Sunday, August 17, 2014

A Vulnerable Vampire... Lost in Tudor England

A Connecticut Vampire in King Arthur's Court: Time Traveler by Misfortune, Lost in Olde England

Imagine you’re a vampire; a present-day vampire.
You are the pinnacle of human evolution, you are faster, stronger, and will outlive every human on the planet, as long as you keep your head on your shoulders, or stop people putting a wooden stake through your beating heart.
You do not fear a 'normal' human's death; you simply wake up a few hours later, usually still at the scene of your demise, or on the coroner’s stainless steel table. You rise, you escape, and you slip back into your vampire lifestyle, with nothing missed.
Wounds that would scar a human for life, heal in hours, leaving your skin flawless.
You are immune from bacteria and disease, incapable of prolonged pain, and have the hypnotic ability to elicit total control over normal humans.
And to make matters far better, you live in an age when people are reading about vampires all the time, while also not believing in them in real-life for a second.
You are virtually immortal.
Life is good.
Good, with a capital G.

Then imagine yourself the same cock-sure vampire thrown back in time 500 years.
Back to a time where every man in the land carried a weapon, usually of the thin sharp steel variety, or worse still, the sharp wood variety.
And to make matters worse, you've arrived at a time where, although the people are rabid church-goers, they're also fanatically suspicious, and are perfectly able to believe in demons, and monsters from hell.
You are suddenly rather nervous regarding the inviolability of your supposed immortality.
But it gets much, much worse…
Imagine, in this Tudor England, when you kill someone, a ‘shimmer’ happens around you, rendering you immobile and vulnerable for several seconds… a shimmer which only you feel… a shimmer which places you completely at the mercy of those sharp weapons.
Your supposed vampire imperviousness is stripped from you, leaving you to rely on other traits to survive.
Under these conditions enters Richard DeVere, present-day Connecticut born and bred. A vampire suddenly transported to a strange time of which he has little knowledge, his normal advantages stripped from him.
You have entered the world of “A Connecticut Vampire in King Arthur’s Court”, the latest novel from Ian Hall.
Available as an eBook everywhere, and a paperback at
Get more information at

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Caledonii: Birth of a Celtic Nation Book 5: Druid's Work

I'd like to announce the imminent arrival of the fifth part of my Roman/Scottish saga, Caledonii: Birth of a Celtic Nation.
The story so far… It is now the winter of 80AD, and the Romans have already invaded lowland Scotland, establishing a perimeter across the narrowest part of the country, an earthen wall between the Clyde and Forth rivers. (Sixty years later, this wall would be fortified again as the Antonine Wall). The Roman plan for the destruction of the Scottish (Pictish) people is simple; they will exterminate or bribe all who stand in their way. The Votadini clan in the eastern lowlands laid down their weapons, and received huge amounts of gold for doing so. The Selgovae on the borderlands were not so fortunate; determined to resist, they were crushed by the weight of two Roman legions.
Thus begins Caledonii, Book 5: Dhruid's Work.
Calach, the young Caledonii leader, has plans underway for the unification of the clans against the Romans, but needs time to bring his plan to fruition, and time is not on his side. The Roman commander, Julius Agricola, is under direct orders from Emperor Titus to quash the northern tribes not under Roman control, and planned a swift two year campaign to do so. With the first year safely running to plan, he winters his forces behind his earthen wall, ready to strike into the Scottish highlands and drive the Caledonii into the sea.
Uwan, Calach's younger brother, is a druid with knowledge and wisdom far beyond his years, and the druid hierarchy has plans of their own, using Uwan as the spearhead. He travels to the Irish kingdom of Dalrieda and confronts the Irish druids, enlisting the aid of the Scotti clans in a lowland rebellion against Agricola's forces. With the planned rebellion in place, their hope is to give Calach one more year to prepare.
But Uwan's eyes are on a far greater prize, not only has he work to do at home, he also has a life-changing journey to make; he must travel to the center of the empire, to Rome itself, and confront Titus.
Caledonii Part 5: Druid’s Work is the tale of Uwan’s mission and the second year of the Roman invasion of Scotland.
The words of a Scottish poet yet then unborn, the Roman’s would find out that “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley”
Book 5 will be released in the Autumn of 2014, here are the other volumes.

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Friday, August 1, 2014

The Aftermath of Bannockburn: The Long Journey Home

Photo by David Robertson Photography
To the rulers of the day, wars are little more than statistics-not so to the common man.

In the aftermath of the Battle of Bannockburn, King Edward’s only thought was to reach Dunbar Castle, and find some safety in this suddenly dangerous land. He fled with his personal bodyguard of mounted knights and came to no menace on the journey east. The rest of his army found the retreat a little more perilous.

For hundreds of years the Kings of Scotland had bowed to their southern cousins, and for much of that time English Barons held positions of power in Scotland. The Earl of Gloucester, Gilbert de Clare, so recently cut to pieces at Bannockburn, had been “Warden of Scotland” and “Captain of Scotland and the Northern Marches” in 1308 and 1309. The Scottish people had already endured much suffering at English hands. But with the English army in such complete disarray, the statistics of war were now firmly on the Scottish side.

It is estimated that 10,000 Englishmen died or were captured at the field of Bannockburn, or in the immediate vicinity. That leaves a schism of another 10,000 men scattering all over lowland Scotland, leaderless and frightened, all trying vainly to reach the English border and escape this wild and vengeful land. In their eagerness to flee, some men would band together, taking refuge in large numbers, knowing that the lowly Scottish farmer could not attack such a force. Some would run in pairs or alone, seeking safety in guile and cunning to sneak southwards.

Historian Peter Reece has given us a very frightening statistic. After the battle of Bannockburn only one group of men is recorded to have reached England in safety; a bunch of Welsh spearmen under the command of Sir Maurice de Berkeley arrived at Carlisle Castle many days later. In Reece’s opinion, less than a third of the survivors from Bannockburn ever got home. Cutting the refugees down singly or in small groups, the people of Scotland wreaked their own bloody vengeance for centuries of English oppression. The name Bannockburn would be spoken of proudly for 700 years and more.

Ultimately, the events of these ‘border wars’ so long ago still undermine a curious relationship between  two countries now at peace and allies for many hundreds of years. While we Scots shake hands with our southern neighbors, it seems that even today we do so somewhat grudgingly. Scotland votes on independence this year, hoping to finally cutting the ties that the Union of the Crowns achieved in 1707. We live in historical times again.

I am a historian, writer and folk singer, so have sung and written about the cause of Scottish Freedom for many years. I was a member of the SNP and campaigned vigorously for the first bid for a Scottish Parliament years ago. I love my country and insults to her honor run deep, as illustrated vividly by this personal story:

On 15 June, 2012, England played Sweden in the group stages of the European Championship. I drove to a local "pub" in my new home town of Topeka, Kansas, where I knew I’d find huge screens to watch. Scotland hadn’t qualified, so I was here to support a Scot's next favorite team; “anyone who’s playing against England”.

In the huge bar, there were only four of us watching the game, and it became quickly clear that the two men at the next table were actually English, with the accompanying English accents. To be honest, they didn’t really converse with us much and we all watched the match with interest. Then Sweden scored, and I jumped out of my seat in exclamation. “Yes!” I punched the air. When the euphoria had died down, the nearest Englishman leaned over.

“’S’cuse me, mate?” he began in a very London accent. “You’re Scottish, aren’t you?”

“Yes!” I proudly declared, wishing I’d bought a Sweden shirt for the game.

“Then why are you supporting Sweden?” he asked.

“Seven hundred years of oppression, mate.” I crisply answered.

My wife cringed in her seat as I turned back to watch the television screen oblivious to her fears. Perhaps luckily for me England won, but when I was questioned later as to why I’d said such a cruel thing to my ‘fellow countryman’, I realized that I had not considered the snub for one second. The words had been so natural, so quickly out of my mouth, that I never gave it a second thought. Yes, to "the punters" wars are much more than mere statistics...

PHOTO CREDIT: David Robertson Photography
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