Friday, September 23, 2011

Housecarl and Cold Heart, Cruel Hand by Laurence J. Brown


Laurence Brown was the first author to introduce me to the fact that there are writers out there producing quality work – and doing it pretty successfully – without the backing of either an agent or a traditional publisher.  He’s also a gracious person who is always willing to share his experiences and advice with other writers.

His two novels follow the story of the Saxon warrior Ranulf, a member of King Harold Godwineson’s personal guard.  The first, Housecarl, follows the events of 1066, where the course of European history is changed in one month and three battles on English soil; Cold Heart, Cruel Hand traces the aftermath of the Battle of Hastings and Ranulf’s decision to join the rebellion of Hereward the Wake in a last bid for freedom for the Saxon people.  Laurence has a knack for bringing battles to life and recreating the real, human relationships of those who are barely even a footnote in English history.

Laurence drew inspiration from several sources, in particular, his father, who imparted a love of history, and an enthusiastic junior school teacher.  He recalls, “I remember our history teacher telling us about 1066 and the Norman invasion of England and showing us an extract from the Bayeux Tapestry depicting Harold's warriors lining the hill with their shields overlapping, their hedge of spears pointed menacingly at the Norman cavalry. I asked the teacher who they were and he said: ‘Those were Harold's housecarls, Laurence, the bravest warriors in Christendom.’”

I was pleased to catch up with Laurence and discover he is writing a third novel in the series, in fact a prequel, in which Ranulf, now an old man, recounts the story of how he came to be Harold’s champion.  It is something of a departure of style for me since Ranulf is narrating the tale himself,” he comments.  “In a sense his voice is mine, his thoughts, his character, is mine and it is both exciting and a little worrying - I don’t want to spoil the image that readers already have of him.”

Laurence’s books were first published by Paul Mould Publishing (Empire Books in the US), and are now also available as Kindle editions.  For more information, please visit his website.

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