So begins The Splintered Kingdom, the second novel in my Conquest Series set during the violent aftermath of the Battle of Hastings. Published by the wonderful people at Sourcebooks Landmark, it goes on sale today in hardcover in the United States, and its 416 pages can be yours for just $24.99 (list price).
“They came at first light, when the eastern skies were still gray and before anyone on the manor had risen. Shadows lay across the land: across the hall upon the mound and the fields surrounding it, across the river and the woods and the great dyke beyond that runs from sea to sea. And it was from those shadows that they came upon Earnford, with swords and knives and axes…”
Set in England in 1070, one year on from the end of Sworn Sword, it once more features the ambitious Norman knight Tancred, who has been rewarded for his exploits with a lordship in the turbulent Welsh borderlands. But his hard-fought gains are soon placed in peril as a coalition of enemies both old and new prepares to march against King William. With English, Welsh and Viking forces gathering and war looming, Tancred is chosen to spearhead a perilous expedition. Success will bring him glory beyond his dreams; failure will mean the ruin of the reputation he has worked so hard to forge. As shield walls clash and the kingdom burns, not only his Tancred’s destiny at stake, but also that of England itself.
Like all my novels, The Splintered Kingdom can be read as a standalone adventure, so you don’t necessarily have to read Sworn Sword first in order to follow what’s going on. As always, e-book editions are available on all platforms for the more digitally inclined. Both the physical and the electronic versions also include a sneak preview of the third novel in the series, Knights of the Hawk, which is already scheduled to be published by Sourcebooks Landmark in 2015.
If you’re interested in finding more about the Welsh borderlands, where The Splintered Kingdom takes place, I’ve just published a mini-history of the region in the Tancred’s England section of my website – my historical guide to England as it was c.1066. It’s a project that I’m constantly developing and which I’m looking to expand over the coming months, with entries on some of the other places visited by Tancred in the course of his travels.
Earlier this year I launched a new feature on this website to offer you, my readers, an extra insight into the world of the Conquest Series. Entitled Tancred’s England, the idea is to share with you some of the research that goes into writing the novels, by exploring the history of some of the key locations visited by Tancred in the course of his saga.Ahead of the publication of The Splintered Kingdom in the US on Tuesday, August 5th – just two weeks from today – I’ve put up a piece about the the turbulent border region known as the Welsh March (Latin: Marchia Wallie), which forms the backdrop for the novel.
It’s a part of Britain that’s particularly rich in history, much of which can be freely accessed today. Ancient hill-forts, ruined castles and abbeys all abound, while for 64 miles the great Anglo-Saxon earthwork known as Offa’s Dyke cuts across this striking landscape. Named after the eighth-century Mercian king who is traditionally thought to have ordered its construction, the Dyke delineated the default boundary between England and Wales throughout much of the Middle Ages, and even after 1,200 years it remains a powerful symbol of Offa’s authority.As well as adding the new entry, I’ve also updated the main hub page for Tancred’s England, which now features a map of the British Isles c.1071. You’ll also notice that the menu bar at the top of the page now has a drop-down arrow for quicker access to each of the entries. As well as the article on the Welsh March, there are currently pieces exploring London, York and Ely and the Fens.
I’ll be adding more entries in due course. One of those in the pipeline is about the city of Durham, where Tancred’s tale begins on that cold winter’s night in January 1069. As always, if you have any suggestions for places I could feature in future, please don’t hesitate to get in touch via the contact form.
The Splintered Kingdom is released today in paperback in the UK, with a vibrant and striking new cover design! Look out for it in supermarkets and all good bookshops, as well as online. As always, e-book editions are also available on all platforms for the more technologically inclined.
Set one year on from the end of Sworn Sword, it once more features the knight Tancred, who has been rewarded for his exploits with a lordship on the turbulent Welsh Marches. But as the enemy stirs, his hard-fought gains are soon placed in peril. Under siege on all sides, the Norman realm begins to crumble, leading Tancred to face his sternest challenge yet. It will be either his chance for glory, or his undoing.
To whet your appetite for further Tancred adventures, the paperback edition also contains a sample chapter from the forthcoming third book in the Conquest series, which I can now reveal will be entitled Knights of the Hawk. There’ll be more info on where Tancred’s travels will be taking him next in the coming months.Those of you who’ve been following this blog or have seen my updates on Twitter and Facebook will know that 14 March 2013 actually marks a double launch for the Aitcheson clan, as my brother Alistair’s eagerly anticipated new game for iPad, the fast and frantic Slamjet Stadium is also unleashed upon the world.
It’s a huge amount of fun and has already been generating a lot of buzz in the gaming community. But don’t just take my word for it – give it a go yourself! It’s now available from the App Store across the world. For more details, including the trailer, visit the game’s official website.
Enter the date into your diaries! Thursday 14th March marks a mega-launch day for the Aitcheson clan. Not only will the paperback edition of The Splintered Kingdom be hitting the shelves – available in all good bookshops, supermarkets and online – but also my brother Alistair’s latest game for iPad, the fast and frantic Slamjet Stadium will be unleashed upon the world.
Set in the distant future, Slamjet Stadium features a galaxy of sporting stars drawn from the furthest reaches of known space to take part in the ultra-competitive and deadly Slamjet Tournament. There can only be one winner, and the only rule is that there are no rules!
Having already played the pre-release version of the game, I can tell you that it’s not just brilliant fun, it’s also incredibly addictive. Check out for yourself what’s in store, in this sneak preview:
Here’s what Alistair himself has to say about the game:
Based on an ancient 20th Century sport known as “football”, the Slamjet tournament is the hottest event of the galactic calendar. Arenas are filled with deadly saws, mysterious wormholes and ridiculous power-ups, and only the fastest and toughest can win!
Played on a shared iPad, players are free to get in each other’s way, steal each other’s characters or set off traps to mess their opponent up. It’s fast, it’s chaotic and breaking the rules is encouraged!
You can get all the latest updates by following Alistair on Twitter, while more information about Slamjet Stadium can be found on the official website and also on Alistair’s development blog, which also features behind-the-scenes videos and articles on the making of the game.
Slamjet Stadium will be released worldwide on 14 March 2013, the same day as The Splintered Kingdom is published in the UK in paperback. Spread the word on Twitter with #AitchesonBrosLaunchDay!
First copies of The Splintered Kingdom arrived recently and look amazing, as I hope you will agree. Although of course the words contained within its cover and even the jacket design are now very familiar to me, seeing the finished book in the flesh, so to speak, is still a tremendous thrill. I’m looking forward to spotting it on bookshelves when it’s published in just a few days from now, on Thursday 13th September.
Set one year on from the end of Sworn Sword, it once more features Tancred, who has been rewarded for his exploits with a lordship on the turbulent Welsh Marches. But as the enemy stirs, his hard-fought gains are soon placed in peril. Under siege on all sides, the Norman realm begins to crumble, leading Tancred to face his sternest challenge yet. It will be either his chance for glory, or his undoing.
If you fancy a sneak preview of what’s in store, the synopsis and even a downloadable extract from the novel (PDF) can be found here.
I’ll be launching the novel with several events this coming week, starting with a talk and signing in Marlborough in Wiltshire on the evening of Tuesday 11th. Hosted by the White Horse Bookshop, who organised a highly successful signing last year on the publication of Sworn Sword, this will be an exclusive opportunity to get your hands on the book before it goes on nationwide release two days later.
Then on the evening of Friday 14th, I’ll be continuing the book tour with a talk at Waterstones in Salisbury. I’ll be discussing what inspired me to write about the Norman Conquest and how I go about my research, and giving readings from the new novel. That’s followed by a signing session the following morning, on Saturday 15th, at the wonderful Cotwold Bookstore in the picturesque town of Moreton-in-Marsh in Gloucestershire.
The following week, I’ll be attending History in the Court at Goldsboro Books in London along with a host of other writers of historical fiction and non-fiction. Now in its second year, this event is a great opportunity to mingle with your favourite authors and other fans of historical writing.
Full details of these and all my other upcoming signings, talks and festival appearances, including start times and how to obtain tickets, can be found as always on my Events page. I’m adding new dates to my calendar all the time, so if you can’t make it to any of those currently listed, keep checking back to see if I’ll be appearing soon in your area.
Here it is! If you’ve been browsing online bookstores for the forthcoming sequel to Sworn Sword, you might already have caught a glimpse of it, but for those of you who haven’t, this is the jacket design for The Splintered Kingdom in all its glory.
Once again the cover illustrator Tim Byrne and everyone on the team at my publisher, Preface, have done a great job. In lots of ways it represents a continuation of a theme from the cover to Sworn Sword, and I think it really captures a sense of the energy and drama, as well as some of the darkness, of the new novel, which will see Tancred tested as he never has been before. Some familiar characters will return – friends and foes – but he will also find himself facing fresh challenges as rebellion stirs up once more and the threat of imminent invasion looms. That’s all I’ll say for now!
The Splintered Kingdom is currently scheduled for release on 13 September 2012, but if you really can’t wait until then, the first chapter is contained within the paperback of Sworn Sword as a sneak preview. I’ll be releasing more details about the book and giving a taste of what’s in store over the next few months, so keep checking back here on the website or follow my updates on Twitter or Facebook.
Featured podcastFor more podcasts, visit James's channel on Soundcloud.