Author Interview | Discussing MacBeth and the way this tale was re-spun through the vision DK Marley had for “A Fire in Winter”

Posted Friday, 16 August, 2019 by jorielov , , , , , 0 Comments

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Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!

I have an exciting interview to share with you today, as the author and I myself are both passionately dedicated to reading Shakespeare! I have appreciated the Bard since I was quite young though it wasn’t until a freshman in high school where I started taking more of an earnest interest in discerning what I was interpreting out of his stories; thus taking on a new role in my life as a Shakespearean reader. From that year til this one, I’ve been dancing through the plays in different formats of exploration – from the plays themselves, of course, but also through adaptations in film, after canon novels and the re-tellings which are re-shaping how we think, feel and understand the original canon of Shakespeare.

What truly implored me towards reading “The Fire of Winter” is wanting to re-step through a lens of insight into both MacBeth and the origin story surrounding Lady MacBeth. It was a play that has been a curiosity for me since I was sixteen and I felt Marley just might be the author who would give me a version of this story which would resolve some of my own questions and curiosities therein whilst giving me a heap of fodder to chew over as a book blogger. I was not wrong on all counts.

This interview is a follow-up to the review I’ve previously disclosed – wherein, you’ll notice through my observations and my readerly takeaways why the writings Marley is giving us are not just wicked good fiction but they are accountable and authentic towards a better understanding of why Shakespeare wrote his stories. She pulls you back into the context of his vision but also, re-represents that vision in a way that you can re-visit the themes, the characters and the settings in a wholly original examinations of those founding stories. For me, it was a way of re-stepping into a door of literature I have loved and finding a refreshing new spin on what I remembered having read.

If you want to settle your reader into the heart of the scene rather immediately after she opens your novel, I think when it comes to opening paragraphs DK Marley takes the ultimate star award for dramatic entrances! Not only do you gather the emotional rooting of this scene – partially built against the purity of rage and anger; as clearly the woman whose allowing men to die by flame and fire isn’t concerned with their dangerous demise but rather, the freedom (or so it appears) their death shall yield to her as a result of their premature deaths. This doesn’t outright surprise me because raids, unexpected coups and power re-alignments were quite common during this particular century as those who wished for power didn’t go about it diplomatically; rather, they plundered it off the lands of others, stole it outright or found ways to circumvent the ethical divides between the ruling class and pirating your destiny out of a world rife with war.

Gruah is a woman caught in a circumstance not of her own choosing – if you follow that thread you’d find she was ready to embrace a life with a man she desired to be with rather than one she was forced to remain enchained. The interesting bit here though is how Marley handles the scene as she doesn’t let us see the remorse of her character (not that I felt she had any to yield) nor does she give her time to apologise for her impulsive actions (again, I didn’t feel that was plausible!) – no, instead, she presents her just as she were – her faults surfacing with malice whilst carrying a gleaming glow of self-satisfaction. This was a woman who knew what she wanted, how she would achieve it and dare anyone to tell her differently. She leaves her mark and her mark is by fire and sword.

As Gruah grows in her hatred towards her newly wed husband forced on her by her father – an exchange of alliance and power; nothing more – she begins to emerge as Lady MacBeth. The woman who would turn her heart to stone if it meant finding her own internal power to eradicate the ills done against her – as you find her plotting her revenges even as she takes her first steps into her new marriage. Of course, she is already “MacBeth” in both honour and declared love; married to Lord MacBeth in secret and yet, secreted from that truth due to the alignment of strife to overtake her father’s and the King’s wishes on her behalf. I was curious about what changed the woman’s right to choose her own spouse – as it was mentioned briefly that they used to be able to make those choices outside the purview of the men; where their own destiny was once their own and not owned by others who did as they willed whether or not it was consented or accepted. In that regard, there are a lot of contemporary issues for women’s rights penetrating through MacBeth’s struggle to find the right action to fuse with her words; as her wrath was always spoken but its the actions she needs to take which take longer to formulate.

Marley has written an historical novel rife with conflict and the secrets which never stay in the past but which re-rise in the future when they are meant to be known. Her Lady MacBeth is a woman who is attempting to right the wrongs against her by taking action as an adult when she couldn’t act as a child. It is a story of redemption but also, of self-sacrifice as in this version of MacBeth you understand better what anchoured her to the darker roots of her faith and how the Earthen Spirituality she shared with her Mum was the only grounding foundation she had to battle against the horrors of her youth.

Marley also broaches the current topics of women’s rights, domestic violence against women and the suffering hours of being victims of sexual violence as children. She moves instinctively through the actions of the present and counters it with the recollected memories of the past to where you can overlay the past with the present and understand how everyone is on this collision course to where fate, life and death are interchanging their roles. It is a story that is fuelled by revenge but it is also a story of injustice and the purity of true love which seeks to rise through the ashes and lay claim to the purity of how love when it is freely given is a freedom of its own.

It is a hard novel to read in many regards because of how it descends and rises through the pacing of the play – including the fall of madness in Lord MacBeth. There is violence yes, as these are not people who opt for diplomacy to solve their problems, they’d rather take to the sword and see who is the better of combatants than to use talk to diffuse their differences. There are scenes which are hard to read just due to what they involve but at the heart of the novel is the life of MacBeth; both the husband and the wife. You get to re-examine what motivated them, what sparked the love between them and what ultimately drove them apart – you see those moments they shared together and how they perceived of their future by secret plotting.

The most powerful part of the story is the conclusion – where Lady MacBeth has a final say about what is meant to be remembered about herself. In that confession, you peer close to her soul and her heart; you see into her the truthfulness of her actions and the ways in which she felt she had to act in order to secure her own destiny. The difficulties of those choices however had consequences that do not wait to rest on a mind hardened by the actions of a woman who was aflame with murderous intentions to accomplish the deeds she first felt would define her and secure her future. You had to contemplate if she had the option to re-live it, what would she choose and what would she change; if anything? Or was it all pre-destined and her life lived out just as it was meant?

-quoted from my review of The Fire of Winter

As you embark on reading this conversation, be sure to have brewed your favourite cuppa and get ready to get your Shakespeare on as we discuss the components of this re-telling of MacBeth whilst also discussing why Marley has a firm passion for re-visiting other plays and how she is re-envisioning the canon of Shakespeare as a whole! I hope you enjoy where our convo led us and perhaps, you’ll find a renewal of interest in these stories as much as I have myself!

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Author Interview | Discussing MacBeth and the way this tale was re-spun through the vision DK Marley had for “A Fire in Winter”The Fire of Winter (Interview)
by D.K. Marley
Source: Publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

She is known as Lady Macbeth.
What leads her down the path of murder?
What secrets fire her destiny?

Gruah, granddaughter of King Cìnéad III of the Royal Clan Alpin, marries two men in less than six months, one she loves and one she hates; one in secret, the other arranged by the High King of Scotland. At the age of eighteen, she lays her palm upon the ancient stone of Scone and sees her destiny as Queen of Scotland, and she vows to do whatever necessary to see her true love, Macbeth macFindlaech, beside her on the throne.

Amid the fiery times and heated onslaughts from Denmark and England, as the rule of Scotland hangs in the balance, Gruah seeks to win the throne and bring revenge upon the monsters of her childhood, no matter the cost or amount of blood tainting her own hands; yet, an unexpected meeting with the King called the Confessor causes her to question her bloody path and doubt her once blazing pagan faith. Will she find redemption or has the blood of her past fire-branded her soul?

The story weaves the play by William Shakespeare with the actual history of Macbeth and his Queen in 11th-century Scotland.

“…a woman’s story at a winter’s fire…”
(Macbeth, Act III, Scene IV)

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1724914965

Also by this author: The Fire of Winter

Genres: After Canons, Classical Literature, Historical Fiction, Historical-Fantasy, Re-telling &/or Sequel


Published by White Rabbit Publishing

on 1st June, 2019

Pages: 355

Published by: White Rabbit Publishing

Converse via: #HistoricalFiction, #HistFic or #HistNov
as well as #Shakespearean and #MacBeth

Available Formats: Hardcover, Trade paperback, Audiobook and Ebook

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As “The Fire of Winter” goes into the heart of who Lord and Lady MacBeth were as their lives were being lived – what was your inspiration towards wanting to use the play and their story as a catalyst to explore the fuller background of this century through the drama of what their lives became?

Marley responds: I am a true Shakespeare-lover! Since the time I was eleven and my grandmother gave me her college textbook “The Complete Works of Shakespeare”, I was hooked. I am currently attempting to adapt all the plays into historical fiction novels, so Macbeth was the second on my list. My first adaptation is “Prince of Sorrows” which is Hamlet set in 9th-century Denmark.

I received my first small hardback editions of Classical Lit from my grandfather whilst he gave me his omnibus edition of Shakespeare’s plays (in hardback) which he used in college. I was smitten by the Bard sophomore year (h.s.) when we studied Julius Caesar. I wasn’t initially enthused by what we studied freshman year which was Romeo & Juliet due to how the teacher treated the material; it would take another ten years to appreciate it and even after that to where I found my own way back into that particular play. In regards to Hamlet, it was one I never felt cosy towards and have thus avoided. Others I enjoy include “Much Ado About Nothing” which for me was brilliantly adapted when Emma Thompson was in the cast.

What did you feel was the most challenging aspect of both adapting and creating your own voice from the play?

Marley responds: The most challenging was finding a way of melding the play into real history. The play is not historically accurate, but was written as a political move on Shakespeare’s part to appeal to King James since he claimed descent from Banquo. Macbeth was made out to be a villain in the play, so I decided to stick to the main premise of Shakespeare’s work while including more of real history, such as how long Macbeth reigned and some of the other real battles that occurred during that time period. Finding my own voice is also a challenge since I wanted to modernize the words of Shakespeare to give readers today a chance to delve into the play without worrying about the old language, as well as adding to it my own style. Doing this is quite fun for me!!

I was curious how you approached this part of the adaption, too. I hadn’t officially studied MacBeth but rather helped the seniors as a sophomore pass their exam. Therefore, historical context aside, my first approach into the play was from a completely alternative angle than a traditional lens. You definitely funnelled your vision of MacBeth with a bevy of background anchoured through IRL events and even the sociopolitical events of the day in which MacBeth lived. I felt the realistic edge you gave this foundation worked against the components of the play and fused you into how your characters had their own agency in the story.

Of the two MacBeth’s, whom was your favourite to develop and devise a plan of purpose for revealling throughout the novel? Which one did you feel had the harder road?

Marley responds: I loved developing Lady Macbeth. I knew from the first paragraph that I wrote in the prologue who she was and how she achieved her success, but the things I did not expect is her backstory. Honestly, when I started writing, I came upon the revelation of what happened to her as a child purely by chance, almost as if she revealed this little secret to me. I never could understand why, in the play, she seemed to have such a hatred for Duncan.

She, of course, wanted the throne, but it always felt as if there might be something more behind her motivation. As I plotted out the outline for this novel, I realized that she might have been around eight or nine years old when Macbeth’s father was killed by Gille Comgain and his brother (who were also fighting to gain the throne).

This part was difficult to write, but explained a lot about her motives behind wanting to see Gille Comgain, his brother, and Duncan dead. Gruah (Lady Macbeth) definitely had the harder road. Being a woman with such ambition, and passion, and blood-lust, in medieval Scotland and England, was not the norm, and I wanted to portray that as accurately as possible.

I believe you handled this segue from her childhood to her adulthood rather well – especially as you explained through the back-histories of her life what was fuelling her hatred and her anger; as it was justified against why she wanted to seek revenge. For her, this was a personal choice of action and everything you wrote re-angled us into her cause and gave buoyancy towards her actions to better understand not just her motives but how certain circumstances can alter you.

When it came to researching the components of the novel “behind” where we find the MacBeth’s – how hard was it to sort out what their lives might have looked like? Were there a lot of source materials to use as a guide or did you have to take a few gleams of reference here or there and then spin it through your imagination?

Marley responds: I have tons and tons of research!! Research on herbs and medicines, research on medieval religion, the Picts, the Scots, the Irish, the English, the Danes, and Norwegians; research on ancestry and the genealogies of the Macbeths and their relation to other noble families of Europe and England; and on and on; for more info on my research and research links, anyone can visit my author website research for “The Fire of Winter” here: http://www.dkmarley.com/the-fire-of-winter.html

I would imagine a work of this kind (and others similar in breadth) must cast a wide net in regards to how you approach the research and how you would settle into the background of how to bring this particular unknown (by most readers) era back to life. Thanks for sharing a small insight into what you had to do in order to bring your world into our awareness.

Which act of Lady MacBeth did you personally think was her hardest choice? For me, I felt it was how her story concluded – how her final act of rebellion was really a self-sacrifice because she lost herself in order to have freedom but that freedom wasn’t the kind she had hoped to find.

Marley responds: Yes, I agree with you on that. All through the story, she fights and fights to hang on to her belief system, and I even found myself wondering why she continued on her path, but aren’t we all like that as humans? To me, this made her more real.

So often we continue down paths, thinking we are achieving something, some vaporous goal we try to grasp with our fingers, when in reality it brings us pain and suffering; and then, in the end, when we make the needed changes, it may be too late, or perhaps we do not change to the extent we need to change. Gruah never changed her attitude, even when she committed her final act of rebellion and sacrificed her own identity to save herself. At the very end, when she seems to confess all, she still has not succumbed to the will of God and the power of complete redemption.

When you made that quote in your review about “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”, that is the complete theme of this novel. Early on, Macbeth says to her – “My lady, you are young and somewhat naive of what it takes to take a man’s life. I pray you never know that feeling, for it can do one of two things to a person. It can rip out your heart to where you repent the deed, or it can move you toward a hardened soul where each kill thereafter is easier and easier.” – Each kill, whether done by her own hands or spurred by her motivation created in her a hardened soul, thus the last kill was the easiest for her to do.

It was how you brought this scope into the novel – of her descending spiral towards being as hardened as she was in the end into full light is what I felt gave Lady MacBeth a new layer of insight into what sparked her internal and external changes. It was achieved over a long period of time and as you said, in the end, she did not receive redemption because she had not yet let go of what motivated her revenge. Revenge is a beast of its own and it consumed Gruah.

As you wrote a re-examination of the play, what are you hoping readers will take stock of and notice most through this new lens you’ve shined on ‘MacBeth”?

Marley responds: First and foremost, that they take another look at the plays of Shakespeare. He is, and always will be, a genius. So many refuse to read his works because of the language of his day, so my attempt at adapting the plays into historical fiction is an attempt to shine light on his brilliance.

I always felt those who ignore Shakespeare are similar to those who ignore Jane Austen; they miss something in how the stories are told. I know everyone has to find their own route into Classical Lit but some of the authors I feel give more than they takeaway; they have an interesting layer of their own contemporary lives inside their stories and I think everyone should at least attempt to find a path into a part of their literary legacies if only to better understand the past and where we have come forward into the future with literature. It evolves as much as ebbs backwards – there are similarities to all stories but there are also origins which are beautiful to see for the first time.

Women’s rights have been hard-fought and are not new to our contemporary world; it has been an ageless struggle towards securing our rights especially against domestic violence. How did you want this cross-overview of Lady MacBeth’s struggles to cross-relate to our modern age where women still strive to have their voices heard and respected?

Marley responds: This is a great question since we do live in a critical time in our own history where women are finding their voices and speaking out against all kinds of violence and abuse wrought against them. I wanted to link the centuries and show how a woman’s struggle has been the same throughout history. In the 11th-century, women did not have a voice at all, which I hoped to portray this when I had Gruah confront all the noble women surrounding Queen Suthed. Gruah’s problem is that she took her acts of hatred too far, which is relatable even today.

I felt this was the underlying message of your novel – how if you are consumed by hatred to the degree of Lady MacBeth it will slowly destroy you because it allows the darkness to overtake the light.

In the beginning of their relationship, Lord MacBeth truly viewed Lady MacBeth as an equal – what do you think drove the wedge between them to where their relationship altered towards the end of their story?

Marley responds: Definitely when Macbeth became King and when he started to believe the stories told by the three daughters of Hecate. He felt invincible and his own arrogance caused him to not want to share that with even his own wife. He was not about to give her credit for helping him to the throne once he got there, thus this wedge tore them apart.

It was an interesting shift I felt – you can definitely see the changes in their marriage but also in their personalities. There is a distinctiveness in how you approach this change and how you gave readers ample time to observe those changes; it was so aptly described and observed that you could almost see the foreshadowing of it happening.

What was your favourite discovery about this century and what did you love most about this part of Scotland?

Marley responds: I thought it was incredible to discover the links between the noble families of all the nations surrounding Scotland. The possibility that Macbeth’s own half-sister was the mother of William the Conqueror, that little tidbit was astounding to me.

As far as Scotland is concerned, well, I adore every inch of Scotland. It is definitely in my blood, as my own ancestry is Scottish.

We share this in common; as I am also a Scot and it is in part why I love finding Historical Fiction set there. It is also why I sought out the BBC drama “Monarch of the Glen” and why for different reasons that series was such an emotional one due to some of the latter episodes being more poignant than humourous. The lochs and the scenery were absolutely compelling in their own right but I loved the quirkiness of the family.

Would you consider adapting another play or another well-known story and thread it through your own lens of re-discovery? If so, what do you think you might consider adapting and/or what encourages you to continue writing these kinds of stories?

Marley responds: Yes, I definitely will adapt more of the plays into historical adaptations. My next one, which is still early in development, is based on the play “Romeo and Juliet” and will be based during WWII between a German soldier and a Jewish girl living in Berlin. And after that, I will develop “The Merchant of Venice” into a historical adaptation entitled “A Pound of Flesh”. My adaptation of Hamlet (Prince of Sorrows) is already available on Amazon – in ebook, paperback, and Audible narrated by Shakespearean actor, Ben Tyler.

I seem to have overlooked this bit of trivia and I apologise. I somehow thought this was your first rather than your second. I am going to look forward to seeing where the future stories take us and which ones will interest me to read. I might surprise myself and move in and out of the plays I previously did not feel an attachment towards sans Hamlet as that particular one just rubs me the wrong way.

What do you think is re-focusing Historical Fiction on the Picts, early Scottish Histories and the surge of power that your own novel delves into as I’ve seen more stories focusing on these earlier centuries more lately than in the past?

Marley responds: Yes, I have seen that as well, and I think it is great as there is a world of material there ripe for development. I definitely will read them all as more and more authors create these types of stories. I am a voracious historical fiction reader, as well. My TBR list is enormous at the moment!!

Laughs with mirth. I can relate to this statement inasmuch as the next discerning reader as I fear, perhaps, my own readerly list of #mustreads and #nextreads shall never quite be conquered as I would wish it to be… though that in effect is a good thing too. Historical Fiction is the one genre I overlooked as being one of my more passionately read sections of literature – it wasn’t until I started blogging where I realised just how attached and addicted I am to time travelling through the historic past. I’ve also re-developed a keen interest in hidden corridors of history, mythological re-tellings and other sub-sections where I might not have found or sourced if I hadn’t started blogging. It is a door that continues to expand as I move through the centuries and as I blog I find more Indie Authors and publishers who are routing me through Historical Fiction in new ways I am humbled to have discovered.

What is your favourite joy in writing Historical Fiction?

Marley responds: Everything, everything, everything!! I sometimes have to remind myself to stop researching since that is so enjoyable to me. I love learning about the past and all the details of how people lived. Next, after research, is the writing. Writing is so therapeutic to me and gives me such satisfaction to transform the story in my head into something tangible and when it gives joy to a reader, well, that is the ultimate. That little girl so long ago who used to create imaginary stories outside in the woods at my grandmother’s house is dancing inside my memory as the words spill out onto a page.

I agree with you. Research is partially why I enjoyed developing my own style of writing – it was the research I loved first and foremost; the writing second as before I wrote my own story, I wanted to explore the context in which to set it or a particular component which would anchour it to my vision of it. I love research even outside of writing and that is a credit to my Mum who gave me a love of it. Most writers I knew growing up didn’t appreciate the research and would rather just write; I think that’s valid as we all approach the craft differently and that is what is right for them. I never felt there was one way to write or one way to develop a story. Writing is a joy of my own and it was lovely to hear how your writerly path began.

When your not researching and writing what uplifts your spirits the most?

Marley responds: My own granddaughter. She loves reading and telling stories, as well, and I find such joy in passing along this incredible gift.

Family is everything and she truly sounds like a gift of light, joy and love. I wanted to thank you for taking the time to give me such a wonderful glimpse into your writelry life and to how inspired you’ve felt to bring Shakespeare back into the lives of contemporaries readers who are seeking Historical Fiction as a portal into not just the past but into the Classical stories which leave them curious. I have enjoyed this conversation and what it has revealled.

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About D.K. Marley

DK Marley

D. K. Marley is a historical fiction writer specializing in Shakespearean themes. Her grandmother, an English Literature teacher, gave her a volume of Shakespeare’s plays when she was eleven, inspiring DK to delve further into the rich Elizabethan language.

Eleven years ago she began the research leading to the publication of her first novel “Blood and Ink,” an epic tale of lost dreams, spurned love, jealousy and deception in Tudor England as the two men, William Shakespeare and Kit Marlowe, fight for one name and the famous works now known as the Shakespeare Folio.

She is an avid Shakespearean / Marlowan, a member of the Marlowe Society, the Shakespeare Fellowship and a signer of the Declaration of Intent for the Shakespeare Authorship Debate. She has traveled to England three times for intensive research and debate workshops and is a graduate of the intense training workshop “The Writer’s Retreat Workshop” founded by Gary Provost and hosted by Jason Sitzes. She lives in Georgia with her husband and a Scottish Terriers named Maggie and Buster.

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This blog tour is courtesy of:

Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours - HFVBTFollow the Virtual Road Map

as you visit others participating:

As this particular one has a bookaway along the route:

The Fire of Winter blog tour via HFVBTs
 I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary!
Be sure to leave notes, takeaways and commentary for the author who would love to hear your thoughts on behalf of this conversation. We look forward to seeing what you felt about the topics discussed.

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Similar to blog tours where I feature book reviews, as I choose to highlight an author via a Guest Post, Q&A, Interview, etc., I do not receive compensation for featuring supplemental content on my blog. I provide the questions for interviews and topics for the guest posts; wherein I receive the responses back from publicists and authors directly. I am naturally curious about the ‘behind-the-scenes’ of stories and the writers who pen them; I have a heap of joy bringing this content to my readers. This also extends to Book Spotlights & Book Blitzes which I choose to highlight which might have content inclusive to the post materials which I did not directly add a contribution but had the choice whether or not to feature those materials on my blog.

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{SOURCES: Book cover for “The Fire of Winter”, book synopsis, author biography, author photograph of D.K. Marley, the tour host badge and HFVBTs badge were all provided by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours and used with permission. Post dividers badge by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets were embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Conversations with the Bookish banner and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2019.

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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, 16 August, 2019 by jorielov in 11th Century, Action & Adventure Fiction, After the Canon, Anglo-Saxon History, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book for University Study, Bookish Discussions, Britian, Cosy Horror, Earthen Magic, Earthen Spirituality, England, Good vs. Evil, Heroic Bloodshed, Heroic Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Indie Author, Inspired By Author OR Book, Inspired by Stories, Literature for Boys, Men's Fiction, Military Fiction, Re-Told Tales, Realistic Fiction, Self-Published Author, Spin-Off Authors, Spirituality & Metaphysics, Superstitions & Old World Beliefs, Sword & Scorcery, Vulgarity in Literature, Warfare & Power Realignment




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