29 September 2015

TUESDAY TALK: A Story of 1066...29th September

“Hello, I’m Alan Lancaster. I write as Alan Robert Lancaster. 

(To anyone familiar with the music world, that’s to differentiate with Alan C Lancaster, the former bass player of Status Quo who now lives in Sydney, Australia).

To put you in the picture, Helen asked me to write a few lines about my books. I am the author of the RAVENFEAST saga, a series of ten tales told by the Dane Ivar Ulfsson, kinsman of Harold Godwinson who takes you with him through the years of struggle from a little before the battle at Stamford Bridge near York.

The narrative is told in modern English with names of people and places as they appeared in the Peterborough Chronicle (E), complete with the terminology of the time. An historical background with annotated map from the time make an appearance in each book, some cropping up in more than one telling and background notes precedes each telling after an extract from the Chronicle of that year. Real characters from history appear with my own fictional characters as friends, associates and enemies of Ivar.

How did Ivar come into being? He is also fictional with a real background, and he has been introduced in episodes of ‘Hunding’s Saga’ on Hub-pages (see: Links). Beginning with Hunding’s Saga he was born to a sister of Knut ‘the Great’. On Wikipedia under ‘Sven Haraldsson (‘Forkbeard’) his family tree reveals an interesting gap amongst Knut’s younger sisters. A question mark appears instead of a name. I christened her Gunnlaug and ‘wedded’ her to Jarl Ulf Thorgilsson, brother of Gytha, who was the wife of Godwin Wulfnothson, Earl of Wessex and father of Svein, Harold, Eadgytha (queen to Eadward), Tostig, Gyrth, Leofwin and Wulfnoth. She dies shortly after childbirth (as many did) and Ivar is adopted by Knut’s (real) sister Astrid or Estrith, who historically weds Jarl Ulf and has three sons by him, Svein, Beorn and Osbeorn. After his death in Roskilde Cathedral the three sons revert to being called ‘Estrithsson’, except for Ivar. And that is why Knut has him packed off to his aunt, Gytha. Knut knows Ivar’s real father was his friend and shipmaster Hunding, but for Ivar’s sake the lad is led to believe his father was Jarl Ulf.

And so he goes on through the saga, and into RAVENFEAST believing this, but gradually references to Hunding as his real father will sink in...

Some of his friends last through into book 2: OVERTHROWN, some even make it beyond and new friends are introduced, as are Harold’s sons Godwin, Eadmund and Magnus; Book 3: OUTCAST takes you to Wales where Eadric ‘Cild’ and princes Bleddyn and Rhiwallon appear in the story, an old acquaintance Osgod reappears with his friend Harding and others; in Book 4: BETRAYED Ivar flees William’s siege of Exeter with Harold’s sons and family, sails to Dublin with his young kinsmen whilst the womenfolk seek shelter in Flanders. In Dublin they seek men and ships from King Diarmuid of Leinster to rally support in Wessex. North again after Godwin’s failure to raise men against their Norman masters, Ivar and friends meet Osgod and Harding in their bid to destroy the Norman shire reeve William Malet’s timber castle; 5: WAYFARER sees Ivar espouse the aetheling Eadgar’s cause and set out to Roskilde for men and ships from half-brothers Svein and Osbeorn (Beorn was murdered in 1050 by Svein Godwinson in a bid to regain his earldom). Ivar is taken captive near Whitby on his way north to tell Eadgar of the coming support. He escapes with the help of his woman, Braenda – more on her later. York is taken in late summer by an alliance of Northumbrians and Danes, the second timber castle badly damaged and then... news of William’s advance on York from where he had stayed in Lincoln.
LANDWASTER is book 6, still being written (18+ chapters, of 20), the Harrying of the North, flight to Roskilde and back again in the Fens to join Hereward near Peterborough. I hope to publish this volume in time for the 2015 Battle Abbey Weekend, 10-11 October.
I raised Braenda, Ivar’s woman – and more. He met the russet Mercian woman in Menai after Harold’s defeat of Gruffyd ap Llewellyn in Gwynedd in 1064. She was ‘keyholder’ to Gruffyd’s widow Aelfgifu, daughter of Earl Aelfgar, sister of earls Eadwin and Morkere – who wedded Harold after his kingship. He met her again in York after the battle at Stamford Bridge (Staenfordes Brycg), now wedded to the bully Sigurd, one of the young Earl Morkere’s huscarls. Little does he know she is a spay-wife (witch) and shape-shifter, ‘set free’ after the slaying of Sigurd. She follows him south with friends, safeguards him with her hwicca and battles with those ‘on the dark side’ on his and his friends’ behalf. 
So, that is his background, kin to kings, lover to a spay-wife (later father to son Ulf and daughter Gunnhild by Braenda). 

Look into his background on the Bookshelf (page 2) of the Northworld site: 

see also http://alancaster149.hubpages.com/hub/THE-RAVENFEAST-SERIES - there are links on this page to my US Amazon Author Page, 
there is also an Amazon UK Author Page: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Alan-Robert-Lancaster/e/B0062BSCU6

see also my Twitter Profile on @AlanRLancaster/Twitter.

Enjoy the read,
Alan R L 


previous post 'All At Sea'


  1. Hello Helen, looks a treat thanks. Let's hope it nets some intererst.
    Alan R L


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