1 October 2018

Special Guest Post by Kate Innes, Author of All the Winding World (Arrowsmith Book 2)

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

England 1294 - The country is under siege, threatened by treachery and invasion. In the contested territory of Aquitaine, the incompetence of the English command has led to the capture and death of many of King Edward’s most trusted knights. Amongst the angry hostages, there is one who will choose to betray his country.

It’s been a few years since the first of my Arrowsmith books, The Errant Hours, was published. It became one of Book Riot’s One Hundred Must-Read Medieval Novels. It was included on a reading list at Bangor University. It was endorsed by an Oxford historian.

So you can imagine that I approached writing the sequel with some trepidation. What if the heroine, Illesa Arrowsmith, had no more to tell me? What if the magic didn’t work again? The spectre of second novel syndrome haunted my desk. I had to force myself to sit and write, gritting my teeth until the fear passed and the story took over. The sense of relief when the characters came to life and began to do their own thing was enormous.

All the Winding World is set ten years after The Errant Hours in 1294 – a time when England was once again at war, this time on several fronts. King Edward I was sucked into an embarrassing and avoidable war with King Philip IV of France, known as Philip the Fair, over his territory of Aquitaine in southwest France. (King Philip was most certainly fair of face, not of nature.) 

King Edward’s barons and knights were tired of the expense of constant warfare, and refused to fight overseas for him. So the king sent out men-at-arms to conscript soldiers across Wales and the Welsh March. Their brutality provoked a large-scale rebellion. Many of his Welsh castles were torched, and Edward was forced to reroute the troops heading to Aquitaine to fight the nearer threat in Wales. 

 Map of Aquitaine by James St Clair Wade

A small fleet of ships full of reluctant knights and pardoned criminals set sail from Portsmouth in October 1294 to fight the Norman French, expecting reinforcements to arrive at any moment. But they didn’t come and the inexperienced English command, after some initial success, began making serious errors of judgment. One of these led to a riot, the sacking of the town of Rions and the capture of twelve of Edward’s knights. The hostages were taken to an impregnable tower in Bordeaux. But one of them had plans to break free at whatever cost, even if it meant betraying his country. This is the political background to All the Winding World. 

Over the course of the story we meet a large company of characters, including some old friends. I was delighted to be able to write more about the player, Gaspar, who was so entertaining during King Edward’s Round Table Tournament in Wales in Book One.

But allow me to introduce you to two new characters who arrived in the story, determined to make their mark on the plot. 

1. Azalais of Dax – a singer and composer of songs from Occitania, the area of Southern France which gave birth to the concept of ‘Courtly Love’ through the songs of the troubadours and trobairitz (female troubadours). Occitania was a part of Europe where women had a little more power, autonomy and creative opportunities than elsewhere in the medieval world. Azalais is vibrant, determined and knows her own value. She was inspired by the real historical figure, Azalais de Porcairages (born 1140) a trobairitz from the area near Montpellier. Her talents are vital in the second half of the book.
Azalais de Porcairagues
(from a 13th century chansonnier BN MS12473)

2. Father Raymond – a priest of the Knights Templar
The Templars, a monastic military order, were very powerful in the south of France, and, after the fall of Acre and the end of the main period of Crusades, it was their role to protect pilgrims on the many routes through this area travelling to the famous shrine at Santiago de Compostella in northern Spain. The Templars had a unique position – they were not beholden to the King, or Barons, or to any lesser ecclesiastical power than the Pope himself. As such they were able to trade, buy land, lend money and generally set up a large business with branches all over Christendom without constraint. King Philip IV got into considerable debt with them, and resented their wealth and power over him. Eventually, having brought Pope Clement V at Avignon under his control, he totally destroyed the Templars and confiscated their property. 

 Bust of Philip the Fair – from St Denys

But that was in 1307. In 1295 when All the Winding World is set, the Templars were still at the height of their influence, and the Templar priest, Father Raymond, is able to manipulate the powers in Aquitaine to help a poor group of pilgrims, (in fact Illesa, Gaspar, and the singer Azalais in disguise) who are on a very strange kind of pilgrimage.

All the Winding World is an adventure set in the Welsh Marches, the south coast of England, and the dangerously fertile land of Aquitaine. It is also an exploration of the effects of war, the power of illusion and the ingenuity of love.

Kate Innes
“Rich, intricate, and full of ordinary women finding power in a society that seeks to rob them of autonomy. Second novels rarely live up to the promise of the first, but this delivers wholeheartedly. A fantastic testament to the power of love.” Manda Scott

“This was such a gripping tale that I read it almost in one sitting! And yet the story is well grounded in the realities of medieval life. All the Winding World is a great achievement, and I am already looking forward to the third in the series.” Dr Henrietta Leyser, St Peter’s College Oxford - author of ‘Medieval Women – A Social History of Women in England 450-1500’
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About the Author 

Kate Innes was once an archaeologist and museum education officer, but she now enjoys living in the past by writing historical fiction. Her first novel, The Errant Hours, is a Historical Novel Society Editor’s Choice and was included on the ‘Medieval Women’s Fiction’ reading list at Bangor University. The sequel, All the Winding World was published in June 2018. Her poetry collection Flocks of Words was shortlisted for the International Rubery Award. Kate performs her poetry with the acoustic band Whalebone and runs creative writing workshops around the West Midlands. Find out more at Kate's website www.kateinneswriter.com and follow her on Twitter @kateinnes2

1 comment:

  1. Great map of Aquitaine. It always fascinates me how archaeology can inform historical fiction:)


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