#BlogTour #RachelsRandomResources @rararesources / #GuestPost : The Last King – M J Porter @coloursofunison

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

The Last King

Today I’m on the ‘The Last King’ blogtour, organized by Rachel’s Random Resources.
To promote this book I have a guest post, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

The Last King M J Porter Amazon A+I’m an author of historical fiction (Early English, Vikings and the British Isles as a whole before the Norman Conquest, as well as two 20th-century mysteries). I was born in the old Mercian kingdom at some point since 1066. Raised in the shadow of a strange little building, told from a very young age that it housed the bones of long-dead Kings of Mercia and that our garden was littered with old pieces of pottery from a long-ago battle, it’s little wonder that my curiosity in Early England ran riot. I can only blame my parents!
I write A LOT. You’ve been warned!

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Synopsis :

The Last King M J Porter Amazon A+From author MJ Porter comes a thrilling new hero.
They sent three hundred warriors to kill one man. It wasn’t enough.
Mercia lies broken but not beaten, her alliance with Wessex in tatters. Coelwulf, a fierce and bloody warrior, hears whispers that Mercia has been betrayed from his home in the west. He fears no man, especially not the Vikings sent to hunt him down.
To discover the truth of the rumours he hears, Coelwulf must travel to the heart of Mercia, and what he finds there will determine the fate of Mercia, as well as his own.

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Guest Post :

Inspiration Behind the Book

The Last King is set in the AD870’s in Mercia, one of the ancient kingdoms of England. If you’ve watched or read Bernard Cornwell’s The Last Kingdom books then it’s just about where the first book starts.
I’ve long avoided trampling on the toes of the literary creation that is Uhtred of Bebbanburg. I’ve written about the seventh century, the tenth and the eleventh, but I had left the ninth well alone. But no more.
I was amused, while recently watching The Last Kingdom, to find a character called Coelwulf, no doubt ‘my’ Coelwulf, keel over dead during a feast in Wessex. This made me chuckle, and also made me appreciate that the archaeological find that inspired me to write about him is recent (2015) and has called into question just what was happening in Mercia (and Wessex) in the 870’s. (For information on the coin find, please have a look here, https://www.ashmolean.org/watlington-hoard)
And so, The Last King. It’s very much an action thriller with a historical setting. There’s a lot of blood, sweat and gore, (and swearing) but it is an attempt to explore this ‘other’ scenario, contrary to that in the Uhtred books, and contrary to much that has been written about Coelwulf in the past. He has been seen as a puppet of the Vikings. But, what if he wasn’t, as seems increasingly likely.
First and foremost, I approach my books from a historical perspective. But what I love, (and I really do love), is reading between the lines, toying with the might-have-beens and the what-ifs. And Coelwulf, forgotten ‘hero’ that he might be, is a perfect vehicle for such an exploration of Mercia. And as a ‘Mercian’ by birth myself, it feels right to not let her get overshadowed by the might of Wessex, under what could just be, a perfectly written piece of political propaganda – The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle – that has plunged Coelwulf into historical obscurity, and from which he can only emerge thanks to the ‘Two Emperor Coins.’ These hint that Coelwulf was not a Viking puppet-king. Was he perhaps someone who overshadowed even Alfred himself, and who, Alfred, in a fit of pique branded as a traitor in his chronicle of the times.
What if, indeed.

Giveaway :

Win a Hardback Copy of The Last King (Open INT)
*Terms and Conditions – Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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The Magic of Wor(l)ds

#BlogTour #TheCoffeePotBookClub @maryanneyarde / #Excerpt : The Custard Corpses – M J Porter @coloursofunison

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

Today I’m on the ‘The Custard Corpses’ blogtour, organized by The Coffee Pot Book Club.
To promote this book I have an excerpt, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

M J Porter writes historical fiction set before 1066. Usually.
This is M J’s first foray into the historical mystery genre and the, relatively recent, twentieth century.
M J writes A LOT, you’ve been warned.

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Synopsis :

Book Title: The Custard Corpses
Author: M J Porter
Publication Date: March 25th 2021
Publisher: M J Publishing
Page Length: TBC
Genre: Historical Mystery

A delicious 1940s mystery.
Birmingham, England, 1943.
While the whine of the air raid sirens might no longer be rousing him from bed every night, a two-decade-old unsolved murder case will ensure that Chief Inspector Mason of Erdington Police Station is about to suffer more sleepless nights.
Young Robert McFarlane’s body was found outside the local church hall on 30th September 1923. But, his cause of death was drowning, and he’d been missing for three days before his body was found. No one was ever arrested for the crime. No answers could ever be given to the grieving family. The unsolved case has haunted Mason ever since.
But, the chance discovery of another victim, with worrying parallels, sets Mason, and his constable, O’Rourke, on a journey that will take them back over twenty-five years, the chance to finally solve the case, while all around them the uncertainty of war continues, impossible to ignore.

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Excerpt :

Sam paused, watching the slow progress of the woman. She was so bent; it was almost as though her nose scraped the ground. He swallowed heavily, but perhaps this was too good an opportunity to miss. Especially as an upright man followed behind, his steps slow, but his eyes focused on Sam and Higham. It was evident he’d noticed their interest in the monument.
“Good day,” Sam took the initiative, startling the woman, if not the man.
“Who are you?” the man’s accent was rough, the sound like a stone being pulled over cobbles.
“My name’s Chief Inspector Mason, from Erdington Police Station.”
Two sets of tired eyes settled on him, and he knew whatever he said next might spark hope in them. Could he be so cruel when so much was as yet unknown?
Mrs McGovern puffed through her cheeks, and he noticed the fine hairs above her lip in an unwelcome flash of late sunlight. Her lip quivered, and in her hand, she clutched yet more bright red flowers for the graveside.
“I’m visiting Weston because I may have an old murder to solve from Erdington, that could, and I must stress, could, have some connection to your son. My sympathies for your loss.” He held his peaked cap in his hand, aware that Higham had managed to step behind him so that Anthony’s mother and father didn’t seem to notice her at all.
“What?” Mr McGovern startled, his eyes fierce. “After all this time?”
“Potentially, yes. I must warn you; this is only a preliminary investigation. I came to see if there were any similarities between my victim and your son. I believe there might be. I plan on investigating further, provided my Superintendent allows me to do so.”
The words settled on Mr McGovern like a thunder cloud, his eyes flashing with fury, before he turned aside, evidently done with the conversation. Sam couldn’t quite hear the words he muttered beneath his breath.
But then there was a claw-like hand on his right arm, and he focused on Mrs McGovern’s pain-hazed eyes. Despite her infirmity, they held the promise of ice, their gaze piercing.
“You must find out the truth, even after all this time. I would like to sleep in peace for the first time in seventeen years. I should like to wake with the answers instead of the questions that run through my mind throughout my every waking moment. Even now. Even now, it would bring me peace. My oldest son lost his life fighting for our country, but at least I know what happened to him. I can honour him and mourn him. But not poor Anthony. Even now, I still sometimes open my eyes and think he stands before me, ready for school, as he was that day.”
Sam held his hand over Mrs McGovern’s. The grief she carried had stooped her.
“I would make my peace with my God for what happened to Anthony. But I can’t. Not until I know everything.”
Sam nodded his lips a tight line.
“I’ll do what I can. For now, can you tell me if you can recall if there was anything strange about Anthony the last time you saw him? Or anything that happened before he disappeared that has since made you consider if it was all connected.”
A single tear trickled from Mrs McGovern’s eye at the question.
“I believed my son had gone to school. I was too ill to rise from my bed for a day or two. The older girls looked after the children for me. Somehow, we all managed to lose sight of Anthony. So no, I can offer you nothing, other than it was not my husband who did this. I know people have whispered about him over the years, but he wouldn’t hurt the children, only ever me.” Mrs McGovern spoke with surprising candour, and Sam only understood it when he looked away from her gaze and realised that Mr McGovern was making his way into the church, deep in conversation with the vicar.
“He comes every day,” Mrs McGovern offered, noting her husband’s movements. “He comes to pray for forgiveness for his sins. It doesn’t matter that I tell him it wasn’t his fault, that he wasn’t to blame; he’s carried that grief all these years. And I tell you, he’s never laid a hand on me again. Not in all that time.” Her voice trembled as she spoke, and Sam bit back his flurry of emotions. So often in his profession, he only saw people at their worst. It wasn’t for him to see how they sort restitution with themselves or how they came to forgive themselves.
“Anthony was my youngest child, my last baby. And he was the first to die. If you can bring me some satisfaction, I would thank you. It would make it easier if we only understood.”
“I understand, and I’ll do what I can. I assume the police at Weston know where to find you?”
“They do, yes. They always have. But tell me, why only now?”
“The newspaper ran an article on Anthony. A family member of my victim saw it and brought it to me.” A pleased smile touched her lips.
“Then, it was not a waste to keep reminding the newspaper people. Not at all. Thank you, Chief Inspector Mason. I offer you my best wishes, and I hope to hear from you soon.”
With that, she placed the new flowers before the grave, her movements surprisingly smooth, and hobbled after her husband. Sam and Higham watched her in silence.
“So, the railway station,” Higham eventually prodded him.
“Yes, the station. Thank you.” And he turned aside, vowing to do all he could for the family of Anthony McGovern.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds