15 April 2019

Guest Post by Author Derek Birks: Echoes of Treason – Book 3 of The Craft of Kings


Echoes of Treason is out on 10th May
Available for pre-order from

An Exercise in Filling in the Gaps!

The Craft of Kings series charts the exploits and trials of a fictional family - the Elders – through the period of transition between the end of Edward IV’s reign and the arrival of Henry Tudor.

In the previous two books the Elders, led by the young lord who is head of the family, John Elder, manage to survive – just about - the reign of the boy king, Edward V. So, at the start of this story, members of the Elder family are scattered and under pressure. Trust me, for this family, that is pretty much life as usual!

For the backdrop of this novel, I chose the rebellions against Richard III which occurred in October/November 1483. They are sometimes collectively called ‘Buckingham’s Rebellion’ – referring to Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, who was Richard’s erstwhile ally. But the term is very misleading, for it was not Buckingham who began the revolts, nor organised them – and his own part in them was an ignominious failure.

I chose to focus instead on a less well known – indeed hardly ever referred to – area of revolt: Poole in Dorset. In truth, there was not much support for a rising in Dorset, though Poole was an ideal port for Henry Tudor to choose for his invasion and there is some evidence that he did turn up there. So, as they say, it seemed like a good idea at the time, but I soon learned that researching Poole in the fifteenth century was not straightforward at all. It turned out that I was going to have to fill in a lot more gaps than usual!

To start with, my attempts to gather any information about the area for the specific date of 1483 pretty much drew a complete blank. I even had to piece together what the town of Poole might have been like. There were no contemporary maps of a place that appears to have been something like a Wild West boom town at that time. In fact, the map I commissioned for the book may well be the first genuine attempt at producing one for that period.

I set quite a lot of the action at a prominent coastal landmark called Handfast Point – known locally as Old Harry Rocks. It’s a place I have visited many times but unfortunately, because of hundreds of years of erosion, there is no trace of what stood on the point in 1483. There is reference in the sources to a castle there in King John’s reign and another, new castle built there in the sixteenth century, but nothing in between. 

So, a big gap to fill – and that’s where the historical fiction writer can have great fun! I decided that, by 1483, the old twelfth or thirteenth century castle would still have been there, but perhaps in a state of disrepair – otherwise they would not have needed a new one a century later. So that’s what I used for the location – an old, small and decaying castle perched on the edge of sheer chalk cliffs. Did something similar ever exist? I’ve no idea, but it seems at least plausible based on what we know - which is next to nothing!

If you are new to my books then you can expect a lot of action and a fairly high body count – with some interesting characters – at least, I hope you’ll find them interesting!

Derek Birks

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About the Author

Derek was born in Hampshire in England but spent his teenage years in Auckland, New Zealand, where he still has strong family ties. For many years he taught history in a secondary school but took early retirement to concentrate on writing. Apart from his writing, he spends his time travelling, walking and taking part in archaeological digs. Derek is interested in a wide range of historical themes, but his particular favourite is the late medieval period. He writes action-packed fiction which is rooted in accurate history. His debut historical novel, Feud, is the first of a series entitled Rebels & Brothers, which follows the fortunes of the fictional Elder family during the Wars of the Roses up to 1471. A second series, entitled The Craft of Kings, also features the Elder family in the 1480s. Find out more at Derek's website: www.derekbirks.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter @Feud_writer

2 comments:

  1. Ooh another engrossing novel, must look out for this one! Do send Discovering Diamonds an e-file (mobi preferably) copy for us to review Derek! (send to me at my email address and I'll add it to our 'to be reviewed' list)

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