Roman and Mediaeval History, Illlustrated Travel Journals, Mediaeval Literature, Geology


29.5.05
  The Seagull - A Poem

Here's a little poem I translated from German into English ages ago.

Theodor Storm: Ans Haff nun fliegt die Möwe

The sea-gull flies ashore now,
And twilight's setting in;
Upon the mud-flats mirrors
The sun of the late evening.

The sea-birds like grey shadows
Approaching waters flee;
And dreamlike lie the islands
In the mists upon the sea.

Low murmurs and misterious
Of fermenting mud I hear,
Lonely sea-gulls' harsh cries,
A sound well known and dear.

Once more the wind is whisp'ring,
And then a silence falls;
The voices above the surface -
Audible become their calls.
 


27.5.05
  Blogs and Marketing

There is a very interesting article that deals with blogs as marketing tools for writers - yes, even advance marketing tools for aspiring writers. A look at the comments shows that it obviously works.

Seems I got my shiny new blog just at the right time. :)

But there is a problem: sharing too much of your writing can endanger publication rights and I know from some published witers that talking too much about it isn't popular among publishers, either. So it's walking a fine line here. You have to tell your blog readers enough to interest them, but aren't supposed to give away much.

There might be a way to attract readers to your blog without talking much about your writing, but that doesn't work for me. I don't want my blog to be a politics and religion forum, and I'm not big enough into any fandom to geek about it a lot. And my own life isn't that interesting, alas. There are days where I think fighting a dragon might be some fun for a change.

Dragons, I said, Doug, not 8 feet tarantulas.

So what I'm trying to do is to walk that line. I've linked short - and rather vague - descriptions of my three major novel projects, and I'll talk a bit about them now and then. I might even post the occasional short snippet. There is a fourth novel I work on, the so-called Sucky First Attempt at Novel Writing in Dire Need of a Big Revision aka Kings and Rebels. I'll probably add it to my list one of these days. And there are future projects for which I do a bit research now and then, fe. a novel about Pirates on the Baltic Sea. Rawr.

I'm more open about my writing on my LJ because it's Friends Only. But then, that doesn't work well as a marketing tool. It's more a place to discuss specific problems with other (aspiring) writers.

The titles might already have shown you that I write Historical Fiction. I have a degree in History and love research. I also live in Germany (though I write in English) where the average reader expectation about historical correctness of novels is pretty high. On the other hand, I try to tell interesting stories with engaging characters. Another fine line to walk.

Ok, that's enough for today. Have to go plotting some mayhem. :)
 


25.5.05
  Book Meme
Because everyone and his uncle is doing it (cross-posted with my LJ)

Last Books I Bought:

Non-fiction:
Guy de la Bédoyère: Eagles over Britannia. The Roman Army in Britain
Anthony Birley: A Band of Brothers. Garrison Life at Vindolanda
Ernst Künzl: Medizin in der Antike
Georg Scheibelreiter: Die barbarische Gesellschaft. Mentalitätsgeschichte der europäischen Achsenzeit 5.-8. Jahrhundert
Torsten Capelle: Die Sachsen des frühen Mittelalters

Fiction:
Bernard Cornwell: The Archer's Tale / Vagabond / Heretic
Stephen Lawhead: The Iron Lance / The Black Rood / The Mystic Rose
Poul Anderson: The King of Ys
Tilman Röhrig: Wie ein Lamm unter Löwen
Sir Walter Scott: Quentin Durward (I was shocked to find I didn't have that one)


Last Books I Read:

Non-fiction:
Guy de la Bédoyère: The Golden Age of Roman Britain
Anne Ross: Druids
Amaury Chaudou: L'idéologie Plantagenêt: Royauté arthurienne et monarchie politique dans l'espace Plantagenêt (XIIe-XIIIe siècles)

Fiction:
Bernard Cornwell: The Winter King / Enemy of God / Excalibur
Kerstin Ekman: Guds Barmhärtighet
Herbjørg Wassmo: Dinas bok
Iris Kammerer: Die Schwerter des Tiberius


5 Books That Mean A Lot To Me:
I have more than five, for sure. Often it is an author that influenced me more than a particular book. Here's a little selection:

Fjodor Dostojevsky (esp. The Karamassov Brothers, The Demons, The Idiot)
(because he made me rethink my religious education and decide for atheism)

Thomas Mann
(there's so much in his books, and he writes the most beautiful German)

George Eliot: Daniel Deronda
(I simply love that one)

Tolkien: Lord of the Rings
(he introduced me to Fantasy)

Marcel Reich-Ranicki: Mein Leben (avaliable in English: My Life)
(because he suffered during Hitler and never bore a grudge, his it's the best description of the Warshaw Ghetto I've read)
 


24.5.05
  The Privilege of the deditio

The deditio was a privilege for members of the high aristocracy. This privilege allowed reconciliation with the sovereign after a rebellion. It followed a certain ceremony with demonstrative repentence being the first step, that mostly included being barefoot, wearing of a penitential robe and a proper genuflection (on both knees, kissing the foot of the king). The king then could forgive on the spot by raising the dedicant from his kneeling position, or punish the rebel in a serious (long term imprisonment) or more symbolic (f.e. dismantling of a part of the castle walls which could be rebuild thereafter) way. Only one thing the king could not do: put the death sentence upon the repentant rebel. The conditions of the deditio were negotiated beforehand by mediators. After the deditio relations were regarded as before the rebellion with the honour of both parties remaining intact. (At least, officially, sometimes the conditions were too humilitating not to leave negative feelings with the one who had to submit.)

It was one of the ways to establish limits of power and aggression in a society with no legal system as we know today. Therefore, the ceremony had a large component of stage production, of demonstration for a people the majority of which was illiterate. The deditio developed in the time of Charlemagne; the first description of the proper proceedings is to be found for the treatment of Louis the Pious' rebellious son Lothar in 834.

The deditio could only be granted once, if the rebellious vassal continued with his behaviour, no more negotiations about submission were allowed; his life was forfeit. The demonstrative character of the action would have lost its effect had it been repeated by the same person. Though there are exceptions to this, of course.


Sources:
Gerd Althoff. Das Privileg der deditio. In: Althoff, Gerd. Spielregeln der Politik im Mittelalter - Kommunikation in Frieden und Fehde. Darmstadt, 1997 (Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft); pp. 99-125
 


22.5.05
  Let's see how this works

Since many of my friends have blogs, I thought I'd get one, too.

I'm not yet sure what I'm going to do with it, lol. Book reviews? That's an idea - if you like the odd mix of fe. David Gemmell, George Eliot, Bernard Cornwell, Thomas Mann, Halldór Laxness, Lois McMaster Bujold, GRR Martin and Sir Walter Scott. Not to mention German books that publishers never translate.

Ranting about my life? I'm not someone brave enough to do that in public. Posts about the historical research I do for my novels? Another idea worth pursuing. Though I doubt anyone will read about the little wooden tablets with scribblings they found at Vindolanda or the change of command structure in the Roman army between 120 and 400 AD. But isn't blogging like talking to the air in hope someone listens

Well, I'll have to see how this blog thingie will proceed.
 


  Kings and Rebels

Treason and the misuse of magic led to a cataclysm where the legendary realms of Levonais, Kêr Ys, Caer Gwaelod, and Vineta sank beneath the waves. But the magic stones that had shaped them were saved, and the descendants of the Sea Kings decided to keep the stones hidden, carrying on their line in secret.

After the Imperium of Roma fell, new peoples established their realms - the Gallicaine bent on conquest and rewaking the glory of Roma, the fierce Nortvegjan who rule the seas, and the warlike clans of Riata.

But now changes in the currents have enhanced the magic of the stones again, and they can no longer be kept secret. Already one stone has fallen into the wrong hands, and the smaller gems powered by the stones work their sorcerous power for whoever possesses such a treasure.

Among kings and rebels striving for power, a royal marshal turns traitor and flees into exile, the heir of a king sees his sovereign fall under the spell of a dark sorceress, a clan chief must navigate the intricacies of Riatan politics and his brother's schemes, and a necromancer princess trusts the dead more than the living.

The heirs of the stones must find a way to keep the stones safe - not only from a group of mages bound on finding the ancient artefacts, but also from themselves. Because when kingdoms are at stake, the stones' powerful magic could shake the very continent.
 


21.5.05
  Forged at the Fighting / In War to Defend

In the first half of the 10th century, kings strive to expand their realms, noble lords turn rebels, longships prowl the sea and raiders plunder the land. In these turbulent times, four siblings of a minor Saxon house have to fight for survival.

Athalard of Sichelstein inherits the family's lands, but also a bloodfeud that will drive him, hunted and haunted, to the borders of the inhabited world. Wittilo, monastery-educated but with a longing for arms and armour, will become involved in the civil war between Heinrich the Fowler's sons and must decide which oaths to keep. Ercenmar seeks a future of glory at the court of Æthelstan of Wessex to find it will turn to ashes when friends become enemies. Their sister Erelinda will have to face the masterful queen of the Danes, but only if she can embrace her own power may she save the man she loves.

The saga of the Sichelstein siblings is a tale of family, of love and hatred, duty and honour, of divided allegiances and battles, ranging from the glaciers of Iceland to the fertile plains at the Danube, from the swamps and forests of the Eastmarch to the islands of western Alba.


First draft of book 1 is the work for Nano 2014.

The first book will bring the story to the battle of Brunanburh (937), the second to the battle on the Lechfeld (955)
 


20.5.05
  A Land Unconquered

Caius Horatius Veranius is a member of Varus' staff and one of the few survivors of the Battle in the Teutoburg Forest where the German tribes annihilated three legions. But when he returns to the forts at the Rhine after having been released from German captivity, he faces treason charges by his rival Publius Cornelius Lentulus and finds that navigating the snares of political intrigue can be more difficult than surviving a battle.

Arminius, leader of the German confederacy and former Roman officer, meanwhile strives to keep the tribes together and win new allies.

Then Rome sends an army to avenge the shame and reclaim the eagles, and the war reaches a new peak when Germanicus leads the legions across the Rhine in a fight that puts not only Romans against Germans, but also friends and brothers against each other.
 


18.5.05
  Eagle of the Sea

This is a semi-sequel to 'A Land Unconquered'

Marcus Horatius Aquila wants to make a career in the Roman army. But when he is dispatched to Britannia where the governor Julius Agricola fights against the Caledonians, he has dejà-vus of tribal life he can't explain. During a skirmish, Aquila is taken captive and discovered to be born to the tribes from his mother's side and heir to the leadership of the Epidii.

Torn between conflicting blood ties and allegiances, Aquila tries to adapt to the tribal culture and mediate between the Caledonian Confederacy and the Romans. But some of the tribal warriors don't want peace, the influential patrician Cornelius Scipio accuses Aquila of treason, and the Batavian auxiliaries in Aquila's charge threaten to mutiny.

When his attempts to negotiate peace between the Romans and Caledonians fail, Aquila must decide for one side of his double heritage and become a traitor to the other.
 


  Beyond Dark Mountains

During the invasion of Septimius Severus, the charismatic Caledonian leader Talorcan fights for revenge and the freedom of his people, but his war carries a death toll the Caledonian tribes are no longer willing to pay. Led by Talorcan's cousin and rival, they cast him out, and Talorcan has to hide, an outlaw, in the lands occupied by the Romans.

On the other side of the border, the Roman cavalry prefect Lucius Valerius is ambitious to reestablish the lost honour of his family, only to find his attempts thwarted by his superior Quintus Manlius. When Valerius disobeys an order, his future is at stake if he can't unveil the intrigues behind it, but the man who knows Manlius' past is a member of the Caledonian tribes who may kill Valerius if he ventured north alone.

But peace is fragile and a treacherous plot may lead to the genocide of the tribes and civil war among the Romans. Can Talorcan and Valerius find proof for treason in time, and what role plays a former auxiliary officer turned tribal leader?

This one is in the planning stage.
 


15.5.05
  Battle of the Blue Swords

In the 7th century AD, the Angles of Northumbria, the Picts, the Dál Riatans, and the Britons of Strathclyde strive for supremacy in Scotland, and sometimes just for survival. In this turbulent world, the Dál Riatan warrior Ciaran becomes a hostage of the Pictish king but is betrayed into slavery by a rival. After his escape he finds no welcome with the warrying clans of his own people that have annihilated his family. He returns to the Picts to create a sub-kingdom of his own by claim of his mixed ancestry. But Bridei, high king of the Picts, endeavours to cast off the yoke of Northumbrian supremacy and wants to unite the tribes - by force if needs be. Ciaran has to question his ambitions and face his past in order to forge an alliance of Picts and Dál Riatans against the Northumbrians that will culminate in the battle of Nechtansmere - the Battle of the Blue Swords - where the Northumbrian king Ecgfrith is slain.

But Ciaran's rival is still a trusted friend of king Bridei. Ciaran may have survived the battle, but will he survive the aftermath and an accusation of treason?

This one is in the planning / research stage.
 


10.5.05
  Never To Return

The Roman officer Lucius Valerius Aurelianus must fight the demons of his past and his parents' ambitions, and protect the inept emperor Severus Alexander against the discontent legions. Then Severus Alexander is assassinated and Maximinus Thrax elected emperor by the soldiers. He brings with him a man from Lucius Valerius' past the young officer had hoped never to meet again.

The German warrior Ricmar is outlawed for a murder he didn't commit thanks to the schemes of his half-brother. His exile will lead him all the way to the lands west of the Rhenus that are held by the Romans. Maximinus Thrax offers Ricmar a future if he will betray the people that outlawed him; an offer even more tempting when Ricmar learns the truth about his father and his heritage.

When the Romans invade Germania in a punitive expedition, it will not only be a war between the Germanic tribes and the Roman army, but also the culmination of a family feud where brothers fight each other during a battle on the slopes of a mountain in the Hercynian Forest.
 


Miscellaneous musings of an aspiring Historical Fiction author. Illustrated essays on Roman, Dark Age and Mediaeval history, Mediaeval literature, and Geology. Some poetry translations and writing stuff. And lots of photos of old castles, cathedrals, Roman remains, and beautiful landscapes from Germany, the UK, Scandinavia, and the Baltic States.

All texts (except comments by guests) and photos (if no other copyright is noted) on this blog are copyright of Gabriele Campbell.

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Location: Germany

I'm a writer of Historical Fiction living in Germany. I got a MA in Literature, Scandinavian Studies, Linguistics and History, I'm interested in Archaeology and everything Roman and Mediaeval, an avid reader, opera enthusiast, traveller with a liking for foreign languages and odd rocks, and photographer.


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