02/21/13

Episode 8 Released. The End?

And so our story has come to an end. And I say *our* story because it really was. I wrote it, but everyone who read the book and commented on it had a say in the story. I had encouragement from reader through the Amazon Discussion Boards, on this blog, through email, through Facebook and Twitter, through Amazon reviews, and in person. And I thank all of you for making The Scourge as successful as it has been.

And, speaking of Amazon reviews, If you have enjoyed the book, a good review is always welcome. Such reviews make the novel more appealing to others and show my publishers that there is broad appeal for The Scourge.

*** Okay, this is the point in the post where the spoilers come in, so if you haven’t finished episode 8, you might want to return after reading it. For those of you in the know, onward! ***

The historical elements of this episode included masties (bull mastiffs), the aptly named River Brain, Hedingham, St. Edmund, and St. Edmund’s Bury. A lot to talk about, so I will just touch on a few points.

That dog has bigger triceps than me.

Masties
As usual, I will start with the animals.
Isabella owns “masties.”
Isabella owns *plagued* masties.
The dogs did not start out plagued in her case, but that’s a topic for another day. Masties are the medieval name for English Mastiffs. These dogs are horrifyingly large and often were used as guard dogs. Unfortunately, they were also used for bear-baiting and bull-baiting. And, because of their strength and size, they were even pitted against lions. There are few dog breeds that are taller than the mastiff, and none that can match the mastiff in both size and girth.

No Photoshop here. Just a big fucking dog in a car.

Um. There’s something about using the words size and girth together that makes that sentence seem dirty. Ah well. I digress. Suffice it to say, a human would be a small meal for one of these creatures. Although these days, the Mastiffs are known to be extremely gentle. They’ve come a long way from their bull-baiting days.

Hedingham Castle

Hedingham Castle
Hedingham has one of the best preserved Norman keeps in England. ¬†Edward and his knights never made it to the castle, but if you get a chance, you should. It’s beautiful and they hold jousting tournaments and other medieval events here throughout the year.

This is how the abbey would have looked in Edward’s day…

 The Abbey at St. Edmunds Bury
Like many of the greatest religious institutions of England, much of the Abbey in St. Edmund’s Bury was destroyed after the Reformation. This is a model of what the abbey would have looked like when Edward and Tristan arrived.

Zombie Defense System for the abbey.

Apart from the cathedral and the Church of Saint Mary, the Abbey Gatehouse, to the left, is one of the few undamaged structures left at the monastery. The walls of the sprawling abbey run all over the town. The Abbot’s Bridge over the River Lark is still there and there are ruins where the other buildings used to be, but they are a shadow of what this incredible compound used to be. Still *very* worth a visit. The gatehouses and grounds are kept meticulously. And the walls, though worn and decayed, are still a site to see as they wind around the entire town. There’s a gorgeous garden on the abbey grounds during the summer and spring. And if that isn’t enough, the town itself is beautiful and cozy and has lots of great shopping, restaurants, and history. A cool abstract statue of St. Edmund tied to a tree and shot through with arrows is worth a look, on a roundabout behind the ARC shopping center.

Well, that’s it for today, and for this volume of The Scourge. Thanks again to everyone who took this journey with me, Edward, Tristan and Morgan (yes, and Zhuri too). I hope to see all of you very soon with news about Edward and the gang.

Roberto

 

 

02/7/13

Episode 7 of The Scourge Hits the Streets (Or Roman Roads, Anyway)

*** Hi everybody. This is a blog post about Episode 7 of The Scourge, if you haven’t read the episode and are planning to, you might want to wait until you have done so before browsing. Gnarled and violent spoilers wait in the shadows of this post. And in broad daylight too. I may be speaking metaphorically, but I assure you, the spoilers are quite literal. ***

Edward and his knights are nearing St. Edmund’s Bury, and you, good readers, are nearing the end of the book. It’s a bit scary thinking that our story will be at an end after the next episode. I’ve really enjoyed the ride and I thank all of my readers for making this a team effort. You have inspired me to make this story as good as it could be. Each and every one of you will receive a thank you note and a can of sliced mutton in the mail.

Legal note: The above statement does not imply that all readers will get a thank you card and a can of sliced mutton. The author was speaking of metaphorical mutton. Stating that spoilers in the post are both metaphorical and literal does not bear any relevance to the metaphorical canned mutton and thank you notes. The author very likely does not even know the process for mailing a real letter at this point in his life.

So what did we have in this episode? A cavalry charge. More firearms. Naked churchgoers. A witch. A crypt. A plagued Dwarf. And a little villainy thrown in for good measure. A pleasant potpourri of madness, simmered in plague and basted with hyper-religious self-righteousness. Hope you enjoyed the meal.

Before we get too far, I wanted to show you what happened to that sleepy little church in Chelmsford (The Church of the Virgin Mary — the one where they found the witch, Isabella):

The sleepy little church is all growns up and stuff.

Yes, the Church of the Virgin Mary is now the Chelmsford Cathedral. With all the great devotion to Mary you love, and none of the the rustic irrelevance of the 14th century. Edward and his knights wouldn’t have seen it in this state, obviously. In their day, it most likely would have looked like this:

With time and a Lance Armstrong pharmaceutical regime, this church could be a cathedral some day. And win the Tour de France.

Okay, so that’s a church in the Cotswolds (near Evesham), but if you can imagine zombies in medieval England, you can imagine this building in Chelmsford. And while you’re at it, can you imagine a glowing New York Times book review for The Scourge? Much obliged!

So, about the charging knights. I don’t have a lot to add to the topic. I spoke about cavalry charges in the historical note at the end of the episode, but I found a killer image that makes me want to go back and add detail to Sir Gerald and the other knights’ appearance. Have a look:

This would intimidate the fuck out of me

Excuse my French, but if you are reading my book, I think you’re probably fluent in that sort of French anyway. Sometimes only an F-bomb scratches that hard to reach itch.

Okay, and the last thing I want to discuss is probably the most sensitive.

Yes. The little person. The plagued dwarf.

I got mixed sentiments from beta readers about that particular scene, so I want to talk a little bit about the historical context. In the Middle Ages, dwarves (as they were called then) were quite fashionable. In fact, they were quite fashionable all the way back to the Roman empire when most noble families had at least one dwarf in their household. If you recall the dwarf in episode 7 of The Scourge, he was dressed in fine clothing. Dwarves were (mostly) considered lucky and were usually treated very well by the families that “owned” them. I say usually because Henry IV acquired a male dwarf whose mouth had been permanently carved into a smile by previous “owner.” Even so, the dwarf reportedly became one of Henry’s best friends and lived a life of luxury and happiness (Henry assumed he was happy. I mean, the dwarf was *always* smiling). Sorry. That wasn’t very nice. I do joke from time to time, but please know that I don’t make up any of these historical facts.

Willow in all his medieval splendor. This movie was my first exposure to medieval dwarves, and probably spurred much of Hollywood’s medieval “little people” craze. Apologies to Time Bandits.

Dwarves weren’t limited to subordinate roles either. The thing about dwarves (as anyone who’s read Game of Thrones knows) is that they could be born into *any* family. Vladislas Cubitas, a dwarf, was the king of Poland in 1305, and he was well respected and considered intelligent and courageous (and not bad with a sword!).

Contrary to every medieval story you read (mine included), Dwarves weren’t as common as you might think in Medieval England. There weren’t a lot of “court dwarves” jestering and being laughed at. I really can’t say what the fascination is with dwarves in the Middle Ages. (Says the man who put a zombie dwarf in his Middle Ages novel).

That’s all for now. Episode 8 drops in a week and a half. Hope the conclusion is satisfying to all of you. If it isn’t, please let me know so that I can remove you from the “canned mutton” list.

Legal Note: Author’s above statement is not meant to imply … oh forget it. Canned mutton for everyone!