Posts Tagged ‘The Crown Imposter’

As with the past few years, I like to go over what was accomplished last year
Word Count
The word count for the year reached just over 718,000
Writing and where we are at, what I have accomplished:

Book Title
Words written in 2012
# of Pages
Sci Fi Short 2 25,417
The Crown Impostor
Magician A Mystery
The Heir
Born To Grace III: Crown in Jeopardy
Food and Art
Micawber and Copperfield

Total                        718,634        2,395

Synopsis of the Books Written
Sci Fi Short 2

This is part of a five book short novel series. It explores a civil war in space. In this book the Unity of Man is broken and shooting starts between both sides. As I developed the ideas for this, it came to me that the reasons for a war like this would parallel the reasons for the American Civil War, without the issue of Slavery. States Rights. The reasoning that a great PR campaign used to make this war. But the for this novel is that economics, those who want to profit by a war set up the conditions for a war. And then the battles of the war would parallel those of the ACW. Here we have the fall of Fort Sumter and First Manassas.

The Crown Impostor

This idea has been floating in my head for a decade, along with a second idea, and they merged. Here I saw that a son would conquer while his father was back running the kingdom. To give it a reason, I saw that a path to the sea for our heroes country was needed, but I also saw that the conquering prince was a bit arrogant. Yet he had an identical twin cousin who was not, and the enemy, well they just had to be very bad. So with all that mix of households back in the days of Henry II, why not do the same here. A loyal vassal of our king and country, with a duchy on the very border, somehow is the male heir of the neighboring kingdom.

His wife is past childbearing and has given him only daughters. Our kingdom lets him go to be a king, they want a new Queen and an heir. So the new Queen’s family does its best to take control and even kills the new king/old duke to make way for a regency with the new Queen in control. As that unfolds our country attacks, but assassins kill the Prince, who summons his cousin before any know he is dying and has the cousin switch places. The cousin now must act like the Crown Prince and see to Justice…

Magician: A Mystery

A contemporary murder mystery. A very successful lead magician at the Palace of Magic is killed, shortly after having breakfast with his very unsuccessful friend. Our hero has advised the victim many times on creating great illusions. And though the victim was able to build a multi-million dollar career, our hero eels out a few thousand dollars by playing bar mitzvahs and sweet sixteens. Yet, our hero is a suspect, even at the exact moment that he discovers that magic is not an illusion, but a reality.

The Heir

An Earl has only a daughter and so his estate and title will go to a cousin. The heroine can not accept this, and though the Heir is pleasant and most seem to like him, she can not. Through a series of mishaps, of course, her opinions will change, as will problems arise for the Heir as he tries to decide should he marry the young lady.

Born To Grace III:Crown in Jeopardy

The final part of the sweeping trilogy where magic is a part of the world. Where kingdoms are gigantic, and where evil is not really the choice between a good path and a bad path so much as evil is what your enemies do. All men follow their hearts and when one’s heart is opposed to your path, it is natural to proclaim them evil. In truth, evil is what comes of the battles that sew death and rend families.

Food and Art

This was the project for NaNoWriMo 2012. Another year I successfully finished a whole book, not just 50,000 words. Here I developed a contemporary romance between a widower whose wife was an artist and he a chef. He built a restaurant that was filled with good food and great art to honor that memory, one he has been hard to move on from, even though he knows he married to early. Into his life, in one night comes the sister of his sister’s sister-in-law. He has never met the girl. She also had a relationship based on sex, rather than respect and is an artist. One that can compliment the restaurant. That they realize both needed more mature relationships, and begin to find it in each other is the basis.

Micawber and Copperfield

This is an entry for a SteamPunk short story competition. What would happen if literary characters were caught up in the Steampunk milieu? Here I have the grandsons of Dickens Iconic characters on an adventure as part of the Royal Dirigible Corps in 1879 South Africa.

Books sold in 2012 totals
331 Sales in 2012, down from 501 in 2011
The End of the World                                                9       
The Shattered Mirror                                                21
Colonel Fitzwilliam’s Correspondence               264    
A Trolling We Will Go                                             4                                         
Genghis Khan’s Rules for (Warriors) Writers        7
Jane Austen and Ghosts                                6
Two Peas In A Pod                                        16
ECO Agents:Save the Planet                        5

Blog Stats
I have not reported on my Blog before since it was not really much of anything, until this last year.
In 2008 we had 1 visitor. It grew since then. Of Course the change from 2008 to 2009 was the greatest, but that was probably an aberration for 2008. It doubled in 2010, and doubled in 2011, but last year it took off.

# Of Visitors
2012 9031

The month activity shows:

Month Visitors



Books that were read (reviews can be found at David’s Reading List) :
This year with working for over three months, the upheaval in my life, 53 books read and reviewed.

# Title Cover
1 The Master of Heathcrest Hall by Galen Beckett PastedGraphic-2013-01-28-07-39.jpg
2 Gunpowder God by John F. Carr
3 Theft of Sword by Michael J. Sullivan PastedGraphic1-2013-01-28-07-39.jpg
4 Rise of Empire by Michael J. Sullivan PastedGraphic3-2013-01-28-07-39.jpg
5 Heir of Novron by Michael J. Sullivan PastedGraphic2-2013-01-28-07-39.jpg
6 A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs PastedGraphic4-2013-01-28-07-39.jpg
7 Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne PastedGraphic5-2013-01-28-07-39.jpg
8 The Weapon by David Poyer PastedGraphic6-2013-01-28-07-39.jpg
9 The Crisis by David Poyer PastedGraphic7-2013-01-28-07-39.jpg
10 The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss PastedGraphic8-2013-01-28-07-39.jpg
11 The Crown of the Blood by Gav Thorpe PastedGraphic10-2013-01-28-07-39.jpg
12 Fire in the East by Harry Sidebottom PastedGraphic9-2013-01-28-07-39.jpg
13 The New iPad Portable Genius by Paul McFedries PastedGraphic11-2013-01-28-07-39.jpg
14 Madness of March by Burt Golden PastedGraphic13-2013-01-28-07-39.jpg
15 The Profession by Steven Pressfield PastedGraphic12-2013-01-28-07-39.jpg
16 Attila by William Napier PastedGraphic15-2013-01-28-07-39.jpg
17 Assault on Juno by Mark Zuehlke PastedGraphic14-2013-01-28-07-39.jpg
18 Raingun by John Blackport PastedGraphic17-2013-01-28-07-39.jpg
19 Capitol Offense by Barbara Mikulski PastedGraphic16-2013-01-28-07-39.jpg
20 The Affinity Bridge by George Mann PastedGraphic19-2013-01-28-07-39.jpg
21 Zulu Hart by Saul David PastedGraphic18-2013-01-28-07-39.jpg
22 The Guns of El Kebir by John Wilcox PastedGraphic21-2013-01-28-07-39.jpg
23 My New iPad by Wallace Wang PastedGraphic20-2013-01-28-07-39.jpg
24 Empire in Black and Gold by Adrian Tchaikovsky PastedGraphic22-2013-01-28-07-39.jpg
25 The New iPad Fully Loaded by Alan Hess PastedGraphic23-2013-01-28-07-39.jpg
26 Long Summer Day by R.F. Delderfield PastedGraphic25-2013-01-28-07-39.jpg
27 The Kickstarter Handbook by Dan Steinberg PastedGraphic24-2013-01-28-07-39.jpg
28 Among Thieves by Douglas Hulick PastedGraphic27-2013-01-28-07-39.jpg
29 Siege of Khartoum by John Wilcox PastedGraphic26-2013-01-28-07-39.jpg
30 Adobe Photoshop CS3 Classroom in a Book PastedGraphic30-2013-01-28-07-39.jpg
31 Victory by Julian Stockwin PastedGraphic29-2013-01-28-07-39.jpg
32 Post of Honour by R.F. Delderfield PastedGraphic28-2013-01-28-07-39.jpg
33 The Green Gauntlet by R.F. Delderfield PastedGraphic31-2013-01-28-07-39.jpg
34 The Shangani Patrol by John Wilcox PastedGraphic33-2013-01-28-07-39.jpg
35 A Shadow in Summer by Daniel Abraham PastedGraphic32-2013-01-28-07-39.jpg
36 The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler PastedGraphic34-2013-01-28-07-39.jpg
37 The Companion of Lady Holmeshire by Debra Brown PastedGraphic35-2013-01-28-07-39.jpg
38 A Betrayal in Winter by Daniel Abraham PastedGraphic38-2013-01-28-07-39.jpg
39 Elephants in the Distance by Daniel Stashower PastedGraphic37-2013-01-28-07-39.jpg
40 Long Live the King by Mary Roberts Rinehart PastedGraphic36-2013-01-28-07-39.jpg
41 Merits and Mercenaries by Lady A PastedGraphic40-2013-01-28-07-39.jpg
42 The Tower Treasure by Franklin W. Dixon PastedGraphic39-2013-01-28-07-39.jpg
43 The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith PastedGraphic41-2013-01-28-07-39.jpg
44 Quarter Share by Nathan Lowell PastedGraphic43-2013-01-28-07-39.jpg
45 Police Your Planet by Lester del Rey PastedGraphic42-2013-01-28-07-39.jpg
46 Half Share by Nathan Lowell PastedGraphic44-2013-01-28-07-39.jpg
47 Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective by Donald J. Sobol PastedGraphic45-2013-01-28-07-39.jpg
48 Full Share by Nathan Lowell PastedGraphic46-2013-01-28-07-39.jpg
49 Traitor Blade by Richard Crawford PastedGraphic47-2013-01-28-07-39.jpg
50 Walls of Jericho by Jonathan Hopkins PastedGraphic48-2013-01-28-07-39.jpg
51 The Big Year by Mark Obmascik PastedGraphic49-2013-01-28-07-39.jpg
52 We Bought a Zoo by Benjamin Mee PastedGraphic50-2013-01-28-07-39.jpg
53 Ship’s Boy by Phil Geusz PastedGraphic51-2013-01-28-07-39.jpg

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The East India Company, Part 1

The Opium Trade

Fans of Becky Sharpe in Makepeace Thackery’s Vanity Fair PastedGraphic2-2012-05-18-15-24.jpgwill know a little of the East India Company, or The Company PastedGraphic1-2012-05-18-15-24.jpg. The company was granted its charter from 1600 by Queen Elizabeth I PastedGraphic3-2012-05-18-15-24.jpg and survived until 1874. By the time of the Regency it was a powerhouse and its actions had much to do with Regency Life. So it is a good backdrop for our Regency novels.

One officer of the company, PastedGraphic4-2012-05-18-15-24.jpg Warren Hastings (1732-1818) who became the first Governor General of India from 1773 -1785 is reported to be the father of PastedGraphic5-2012-05-18-15-24.jpg Eliza de Feuillide, cousin to Jane Austen PastedGraphic6-2012-05-18-15-24.jpg and later her sister by marriage when she married Jane’s brother Henry PastedGraphic7-2012-05-18-15-24.jpg. Hastings of course was fabulously rich, and was even famously accused of corruption and impeached in 1787 but acquitted in 1795. He later would serve as a privy councillor in 1814.

What is fascinating though is that as the riches from India, made our members of the Ton exceedingly wealthy, becoming perhaps the richest men on the planet, some of this trade was founded on the sale of opium to China. The money then from that sale would buy tea for Britain. Which would then pay for more opium purchased in Bengal, India for sale to China. Though China had prohibited the trade of opium since 1729, reaffirmed in 1799 by the Jaiqing Emperor, its use kept growing.

PastedGraphic8-2012-05-18-15-24.jpgBritain had during the Georgian era the same problem the US has now with China. China had more sterling owed it, then they wished to spend. So Britain saw that trading opium back to China was one way of reducing the trade imbalance. In India, only The Company controlled the planting, harvesting and manufacturing of opium. It was a monopoly.

This was such a problem for China that it would lead to two wars, the Opium Wars of 1839 and 1842 and the loss of Hong Kong to the English. (Which is of course the Victorian Era.)


Opium would be smuggled into China from Calcutta by respectable British trading houses. The company had a factory in Canton where the opium was off loaded. From 1826 the trade through the Straits of Malacca needed to be protected and the company set up Settlements there to do so. They also became penal colonies for Indian Civilian and Military prisoners. One of these was Singapore.

If America had its Rum-Molasses and Slave trade, it would seem that England has its Opium-Silver and Tea trade. Neither a thing to be particularly proud about in today’s sensibilities, but necessary to have taken us to where we are today.

The Regency Timeline

My last post I explained that I was working on the Regency timeline. I posted my entries for 1788 & 1789. Now I have the entrees for 1790 and have uploaded both years to the Regency Assembly Press website. You can see a little preview of this below in the picture.

My sources which include the Internet and The Timetables of History by Grun and SteinPastedGraphic-2012-05-18-15-24.jpg as well as the Chronology of CULTURE by Paxton and Fairfield should cover a lot of events. There are now over 5000 listed for the period between 1788 and 1837 when Victoria comes to the Throne. I have also just found a third book I own with timelines in it, very USA centric though. 1__%252524%252521%252540%252521__PastedGraphic-2012-05-18-15-24.jpg What Happened When by Carruth.

I may post a year at time every so often in between scanning through all these to find something that will be a good article for this blog and the blog at English Historical Fiction Authors. I will also have the full listing up shortly at Regency Assembly Press.

Those who have feedback, it is appreciated or if someone would like a specific year in a future post. The very first entry is to show who was Prime Minister of Great Britain, later it was the United Kingdom, during the period of the chronology. In choosing our dates, 1788 is the first sign of madness in George the III, it is the beginning of the end of the French Monarchy with the riots in Paris, it is the time when the mama’s of the girls during the true Regency would be girls going to London for their own season, and when our heroes are young lads or babes as well.

We need to know of the events that occurred when they were children, as well as what happens when they are on stage in our stories.

Click on the link below or the picture to go to the entry. More years coming. The list is now over 5000 event entries long and growing.

Regency Assembly Press 1790 Timeline


The Writing LIfe

I am now over 400+ pages (over 130000 words) on The Crown Imposter. just finished. A fantasy that has had two different ideas about for the last few years. Neither was working by when I decided to combine them, all of sudden it worked and I wanted to write.

I enclose a few paragraphs from the first draft and first chapter for perusal.

Chapter 1–the next part

Damien shook his head, “I worry that he shall not last this winter. Do you remember when we used to visit him? He is a good man. He truly hoped that when he was elevated and became King of Altan that he would bring our two kingdoms together. He wrote father when he became heir and then King that he wished his ascension would lead to great things.”

Middlin had remembered when the old Baron had received that letter. He had been in a rotten mood for days after. Muttering that nothing good was going to come of it. And he had been right it appeared. Nothing good was coming of it. Not only did it appear that King Henry’s illness was suspicious but it was the common talk of just about everyone Middlin knew. He had been in the Baronial retinue long enough that he had seen the Duke a handful of times before the man became a King.

Middlin had good memories of the man as well, though it had been Damien who had spent time with the man, as well as the man’s family. Middlin remembered that the King’s daughters were actually quite beautiful. One, the eldest, the sergeant heard, had been promised in marriage to some haughty Altan noble. A man who had no ties to the people of Centrion and would complete the takeover of the Duchy as soon as the wedding occurred.

“You, my lord, have to deal with the realities, not the wishes.”

Damien nodded. “Aye, I know that. Why else do you think I went out in this storm? Too soon, I fear, those of Altan will cross our borders and raid our lands in strength that we will be hard pressed to meet. King Frederick would have us meet those forays with steel though he gives little direction and thought on how best to do that and survive. He, I think, waits for us to be quite carved up before he will send any to aid us.”

Middlin smiled with what many called the looks of a wolf. “That is true enough, but Prince Brion, he I think would rush to your aid in a moment. He is said to be quite the armsman.”

Now Damien laughed, as Middlin knew he would. “Ha, was it not you who told me long ago that Princes and Kings are always known as great warriors? Even the ones whose wrists would snap should they try and draw steel?”

Middlin nodded. Damien did not have that problem. The dozen years he had trained the young man from when he was a boy had built muscles that could hold a sword and shield in battle for hours. “True enough, but I had it from Sir Bartholomew when he came riding through two years gone that the Prince was quite accomplished. At least on the practice yard.”

“I talked to Bartholomew then as well. He also said that a knight he respects was asked to spar with the Prince then and Prince Brion beat the knight soundly. A knight he thinks you or I would have a difficult time besting.” Middlin had heard that as well.

Middlin knew that a few years ago, he was a better fighter than he was now. He was slowing down. Damien though, and he when younger, would have been able to best most in the Barony. They had bested most in the Barony.

“I did not believe that Sir Bartholomew truly believed that those who faced his highness would give less than they should.”

Damien shook his head, “And when you and I would spar, as well as those you had to train me, did some not lessen their skills certain days? Did they not hold back?”

Grudgingly Middlin nodded his agreement. “Not on the days that it counted.”

“No, not then, and none do so now, I am sure of it. But Bartholomew felt the need to relate this to me. He was skeptical that his highness is as good as is his reputation. Though should I need to hide my skill for fear my enemies would exploit all they knew of me, I too might arrange such rumors to flit about.” Damien had gotten a depth that Middlin did not remember teaching him. That was subtle, and perhaps wise as well. Though many knew Damien to be very accomplished as a swordsman, and with most arms, except the bow, few knew that he was much better than he even admitted to.

Middlin knew they talked around the and about what was on their minds. They often did so, having many topics that were always needing to be discussed and continued from one talk to the next. This night was really no exception for them. They had many things that they were trying to resolve and never did seem to come to a conclusion. Were the Altans sure to attack them once King Henry died, or to test that his grip was no longer strong enough to stop them, was a matter that they had no control over.

They would react to such an action.

Those of Spragfalls could not stop such an attack before it came.

There were many such things that Damien was now charged with reacting too. Things that he surely wished he had more control over and had none. And Middlin had even less. He followed the orders that the young man gave him.

But Middlin had been one of the few who had trained Baron Damien to command him so.

“Let us hope that those of Altan who have not paid heed to their king, or his wishes, when they do cross our borders in anger, will underestimate us as well.” Middlin said.

“They shall. Oh they shall. One thing about those of Altan is that they can be relied on to be arrogant. Even now after many of our old neighbors went and became their citizens, those born of Altan foolishly cling to old prejudices about us. It is why I expect that their shall be trouble soon.”

Middlin nodded. He knew that there would be trouble as well.

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This week a little break from the Squares of London. I am not an anarchist, though the history of the Cato Street Conspiracy and now the Massacre might make you think that. What I do with these examples is underscore that all was not well outside the circle of the Ton and that these things that were occurring need to be addressed in our Regency tales. Otherwise they just become faery tales. Our heroes and heroines should have some meat on their bones. They should know some trouble from outside their comfort levels. Jane Austen did us a disservice when she left the war outside of her novels. (Though it opened wide the chance for me to discuss it in Colonel Fitzwilliam’s Correspondence.)

The Peterloo Massacre


August 16th, 1819 a few months before the Cato Street Conspiracy and some citizens of Manchester decide to peacefully assemble at St. Peter’s Field. That the day would end with 15 civilians dead and the event labelled a massacre has significance. The Boston Massacre not fifty years before resulted in 5 deaths at the hands of British Soldiers. An incident that led to the American Revolution and the loss of the colonies. Today such small numbers would not be labelled massacres, but unfortunate incidents, or riots. During the Georgian period and that of the regency such a headline as 15 dead from these atrocities did not evoke immediate sympathy for innocent women slaughtered by the soldiers, or the first victim, a child of 2, who surely was quite political and a threat, but instead had the government crack down on all those who thought to create sympathy for the victims and for the reason they had gathered together.

That in itself strikes a note about the times and how different they are in that day and age then they are now. Would we want our heroes of our Regency stories to walk into a drawing room and say that they had heard about the massacre. That they felt the government was in top form repressing the action?

After the Napoleonic Wars ended, things were not all well in England. There was famine and unemployment. The introduction of the Corn Laws did not help the populace either. And so by 1819 an unhappy populace were making their voices heard. A gathering in Manchester so that the well known orator, Henry Hunt,PastedGraphic2-2012-05-3-08-28.jpg could speak came about.

The magistrates did not like this and probably did not like that 60,000 to 80,000 people had gathered to hear. Around this time the entire population of Manchester was just over twice that. As a result they decided to arrest Hunt and the others who were speaking on the hustings with him.

Prior to the gathering, a letter had been intercepted where journalist Joseph Johnson wrote to Hunt and suggested that an insurrection was on the horizon. The government sent the 15th Hussars north in case such occurred.

Twice delayed, for at first the meeting was called for on the 2nd of August, the government as well as the organizers each became more concerned. The government sure that the plan was to find new ways to elect MPs and circumvent time honored tradition. After the wars on the continent to maintain the rights of the nobility and the loss of the colonies to the concepts of better representation for the masses, how else could they feel.

The organizers, such as Samuel Bamford, PastedGraphic3-2012-05-3-08-28.jpgfeeling that the endeavor had to be better than ever before urged that an atmosphere of sobriety ensue. They adopted, “Cleanliness, Sobriety, Order and Peace” as a motto for the day. Truly a new way for the english to hold a political gathering. The contingents would march to St. Peter’s Field in good order and they took to drilling until the crown worried that this was in support of the insurrection, outlawed all drilling on August 3rd.


The commander of the british army units in the army was John Byng, 1st Earl of Strafford,PastedGraphic4-2012-05-3-08-28.jpg who had two horses entered in the races in York that day. Naturally, as a british aristocrat of the times and the Ton, he was off to the races even though so many had gathered to start an insurrection. In his place he left his second in command, Lt. Colonel Guy L’Estrange who led the 15th Hussars on the 16th as well.

It was perhaps the largest meeting ever to take place in England, and it was done so peaceably. Thousands marched to the meeting, none in anger. Hunt had told all to come armed with only their conscience. We have several journalists in attendance who confirm all this, and the momentous occasion, so many gathered and then what comes next, gives us great documentation.


The magistrates, most likely still afraid of an insurrection ordered the arrest of Hunt, but seeing so many people gathered thought that the constables, 200 of them, could not handle the arrest. They sent to the military to request help.

Which came.

Things got out of hand. The constables trying to arrest Hunt found their horses, untrained to be around people so close together, rearing up and crushing them. Finally when the rest was made, the banners that all the contingents had brought in, were set to and the yeomanry helping the constables, started to destroy, which was not in their mandate.

The Hussars arrived and seeing the yeomanry beset as they went above their mission, they naturally needed to defend, especially as the chief magistrate William Hulton urged them to do so. And thus the 15th Hussars formed line and charged into the crowd. It did not help that the exit route so the gathering could disperse was blocked by the 88th Regiment of Foot with their bayonets fixed.

Within a day accounts of the event were published in London, and linking the term Peterloo to connect it to Waterloo was thoughtfully done. The government did not take kindly to this at all and cracked down on reform, instead of those responsible that turned a peaceful meeting into an atrocious event.

Shelley wrote a poem about the events when he heard of them in Italy, The Masque of Anarchy.PastedGraphic6-2012-05-3-08-28.jpg

Stand ye calm and resolute,

Like a forest close and mute,

With folded arms and looks which are

Weapons of unvanquished war.

And if then the tyrants dare,

Let them ride among you there,

Slash, and stab, and maim and hew,

What they like, that let them do.

With folded arms and steady eyes,

And little fear, and less surprise

Look upon them as they slay

Till their rage has died away

Then they will return with shame

To the place from which they came,

And the blood thus shed will speak

In hot blushes on their cheek.

Rise like Lions after slumber

In unvanquishable number,

Shake your chains to earth like dew

Which in sleep had fallen on you-

Ye are many — they are few

A Trolling We Will Go

I released a new book, an omnibus of the three first Trolling stories. In honor of that I have made the first tale of Humphrey and Gwendolyn available for a limited time for $.99 TrollingOmnibus-2012-05-3-08-28.jpg This introductory price is so those who have not discovered this fantasy work can delve into it for a very incentivised price and see if they like the series and continue on, either ordering the other two stories separately, or ordering all three in the Omnibus edition. There are still two more in the series for me to wrap up with edits and release. They have been written as those who follow my blog know. Just not yet gone through my final check protocols.

The Writing LIfe

I am now almost 150 pages (over 40000 words) into writing on The Crown Imposter. A fantasy that has had two different ideas about for the last few years. Neither was working by when I decided to combine them, all of sudden it worked and I wanted to write. Something I have been too exhausted to do these last few months. I have just completed chapter six and hope that by the next post the end of the story will be in sight.

I enclose a few paragraphs from the first draft and first chapter for perusal.

Chapter 1–the next part

“My cousin, the King of Altan and Duke of Bortell cursed the day that the princes of Altan died. His grandfather, the King of Altan cursed the day that my cousin became his nearest heir. My other cousin, our king though was petitioned by those who lived next to us in Altan that they follow their overlord for he was just and fair. That they become part of Altan when Henry became their king seemed natural. Did you and Master Edvard not say then that this was a good thing?”

Middlin had to nod. “Then. Yes then it was a good thing. Now, now it is a tragedy.”

Henry had put aside his wife who was past the age to rear children, having giving two daughters to the man who became the king of the neighboring kingdom. The Altan’s had put pressure on their new king to act so. And then Henry’s first wife was from an old line of Centrion. The birth of a little boy last year to Henry’s second wife had caused great rejoicing in the kingdom of Altan.

King Henry though had started to decline shortly after the birth of his heir. Middlin had kept his thoughts to himself that it was quite suspicious. That the King of Altan was attended by advisors who were related to the new wife, or were those who despised Centrion. The two kingdoms had been enemies more times than they had ever been friends.

Long had those of Altan wished to possess the Duchy of Bortell. The capital of the duchy held the last port along the river Sprag that deep bottom vessels could traverse. From there flat bottom ships journeyed along the tributaries and canals that linked a great deal of Centrion. Bortell was one of the most important trading links that Centrion had.

It had been made a duchy when the first king of Centrion, Bryan, whom Damien had also been named after for he was Damien Bryan Frederick Everheart awarded those lands to the general who married his eldest daughter. A tradition that had continued with every king of Centrion. Dukes and Marquis were raised only from families who had no direct line of male connection to the ruling family. The daughters of the Kings of Centrion had been married to strong men who had become the highest nobility in the land, while those who were the brothers and nephews of the kings of Centrion became the Earls and Barons of the land.

Middlin thought the Barons, like Damien were the spares should the main line falter, but every king had four or five children, since the first Bryan, and that had always been one son, if not more. Except now. King Frederick the third had only one son, and that was Brion. Brion who was not shy about saying his mind about what he thought were the causes of King Henry’s illness.

Damien had taken of his gloves, soaked as was the rest of him and he worked his fingers repeatedly in front of the fire. Cupping his hand and twisting and stretching. With what must have been feeling returning to them, the young man started on the buttons of his cloak. With luck he would be a little warm underneath it, but Middlin did not expect that it to be so.

“Did you have to go to every sentry post?” the sergeant asked, then winced. He had not wanted to keep chewing at that bone, but he had. He shouldn’t worry about the man so. The Baron had to stand firm on his own.

But Middlin thought of Damien as if he were another son. And Middlin had four of his own. Four that he had spent less time with than he had with Damien. The old Baron had asked him to do his best with Damien. And then, when the matter of the Duchy of Altan came upon them all, had come again to say that Damien was going to need even more training now that their barony of Spragfalls, was to become the border between the kingdoms.

“Middlin, do not worry. I shall have a hot drink, or three, and be fine. I shall even be changing all my clothes into fresh ones so that the damp from these stops seeping into my bones. It is quite outside, as you said it would be. Foolish though. Perfect night for someone to stir up trouble. And they know we have the grain fleet here with the canals all swollen from the recent rains.”

“Your cousin King Henry is not dead yet, though he be sick. He would be wroth were there such a blatant attack upon our trade.” And that was something that had not escalated as yet. Three traders had been attacked before reaching Altan and the river port in Bortell. It was why Damien had more sentries and guards out amongst his lands, and here, where most of the waterways came to join the Sprag. But the harvest was in and ready for sale. Tempting prizes should they be taken.

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