Hi Babette! It’s very exciting to be with you here on my launch day for After Whorl: Bran Reborn, the second novel in my Celtic Fervour romantic historical adventure series, set in Britannia AD 71. I’ve got a little task for your readers today….
I want you to kick-start your imagination and zoom back to AD 71 with me, to join my hunky Celtic warrior as he faces the disciplined soldiers of the IX Legion of the Roman Army. I’ll forgive you for wondering what’s romantic about that, but romance features in my novels as well!
So where is my warrior, Brennus, doing battle? Anyone who has read the first book of the series, The Beltane Choice, will recognise that my battle between the Roman Empire and the Celts of Brigantia is named Whorl. The third book, which will be launched around March 2014, is entitled After Whorl: Donning Double Cloaks– so what’s this Whorl about?
Historically speaking was there a battle at Whorl? Not that I know of, but Latin historians like Tacitus and Livy wrote that in AD 71 the Celtic tribes of the Brigantes waged war in many battles and smaller skirmishes against the Roman Empire- unwilling to have the Romans dominate them.
Whorlton is an actual town in North Yorkshire, England, and isn’t so far from a place called Stanwick. Stanwick is very important in Celtic British history since the Brigante King Venutius’ oppidum was there – his very large roundhouse settlement populated by many congregated warriors in AD 71 (according to Tacitus).
After Whorl: Bran Reborn begins on those bloody battlegrounds. So, join me please to meet my gorgeous Garrigill warrior who was in The Beltane Choice and now has his own story. What does he look like?
(Here’s a tiny peek: After Whorl: Bran Reborn book trailer)
Some interpreters of the classical references of Livy and Tacitus, and of some ancient marble statues, have decided that Celts went to battle completely naked. While the idea of that might be quite stirring, I have to say that, as a Scot used to the vagaries of harsh weather, I imagine that might have been pretty darn cold in October in northern England.
I prefer to have my Brennus wearing braccae – the typical loose, patterned, woollen trousers kept tight at the calves by thongs, those worn by European Celts. His powerful torso is naked from the waist up, though, a tattoo here or there cladding of a sort! His hair is spiked, the expression of battle fury on his face making his handsome features blur with a ‘terrifying aspect’ (Tacitus). It’s thought that, no matter the hair colour, Celtic warriors used a paste which included lime on their hair to make the shorter strands on the crown stand upright – proud and fierce – giving rise to the image that they were all light or fair haired. (However, genetically speaking, this doesn’t seem to be the case.)
Brennus is a Garrigill prince, meaning he is the son of a chief. As such, his elevated status gives him the right to wear a golden torque around his throat, the round finial stops of the wide band sitting just below his collarbones. A matching wide gold armband snakes around one bicep. Both are intricately wrought, the patterning impressive. Are you also seeing the long oval Celtic shield that he brandishes in front of him, providing protection for most of his torso? The long spear he carries is held aloft and is just ready to launch, after which he’ll whip out his long Celtic broad sword from its scabbard.
In The Beltane Choice Brennus is described as being very tall, a colossus of a warrior, and his shock of blond hair attractive. I imagine Brennus to be something around the six and a half feet mark. Brennus is flanked by his fellow Brigantes as he does battle at Whorl. The Celts liked to have a low hill to amass their warriors on, with flatter ground below them for their many war chariots. This flatter area also accommodated mounted warriors to the left and right flanks of the charioteers.
Here’s a little peek from near the beginning of the novel:
“Come forward, you piece of Roman horse dung! You demand the blood of the Celts? Let it be so! Have mine!”
Powerless to resist the lure the Roman soldier surged at his bidding, his shield swinging, his gladius jabbing. One last twisted swipe of Brennus’ longer Celtic sword detached the blade-nicked shield from his foe and sent it sailing aside. Abruptly unguarded, the auxiliary pulled his gladius in front of his rippling mail in a futile attempt to cover his chest.
“Too late!” Brennus’ snort rang out as he whacked the soldier’s fist with his shield when his opponent readied his blade for another stab. It was enough: all the leverage needed to topple his foe. Witnessing the Roman’s slithering attempts to right himself he allowed an exultant smirk to break free, knowing victory would be his over this particular rival. “Death to all of the invaders!”
I hope you like Brennus.
Thank you for inviting me here, today, Babette.
Ravaged by war
…AD 71. After the battle at Whorl, Brennus of Garrigill is irrevocably changed.
Returning to Marske, Ineda finds her grandmother dead, though Brennus is not. Snared by a Roman patrol, they are marched to Witton where he is forced to labour for the Roman IX Legion.
Embracing his new identity as Bran, Brennus vows to avert Roman occupation of northernmost Brigantia. Ineda becomes his doughty spying accomplice, though sometimes she’s too impetuous. Trading with the Romans lends excellent opportunities for information gathering. Over time, Bran’s feelings for Ineda mar with his loyalty to Ineda’s father.
When she disappears, and cannot be found, Bran enters direct service with Venutius, King of the Brigantes.
After Whorl: Bran Reborn is available from:
Facebook Launch Party **Giveaways**
For a chance to enter the draw for a ‘triquetra’ necklace and other prizes join Nancy’s Facebook Launch party today at https://www.facebook.com/events/520880144659724/ and look for details of how to win the prizes on offer.
Blog launch Tour **Special Prize**
A special Blog Tour ‘friend’ will WIN a mystery gift for the most commented visits to blogs during the launch tour for After Whorl: Bran Reborn. (i.e. most comments between 9th Dec and 18th Dec wins the prize) To be sure you don’t miss any blog posts check Nancy’s Blog regularly between the 9th Dec and the 17th Dec. http://nancyjardine.blogspot.com
Bio: Nancy Jardine lives in the fantastic ‘castle country’ of Aberdeenshire, Scotland, with her husband. She spends her week making creative excuses for her neglected large garden; doesn’t manage as much writing as she always plans to do since she’s on Facebook too often, but she does have a thoroughly great time playing with her toddler granddaughter when she’s just supposed to be ‘just’ childminding her twice a week.
A lover of all things historical it sneaks into most of her writing along with many of the fantastic world locations she has been fortunate to visit. Her published work to date has been two non fiction history related projects; two contemporary ancestral mysteries; one light-hearted contemporary romance mystery and a historical novel. She has been published by The Wild Rose Press and Crooked Cat Publishing.