Mabryl led him. He opened the door and stood back for Carthinal to enter.


The room was large enough to have two beds, with a wardrobe and chest.


“This is where you’ll sleep. If you don’t have any clothes other than what you’re wearing, I’ll get Lillora to go and buy you some. Those you’ve got on need to be burned by the look of them. Downstairs there’s a copper for heating water. You’ll go down and get a bath. I’m not having you sleeping in my beds as you are. You’ve probably got fleas or something.”

This as Carthinal scratched his head.


While Carthinal sat waiting for the water to heat up in the copper urn, Lillora went to buy some clothes. Once the water was hot, Carthinal took a bucket and poured water into a metal tub. He climbed in and soaked himself, then plastered soap all over his body. Especially his hair. Mabryl had been right. He probably did have fleas.


When Lillora returned with the clothes, Carthinal climbed out of the tub. After drying himself and putting on the clean clothes, he felt better than he had in a long time. He had forgotten what it was like to be clean.
Carthinal left the bath-house through the door to the kitchen. As he entered, Lillora was just carrying some plates through to the dining room.


She stopped and looked at him. “That’s better. You look almost half-presentable now. Come on through to dinner.” She paused and looked at his shoulder-length auburn hair. “I’d get that cut, if I were you. You’d look better with it shorter.”


Carthinal pressed his lips together. Not now you’ve told me, I won’t.
A few nights later, as soon as darkness fell, Carthinal looked out of his window. Could he climb out and go back to The Beasts? They would need to know what had happened to him. Yes. A tree grew just outside. It would be a risk, but he thought he could probably manage to reach the branch nearest to him.


Climbing onto the windowsill, Carthinal reached out for the branch. He thought he couldn’t reach it, and wobbled dangerously. Steadying himself, he tried again and managed to grab a small branch. He pulled it towards him and soon could reach a larger one.


He took a deep breath and, hanging onto the large branch, he leaped from his window. Fortunately, the branch held and he shimmied along it to the main trunk where he climbed safely down. He looked up at his window. How am I going to get back in? He shrugged and trotted off towards his gang’s headquarters.

Here ends part 8 of Carthinal’s Story. If you want to read more the next episode will be at the beginning of January. Will he manage the discipline needed to be a mage? Find out in later episodes.

Carthinal appears in The Wolves of Vimar series. Book 1 can be obtained from Amazon by clicking here, or by clicking the book cover in the side-bar. This will take you to Amazon where you are.

Feel free to make a comment in the comments box. I appreciate all your thoughts.

Vengeance of a Slave excerpt.

AD 70

CHAPTER 1

The Romans arrived across the river and lined up all the men. They took every tenth one to be made an example of and then went into the woods and cut down trees.

Soldiers pushed Adelbehrt along with the rest of the population to this field to watch. The commander of the Romans told them they must see what happened to those who challenged the might of Rome, even though they were not in the Empire. Rome must exact punishment for the raid on Mogontiacum.

Adelbehrt understood little of what had happened, but he knew a man named Julius Civilis led a rebellion against Rome and the Roman Legions on the Rhenus went to put it down. He knew some men took advantage while the soldiers were away and launched their own attacks across the Rhenus and even laid siege to the town of Mogontiacum.

He understood the legions coming back from the north relieved the siege and now the Romans had come to punish them. What he did not understand was why.

Adelbehrt tried to hold back the tears pricking his eyes. His mother stood next to him, holding his hand while they nailed the men to the crosses they had made from the trees they had cut down. Women screamed when they saw what was happening to their menfolk. One woman tried to rush to her husband, but a Roman soldier hit her with the flat of his gladius. She fell to the ground crying.

The Romans held the chosen men apart from the rest of the village. A soldier took the first man and forced him onto the cross lying on the ground. The victim kicked and shouted, but the soldiers pinned him down. A man came over with nails and a hammer.

The man on the cross began to struggle again as he saw the approaching soldier. Another soldier held the man’s arm still as the man with the hammer positioned the nail, then raised the hammer. He brought it down hard onto the nail head.The sound of the nail ripping through flesh and bone assailed Adelbehrt’s ears. The man screamed—a dreadful sound to the ears of the child. The man screamed again as the soldier drove another nail through his other wrist, then he passed out.

The soldiers nailed five men to crosses and the air filled with the metallic scent of blood. Adelbehrt did not know whether to hold his breath, close his eyes or stop his ears. Screams of the men mingled with those of the women.

The sixth man’s turn arrived. Adelbehrt heard his mother give a quiet sob. This was his father. When the soldiers laid him on the cross, his father did not struggle. He knew it would be futile. The soldier with the nails approached. Adelbehrt saw his father close his eyes and take a deep breath. When the nail pierced his flesh, his body tensed and he let out a moan. He did not scream.

Adelhert felt his chest swell. My father is braver than the others. He didn’t scream in spite of the pain.

He looked up at his mother standing calmly and with dignity, knowing hysterics would not help her husband, nor her small family. Seeing the pain in her eyes, Adelbehrt’s fists clenched at his side and his breathing quickened as he looked again at the soldiers, now raising the crosses to an upright position. These men had killed his father.

His father had been innocent of the raids. He had not taken any part, but the Romans did not care. They just wanted to punish someone—to make someone a scapegoat—so others would learn not to attack the might of Rome.

The boy pushed back the tears forming in his eyes. He could hear his little sister crying as she hung onto their mother’s leg, burying her face in her skirts, but she had only four summers, so she could be excused. His baby brother slept in his mother’s arms, ignorant of what happened around him.

He’ll never know his father. The boy looked up at the baby. He closed his eyes to force the tears back. He would never see his father again after today, either.

He forced himself to look at the crosses, searching for the one on which the Romans had nailed his father. He knew it would be the last chance he had of seeing him. He caught his father’s eyes. In spite of the pain in them, his father gave a half smile and mouthed “Look after your mother and sister.”

Adelbehrt was six, and the eldest, so he had to show courage. A slight breeze ruffled his ash blonde hair and he raised his hand to push it back out of his eyes. He didn’t want to see the horrible death his father was undergoing, but something inside told him he owed it to him to watch and remember. A tear trickled down his cheek, and he brushed it away. He must stay strong. He was now the man of the family.

After the soldiers had lifted all the crosses, the people turned away to return to their homes. Some women tried to rush to their men, but the Romans beat them away. They would allow no one to try to rescue the men. They formed a circle around the crucifixes and stood with gladii drawn.

As the boy and his family walked sadly away from the field of death a legionnaire approached his mother. She stopped and shook him off as he touched her arm.

“These are your children?” he asked in their language.

His mother looked at him, and her lip curled. “Of course.”

The legionnaire reached out to Adelbehrt and touched his hair. The boy pulled back, not wanting this man, who had been complicit in his father’s death, to touch him. He shivered as the strange man smiled at him. The boy thought he looked like a wolf.

The legionnaire spoke to his mother again. “I’ve never seen such pale hair. I see your little girl also has it. They’ll make a fortune on the block.”

Their mother looked at him in confusion. “What do you mean, ‘on the block’?”

“Oh, we’re taking a few of you as slaves. We always need more and it will teach you not to attack Rome in future.”

“You’re taking us as slaves?”

The man laughed. “Oh, not you. Just these two children. You’re not valuable, but these…”

“No! You can’t take my children,” cried the boy’s mother. “Take me, but leave my children alone. You’ve taken my husband and put him to death. Isn’t that enough?” She grabbed onto Adelbehrtand his sister, nearly dropping the baby as she did so.

The legionnaire pushed her away and roughly took the children by their arms. The boy struggled, understanding this man intended to take him and his sister away from their mother. The legionnaire pushed them in front of him towards where a group of crying children and screaming mothers stood.

His mother’s composure broke, and she began to scream along with the others as she tried to wrest her two children from the officer. It was to no avail.

Seeing his mother crying broke Adelbehrt’s resolve and he broke down into sobs, struggling against the legionnaire. He was no match for the strong Roman soldier, though, and the man pushed him towards where more soldiers held the other prisoners.

No matter how much he struggled, he could not escape the firm grip of the soldier holding him. He turned and tried to bite. The man laughed and said something in Latin to him that he did not understand. His mother tried to come to him, having handed the baby to a neighbour, but a centurion knocked her to the ground.

Adelbehrt heard him speaking to her in their language “Don’t try that again or you’ll regret it. Your tribe deserves all the punishment we mete out after your attack on us. Those children will bring a fortune with their light hair. Never seen hair like that. Almost white. They’ll go mad for them in Rome.”

He kicked out at the soldier, who then picked him up. Adelbehrt turned to bite his neck, but the man wore armour so he kicked at the man’s hips. The soldier laughed and held the boy tighter.

Adelbehrt understood it would be unlikely they would escape and that, in all likelihood, he and his sister would be separated. Would some rich Roman buy them? What would happen to them when they were no longer pretty children?

The legionnaire carried the two children to where Adelbehrt saw a small group of others being guarded by more soldiers. This group consisted mainly of young boys and men over the age of ten, with a few of the prettier teenage girls. He could see no more small children in the group.
One of the girls, whom they knew quite well as she lived near to them, came and picked his sister up, soothing the sobbing child as best she could.

“Hush, hush,” she whispered to the little girl. “I’ll take care of you and your brother. I’m sure no one will hurt you.”

“They killed my father,” Adelbehrt sniffed and wiped his nose with his hand, smearing it over his face as he wiped his eyes.

“Yes, but they were punishing him for the attack on their city. You haven’t done anything, so they won’t hurt you.”

“My father hadn’t done anything either, yet they still killed him. Why are they taking us from our mother and little brother?”

“You’re both very pretty children, you know. They haven’t seen anyone with hair as light as yours, and they think you’ll bring them a lot of money.”

“Then we’re to be slaves!”

“Yes, I’m afraid so. I am, too, and these others. They’ve taken all the boys of an age that might decide to try to take revenge, as well as a few of us girls.”

His mother managed to break away and she rushed towards the little group of slaves, calling out his name. “Adelberht, Adelberht. Look after Avelina. Don’t let anyone hurt her.”

“I won’t, Mamma. I’ll take good care of her. Odila’s here. She’ll help us.”
They crossed the river to the Roman fort of Mogontiacum. The soldiers lifted the children from the boat and a legionnaire gripped their arms, raising a bruise on Adelbehrt’s biceps. He looked towards Avelina, who was sobbing and sucking her thumb. He tried to pull away to go to her, but the soldier holding him yanked him back.

Walls surrounded the fort, all built of stone. Adelbehrt looked wide-eyed at the defences. The village where he lived had been defended by a wooden palisade. The gate through which they entered Mogontiacum soared over them. Two towers stood at either side of the gate.

Adelbehrt’s eyes opened wide as they passed through the archway
How did the men who came to raid here think they could get past these walls and gates?

Barracks stood to the left as they emerged from the gloom of the gate. A large building occupied the centre of a courtyard with another smaller one behind it. On the opposite side of the large building were more buildings.

The soldiers ushered the group of captives to a walled compound beyond the barracks and locked them in.

He understood he and his sister would probably be bought by different people, and wondered how he could fulfil his promise to his mother that he would look after her. Adelbehrt’s eyes narrowed and he pressed his lips together. They had first crucified his father, a terrible death for the young boy to witness, then taken him from his family, home and friends. He thought he would also have his sister taken from him, so he subsumed his sorrow and fear by building his hatred of his captors.

Avelina, had stopped crying and clung to Odila. He was glad of that, but wondered what would happen when she was not only taken from her mother, but from him too. Where would they take them to be sold?

Would they be sold here or taken elsewhere? Maybe even to Rome itself. What was his mother doing? Was there any chance there would be a rescue party? Could he make a break, somehow rescue his sister and get back across the river? All these questions went through his head as he sat in the compound.

A legionnaire brought some food for them to eat and water to drink. He picked at the food, but drank some water. Odila tried to persuade Avelina to eat something, but the little girl still sobbed between the small mouthfuls the older girl managed to get into her mouth. Eventually she fell asleep in Odila’s arms while still eating. The day’s events had all been too much for her.

Adelberht himself began to feel tired, but before he went to sleep, he enumerated the reasons he hated the Romans.
They crucified my father: they took my family away from me: they took my home from me: they took my friends from me: they will take my sister from me.

The next day Adelberht woke wondering where he was. Then it all came flooding back. Tears again pricked at his eyelids, but he determined he would never again cry because of a Roman. One day he would have revenge for all they had done to him. One day he would be free again. He would also find his sister and free her too, if they were separated.

Wherever the Romans took her, he would find her. After that, he would try to get back to his home across the Rhenus. He did not think about how he would carry out these plans. He would just take any chance he could when it came.

They sat in the compound all that day. The sun beat down on them, and all the slaves drank thirstily when the Romans brought water. The commander of the fort came and looked them over. He took a couple of the girls out and marched them over to the large building in the centre of the fort. Adelbehrt wondered what was going to happen to them. Were they going to be sold separately from the rest?

He thought about it for a while, then forgot about them as he tried to comfort his sister, who had begun crying again. “Don’t cry, Avelina. Everything will be all right. Somehow we’ll get away and go back to Mamma.”

The little girl looked at him trustingly, and a half-smile appeared on her face. “Back to Mamma? I miss Mamma.”

“Yes, so do I. It might not be soon, but one day we’ll escape these horrid Romans.”

“I don’t like the Romans. They killed Papa.”

“No, I don’t like them either. We’ll get away sometime, I promise you.”

He did not know how or when he would be able to keep his promise to the little girl but he determined to do so, whatever the cost. He smiled to see his words had comforted Avelina somewhat, that she had dried her eyes and sat more quietly.

Towards evening, the two girls, whom the commander had taken, returned to the compound. They entered the compound in tears. Adelberht wanted to ask them what had happened, but Odila kept him away from them. He wondered why, but she managed to distract him by talking about Avelina.

The little girl had once again started to cry, seeing the tears of the two older girls, so he did not find out what caused their upset. He did notice one of the young men, who had been courting one of the girls before they were taken prisoner, became very angry and some of his friends held him back as he tried to attack one of the Roman guards.

~*~

Two days passed. Avelina cried less, but called for their mother in the night, every night. She also began sucking her thumb again. She had almost stopped that childish habit before their capture. Adelberht also missed their mother, but he stuck to his resolve not to allow the Romans to make him cry. Even when the tears came to his eyes he managed to prevent them from falling.

Each day, the commander took one or two girls and they always returned crying. Sometimes one of the legates or centurions took a girl. They took Odila on the second day. When she came back, Adelbehrt asked her what happened, but she refused to talk of it. She seemed withdrawn after that, and sat in a corner with the other girls, not talking, but staring into space.

On the third day of their captivity, a civilian man came to the compound with the commander of the castrum. He looked the slaves over and called for Adelbehrt and Avelina to be brought to him. He asked a few questions in Latin, which Adelbehrt did not understand, but assumed they were about him and his sister. The man smiled and the two men walked away, talking.

The following morning, some men came and took all the slaves to the baths and stripped them. They washed them all thoroughly and took their clothes away. What would happen now? That question soon had an answer.

The men who washed them took them to a building in the market at the opposite side of the fort.They stood in a room, bare except for a table and chair under a window at one side. Guards stood by the only door making escape impossible. A tall man entered and sat behind the table.

The man who looked them over the previous day came in. He ordered the men to take the girls out, with the exception of Avelina. Avelina cried out to Odila and tried to run to her but one of the slaves who had bathed them, grabbed hold of her as she ran past. The Romans had taken seven girls from the village, and shortly afterwards, a slave brought two of the less pretty ones back into the room. Odila was not one of them.

Adelbehrt heard them saying the others had been bought by a brothel. He did not know what a brothel was, and the others deflected his questions when he asked. He decided, when he saw the looks of relief on the faces of the remaining two girls, that it could not be a good place. Something else to hate the Romans for. He mentally added ‘Taking Odila to a brothel’ to his list of reasons to hate them.

The man in charge hung a board around the neck of each slave. Adelbehrt later learned that it gave information about the slave, including his likelihood of running away or committing suicide as well as his name and where he came from.

They took the slaves out one at a time. He could hear noises of people calling out something outside, but could not understand the words. When the slaves returned, the man who had taken them out took them to the table by the window. People came into the room, handed over money to the man sitting there, and then left with their purchase.

Eventually their turn arrived. The slave merchant had left them until the last, and as they were led outside together, Adelberht realised they were being sold as a single lot. He could breathe once more. He could keep his promise to his mother to look after his sister.

The warm air met them and as the sun shone on his naked skin, Adelbehrt blushed at being nude in front of the crowd filling the market place. He looked around and wondered at the large numbers of people still left, since all the slaves had been sold except the two of them.

The auctioneer picked Avelina up and another man did the same with Adelbehrt and held them so everyone could see the two children. The auctioneer spoke to the crowd and pointed at the children’s blonde hair. A few aahs came from the crowd, then people began to call things out. Adelbehrt decided the people were making bids for them.

They were a popular lot, if the number of bidders was anything to go by, but soon almost everyone dropped out leaving just two men in the bidding. Eventually one of them held up his hand and turned away, thus indicating he had dropped out. The man who had brought them out led them back into the room and gave them tunics to put on.

Their purchaser walked over to the table and handed over a purse of money, which the cashier counted carefully, nodded and handed a paper to their new owner who then came over to them, took each by a hand and led them out.

Adelbehrt looked at this man. He was a tall, clean-shaven man with an aquiline nose and dark hair and eyes. He did not look unkind, but still the sort of man you would not want to annoy. He spoke to the children in a light tenor voice, but they did not understand him, so he called to a man standing near the door and spoke a few words to him.

“This man says he’s your master now and wants to know how old you are,” the man interpreted.

“I have six summers and my sister four,” answered Adelbehrt, quietly, looking down at his feet.

The interpreter spoke to their new master in Latin and then interpreted the next few sentences.

“He’s on his way back to Britannia and you’re going to accompany him there. You’re to call him ‘Dominus’. That means ‘Master’, or ‘Sir’. You now have your first word of Latin. You’ll soon learn to speak it though, so don’t worry.”

“I’m called Adelbehrt, and my sister is Avelina.” Adelbehrt told him, not knowing his name had been on the scroll round his neck.

“Well. Adelberht, you’ll be all right just as long as you do as you’re told, and show proper deference to your master and mistress. Good luck.” With that, he left them.

“What’s going to happen now?” whispered Avelina.

‘We’re going to Britannia. We must call the man who has bought us ‘Dominus’ and do as he says.”

Avelina began to cry. “Where’s Britannia? You said we’d go back to Mamma. You said you’d escape and take us back.”

“I don’t know where Britannia is, but we will escape. Somehow we’ll get away, but I can’t promise you it will be soon.”

I hope you enjoyed this extract.

It‘s only four weeks to the release of

Vengeance of a Slave.

You can pre-order it from Amazon by clicking here, or on the cover in the sidebar.

A Review of Two Heads, Two Spikes by Jason Paul Rice

Overview.

My first impression of this book is that the author thought ‘I can write something like that’, when he read, or saw, GeorgeR.R.Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire, on TV as A Game of Thrones.
The book is wide-ranging and has a vast cast. Sadly, though Jason Paul Rice is not GeorgeR.R.Martin.
Here are some similarities.
 There are many warring families.
 Mr Rice is not averse to killing his characters.
 There is a ‘good’ family, the Colberts, just as Mr Martin has a ‘good’ family in the Starks.
 The Colberts’ have a son who has a handicap, but is very clever. The Starks have a clever son who is handicapped.

Plot.

The plot is complex, and parts don’t seem to fit in easily. I admit that I did not manage to finish the book for reasons I will come to later. Perhaps it all fits together later on. I did manage to plough through two thirds of it.

Characters.

On the whole, the characters seemed a bit flat. Either good or bad. There is little that helps us see what got them to be as unpleasant as they are.
One of the most difficult things I found was the naming of the characters. The members of the ruling family of Donegal (and why use the name of a province of Ireland in a fantasy setting?) all have names beginning with Alli-. For example, there is Alli-Stanley, the king, and Alli-ster, his son. We meet Alli-Steven. And it’s not only the men, but also the royal women.
One of the golden rules of writing fiction, and I try to obey it in my own writing, is to name your characters in such a way that they are not easily confused. Even to not having the same initial letter.

Writing.
I have to admit that part of the reason I gave up on this book is the writing. It is poor, to say the least. It is a self-published book, and I got the impression that Mr Rice wrote the book and then when he wrote The End, he set about publishing it.
There appears to have been little or no editing. Typos abound, and wrongly used words, too. He gives one character gold armour! not a good idea for something to protect. Gold is a soft, easily malleable metal. Research needs to be done on things like that. There are other little things of a similar nature, too.
One of the things that is very confusing is that Mr Rice does not seem to know that, in writing dialogue, you start a new paragraph for each new speaker. He has two speakers in the same paragraph and this makes for a confusing read. This alone would have made me give up.
These things would have been sorted if the author had employed an editor, or even beta readers. He could also have joined an on-line critique group or found a group of writers near him.

The book is the first of a series, but I won’t be reading the rest.

I give this book 2 stars **

Vengeance of a Slave

There are only 4 weeks left until the big moment.

Vengeance of a Slave


Will be released on Thursday December 26th

Make a note of it in your diary


or


Go to Amazon now and pre-order it.

This is my first venture into historical fiction. I really had an amazing time researching it and found out such a lot about the Romans and the way of life of the Celts who lived here when they invaded.

As a special thank you to all my readers, I am publishing an extract from the book on my blog on Thursday to mark the 4 week point.

You can order the book by clicking here, and it will take you to Amazon where you are. Or you can click on the book in the sidebar.

A Father’s Message. (A Poem)

When the Hallowe’en Poetry Contest arrived once more, I was stuck for ideas, having done it for the last 4 years. I needed inspiration.

I didn’t want to go down the ‘isn’t it a fun holiday’ route because I don’t think it is. It’s All Hallows Eve, the night before All Saints’ Day when the Christian Church celebrates all the saints who have died before.

It’s also Samhain, when the pre-Christian religion celebrated their ancestors and welcomed them into their homes.

My father died when I was very small. I only have a few vague memories of him, and so I decided to write a poem thinking of him, and, if the pre-Christians are right, he would come to visit me every year.

I hope you enjoy this. I know it’s a bit late for Hallowe’en, but never mind!

I Died.
I didn’t want to go.
I left my wife and daughter so
I cried.

I thought
I could no longer see
All their future without me.
I fought.

I found
That each All Hallows Eve,
I could return—I need not grieve.
Not bound.

I come
To them each Hallowe’en.
They do not know. I am not seen.
I’m dumb.

They live
And I surround them both
With all my love which I’m not loath
To give.

Here ends my tale.
I will be filled with endless glee
When they come to dwell with me
Beyond the veil.

Viv’s Family Recipes

Many years ago, I came by a small book that had belonged to my grandmother. In it were some recipes, and at the back, some of her accounts.

Then some years later, when I married, my mother gave me an exercise book in which she had written some of her recipes.

When her eldest sister died, who had no children, I acquired her recipe book.

My grandmother’s book had accounts dated 1909, many of my aunt’s would have been thirties and forties, and I suspect many of those my mother wrote down for me would have been fifties and sixties.

Added to recipes that I had acquired from friends, I thought this would make an interesting read for anyone interested in cooking, especially the kind of things our ancestors cooked.

I put together a book of these recipes that I called Viv’s Family Recipes. I added a few comments about the people who gave them as well, and in my Aunt’s book were some hints and tips for cleaning, which I added alongside some cures for ailments I remember from my Grandmother.

Viv’s Family Recipes is now on offer for the meagre price of $0.99, £0.99 until Thursday 21st November, so Hurry and get your copy. On Friday it will be back to its normal price.

Click here or on the cover in the side bar to take you to Amazon where you are.

Thank you for reading. If you would like to reblog this, I would be most grateful.