The Holiday Historical Fiction Blowout! – For the Love of History

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Dear readers and fellow history-lovers,

I’ve got something different to share with you this week.

I’m taking part in a spectacular event from December 1st to 8th called the Holiday Historical Fiction Blowout!

During this special promotion all of the authors involved with be offering their chosen books for just .99 cents in various on-line stores. There is a lot of great storytelling here, and titantic deals to be had!

However, this isn’t just a sale, it’s an opportunity for us to learn something about various periods in history. During each day of the promotion, every writer is going to be blogging about the period of history and setting of each of their books.

We may all gravitate to different periods in time, but one thing we do share is a common love of history, reading, and writing.

The book that I am contributing to this special promotion, Children of Apollo – Eagles and Dragons Book I.

apollofinal

Children of Apollo is the first book in an exciting series set in the Roman Empire. It is a story of family, faith, love, and betrayal in time of war. This book takes you back in time to a world of gods and emperors, gladiatorial combat, chariot races, and heroes, to experience the ancient world like never before!

This story takes place during the early 3rd century A.D, during the reign of Emperor Septimius Severus.

Despite the fact that this period in Roman history is a pivotal time for the Empire, it is often ignored by historical fiction authors. It is an exciting time of change, but also a time that many historians believe to be the beginning of the end of the Roman Empire.

When Children of Apollo begins, the Roman Empire is at its greatest extent, stretching from Britannia and Germania in the north to the North African provinces in the south, and from the Pillars of Hercules in the west to the Parthian Empire in the east, newly-conquered by Severus’ legions.

Roman_Empire_3rd century

This period in Roman history fascinates me for many reasons.

First off, Severus himself was of North African descent, hailing from the great city of Leptis Magna, the jewel of Proconsular North Africa. He was a soldier, and he knew how to reward soldiers and use the army to his advantage. This was one of the reasons he came out on top in the civil war that followed the infamous reign of Commodus and the time when the Praetorian Guard auctioned the imperial throne just a few years before.

Septimius Severus made many changes to the army, transferred units, and opened up positions that had been reserved for the aristocracy to the Equestrian class and lower. He seemed to have a knack for putting the right people in the right positions, except when it came to his Praetorian Prefect, Gaius Fulvius Plautianus.

Plautianus was actually a cousin of Severus’, also from Leptis Magna, and was constantly working in the background to gather power and wealth unto himself. He hated Severus’ sons, Caracalla and Geta, but most of all he hated the empress, Julia Domna.

Julia Domna was the first of the so-called ‘Syrian Women’, and she ushered in a line of strong women rulers. She was a constant adviser to her husband, extremely intelligent, and one of Plautianus’ greatest adversaries. Scholars and scientists came from all over the empire to speak with Julia Domna and be a part of her learned circle. She commanded respect, as did her successors.

This is the time in which Children of Apollo takes place. After a civil war, and a massive campaign against the Parthians involving over 30 legions, there is the potential for peace and prosperity, a new Pax Romana, under Severus.

SPQR

However, when the blood stops running on the battlefield, war usually moves to the back rooms of imperial Rome where political machinations can be more deadly than an enemy sword.

The story’s hero, Lucius Metellus Anguis, is a young man from an ancient, but destitute family, who has found success in the legions and risen through the ranks to become a tribune.

However, once the wars are over, this idealistic young man begins to find out that peace is not what he expected, success not what he was promised. Lucius has enemies lurking the shadows, and finds himself thrust into a new war that threatens to destroy his family, his faith, and all that he has worked for.

Are the Gods on his side? Can he survive to protect those whom he loves?

You’ll need to read Children of Apollo to find out!

At the Amphitheatre of Thysdrus (El Jem) where a gladiatorial combat scene takes place

At the Amphitheatre of Thysdrus (El Jem) where a gladiatorial combat scene takes place in Children of Apollo

Researching and writing Children of Apollo has been an adventure in and of itself.

The settings are vast and varied in the book. Part one takes us across the deserts and through the cities of Roman North Africa to the remote legionary base of Lambaesis, in Numidia. The second part of the book is set in imperial Rome, from the intimacy of the Metellus household, to the palaces of the Palatine Hill, and the temples and markets of the Roman Forum.

The story also takes us to ancient Etruria where family secrets are unearthed, and finally to an ancient settlement at Cumae where an oracle of the god Apollo has words for our protagonist.

On safari in the Sahara

On safari in the Sahara

Whenever possible, I love to travel to the places I write about. A safari of Roman sites in North Africa helped a great deal with the research for Children of Apollo and its sequel, from the dunes of the Sahara desert, to the great salt lakes of Tunisia, to the magnificent remains of Roman cities such as Thysdrus (El Jem), Thurburbo Maius, and Thugga.

However, it is only when walking the streets of Rome, by seeing the Forum and experiencing the peace of the Palatine Hill, that I was able to get a sense of the scale and grandeur of the Roman Empire, its majesty, but also the great human cost building such an empire took as toll.

From the green hills and vineyards of Etruria, to the dirt and marble of Rome, to the sand seas of North Africa where ancient mosaics lay open to the sky, creating this book has been one of the great journeys of my lifetime.

If you would like to read more about the history and settings of Children of Apollo, do make sure to check out the World of Children of Apollo six-part blog series which looks at the Desert, the Settlements of Roman North Africa, the Severan Dynasty, Imperial Rome, Etruria, and Cumae and the Sibyl.

At an Etruscan tomb that figures largely in the book

At an Etruscan tomb that figures largely in the book

I hope you’ve enjoyed this short journey through Children of Apollo with me.

If you haven’t read Children of Apollo yet, and your interest is piqued, be sure to download a copy for yourself at the discounted price (from $4.99 down to .99 cents) before December 8th on Amazon, Kobo, or Apple iBooks.

If you are so inclined, I’d be grateful if you shared this with your friends and family who may also enjoy history and an adventure in the Roman Empire.

There is a lot more in to come in the Eagles and Dragons series, so don’t forget to Join the Legions and sign-up for the Newsletter by clicking HERE so you can get special offers, advanced copies of new releases, and a lot more history!

Be sure to download these titles during the Holiday Historical Fiction Blowout!

Be sure to download these amazing books during the Holiday Historical Fiction Blowout!

Time marches on, and there are many more adventures to be had in the Holiday Historical Fiction Blowout!

Don’t forget to check out the posts by all the other participating authors listed below. There’s something for everyone from Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire, to Medieval England, the Golden Age of Piracy, Regency England, and a Roman Empire of the Future.

There is a lot of talented storytelling in this group of creatives, so be sure to sign-up for everyone’s mailing lists and pick up your .99 cent treasures.

Happy Holidays and thank you for reading!

Now, here are all the other authors featured in the Holiday Historical Fiction Blowout from December 1st to 8th

Click on each author’s website link to read about the history and setting of each novel. Enjoy the journey!

 

A Similar Taste in Books – by Linda Banche

A Similar Taste in Books

Historical Period: Regency

Synopsis:

Book 1 of Love and the Library: Clara and Justin

“Pride and Prejudice” has always brought lovers together, even in the Regency.

Justin has a deep, dark secret—he likes that most despised form of literature, the novel. His favorite novel is “Pride and Prejudice”, and, especially, Miss Elizabeth Bennet. Intelligent, lively, fiercely loyal Miss Elizabeth. How he would love to meet a lady like her.

Clara’s favorite novel is “Pride and Prejudice” and Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy. Intelligent, steadfast and willing to admit when he is wrong. Can such a splendid man exist? And can she find him?

One day in the library, they both check out copies of their favorite book. When Justin bumps into Clara, the magic of their similar taste in books just might make their wishes come true.

A sweet, traditional Regency romantic comedy novella, but not a retelling of “Pride and Prejudice”.

Website: http://lindabanche.blogspot.com

Sales Link: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/247691

On sale for 99 cents at Smashwords only with coupon code FF67C

 

Kingdom of Rebels – by Derek Birks

Kingdom of Rebels

Historical Period: Fifteenth Century – the Wars of the Roses

Synopsis:

When all hope is gone, only death lies in wait…

England in 1468 is a nervous kingdom. King Edward IV has fallen out with his chief ally during the Wars of the Roses, the powerful Earl of Warwick. 
Ned Elder, a young lord whose sword helped to put Edward on the throne, has been forced out of England by Warwick.

Far away on the Scottish border, a beleaguered fort, Crag Tower, desperately awaits Ned’s return. Led by his fiery sister, Eleanor, the dwindling garrison is all that remains of his brave army of retainers. Unknown to all except the loyal knight, Ragwulf, Eleanor has Ned’s young son in her charge – a son who has never seen his father. But, as border clansmen batter the gates with fire, the castle seems certain to fall. 

One by one Ned’s family and friends are caught up in Warwick’s web of treason. The fate of the Elders and those who serve them lies once more in the balance as all are drawn back to Yorkshire where they face old enemies once more. Eleanor can only hope that Ned will soon return. She must fight to keep that hope alive… and when Lady Eleanor fights, she takes no prisoners…

Website: www.derekbirks.com

Purchase at Amazon UK or at Amazon.com

Author Derek Birks

Author Derek Birks

 

Search for the Golden Serpent (Servant of the Gods, Book 1) – by Luciana Cavallaro

GoldenSerpent

Historical period: 600 BCE – Ancient Greece

Synopsis:

The story is about Evan, an architect whose been having strange dreams. He received an unexpected phone call from an entrepreneur from Greece who wants Evan to restore his Family’s home. He dismissed the caller and regarded the person as a crank. During a dream, he met the mysterious entrepreneur, Zeus, who catapulted him back in time, five hundred years before the birth of Christ. Evan, an unwilling participant finds himself entangled in an epic struggle between the gods and his life.

Website: http://luccav.com/2015/11/28/hhfb/

Purchase at Amazon, Smashwords, and Kobo

Author Luciana Cavallaro

Author Luciana Cavallaro

 

Children of Apollo (Eagles and Dragons – Book I) – by Adam Alexander Haviaras

apollofinal

Historical Period:   The Roman Empire, A.D. 202

Synopsis:

At the peak of Rome’s might a dragon is born among eagles, an heir to a line both blessed and cursed by the Gods for ages.

Lucius Metellus Anguis is a young warrior who is inspired by the deeds of his glorious ancestors and burdened by the knowledge that he must raise his family name from the ashes of the past. Having achieved a measure of success in the emperor’s legions in North Africa, Lucius is recalled to Rome where he finds himself surrounded by enemies, cast into the deadly arena of Roman politics.

Amid growing fears of treachery, Lucius meets a young Athenian woman who fills his darkening world with new-found hope. Their love grows, as does their belief that the Gods have planned their meeting, but when an ancient oracle of Apollo utters a terrifying prophecy regarding his future, Lucius’ world is once more thrown into chaos. Ultimately, he must choose sides in a war that threatens to destroy his family, his faith and all that he has worked for.

Website: http://eaglesanddragonspublishing.com

Available for purchase on Amazon, iBooks, and Kobo

Adam Portrait Twitter

Author Adam Alexander Haviaras

 

Sea Witch (Voyage One) – by Helen Hollick

SeaWitch

Historical Period: The Golden Age of Piracy – 1716

Synopsis:

Escaping the bullying of his elder half brother, from the age of fifteen Jesamiah Acorne has been a pirate with only two loves – his ship and his freedom. But his life is to change when he and his crewmates unsuccessfully attack a merchant ship off the coast of South Africa.

He is to meet Tiola Oldstagh an insignificant girl, or so he assumes – until she rescues him from a vicious attack, and almost certain death, by pirate hunters. And then he discovers what she really is; a healer, a midwife – and a white witch. Her name, an anagram of “all that is good.” Tiola and Jesamiah become lovers, but the wealthy Stefan van Overstratten, a Cape Town Dutchman, also wants Tiola as his wife and Jesamiah’s jealous brother, Phillipe Mereno, is determined to seek revenge for resentments of the past, a stolen ship and the insult of being cuckolded in his own home.

When the call of the sea and an opportunity to commandeer a beautiful ship – the Sea Witch – is put in Jesamiah’s path he must make a choice between his life as a pirate or his love for Tiola. He wants both, but Mereno and van Overstratten want him dead.

In trouble, imprisoned in the darkness and stench that is the lowest part of his brother’s ship, can Tiola with her gift of Craft, and the aid of his loyal crew, save him?

Using all her skills Tiola must conjure up a wind to rescue her lover, but first she must brave the darkness of the ocean depths and confront the supernatural being, Tethys, the Spirit of the Sea, an elemental who will stop at nothing to claim Jesamiah Acorne’s soul and bones as a trophy.

Website: http://www.ofhistoryandkings.blogspot.com/

Helen’s books are available on Amazon

HelenH

Author Helen Hollick

 

INCEPTIO – by Alison Morton

INCEPTIO

Historic Period: Modern/Roman (alternate history)

Synopsis:

New York, present day, alternate timeline. Karen Brown, angry and frightened after surviving a kidnap attempt, has a harsh choice – being eliminated by government enforcer Jeffery Renschman or fleeing to mysterious Roma Nova, her dead mother’s homeland in Europe.

Founded sixteen centuries ago by Roman exiles and ruled by women, Roma Nova gives Karen safety, at a price, and a ready-made family in a strange culture she often struggles with. Just as she’s finding her feet, a shocking discovery about her new lover, Praetorian special forces officer Conrad Tellus, isolates her.

And the enforcer, Renschman, is stalking her in her new home and nearly kills her. Recovering, she is desperate to find out why this Renschman is hunting her so viciously. Unable to rely on anybody else, she undergoes intensive training, develops fighting skills and becomes an undercover cop. But crazy with bitterness at his past failures, Renschman sets a trap for her, knowing she has no choice but to spring it…

Website: http://alison-morton.com/2015/12/01/holiday-historicals/

 Available for purchase on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks UK, iBooks US, Nook Book UK, and Barnes & Noble Nook (US)

Author Alison Morton

Author Alison Morton

 

Men of the Cross (Battle Scars I) – by Charlene Newcomb

MenoftheCross

Historical period: Medieval – 12th century

Synopsis:

War, political intrigue and passion… heroes… friends and lovers… and the seeds for a new Robin Hood legend await you…


Two young knights’  journey to war at Richard the Lionheart’s side sweeps them from England to the Holy Land in this historical adventure set against the backdrop of the Third Crusade.

Henry de Grey leaves Southampton in high spirits, strong in his faith and passionate about the mission to take Jerusalem back from Saladin’s army. Stephan l’Aigle’s prowess on the battlefield is well known, as are his exploits in the arms of other men. He prizes duty, honour and loyalty to his king above all else. But God and the Church? Stephan has little use for either.

Henry’s convictions are challenged by loss and the harsh realities of bloody battles, unforgiving marches, and the politics of the day. Man against man. Man against the elements. Man against his own heart. Survival will depend on more than a strong sword arm.

Website: http://charlenenewcomb.com/2015/11/30/holiday-historical-fiction-blowout

Available for purchase on Amazon

Author Charlene Newcomb

Author Charlene Newcomb

 

Flavia’s Secret – by Lindsay Townsend

FlaviasSecret

Historical Period: Ancient Roman Britain, 206 AD

Synopsis:

Spirited young scribe Flavia hopes for freedom. She and her fellow slaves in Aquae Sulis (modern Bath) have served the Lady Valeria for many years, but their mistress’ death brings a threat to Flavia’s dream: her new master Marcus Brucetus, a charismatic, widowed officer toughened in the forests of Germania. Flavia finds him overwhelmingly attractive but she is aware of the danger. To save her life and those of her ‘family’ she has forged a note from her mistress. If her deception is discovered, all the slaves may die.

For his part torn between attraction and respect, Marcus will not force himself on Flavia. Flavia by now knows of his grief over the deaths of his wife Drusilla and child. But how can she match up to the serene, flame-haired Drusilla?

As the wild mid-winter festival of Saturnalia approaches, many lives will be changed forever.

Website: www.lindsaytownsend.co.uk

On sale at Bookstrand: http://www.bookstrand.com/flavias-secret

Author Lindsay Townsend

Author Lindsay Townsend

 

Thank you for visiting, and please help spread the word about the Holiday Historical Fiction Blowout!

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The King is Dead – The Passing of an Arthur

Pensive Arthur

It’s always a sad thing to hear of the passing of an artist whose work has made a lasting impression.

It seems that every year more and more names shuffle off this mortal coil, leaving us with our own perceptions of their public face, but more so the faces of the roles they played.

This morning I found out that British actor Nigel Terry passed away at the age of 69.

Many people might not know Nigel Terry at first mention. He was not necessarily a Titan of the big screen. However, he did appear in a few historical/fantasy dramas, most notably John Boorman’s 1981 film Excalibur.

I used to devour all things Arthurian, and it still is my favourite realm to visit, whether of history, literature, or archaeology.

Excalibur poster

Excalibur, based on Sir Thomas Malory’s Morte D’Arthur, will always be one of those movies that made a lasting impression upon me. The film brought to life the magic and mystery of the Arthurian legend like nothing else. It explored the nature of the king’s relationship to the land he is bound to protect, and took you on the quest with the Knights of the Round Table, from their courageous departure to find the Holy Grail, to depths of madness, despair, and pain, to the glorious attainment of the Grail, and the final confrontation at the Battle of Camlann.

Nigel Terry’s Arthur was of a different sort – naïve, daring, stern, trusting, brave, flawed, honourable. Whenever I imagine an historical Arthur in my head, it is often Nigel Terry’s face that appears.

If you have never seen the movie Excalibur, and you like Arthuriana, then you should definitely watch this movie. While you’re at it, see how many famous actors’ young faces you can spot in the cast about Nigel Terry.

Most of Nigel Terry’s work was done on stage, but I will forever remember him in historical films. Apart from Excalibur, he was also in the wonderful screen adaptation of the play, The Lion in Winter.

Lion in Winter Poster

When it comes to medieval history, the 12th century has always been my favourite period, and the Plantagenets the family to watch. In The Lion in Winter, Nigel Terry plays a young Prince John, son of Henry II (Peter O’Toole) and Eleanor of Aquitaine (Katherine Hepburn), and brother to Richard Lionheart (Anthony Hopkins). You will also see a young Timothy Dalton as the French King, Phillip.

Nigel Terry as Prince John beside Peter O'Toole as Henry II

Nigel Terry as Prince John beside Peter O’Toole as Henry II

This story is set at Chinon, in France, where the royal family has assembled for Christmas court and a battle of wills and verbal sparring that is really second to none. And the young Nigel Terry certainly holds his own next to the greats of the acting world.

During the 1990’s, there was an often forgotten television series called Covington Cross, in which Nigel Terry portrayed a widower knight who is trying to keep his three sons, and a willful daughter, safe from their enemies at court. Though not acclaimed in any way, I loved this show because it was a fun medieval romp, complete with drama, laughs, and of course, sword fighting. Who doesn’t like that? I was beginning my medieval studies at that time and this show with Nigel Terry at the helm, was just what I wanted to fan the spark of my interest in history, a spark which eventually turned into a full-on blaze.

Nigel Terry as Sir Thomas Grey in Covington Cross

Nigel Terry as Sir Thomas Grey in Covington Cross

One of the last things I saw Nigel Terry in was the movie Troy, where he was re-united with Peter O’Toole who played King Priam.

Nigel Terry played the high priest of Apollo in Troy, and though he did not have a major role, you were drawn to his strong screen presence, despite the heavy hitters all around him.

As the High Priest of Apollo in Troy

As the High Priest of Apollo in Troy

That’s the thing with historical dramatizations – there always seem to be regulars in the cast, people whom you picture more in period dress than in modernity’s garb.

It was always a comfort to me when Nigel Terry’s face showed up, as if I knew that I was going to experience good historical drama with some solid acting, even if it was only while he was on screen.

Now my mind floats back to the end of Excalibur where I will forever remember Nigel Terry as Arthur, grievously wounded on the deck of a solemn barge, and guarded by the three ladies of Avalon as he is carried to the sacred Isle until needed again someday.

Sailing to Avalon

Sailing to Avalon

Of course, Nigel Terry had countless more acting credits to his name than the four I have mentioned. These are but my personal favourites.

To read more about the man, you can read Nigel Terry’s obituary in The Guardian by clicking HERE.

Here’s to yet another fallen prince of stage and screen. He won’t be the last, but he will be remembered, armour shining and sword in hand.

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Chariot of the Son – The First in a New Series

Chariot of the Sun

Today, I’m happy to announce the first book in a new series from Eagles and Dragons Publishing.

It’s called Chariot of the Son, and it is a retelling of the Phaethon myth from Greek mythology. But, before I talk about the story, I’d like to mention the series.

I’ve always enjoyed Greek mythology, and as I’ve grown older and begun to write my own stories, I’ve realized that it would be wonderful to retell many of these fabulous myths in a way that would allow us to get to know these gods, goddesses, and heroes on a more personal level.

There are several myths I would like to delve into, and Chariot of the Son is the first in what I am calling the Mythologia series.

The goal with the Mythologia series is to re-create a mythical world in which the reader can suspend all disbelief and experience these epic tales in a new and exciting way, right alongside the immortals and demigods whom we have read about for ages.

Helios - The Sun God

Helios – The Sun God

This series is also a lot of fun for me to write because anything goes; I don’t need to be constrained by historical timelines or detail as much as with other series. I get ideas from the seeds and scattered mentions by authors in various texts over the ages, and then let my imagination run wild.

Why the Phaethon myth?

I forget what I was researching at the time, but I came across a description of one version of the tale and remember being really saddened by it. I felt strongly that this was a story that I could tell, a story that would be extremely moving for readers of all ages.

There are a few versions of the Phaethon myth, including Hesiod’s Theogeny of the 8th or 7th century B.C., and versions by Apollodorus and Pausanias in the second century A.D. In these, Phaethon is often the son of Eos and Kephalos.

The Fall of Phaethon (Sebastiano Ricci 1659-1734)

The Fall of Phaethon (Sebastiano Ricci 1659-1734)

The version that touched me the most is by the Roman poet Ovid (43 BC – AD 17/18) from Book II of his work, Metamorphoses. This work is a continuous narrative of myths in fifteen books which has shaped much of our view of mythology to this day.

With Chariot of the Son, I wanted get to know the people who, unbeknownst to Phaethon, make up the family – Clymene and Helios, his parents; his sisters, the Heliades; as well as the Titan Prometheus, and more.

Also, knowing that the story has a tragic end, I wanted to get inside this young god’s heart and mind to try and experience the reasons why he wanted so much to drive the Sun’s chariot across the heavens.

I’m very excited about this book, and writing it was, quite literally, a dream-like experience.

Stepping into such an ancient world where these mythic characters experience things on a very human scale has been a wonderful experience that I hope you will enjoy.

And, now for the cover reveal for Chariot of the Son

Chariot of the Son (Final)

Many thanks to OctagonLab for the great cover which, quite suitably, blinds us with beauty and intensity.

Chariot of the Son will be released on December 7th, 2014.

However, you can read an excerpt of the book on the Eagles and Dragons Publishing website by clicking HERE.

If you like what you read, the book is available for pre-order for a special price from Amazon right now.

And remember, if you don’t have a Kindle, there are FREE Amazon Kindle reading apps that will allow you to read on your iPhone, iPad, Android phone, computer and other devices. Just click HERE!

I hope you enjoy this new book, and thank you for reading…

Chariot of the Son

Chariot of the Son is an epic retelling of the story of Phaethon from Greek Mythology.

During the age of Gods and Titans, Phaethon spends his days alone on the plains of Ethiopia, his only joy in life watching the Sun travel across the heavens.

When the sad bonds of his life are about to overwhelm him, a truth is revealed to Phaethon which sends him on a quest across the world to find his place in the order of things, and to unite the family that he has never known until now.

This is a story of love and loss, of deep yearning to find one’s place and to make a difference in a world where even the Gods can weep.

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The World of LYKOI – Monsters in the Dark – Werewolves in the Ancient World

Wolf Eyes

This post of The World of LYKOI is when history and fantasy morph into the historical horror of the Carpathian Interlude series.

As we know, Emperor Augustus’ three legions, under the command of Publius Quinctilius Varus, were slaughtered in the forests of Germania in an unprecedented defeat for Rome. Fear has a stranglehold on the Roman world, including the emperor, and everyone looks to place blame, to find an explanation.

As Cassius Dio said, it “could have been due to nothing else than the wrath of some divinity.” What else could it have been? The omens were terrible. According to ancient sources, the temple on the Field of Mars in Rome was struck by lightning, locusts invaded the city, and a statue of Victory in the north turned its back on Germania. Surely a bunch of German barbarians under the command of a traitor could not have done this alone? A god must have been involved!

Or something else…

Etruscan urn showing wolf man emerging from the Underworld

Etruscan urn showing wolf man emerging from the Underworld

This question is something that the historical fantasy novelist truly relishes. The opportunity to put hindsight and modern doubt aside, and step into the mindset of the ancient world, replete with all of its folk and religious beliefs, its strong superstitions and maybe, just maybe, some ancient knowledge of which we are completely ignorant.

What if Arminius and the Germanic tribesmen received help from someone… something… who also had an interest in halting Rome’s northern advance?

Lykoi is the Greek word for ‘wolves’, and in this story they are not the shy, intelligent, loyal, and enigmatic animals we know them to be today.

Throughout history, the wolf has been demonized and hunted to the point of extinction in most of Europe. Every child in the west has grown up with stories of evil wolves haunting the forests surrounding settlements, slavering beasts who slaughter livestock and people alike and who revel in the blood of their kills.

And what takes the horror of the wolf one step further? – A man who turns into a wolf – a Werewolf.

In doing the research for LYKOI, I discovered that the legend of the Werewolf was not a medieval fabrication as I had previously thought. In the ancient world, there are also references to Lycanthropes, or Werewolves.

ancient greek vase

In the 5th century B.C. the historian Herodotus wrote about a people known as the Neuri who lived in the Scythian lands:

The Neuri follow Scythian customs; but one generation before the advent of Darius’ army, they happened to be driven from their country by snakes; for their land produced great numbers of these, and still more came down on them out of the desolation on the north, until at last the Neuri were so afflicted that they left their own country… It may be that these people are wizards; for the Scythians, and the Greeks settled in Scythia, say that once a year every one of the Neuri becomes a wolf for a few days and changes back again to his former shape. Those who tell this tale do not convince me; but they tell it nonetheless, and swear to its truth. (Herodotus; Histories Book IV 105)

Herodotus could be a picky historian, so for him to include this reference in his work, while expressing his own doubt at the same time, speaks to the possibility that the belief of the locals where he obtained this story was strong indeed.

snarling wolf

But there are stories of wolf men going even farther back. The Roman poet, Ovid, writing during the reign of Emperor Augustus, recounts the tale of the Arkadian King, Lycaon, in his famous work Metamorphoses.

King Lycaon was a Peloponnesian king from c. 1550 B.C. He was an arrogant tyrant who tried to pull a fast-one on Zeus [Jupiter], the king of the gods, by feeding the immortal human flesh. Here is Ovid’s account in the god’s own words:

I traversed Maenalus where fearful dens abound, over Lycaeus, wintry slopes of pine tree groves, across Cyllene steep; and as the twilight warned of night’s approach, I stopped in that Arcadian tyrant’s realms and entered his inhospitable home:—and when I showed his people that a God had come, the lowly prayed and worshiped me, but this Lycaon mocked their pious vows and scoffing said; ‘A fair experiment will prove the truth if this be god or man.’ and he prepared to slay me in the night,—to end my slumbers in the sleep of death. So made he merry with his impious proof; but not content with this he cut the throat of a Molossian hostage sent to him, and partly softened his still quivering limbs in boiling water, partly roasted them on fires that burned beneath. And when this flesh was served to me on tables, I destroyed his dwelling and his worthless Household Gods, with thunder bolts avenging. Terror-struck he took to flight, and on the silent plains is howling in his vain attempts to speak; he raves and rages and his greedy jaws, desiring their accustomed slaughter, turn against the sheep – still eager for their blood. His vesture separates in shaggy hair, his arms are changed to legs; and as a wolf he has the same grey locks, the same hard face, the same bright eyes, the same ferocious look. (Ovid; Metamorphoses, Book I, 216)

In mythology it was not unusual to find the gods punishing humans by turning them into animals, but the example of Lycaon is noteworthy. His sacrilege to Zeus, his hubris, is unforgiveable. The king of the gods could have turned the wicked mortal into anything, any animal or insect, but Zeus chose to turn Lycaon into a wolf man, a being in pain who could not be satiated, who kept his awareness despite not being able to speak. Lycaon is turned into a beast who preys upon beasts, ‘terror-struck’ and yet also terrifying.

Zeus turns Lycaon into a wolf

Zeus turns Lycaon into a wolf

There was, it seemed, always a price to pay for being turned into a Werewolf, or ‘Lykos’. It was a painful, horrifying existence.

Another example from ancient literature that stands out is Gaius Petronius’ Satyricon, believed to originate from sometime during the reign of Nero in the 1st century A.D. Petronius’ work is one of the few surviving Roman novels, and it is mostly a satire of life in ancient Rome.

However, one of the episodes involves a character who heads-out one night to his woman’s home with a soldier friend who, as they walk along the road, turns into a Werewolf. Far from being a humorous episode, Petronius writes in detail about what happens:

I seized my opportunity, and persuaded a guest in our house to come with me as far as the fifth milestone. He was a soldier, and as brave as Hell. So we trotted off about cockcrow; the moon shone like high noon. We got among the tombstones: my man went aside to look at the epitaphs, I sat down with my heart full of song and began to count the graves. Then when I looked round at my friend, he stripped himself and put all his clothes by the roadside. My heart was in my mouth, but I stood like a dead man. He made a ring of water round his clothes and suddenly turned into a wolf. Please do not think I am joking; I would not lie about this for any fortune in the world. But as I was saying, after he had turned into a wolf, he began to howl, and ran off into the woods. At first I hardly knew where I was, then I went up to take his clothes; but they had all turned into stone. No one could be nearer dead with terror than I was. But I drew my sword and went slaying shadows all the way till I came to my love’s house. I went in like a corpse, and nearly gave up the ghost, the sweat ran down my legs, my eyes were dull, I could hardly be revived. My dear Melissa was surprised at my being out so late, and said, ‘If you had come earlier you might at least have helped us; a wolf got into the house and worried all our sheep, and let their blood like a butcher. But he did not make fools of us, even though he got off; for our slave made a hole in his neck with a spear.’ When I heard this, I could not keep my eyes shut any longer, but at break of day I rushed back to my master Gaius’s house like a defrauded publican, and when I came to the place where the clothes were turned into stone, I found nothing but a pool of blood. But when I reached home, my soldier was lying in bed like an ox, with a doctor looking after his neck. I realized that he was a werewolf, and I never could sit down to a meal with him afterwards, not if you had killed me first. Other people may think what they like about this; but may all your guardian angels punish me if I am lying. (Petronius; Satyricon 62)

Petronius’ character was either drinking some heady wine that night, or else his soldier friend had other major issues.

dead

The point of these texts is that there was an awareness of Werewolves in the ancient world, or of Lycanthropy, a psychological disease that the famous physician Galen apparently wrote about, in which a person believed they were part wolf and had the ravenous appetite to match that belief.

Now back to the LYKOI and the Carpathian Interlude.

The Varus disaster was an unbelievable event, behind which much darker powers are at play. Throughout this series, the powers of Light (Mithras and Rome) and Dark (The Carpathian Lord and the ‘Barbarians’) are locked a battle that has been raging for ages.

And Gaius Justus Vitalis, his men, and the boy, Daxos, are caught up in the middle of it. The war rages on many fronts – in the dark of the forests of Germania and Carpathia, on the battlefields of the frontier, and mostly in the hearts and minds of Mithras’ own soldiers, his Heliodromus and his Miles, Gaius and his men.

This is a story that will haunt you and leave the screams of Rome’s dead and dying men ringing in your ears for a long time to come, just as it did for the people of Rome over two thousand years ago.

Thank you for reading!

Lykoi Cover

LYKOI – Carpatian Interlude Part II is now available for pre-order, so be sure to grab your copy today!

It is available from Amazon, Kobo, and iTunes/iBooks.

If you are looking for a haunting Halloween read that takes place in the ancient world, this is the book for you!

Also, if you have not read IMMORTUI – Carpathian Interlude Part I, it is available for Free from Kobo and iTunes/iBooks for the next couple days, and for $.88 cents from Amazon. Don’t miss out, and do please spread the word!

If you are curious about IMMORTUI or LYKOI, you can read some lengthy excerpts HERE.

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