UK Blog Book Tour | Remember my enthused reaction to Tracey Warr’s #HistFic style? This is her new epic Medieval Ages in the Anglo-Norman kingdom series (#Conquest)!

Posted Friday, 30 September, 2016 by jorielov , , , 2 Comments

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Acquired Book By:  If your a regular reader or frequent visitor of Jorie Loves A Story, you might have seen my review for my first EPIC Historical novel published by Impress Books (UK) entitled: Almodis: The Peaceweaver! This novel marked my introduction to the historical crafting style of Impress Books authors and the impressive layer of breadth Ms Warr knits inside her historical fiction! I originally crossed paths with the publisher on Twitter in late 2015, whilst finding the novels of Ms Warr, as I quite seriously have a penchant for well-conceived historical stories set during eras of time I am keenly interested in visiting through literature!

I participated in the Cover Reveal on behalf of #Conquest No.1 “Daughter of the Last King” in July, 2016. I received a complimentary ARC copy of “Conquest: Daughter of the Last King” direct from the publisher Impress Books (UK) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why I was so wicked excited for #Conquest after having read Almodis!

I love going back to the author’s origins, especially to read their debut release as a good foundation to understand their approach to writing their collective works. I was most impressed by the layered realism and intricate attention to detail whilst building a strong level of grounding for the back-story of Almodis as well. Thus, I am thrilled to announce I am a part of the upcoming blog tour for the #Conquest series featuring this novel which sets off the pace for the trilogy!

Warr has constructed such an intricate plot around Almodis, as her fate is mirror to Guinevere in some ways, as neither woman could fully believe they were being deceived at every turn. Almodis had a servant working against her and a second marriage optioned to her to increase her brother’s steed of wealth and power. She was being used and taken by men, without any consideration for how this might affect her psychological well-being or her very spirit as a woman who had always believed in the purpose of her role as a wife and mother. She had a sharpened mind which caught her a few breaks along the way, without which she might not have fared as well as she did. Except to say, it was not without it’s hurdles.

The fact Almodis’s story is living history is a testament to the imagination of Tracey Warr who presented her life in such a fashion as to encourage us to draw closer to her journey towards ruling land, home and her mind with such an intricate understanding for order. I agree with Warr, this is definitely a story that played out well in a historical narrative, as there are such far reaching scenarios to understand what happened between her marriages, the births of her children and how everything knitted together in the end where different children took over the original three regions which were always succumbing to war. She wasn’t just the weaver of peace for her generation but for multi-generations down through her descendants as the works she accomplished whilst she was alive remained a living memory of who she was whilst she dared to entrust herself to live authentically towards the honour she felt she was always bestowed to upheld.

-quoted from my review of Almodis: The Peaceweaver

As you can see, I love how Warr is able to write-in the moments of a lost era where we not only can visually conceptionalise that particular part of a living history (as Almodis is Biograhpical Historical Fiction based on the life of a real person) but she etches out the fuller scope of that generations layers of place, time and setting. It’s a fully realised immersion into a hidden corridor of history that is such a pleasure to read as you become wholly absorbed by Warr’s vision and her understanding of her characters’ lives to such a degree, you feel like you’ve lived through their heartaches & the journey it took them to find their own levels of success as they fought against the tides of tradition.

Having been properly introduced to her writing style so wondrously tied to her knack for research, I was beyond elated to be in a position to continue to read her stories, starting with the #Conquest trilogy!

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UK Blog Book Tour | Remember my enthused reaction to Tracey Warr’s #HistFic style? This is her new epic Medieval Ages in the Anglo-Norman kingdom series (#Conquest)!Conquest: Daughter of the Last King Cover Reveal

1093. The three sons of William the Conqueror – Robert Duke of Normandy, William II King of England and Count Henry – fight with each other for control of the Anglo-Norman kingdom created by their father’s conquest.

Meanwhile, Nesta ferch Rhys, the daughter of the last independent Welsh king, is captured during the Norman assault of her lands. Raised with her captors, the powerful Montgommery family, Nesta is educated to be the wife of Arnulf of Montgommery, in spite of her pre-existing betrothal to a Welsh prince.

Who will Nest marry and can the Welsh rebels oust the Normans?

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

Find on Book Browse

Book Page on Ruby Fiction

ISBN: 9781907605819

on 1st October, 2016

Published by:  Impress Books (@ImpressBooks1)

RELEASE DATE: 1st October, 2016 | Formats Available: Paperback & Ebook

Converse via: #Conquest on Twitter & Instagram (see ImpressBooks via Instagram)

About Tracey Warr

Tracey Warr

Tracey Warr is a writer based in Wales and France, and has published novels and books on contemporary art. She was Senior Lecturer, teaching and researching on art history and theory of the 20th and 21st centuries, at Oxford Brookes University, Bauhaus University and Dartington College of Arts.

Her first novel, Almodis: The Peaceweaver (Impress, 2011), is set in 11th century France and Spain, and was shortlisted for the Impress Prize for New Fiction and the Rome Film Festival Book Initiative and received a Santander Research Award. Her second historical novel, The Viking Hostage (Impress, 2014), is set in 10th century France and Wales.

She received a Literature Wales Writer’s Bursary for work on her new trilogy, Conquest , set in 12th century Wales, England and Normandy. She received an Authors Foundation Award from the Society of Authors for work on a biography of three medieval sisters, entitled Three Female Lords. She is also working on a new historical novel featuring a 12th century female troubadour in Toulouse, and on a future fiction novel set in the debatable territory of a river estuary, between water and land, in the 22nd century.

Her writing on contemporary artists has been published by Phaidon, Merrell, Black Dog, Palgrave, Manchester University Press. Her latest art publication is Remote Performances in Nature and Architecture (Ashgate, 2015). She reviews for Times Higher Education, Historical Novels Review and New Welsh Review.

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On expectations ahead of reading Conquest No.1:

I am finding that I appreciate writers like Ms Warr who are giving us such a bounty of insight into the historical past, that it makes my discovery of Biographical Historical Fiction such a happy entreaty into the lives of Kings, Queens and historical figures who carved out such interesting lives across continents as to effectively change how history was remembered and how progress moved forward through successive generations. I still admit, I agree with my tribe #HistoricalFix, the best way to find History drinkable is to purport ourselves through the lens of a well-researched historical novel as it allows us to see History in a tangible way rather than in an obtuse recollection that does not always yield the personal or emotional connection we’re seeking to find. This is where Warr and others like her succeed in giving us a riveting read that highlights people we only know by name but haven’t yet had the pleasure of ‘knowing’ on a personal level.

What impressed me the most about this story, is how there is a change of power and there is question about marrying for love or marrying out of leverage to accomplish another goal entirely? Marriage in the historical past was very rarely for love alone as it was generally a given that girls would marry to re-align power, succeed further to deepen the coffers of wealth or simply, they were believed to blindly follow their father’s will because it was expected that their life was to be dictated by him and not questioned at all. Women did not have a lot of the freedoms they would simultaneously start to fight to achieve until much later, and more times than naught, all freedoms were hard-won.

I even find it interesting how arranged marriage contracts were sometimes severed for a better alignment lateron or sometimes, in rarer instances, a woman could prove the point to marry for love rather than out of obligation. In this story, it looks like its much more complicated than that, and it will be interesting to see how Nest will succeed on either a path directly of her choosing or as a consolation of a path already conceived for her to walk. It did not surprise me she was living in confinement after a power trade of land, as this was highlighted in Almodis: The Peaceweaver as well – how girls were taken from their families either in trade agreements or in a measure of control for those who are raising them. It is interesting to see how each woman deals with their circumstances and how they were able to keep their spirit free whilst their lives were not actively their own.

Curious surprises surfaced about William the Conqueror:

For starters, he was not long outside the grave by the time Nest rose in years to become the substantial character who fits inside this story with such heart and spirit that you wonder how a young girl could find strength in opposition and a defeat of tradition in which she was raised to reign. Of greater importance in line of this story-line are of William’s sons; the heirs to his legacy and the continuation of his reign (if you will). Moving in-between Nest’s own trajectory of focus, are the sons of whom not only witnessed the changes that came between the Welsh and Normans but were directly at the root cause of the turbulences shaping the landscape of the time. Such a complexity of lineage – there were three sons, but it’s how their tangled lives entwined and then separated only to re-circle upon each other again that was most interesting.

In order to properly tell this story, Warr resurfaces the facts through recollections of characters who had the courtesy to leave behind records of what was happening. In this, you gather different views on what was going on outside the realms of where Nest was raised and transplanted as a Norman; as all at once, she had to renounce her own legacy and take-on the traditions of her father’s enemy. Not an easy feat but not one she’d balk at either – given her knowledge of an unsuspecting heir to her own crown; of whom she had once hoped would upturnt William’s sons and the Norman’s control of Wales. Even young FitzWalter had much to share about William’s character and the manners in which he strove to lead his legacy forward on the choices he made to seek new veins of power. This was interesting as you get to glimpse a different side to FitzWalter than the one you’ve first become introduced – seeing him in a light of command and how his own observations on William set a tone of how he was viewed by others, too.

My Review of Conquest: Daughter of the Last King:

Ms Warr doesn’t rest on laurels in her historicals, no, you have to be ready to champion the heart of battle and find a fortitude of strength to face the brutality of war straight out of the gate, alongside her young heroine Nest! Nest was quite ahead of her young years, as most princesses had to be during her era; as it was dearly fraught with battle, death and short longevity for those in power. Warr pulls your heart-strings as you first entreat inside Nest’s life alongside her dear brother, whose innocence and unworldly understanding of what was happening fated him to a life not fit for a prince. Nest on the other hand, had a calmness swallow through her nerves – she was raw from the blight of tears cast down for those she lost at the feet of the Normans, but her quelch of fear is what embodied her strength. Her dear Mum was not as equally outfitted for such em-boiled realities as invaders who imprison families of the recently deceased; her father.

In such a short speck of narrative, you have a full-on sensory experience – the smelt of burning wood and flesh notwithstanding, you gather the proper sense of this age of history. You can see the pride of the civilisation in young Nest’s world but also the hearty souls who were once living next to her and her kin; now unceremoniously grieved for they died where they once stood on guard. This is the type of historical narrative that has a pulse of it’s own – a lifeblood of envisioning you inside a particular chapter of history’s annuals that are not readily explored but are slightly familiar from other portals of interest. You might have a farthing of an idea of what the Medieval Ages were like but until you read fiction with this kind of conviction of place and tradition your unable to capture the fuller view.

Nest immediately found her caretaker enroute to Cardiff Castle her equal in mind and temperance – as he was not a fool nor did he buy into the mindset that those who were taken against their will deserved less than favourable circumstances whilst being transported. His tenderness was a kind gesture but you could see his true nature by how he wanted to improve his Welsh and understand her point-of-view a bit moreso than maintaining his own. For a Norman warrior, this was interesting – but not foolhardy as the best way to understand an enemy is to draw close and observe. To me it did not feel like something he was told to do but rather too it upon himself to set his own boundaries and sort out his own mind in regards to Nest. There was something unique about FitzWalter. Whether or not he would be long-standing in Nest’s life was uncertain – especially as this is so early-on, even before her path crosses with the ‘man of the hour’ and centre focus of the series!

There’s a turning of voice – once the immediacy of connecting with Nest as a young girl is established, Warr paints her story from a new entryway, that of a much wiser and older woman. It’s an interesting turning on several fronts, as she’s able to depart information on William the Conqueror (all news to me as I’m under-read in his regard) whilst crafting the picture together from how her own mind changed how it pierced the pieces together from both youth and elder points-of-view. It’s a clever way of telling a few bits necessary to impart to readers whilst canalising the story forward a bit and giving us a flash-forward sequence before the story re-shifts back closer to where we’ve left Nest originally.

For each new revelation we re-focus forward and then, turn back time once more – Warr wrote this nearly as if Nest herself wanted to strike a match between a historical account of her remembered life (similar to a memoir) and one where she earnestly tried to re-see the past through new eyes not jaded by the events as they were lived but re-seen for what they represented by the wheel of the seasons which became her life. It’s a curious question to pitch – either in fiction or non-fiction – does anyone rightly know the fuller depth of their hours than if they were to re-read their journey at a latter age in life where perception and perspective can become altered from the younger versions of themselves? Journalling is a key role in Nest’s life but not strictly in the traditional sense – I had remembered – during this period of History, it wasn’t oft that everyone knew how to read, write or speak in more than one tongue of language – to find Nest wholly educated was a note on her blessings in life.

You start to see how there are strict differences in gender and classes between the Welsh ancestry and the Normans; as even Nest was surprised how women under Norman laws were granted freedoms the Welsh hadn’t thought to include themselves. This was during her tutelage  to become a Norman wife and to take the next step in releasing her Welsh ancestral line of heritage. You see a cheeky side to Nest and a will of independence – she always had a keen mind and a purposeful appreciation for understanding ‘the world’ whilst keeping mindful of not always letting on what she knew or how she had knowledge of things ahead of her current year. Nest took her time to draw out freedom out of simplicity – to find order from chaos and to quell her thoughts on the future by what she could advance into sight in the present. As you observe her, she’s not as calculating as she might have been faltered for being but rather, I felt she was consistently attempting to better herself and her chances of survival; even if that meant finding ways to bend rules or to find the joys in smaller conquests of personal freedoms. The fact she could walk freely (to a certain extent of distance) and continue her education spoke a bit towards how the Normans did not readily consider her anything other than an asset to their own futures.

The constraints of Nest’s reality was constantly compounded by her preset obligations being doled out by her new guardians and the expectations the Normans had for their captured princess. In so many instances, your heart bleeds for Nest because she’s caught between lands, power and country; where duty and honour can oft-times re-set the standard in regards to love. Romance was so very fleeting if you could hold onto the hope that someone could return your own affections you were ahead. However, throughout everything, you see how Nest was firmly ready for everything – even when adversity struck, or a future she envisioned wasn’t quite the reality she had to walk, Nest had something inside her that strengthened her resolve.

I found Nest to be a strong woman whose heart was bewitched by love but whose position in life had been altered from the lineage of her birthright. She had a harder road to live and fight to understand the goings-on after she reached womanhood as even then, she was fraught with new entanglements that did not bode well for someone who still captured the light of love and the joys of being ‘in love’ despite the concerns of the moment. Even perception and transparency in regards to certain alliances was not to delay her heart nor her mind. She took comfort in choosing to own her choices, but I felt in some regards, she felt bitter at the assault of the truths she could not outrun.

On the convicting Historical narratives I love reading by Ms Warr:

Even during times of woe, Warr finds a way to etch out a path of empathy for characters caught betwixt and between the events that shaped History; as well she should, because there are bound to be unsung heroes and heroines who walked lives of heartache in and round key events that should have ended their lives but instead they championed through their adversities and lived for the morrow. Warr has a particular voice in Historicals – you can sense how she’s going to set-up the backbone of a story whilst grounding you inside her lead and secondary character’s perspectives at the same time. It’s a balance of interest that I find most appealing as you get a full-on scope of everything whilst never feeling anything is being overlooked or remiss.

Part of what asserts this story of being Medieval of course is the language, tone and the expressions of how those ordinary hours would have been properly lived. There are notations on adjectives presenting observations that you simply do not find in other centuries of Historical Fiction whilst you gather the sense, in many regards, the advancements in efficiency and hygiene were a blessing for those who had to live through eras where not as much was widely known about how to properly go about one’s business in certain aspects of their lives. What I found even more interesting, is Warr’s turns of phrase – how she would take a portrait of something ordinary but ‘spin it out a bit’ and lead you visually to encompass that small glimpse of a scene – this is what was so wicked enchanting – finding those small pearls and having them strung into your imagination to visually reconnect with the images Nest was seeing herself as she lived inside these passages.

In some ways, I felt this novel was a historical mystery – though not in the traditional sense – but rather in the collecting of data and information to re-funnel a foundation of ‘time’. The layers of thought put into crafting this novel had to be quite intensive for Warr – you can see the continuity as time shifts forward as much as when it moves backwards, everything stitches together and makes tangible sense for argument if you put it all together in your own mind as you move along in the narrative. You have certain pieces to start your curiosity but it’s how Warr holds your attention and continues to piece out the information that leads you to draw conclusions or at least, suppositions based on what is happening is the greater joy in reading Conquest! It’s not all telling nor easily understood – again, there’s a level of complexity that warrants further thought and reflection. The best mysteries are the ones you feel as riveted by the endings as you did the beginning and middle bits! For me, this is how Daughter of the Last King occupied my interest and captured my heart as I sought to understand the role in which Nest would play in the wider world.

ARC inclusions & features:

This particular ARC was beautifully published and produced – not only did I get to receive a full jacket of the lush velvety rich purple cover art (which I think was beautifully off-set by the knots & contrasting colours!) – but right from the entry pages, you can tell what the finished copies will be like to read! There are maps of this particular kingdom included as well as lineage and lines of power – threading your interest to better understand the interconnections of the ensemble cast within the novel’s chapters. Re-pleat with interior and exterior schematics for the castle whilst the capstone of course is the Acknowledgement and Historical Note attached in the Appendix section at the end of the novel itself. I especially love those extra inclusions as you can hug yourself straight into a particular time setting and gather quite a bit about your next historical rendezvous simply by what is being highlighted as important footnotes ahead of your entry!

I also liked the symmetry of finding the knots inclusive to the Chapter Headers – whilst the subtle way in which the interior layout is mindful of the cover, drawing you further into the context as you begin reading. I can only hope the typography was equally easy on the eyes in the final edition as this ARC!

Wicked grateful for my introduction to this trilogy:

In regards to my expectations ahead of reading the novel, which I originally had disclosed on the Cover Reveal and included as a special added treat here on my review – in case visitors and readers alike could only click  to view one of the posts instead of two – I wanted to encircle the vision I had of what the story might foretell about this period of history inasmuch as my own personal curiosities to learn more about William the Conqueror and the difficulties women had towards finding freedom during periods of personal strife or the injustices of inequality where women were not equal to men. Consider this my footnote and afterword having read the novel – as I went in with such an open mind, I was pleasantly surprised and wicked happy to travel alongside Nest through this stage of her personal journey. It was a testament to women of her timescape to be represented in the manner in which Warr granted her due on the page, but also, a representation of the era – so warmly lit by invigorating examples of life and steadfast struggles for love, power and individual freedoms – you notice that Warr herself is wholly enthused by her subject as much as we are to devour the story!

In short, I am most eager to see what is turnt out in the second and third installments of #Conquest, as surely they will not only keep the wicked pace and heightening drama at a percolating pressure boiler but they will surely contain surprises and twists that even after reading this first volume might not foreshadow! I love those sequels best in Historicals, as sometimes, being caught off-guard is the best treasure a Historical author can grant a reader wicked enthused with the historical past!

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This Blog Tour is courtesy of: Impress Books (UK)

Conquest: Daughter of the Last King banner provided by Impress Books.

on behalf of the blog celebration tour

Conquest blog tour card provided by Impress Books UK.

Review @ Lisa Reads Books

Stay focused on the dates to visit with these bloggers in October:

The Cosy Reader | Wee Reader

If your curious about which Impress Books new title I’m most keen to read as soon as it’s out stateside, be sure to click through to this wicked sweet Instagram post!

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Reader Interactive Question:

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If you regularly devour amazingly researched historical fiction & haven’t yet had the pleasure of reading a Tracey Warr novel, I do think your going to be keen to keep your eyes peeled for #Conquest! What I loved the most about her writing style is how well she captures the Medieval timescape as to place us directly inside the fabric of what life felt like as it was being lived.

The best time travelling is through the portal of the historical past!

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Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2016.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2016 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Friday, 30 September, 2016 by jorielov in 11th Century, ARC | Galley Copy, Arranged Marriages in Royalty, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Blog Tour Host, British Literature, Brothers and Sisters, Clever Turns of Phrase, Coming-Of Age, Early Middle Ages [the Dark Ages] (1001-1300), Family Drama, Family Life, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery, Historical Romance, Impress Books, Indie Author, Inheritance & Identity, Jorie found the Publisher on Twitter, Kidnapping or Unexplained Disappearances, Life Shift, Passionate Researcher, Political Narrative & Modern Topics, Realistic Fiction, Siblings, Story in Diary-Style Format, Twitterland & Twitterverse Event, Unexpected Inheritance, Unexpected Pregnancy, Wales, Warfare & Power Realignment, Women's Rights, Wordsmiths & Palettes of Sage, Writing Style & Voice

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2 responses to “UK Blog Book Tour | Remember my enthused reaction to Tracey Warr’s #HistFic style? This is her new epic Medieval Ages in the Anglo-Norman kingdom series (#Conquest)!

    • You’re most welcome! :) I cannot wait to re-visit the tour route – I had some a few things pop up whilst the tour was in-progress which is why I was so thankful I could connect with you before I had to take a reprieve from following everyone’s journey with the tour & story.

      Bless you for your lovely compliment; I am especially thankful you enjoyed reading my ruminations as you’ve read the book and to know this review resonated with you immediately is quite humbling. I appreciate your visit and the thoughts you’ve shared!

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