Saturday, 28 April 2018

Alien Secrets: Blog the Book 3

If you missed the start of Alien Secrets, Flight of the Kestrel book 2, here is the link. To help your imagination, I can’t show you a picture of Reuel, because he is Altairian, but here is my idea of Parks. Vigo Mortensen.

Parks (Vigo Mortensen)

Chapter 3

'What's this pain-giver?' Hoy asked Parks.

'Did you see the blood on the back of my shirt?' said Parks with a shudder. 'They fit a device over the top of your spine which directly attacks the nervous system. The bastard just plays with a little button and the results are excruciating.'

Reuel gasped. 'Tanu had blood on his shirt too, they must have used it on him,' he said. 'We must take him with us, sir.'

Hoy shook his head. 'We’ll need to help Parks as it is. We can’t possibly take Tanu - who knows what state he'll be in when they bring him back?'

'I’m stronger than I look, I’ll carry him,' said Reuel.

Parks spoke up from the mattress. 'Who is this Tanu guy - did you learn anything about him? I wouldn’t be happy leaving anyone to the “tender” mercies of the Bokans.'

'He only said he was an explorer,' said Reuel. 'We really must help him, if we can.'

Parks understood Reuel didn't want a life on his conscience.

Reuel looked around. 'This water container is quite flimsy, but the bread plate is metal. Maybe we can hit one of the guards with it while we stick the knife in the other one. If we put them out of action and take their weapons, then you can help Parks and I can carry Tanu.'

'Now you’re starting to think clearly,' said Hoy, 'but you're taller than me and I'm stronger. You help Parks and I'll carry Tanu.' He turned to Parks. 'Eat some of this disgusting bread and then get some rest. We need you as fit as possible for the escape. Reuel and I will sort out the details.'

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Cardiff to Swansea (Gerald’s Journey Through Wales)

This is a series about the journey that Archbishop Baldwin and Gerald of Wales took in 1188 to preach the crusade throughout Wales. Gerald kept a detailed account of the journey and their surroundings, which he later published. The series began with some background posts about Gerald. If you want to read the series from the beginning, go here.
Cardiff Castle keep
Cardiff Castle today is a Victorian Gothic palace built by Lord Bute, but the original castle is still there within the boundary wall: a polygonal shell keep on a forty-foot-high moated mound, which Gerald and his companions would have seen, and maybe stayed in. The mound was raised by William the Conqueror in 1081 and Earl Robert of Gloucester built the keep about 50 years later. The group crossed the river Taff and are traditionally thought to have preached at the cross on Llandaff Cathedral green.

The hearers were English and Welsh so they separated the crowd and preached two sermons. Gerald recorded ‘many from both nations’ responded and made the vow to become crusaders. The following morning, as part of his plan to exert his authority over the Welsh Church, Archbishop Baldwin said Mass at the high altar of Llandaff Cathedral. Much of the cathedral has been damaged and replaced over the centuries, but the Norman arch behind the altar and two Norman doorways into the nave still remain.

Monday, 23 April 2018

Alien Secrets: Blog the Book 2

If you missed the start of Alien Secrets, Flight of the Kestrel book 2, here is the link. To help your imagination, my idea of Tanu is based on Orlando Bloom as Legolas in the Lord of the Rings films.

Tanu (Orlando Bloom as Legolas in LotR)

Chapter 2

Reuel's mind wandered to his first ship, The Rark. It was an Altairian Fast-Response ship, and he had managed to upset someone. Altairians are skilled at the art of feud-craft, making an enemy suffer without resorting to violence or even personal encounters. The first few months were fine, but one day he turned away from the food dispenser and bumped into a lieutenant, spilling hot stew all down the front of the officer’s uniform. Not only did it make a mess, but it burned the man’s chest, made worse by Reuel's vain attempts to mop it up.

It was a mistake anyone could make, and it could be argued that it was the lieutenant’s fault for standing too close. That was why the captain decided not to charge Reuel with assault, but the lieutenant would not accept the decision. From then on he made Reuel's life a misery, though not a single incident could be traced to him. From missing personal items to double shifts, every day there was something.

Everyone knew who did it, but the lieutenant was skilled, and no official action could be taken. The lieutenant was skilled at his job too and the captain was reluctant to lose him, so Reuel had to go. He learned later that the man had started feud-craft against someone else in a spaceport, and had been killed for it. Reuel felt vindicated, but sad it had come to this.

Monday, 16 April 2018

Apparitions and Omens (Gerald’s Journey Through Wales)

This is a series about the journey that Archbishop Baldwin and Gerald of Wales took in 1188 to preach the crusade throughout Wales. Gerald kept a detailed account of the journey and their surroundings, which he later published. The series began with some background posts about Gerald. If you want to read the series from the beginning, go here.

Archbishop Baldwin’s party turned west at Caerleon onto the costal plain, following the Roman road called the Portway. Here the Norman lords had much stronger control over their estates, and there were many castles. In the borderlands the party had to cope with mountain passes, but along the coast they had to negotiate many streams, rivers and estuaries, often without bridges and with quicksands and difficult crossing places.
St Woolos Cathedral Newport


Sunday, 15 April 2018

Alien Secrets: Blog the Book 1

As promised last week, your preview of the new Flight of the Kestrel book starts here.

Kestrel on stars upper small

Chapter 1

Shom Reuel's wrists were secured to the table. Like most interrogation rooms, this room had only a table and two chairs. No decoration, no contrast of colour in the room at all. The stone walls and floor were grey-brown, even the table and chairs were grey-brown.

It was strange, they hadn't removed his hat. They seemed to assume he was human, like the men he’d been arrested with, despite his bright pink skin. Not that that gave him much advantage, since humans would be stronger and faster in the lower gravity on Boka. But Reuel grew up in what humans called low gravity, for him this planet’s “low” gravity was normal. At least he didn't have to wear his back brace, an annoyance on board Kestrel and on the other 1G planets they visited. On higher gravity planets he could barely function at all.

He understood only a little Bokan, and his captors understood only a little Standard, so there was an uncomfortable wait for someone more fluent. He hated the waiting, not knowing what they were going to do to him was unnerving. He wished they would hurry up and get on with it. He was used to violence, that was part of everyday life in the poor region of his youth. He could defend himself or his family, stand up to bullies and thugs; but he hated the waiting.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Gerald of Wales and King Arthur

This is a series about the journey that Archbishop Baldwin and Gerald of Wales took in 1188 to preach the crusade throughout Wales. Gerald kept a detailed account of the journey and their surroundings, which he later published. The series began with some background posts about Gerald. If you want to read the series from the beginning, go here.
Caerleon Roman amphitheatre
Last week we left the party at Caerleon. As they looked at the Roman ruins they must have been reminded of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain. It had been a massive success and introduced King Arthur to an international audience. Geoffrey claimed that Arthur ruled from Caerleon and the highest peak of the Brecon Beacons was named Caer Arthur (Arthur’s fortress) in his honour. Today this peak is known as Pen-y-Fan.

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Alien Secrets Blog the Book

Kestrel on stars upper small

The second book in my Flight of the Kestrel series, Alien Secrets, is almost ready to publish. So, as I did with the first book, Intruders, I am going to blog the book. One chapter each week, to give you a taste. It’s an exciting book that looks at how the characters deal with the situations in which they find themselves, whether they are human or alien. On the way the crew of the Kestrel have to deal with space battles, smugglers and fighting colonists. All while trying to fulfil two different missions.

Here is the blurb: On a failed mission to look for a secret weapon, Shom Reuel of the Kestrel saves a man – twice. He looks human, apart from the lump on his forehead. It seems everyone wants him, but is he a friend or a deadly enemy? And will the shock of his identity cause Reuel to reveal his people’s greatest secret?

Look out for chapter one next week.

Ann Marie Thomas head shot (80x90) (300dpi) Web GravatarAnn Marie Thomas is the author of four medieval history books, a surprisingly cheerful poetry collection about her 2010 stroke, and the science fiction series Flight of the Kestrel. Book one, Intruders, is out now. Follow her at http://eepurl.com/bbOsyz