– The Magic of Wor(l)ds is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free.
I’m grateful of receiving a free copy from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review of this book. –
Today I’m delighted to be on the ‘The Last Great Saxon Earls’ blogtour, organised by The Coffee Pot Book Club.
To promote this book I’ll be sharing an interview between the author and me, but first I have some information
About the Author :
Mercedes Rochelle is an ardent lover of medieval history, and has channeled this interest into fiction writing. She believes that good Historical Fiction, or Faction as it’s coming to be known, is an excellent way to introduce the subject to curious readers. She also writes a blog: HistoricalBritainBlog.com to explore the history behind the story.
Born in St. Louis, MO, she received by BA in Literature at the Univ. of Missouri St.Louis in 1979 then moved to New York in 1982 while in her mid-20s to “see the world”. The search hasn’t ended!
Today she lives in Sergeantsville, NJ with her husband in a log home they had built themselves.
Amazon Author Page
About the Series :
Harold Godwineson, the Last Anglo-Saxon King, owed everything to his father. Who was this Godwine, first Earl of Wessex and known as the Kingmaker? Was he an unscrupulous schemer, using King and Witan to gain power? Or was he the greatest of all Saxon Earls, protector of the English against the hated Normans? The answer depends on who you ask. He was befriended by the Danes, raised up by Canute the Great, given an Earldom and a wife from the highest Danish ranks. He sired nine children, among them four Earls, a Queen and a future King. Along with his power came a struggle to keep his enemies at bay, and Godwine’s best efforts were brought down by the misdeeds of his eldest son Swegn. Although he became father-in-law to a reluctant Edward the Confessor, his fortunes dwindled as the Normans gained prominence at court. Driven into exile, Godwine regathered his forces and came back even stronger, only to discover that his second son Harold was destined to surpass him in renown and glory.
They showed so much promise. What happened to the Godwines? How did they lose their grip?
Earl Godwine had great plans for his children. But he didn’t understand his sons. And they barely understood each other.
This is England in the days of Edward the Confessor, when Godwine and his sons tower over the other great families. Harold emerges as the power behind the throne. Tostig rules the north. They control all the earldoms except one.
What could go wrong?
We see tumultuous events of the mid-11th c. through the eyes of Godwine’s sons. Harold’s story is all about Harold, but his brothers see things differently. Their remarks are tinged sometimes with admiration, sometimes with skepticism. Alas, Harold’s rise in fortune is not blameless and sometimes those closest to him must pay the price of his fame.
In 1066, the rivalry between two brothers brought England to its knees. When Duke William of Normandy landed at Pevensey on September 28, 1066, no one was there to resist him. King Harold Godwineson was in the north, fighting his brother Tostig and Harald Hardrada at Stamford Bridge. How could this have happened? Why would Tostig turn traitor to wreak revenge on his brother?
This series is available on
And now it’s finally time for the
First of all thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions, I really appreciate it. Here we go! 🙂
Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
I was an English Literature major in college and still didn’t perceive of myself as a writer. I owe that to my boyfriend at the time, who encouraged me to start a novel with him. Unfortunately for the boyfriend in question, we had totally different approaches and I continued on my own! Once I joined the SCA (a medieval reenactment society) and learned first-hand about living history, I discovered my vocation and have followed it ever since.
Which books did/do you love to read as a child/now as a grown-up?
As a child I loved animal stories; I even had a poster of Man O’War (a racehorse) on my wall. The Black Stallion, Lad A Dog stand out as my favorites. When I reached college I fell in love with 19th century authors like Alexandre Dumas and Walter Scott. I didn’t realize, even then, that I was reading Historical Fiction. Funny, isn’t it? It wasn’t until I discovered Sharon Kay Penman that I understood that Historical Fiction was a genre. And I could do it, too! To this day I prefer reading Historical Fiction over everything else. I have to force myself to pick up another genre (with the exception of Sherlock Holmes and Nero Wolfe, for some reason. Oh, and Anne Rice.).
Is there a writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
Back to Sherlock Holmes. Actually, Arthur Conan Doyle wrote some amazing Historical Fiction. Did you ever read The White Company? I think this genre was his real favorite. His characters leapt off the page for me, and I’d love to learn how to capture that ability.
If you could, which fictional character (from your own book(s) or someone else’s) would you like to invite for tea and why?
Back to Anne Rice. I adored Vampire Lestat! He was so compelling. Of course, I wouldn’t want to be turned into a vampire or anything. But he had some great adventures to share.
Do you have some rituals or habits whilst writing?
I have learned to stop for the day while in the midst of an interesting scene. I often leave off in the middle of a sentence. That way, when I begin the next day, I’m off and running. I’m rarely at a loss the next time I sit down to write (I learned that from Ernest Hemingway). It helps fight writer’s block.
Where do you come up with your idea(s)? Do people in your life need to be worried? 😉
Ha! No, that’s one of the reasons I love Historical Fiction. I already know what’s going to happen. I do have to consider carefully until someone or something really calls to me, because I know I’m going to spend the next couple of years in that character’s shoes. Sometimes (like with Richard II), I carry that person around with me for ages before I get to him. I’m often inspired by Shakespeare.
Are you a plotter or do you go with the flow, as a pantser?
I’m definitely a panster. As I said, I know what’s going to happen and in my first draft I concentrate on the historical events. It’s the second draft that gives my characters motivations, relationships, and drama. Once I have the history down, it almost defines how a character is going to react. I usually read ahead on my research (with a series), so I know what to add in the foreshadowing, which might not even come to fruition until the next (unwritten) book. I’m working out that challenge right now in my current WIP about Henry V. His brother Humphrey turns into a monster in later years, but during Henry’s life he is a good guy. Somewhere along the way I’ll need to drop a hint, but where that happens I haven’t a clue.
Can you give novice writers some tips (do’s/don’ts)?
I know from my own experience how easy it is to give up. I managed to land an agent—actually two agents—for my first novel. This was well over thirty years ago, mind you. The second agent dropped me like a proverbial hot potato, and I was so crushed I put the book on the closet shelf and gave up writing for twenty years. I tried very hard to convince myself it didn’t matter, but I was totally unfulfilled. BTW, everything had changed in the interim. What’s an author’s platform? How did internet marketing come into play? I even had a hard time converting my old WordStar format on my 3.25″ floppy disk (WordStar was defunct). I bitterly regret those missing twenty years; I’d be so much farther ahead if I had just kept at it. Or would I?
What are your futureplans as an author?
I have about four more books or so in my current series about the Plantagenets. Maybe even more. Haven’t decided yet whether I should take it to the end of the Wars of the Roses. That’s a lot of fighting! Afterwards, I think I’d like to tackle James VI of Scotland (I of England) and see how far that takes me.
Last, but not least : Can you give my readers one teaser from your book, which is featured here on my blog, please?
Gladly! Here’s a little scene that explains why King Canute took Godwine into his favor:
They had to finish setting up the night’s camp first, and by the time they returned, three rabbits were merrily dripping from a skewer into a healthy fire. Ulf and Godwine ate hungrily, and Canute seemed to be in a rare mood, joking and telling stories. He’s trying to forget, Godwine said to himself, the formidable task before him. Only Canute’s eyes gave away a preoccupation.
Ulf consumed much more alcohol than the other two, and after a few hours, he laid his head happily upon a log and went noisily to sleep. Canute laughed, pointing at the Jarl. “He enjoys his drink,” he said, reaching behind them for a blanket, “but some day it might be the death of him.” (Foreshadowing… my note) He threw the cover over the slumbering Dane. “There. Now he is set for the night.”
Canute took a moment fidgeting with the blanket. When he turned back to Godwine, the smile was gone from his face. “However, I am glad for the chance to talk to you. I find you an interesting man, Godwine, and I would know more about you.”
Alone with him for the first time, Godwine found Canute’s manner different, more personal. It was as if the king had been laid aside, and the man was allowed to come out. His face was even less harsh, although Godwine wondered if that was just the effect of the firelight.
Yet there was no denying the allure of the Dane’s manner; Godwine found himself drawn to him like a moth to a flame. Canute’s voice was caressing, yet precise. Soft, yet unyielding. Although the man’s eyes were piercing, alert, even calculating, he still inspired a certain trust as if scrupulously bound by his own set of rules. One had only to determine what those limits were.
“I do not know what Ulf has already told you about me.”
A smile crossed Canute’s face, then was gone. “It is no matter. I would rather hear you tell me.”
“All right. I am the son of a Saxon thegn. From my childhood, my father pushed me toward bettering myself; a local monk taught me to read and write. All went well until a few years ago…” He paused, looking hard at Canute. Something had just occurred to him.
The Dane nodded. “I suspected as much. Let me finish your sentence. A few years ago, your father was accused of treason. Do you know the whole story?”
Godwine swallowed hard. This was totally unexpected. “I…um, no, not really.”
“Well, I think I can help you. Your father commanded several ships in the Royal fleet, did he not?”
“Yes,” Godwine answered in a hushed voice.
“I thought he might be the same man. I know that in 1009, Eadric Streona’s brother accused Thegn Wulfnoth of betraying King Aethelred. It is said that because of this Wulfnoth took twenty ships and resorted to piracy.”
Godwine was shocked, but things were starting to make sense.
Canute leaned forward, poking the fire with a long stick. “Why do I know this? Because Eadric didn’t have any trouble persuading Wulfnoth to join with him in supporting my own father.”
There was a long silence. Godwine finally let out his breath. “I see. So he went with the Danes, too.”
Canute let out a short laugh. “It seems that both you and I have reason to suspect Eadric and also to be indebted to him. Me, because I need his help with Edmund. And you, because through him, I have occasion to reward your father’s son.”
Isn’t that a great reason to pick up the book and read it?!
Thanks once again, Mercedes Rochelle, for this lovely interview!
Thanks so much for interviewing me! I really enjoyed talking with you.
The Magic of Wor(l)ds