A thrilling new alternative history series from Sarah Cawkwell
What if Richard III didn’t fall at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485? What if Shakespeare’s favourite villain went on to found a dark dynasty?
Mathias Eynon’s dreams were small. A dabbler in magic, he expected to live in
obscurity in his home in the Welsh hills, not drawing attention to himself. But fate has other plans for him. It is the Year of Our Lord Fifteen Ninety, and a revolution is quietly brewing, here and further abroad. Richard V has overstayed his rule, some say; others whisper that the whole line of Demon Kings must be burned out.
Mathias – son of a man executed for the practice of magic – is set to become a symbol, and a leader. And to do that, he needs champions. A wise woman sends him to the corners of the known world – to the frozen lands of the north, to the pirate-haunted ports of Spain, to the mountains of the German Empire, to the burning sands of the Holy Land – to bring back masters of the four magic arts. With Richard’s Witch Hunters on his heels, he sets out to gather his allies.
Why the critics loved it:
“If you want a book that isn’t just your average romp around a fantasy kingdom by a band of rouges and the predetermined Destined One, check this out.” – The Cult Den
“Sarah Cawkwell’s book is highly entertaining, and a very promising first chapter in a new book series. Even if you’re not really into fantasy, this book has the action, the characters and the pace to make it worth your while, so I suggest you check it out.” – Trash Mutant
Why we loved it:
Cawkwell weaves a beautiful alt-history tale in a new series that takes history’s favourite villain and reworks his story with a confident knowledge of history, and fantastic visceral action. Plus, bonus points given for the best villainous sidekick ever in the King’s chilling inquisitor…
Read it? Love it! Try this:
Hunter of Sherwood: Knight of Shadowsby Toby Venables
England, 1191. Richard Lionheart has left the realm bankrupt and leaderless in his quest for glory. Only Prince John seems willing to fight
back the tide of chaos threatening England – embodied by the traitorous ‘Hood.’
But John has a secret weapon: Guy of Gisburne, outcast, mercenary, and now knight. His first mission: to intercept the jewel-encrusted skull of John the Baptist, sent by the Templars to Philip, King of France. Gisburne’s quest takes him from the Tower of London to the hectic crusader port of Marseilles – and into increasingly bloody encounters with ‘The White Devil’: the fanatical Templar de Mercheval.
Relentlessly pursued back to England, and aided by the beautiful and secretive Mélisande, Gisburne battles his way with sword, lance and bow to a bitter confrontation at the Castel de Mercheval. But beyond it – if he survives – lies an even more unpredictable adversary.
Releasing today for the US market we have the sublime Heirs of the Demon King: Uprising by Sarah Cawkwell.
England bleeds. Magic is forbidden, Richard III’s corrupt dynasty must fall.
Mathias Eynon’s dreams were small. A dabbler in magic, he expected to live in obscurity in his home in the Welsh hills. But fate has other plans for him. It is the Year of Our Lord Fifteen Eighty-Nine, and a revolution is quietly brewing. Richard the Fifth has overstayed his rule, some say; the line of Demon Kings must be burned out. When the Inquisitor Charles Weaver comes to Mathias’ village, he is thrust into events beyond his understanding.
Sarah has been relentlessly taking over the internet this month, and now you can read her eagerly awaited new title in paperback (amazon)*, on the kindle or in eBook format directly from the Rebellion store.
*You can also purchase Uprising from your local book emporium – give them a call today and check they have it in stock.
I have just surfaced from reading Richard J. Evans’s opinion on ‘what-if’ speculations in history, published in The Guardian on 13th March 2014. His thoughts are very heavily based in fact, rather than fiction, but there is a certain relevance to the theme of my upcoming novel, Heirs of the Demon King: Uprising. Thus, it seemed appropriate to spark off something of a debate on the subject of historical ‘what-if’.
“Perhaps it’s because we’re living in a postmodern age where the idea of progress has largely disappeared, to be replaced by uncertainty and doubt, and where linear notions of time have become blurred; or because truth and fiction no longer seem such polar opposites as they once did; or because historians now have more licence to be subjective than they used to. But it’s time to be sceptical about this trend. We need, in this year especially, to start to try to understand why the first world war happened, not to wish that it hadn’t, or argue about whether it was “right” or “wrong”. In the effort to understand, counterfactuals aren’t any real use at all.” – Richard J. Evans
Let’s see. To me, this reads in a manner which suggests Evans is clearly not a man who has any interest in speculation. None whatsoever. He deals in the currency of cold, hard fact, not the airy-fairy world of daydreaming and imagination. I have a lot of respect for that and what happened in history is what happened in history. Short of owning a TARDIS (or, for preference, a De Lorean) there’s not a lot we can do about that. What has happened has happened. We, as a species exist for the now and for tomorrow. We can’t change what has been and why should we?
This is why. Because we are also a species of dreamers and we have been gifted with something extraordinary. Something unique. Something that those embedded in the world of fact can sometimes lose sight of. We are storytellers. From the Viking skalds through to the parent sat reading a nursery rhyme to their infant child, we tell one another stories. We invoke fear, excitement, pleasure, laughter, tears with the written fictional word and to be able to read and write stories is a remarkable gift. I wonder if Mr. Evans reads fiction? I do hope that he does, although from the terse nature of his article (interesting and relevant as it is), I would think that if he does, he avoids the ‘historical fiction’ shelf in his bookshop. For my money, that’s his loss.
To spend hours or even a lifetime debating in earnest fashion the ‘what if’ scenarios outline by Evans in his article seems to me to be bordering on the wistful and in that, I see eye to eye with the author. But yet I disagree that ‘counterfactuals’ aren’t any real use at all. They encourage a deeper understanding of the historical events that surround an outcome. If you can take someone with only a passing interest in an event that changed the world – let’s say the first world war – and ask them what the world might have been like if xx had or had not happened, there’s a good chance they might go away and learn more about the actual facts. In that, you educate people. They learn. They gain interest. And that is a wonderful, extraordinary thing.
But at the same time, it’s human nature to have regret. It’s in our psychological make-up to wonder how things might have been different if we had only taken the other route to work the morning of that car crash, for example.
History is a living thing. We create history every day. It may not be earth-changing or world-shattering, but every action has a consequence. If you were to stop and consider all the actual possibilities of an action, you’d never do anything for fear of heading down the wrong pathway.
There are so many theories on this, the most well documented being that for every decision we make, the alternative decisions are played out in parallel dimensions. That somewhere, there exists another you who decided to actually sit down and revise for that exam actually then went on to university, then became the world’s expert on your chosen subject. Owns a beach house in the Caribbean. Drives a Lotus Elise.
Man. I hate that version of me.
Heirs of the Demon King: Uprising is speculative, what-if historical fiction with a twist. It has fantasy elements thrown in. There is magic. There are demons. There are most definitely consequences for actions. It is not in any way meant to be an academic study of ‘what would have happened if Richard III had won at Bosworth’ but it sure as hell makes me wonder.
Author Sarah Cawkwell recently wrote a piece for the Abaddon blog about her forthcoming new novel, Heirs of the Demon King, which is set in an England where Richard III didn’t die at Bosworth Field and instead founded dark and despotic dynasty that rules the nation with terror and magic…
Someone else connected with Abaddon also spent the weekend proving that you can’t keep a good king (bad king, shurely? – Ed.) down – Rebellion CEO Jason Kingsley!
Those who’ve heard of Jason before will know that he enjoys donning armour, getting onto a horse, and galloping at a similarly attired gent with a long stick in his hand – but it turns out he also does a mean impression of the last King of the Plantagenets:
We know now that long after the last Plantagenet king of England, Richard III, fatally came second at the Battle of Bosworth Field his body found itself unceremoniously lying beneath a car-park in Leicester.
But what would England look like if Shakespeare’s favourite bad guy had won instead?
In June, Abaddon is launching a brand new historical fantasy series from an up and coming author: Heirs of the Demon King: Uprising is a thrilling alternative history by Sarah Cawkwell set in a world filled with magic and where, instead of the famous Tudor monarchs, there is an unconquered line of kings stemming from a victorious Richard III.
Sarah, who has previously written Warhammer novels, now brings her sense of history and visceral action to this fantastical re-imagining of the 16th Century. And we asked her to put together a few words to explain the series and what it’s like resurrecting one of the most controversial Royal dynasties in English history…
What Happens When Kings Don’t Die
When I was asked to consider an ‘alternative history-coupled with fantasy’ story, it took me about eleven seconds to decide whereabouts in history I would start.
A million years ago, when I was infinitely younger and certainly more impressionable, I went on a week’s holiday with my then-boyfriend to a remote little cottage somewhere in Scotland. Beautiful place it was: lovely walks, great fishing (for him), nice local pub (for me), no television and a shelf full of books that I could read whilst curled up beside a crackling log fire.
Amongst these books was the novelisation of a television series called The Devil’s Crown. I picked it up with vague disinterest and started reading it. By the end, I was in love with the Plantagenet family and this depiction of them. I can honestly say that returning that wonderful book to the shelf was the most heartbreaking separation from a book I can remember. I t
hen started reading more and more about the Plantagenet family and find their legacy to be fascinating reading.
King Henry the Second was a true warrior king, a man who, whenever he saw something he wanted, would smack his hand down on a table, shout, ‘I WANT T
HIS THING!’, then go out and take it. I would put money down that he never once said ‘could you please pass the salt’.
This sense of self-entitlement also guaranteed him his wife, the remarkable Eleanor of Aquitaine, possibly amongst the most interesting and powerful women ever to feature in England’s history – and the mother of some of the most remarkable monarchs this country has ever seen.
Henry certainly did not suffer fools gladly and he was allegedly massively unpopular as a king. Yet in that novel, he became a sympathetic anti-hero. I’m a sucker for those.
Historical fiction is a delightful area of genre: accounts can be written that paint images of people who often exist only in dry, dusty history books, or as caricatures of their time. For example, the Bard immortalised Richard the Third as a tyrannical, hunch-backed monstrosity: others have argued that this is a great disservice to the long-dead king. History, so they say, is written by the winners and the losers are confined to pages where they are lampooned and ridiculed.
The Battle of Bosworth Field has been prominent in the news over the last couple of years due to the remains of King Richard the Third having been formally identified. Of all places for the last descendant of a great warrior king to be found, beneath layers of car park Tarmac in Leicestershire is probably one of the least dignified.
Richard the Third has perpetually been labelled as a nominal ‘bad guy’. That seemed like an interesting place to start.
What if, I hypothesised, Richard the Third beat Henry Tudor into a pulp on that August day in Leicestershire? What would have happened to England if he had reigned for more than the twenty-six months he did?
But even that was not the true point of divergence for this story. It would have been easy enough to re-write human history based on a Plantagenet victory that day and indeed, this is where Heirs of the Demon King: Uprising opens. But the story goes back further than that. What is it that gave Richard the strength to overcome on the battlefield?
For the answer to that, we look further back in history. We visit King Richard, the Lionheart, a man who is variously portrayed as either Sean Connery, or a shining beacon of English leadership (although many historians claim he didn’t speak a word of English and preferred to live in Aquitaine rather than the country over which he ruled). The Devil’s Crown portrayed Richard in a very unsympathetic light which I feel was remarkably brave.
I went with the middle ground. King Richard the First returns from the Holy Land and the Crusades with a gift for the people of his country. He brings with him the gift of true magic: a mastery of the elements and weaving of spells and incantations that bring power and prosperity to his small island. The people of England embrace this gift and the country flourishes. The spread of magic across the known world brings an era of harmony.
You know it can’t possibly last. Let any power fall into the wrong hands and it will inevitably become a warped and twisted terrible thing. So once the ‘wrong’ people start using the gift, magic slowly pollutes the country and becomes something to be feared and banished, no longer to be embraced.
By the time King Richard the Third, the last of the Plantagenets takes to the battlefield at Bosworth, the monarchy is broken and England is a place torn apart by tyranny and war. Bosworth is the last hope for Richard and in order to perpetuate his line, he must call upon the powers with whom his distant ancestor bargained and make a deal of his own.
For every bargain made, there is a price to be paid. Richard’s greed and lust for victory condemns his ancestors to a nightmare.
But eventually the time comes when someone has to make a stand and Heirs of the Demon King: Uprising brings together a number of unlikely individuals whose stories and journeys race towards a final, fateful showdown at dawn on the day of the Winter Solstice…
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