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.
Featured podcastFor more podcasts, visit James's channel on Soundcloud.