Author Toni V. Sweeney joins the blog today to talk about building a medieval world. Interesting stuff!
Since this was to be a medieval milieu, I scoured reference books for information on medieval life. The good ol’ Internet offered many sources, among them that ubiquitous standby Wikipedia. A reference I have used again and again is The New Century Classical Handbook, bought for a couple of dollars at a library sale while I was in college. It enabled me to establish my pantheon of Arcanian gods, patterned closely after the Norse ones.
Marriage and Family Life in the Middle Ages gave me plenty of information on social interaction as well as customs. My ideas for clothing came from Costumes through the Ages and Clothing in the Middle Ages. I learned much fascinating trivia, such as a law was passed declaring men’s tunic hems had to “cover the buttocks,” because stockings worn at that time weren’t like tights, but were simply two legs with a piece of fabric attached to the top crossing over at the waist and tying on the opposite side. If a gentleman wasn’t careful, the pieces might part and his friends would get a rather startling display.
Hairstyles were another interesting facet. Men wore their hair long, in a bowl-cut similar to the early Beatles’ “do”, or a page boy, a la Prince Valiant. Young men often braided their hair before going to bed so in the morning, they would be blessed with curling, waving locks.
Fighting Techniques of the Medieval World and The Medieval Knight gave me plenty of food for thought. I studied types of armor, types of swords, types of horses. A knight didn’t just have one sword and one horse; he had a horse to carry his armor, one to ride, one to ride into battle…just as he had swords for all occasions.
Last, but not least, I delved into superstition. Since my hero was left-handed, I had to learn exactly how people would react to see him using the “Devil’s Hand” to wield his sword, etc. The Oxford paperback reference A Dictionary of Superstitions was spot-on for that.
Armed with all this information, I began my story, and it flew through the keyboard onto my computer screen. I’ve gone back to these volumes again and again. They sit within easy reach, on the shelf behind my computer where I can snatch up one and thumb through it if I get stuck on some point of clothing, superstition, naming custom, or whatever.
Raised by the Margrave of Francovia after his sellsword father is killed in His Majesty’s service, Riven kan Ingan is an opportunist and a nonbeliever, accepting neither the kingdom’s magic nor its religion. In retaliation, the gods plot their revenge. On his scheme for acceptance by marrying the Margrave’s daughter the gods see an opportunity to punish the young skeptic.
When Aleza is kidnapped by the sorcerer Mahldimir Djaan-Baih, Riven follows them to the demon-ridden desert of Izhmir. With the aid of a barbarian slave girl and a reluctant rebel, he’ll rescue the Princess, discover his true love, and lose her to another man. From then on, his days and nights are haunted by the memory of the one woman he can’t have. There’s nothing he can do to forget her and no way he can claim her because the gods aren’t finished with him yet.
The boy lay face down, arms and legs asprawl, just as he’d been flung by his attacker. Head and shoulders were hidden by the full cloak. All that showed were slender legs in soft riding boots, cut and bleeding legs, the thighs scored with scarlet slashes visible through the slits of the long riding-tunic twisted around him.
He’d been beaten, very recently and very thoroughly.
Kicking the B’akshir’s corpse aside, Riven knelt and lifted the little body. No need to be gentle. He wouldn’t feel it. With the child’s back resting against his knee, he put an arm under the narrow shoulders and turned the boy toward him.
A swollen and bloody little face, eyes closed, lay in the hood’s folds. He pushed the hood away. The boy’s head lolled limply over his arm as Riven stared, not at his face—Please Ildred it’s certainly nothing to look at, not without flinching.—but at the yellow braid freed from the confines of the garment, swinging above the ground like a thick golden rope.
“Yellow hair?” Like the barbarians to the north of Francovia. Not a native then, but a foreigner like himself.
Carefully he brushed back the hair clinging to the bloodied face. No movement, but the boy was alive, he was certain of it.
“What were you to them, boy?” he whispered, looking at the bodies of the farmer and his wife. “A child? A servant? A field hand?”
He was so small, his body almost weightless. Surely this delicate creature could never have done manual labor.
Then he saw the earring.
Touching the child’s chin, Riven turned his head to one side to get a better look. Someone had driven a small golden ring through one lobe, recently and not very gently, for the wound was still raw and angry-looking. A matting of dried pus had broken from the scab, dulling the bright metal.
Not belonging to the farmer surely. To the soldiers? And bold enough to attack his masters? It would’ve been death if Riven hadn’t happened along. The B’akshir hadn’t intended the beating as mere punishment.
The boy still didn’t move. His head lay against Riven’s chest, forehead pressed into the rough cloth, pale mouth half-open but as far as Riven could tell no breath came from it. He shifted the little body, pressing his ear against the slight chest.
Paperback exclusively from the publisher’s website: http://www.classactbooks.com/component/virtuemart/science-fiction/bloodseek-8302017-08-15-03-23-04-detail?Itemid=0
About the Author:
Since the publication of her first novel in 1989, Toni divides her time between writing SF/Fantasy under her own name and romances under her pseudonym Icy Snow Blackstone. In March, 2013, she became publicity manager for Class Act Books (US). She is also on the review staff of the New York Journal of Books and the Paranormal Romance Guild. In 2016, she was named a Professional Reader by netgalley.com.
She is an Amazon reviewer, is in the 1% of reviewers for Goodreads, and in 2015 and 2016 was voted one of the Top 10 authors of those years by Preditors & Editors Readers Poll. In 2013, the Paranormal Romance Guild’s Reviewer’s Choice voted The kan Ingan Archives (Part Two of the Arcanian Chronicles) a Special Mention, and the following year, named the individual novels The Man from Cymene, and Space Studs, from the same series two of the Top 8 SF/fantasy novels of 2014.
As of 2018, Toni currently has 55 novels in print, including 3 series, and 3 trilogies.
Find out more about Toni:
Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B002BLQBB8