Sunday, 29 November 2020

Guest post: The Mallory Saga by Paul Bennett

It's been a long time since I have invited an author onto the blog for a guest post. But I love guests and it is with great pleasure that I welcome Paul Bennett on today to tell us all about his series of novels, The Mallory Saga, set during The French and Indian War and its aftermath, and the Revolutionary War.

Having dabbled in writing and poetry over the years, Paul had harboured the desire to write the next great American novel, but life got in the way until 2013 when he started writing book reviews, and communicating with authors about the process of writing a novel. His dream returned, and the fruit of his labours became the Mallory Saga novels.

So, over to Paul to tell us about the inspiration and the history behind the books.

The inspiration to write was, in the beginning, merely to see if I could do it.  I had written short pieces over the years but to tackle a full blown novel was a daunting prospect.  Once the seed was planted I came up with a rough idea of telling the story of three siblings living somewhere in colonial America.  Choosing that general locale was a natural fit for me as I’ve been a lifelong student of American history and I felt that if I was going to write a historical fiction novel, it might be prudent to choose a subject I knew a little about. I picked The French and Indian War as the starting point for what was now becoming a possible series of books that would follow the Mallory clan through the years.  That war intrigued me and I saw a chance to tell the story through the eyes of the Mallory family.  It also provided me with the opportunity to tell the plight of the Native Americans caught up in this conflict.  The French and Indian War paved the way for the colonies to push further west into the Ohio River area.  It also set the stage for the events of the 1770’s.  Britain incurred a huge debt winning that war and looked to the colonies for reimbursement in the form of new taxes and tariffs.  Well, we all know how those ungrateful colonists responded. 

As to the name Mallory – I have a photo hanging on my living room wall of my great grandfather, Harry Mallory.  I got to know him when I was a young boy and was always glad when we visited him.  He lived a good portion of his life in western Pennsylvania which is where much of Clash of Empires takes place.  So, as a gesture to my forebears, Mallory became the name of the family. 


Clash of Empires


In 1756, Britain and France are on a collision course for control of the North American continent that will turn into what can be described as the 1st world war, known as The Seven Year’s War in Europe and The French and Indian War in the colonies.  The Mallory family uproots from eastern PA and moves to the western frontier and find themselves in the middle of the war. It is a tale of the three Mallory siblings, Daniel. Liza and Liam and their involvement in the conflict; the emotional trauma of lost loved ones, the bravery they exhibit in battle situations.  The story focuses on historical events, such as, the two expeditions to seize Fort Duquesne from the French and the fighting around Forts Carillon and William Henry and includes the historical characters George Washington, Generals Braddock, Forbes and Amherst.  The book also includes the event known as Pontiac’s Rebellion in which the protagonists play important roles.  Clash of Empires is an exciting look at the precursor to the events of July 1776; events that are chronicled in the second book, Paths to Freedom, as I follow the exploits and fate of the Mallory clan.


Paths to Freedom


In Paths to Freedom the children of the three Mallory siblings begin to make their presence known, especially Thomas, the oldest child of Liza and Henry Clarke (see right there, already another family line to follow), but Jack and Caleb, the twin sons of Liam and Rebecca along with Bowie, the son of Daniel and Deborah are beginning to get involved as well. The French and Indian War, the historical setting for book 1, was over, and the Mallory/Clarke clan is looking forward to settling and expanding their trading post village, Mallory Town, now that the frontier is at peace. And for a time they had peace, but the increasing discontent in the East, not so much toward the increasing rise in taxes, but the fact that Parliament was making these decisions without any input from the colonies, slowly made its way west to the frontier. Once again the Mallory/Clarke clan would be embroiled in another conflict.
Another facet of my saga is that the main characters are not always together in the same place or even the same event. In Paths my characters are spread out; some have gone East, some have gone West, some are sticking close to Mallory Town, so in effect there are three stories being told, and that means more plots, subplots, twists and surprises. 

One of the aspects of the lead up to The Revolutionary War was the attempt by the British to ensure cooperation with the Native Americans, especially the Iroquois Confederation. The British had proclaimed that they would keep the colonies from encroaching on tribal lands, a strong inducement indeed. However, some tribes, like The Oneida, had established a good relationship with the colonists. I knew right away when I started book 2 that the relationship between the Mallory’s and the tribes would be part of it. Among the historical Native Americans who take part in Paths are the Shawnee Chiefs; Catecahassa (Black Hoof), Hokoleskwa (Cornstalk), Pucksinwah (father of Tecumseh), and the Mingo leader Soyechtowa (Logan).

I also realized that I needed to get someone to Boston, and the Sons of Liberty. Thomas Clarke, the eighteen year old son of Liza and Henry, was the perfect choice for the assignment (mainly because he was the only child old enough at the time). Through him we meet the luminaries of the Boston contingent of rebels, Paul Revere, Dr. Joseph Warren, John Hancock, and the firebrand of the bunch, Sam Adams. Plenty of history fodder to be had…British raid in Salem…Tea Party…the famous midnight rides…culminating with the Battle of Lexington and Concord. Oh yes, plenty of opportunities for Thomas.



An untenable situation arises in Mallory Town resulting in Liam and his two companions, Wahta and Mulhern, finding themselves on a journey to the shores of Lake Michigan and beyond. Driven by his restless buffalo spirit, Liam has his share of adventures; encountering a duplicitous British commander, meeting many new native tribes, some friendly, some not so much. A spiritual journey in a land not seen by many white men.

I ended Paths with the Battle of Lexington and Concord, the first shots of The Revolutionary War. The flint has been struck; the tinder has taken the spark. Soon the flames of war will engulf the land, and the Mallory clan will feel the heat in the third book, Crucible of Rebellion

Crucible of Rebellion


The timeline for Crucible is 1775 – 1778. I decided to split the Revolutionary War into two books, mainly because there is so much more action as opposed to The French & Indian War…and because as I was writing, my characters insisted on some scenes I hadn’t previously thought of. 😀Book 4 of the saga is in the planning stages. Tentative title – A Nation Born.

The three Mallory siblings, Daniel, Liza, and Liam play important parts in Crucible of Rebellion, but it is their children who begin to make their marks on the saga. Their youngest son, Ethan, and their daughter Abigail, of Daniel and Deborah travel with their parents to Boonesborough, and reside there with Daniel Boone. The war reaches even this remote frontier, prompting Daniel and Deborah to move further west in search of peace. However, the banks of The Wabash River prove not to be immune to conflict.
Their eldest son, Bo accompanies Liam’s twins, Jack and Cal, first to Fort Ticonderoga, then to Boston with a load of cannon for General Washington’s siege of Boston (the Noble Train of Artillery with Colonel/General Henry Knox). In Boston they meet up with Liza and Henry’s son Thomas, who is no longer a prisoner (can’t say more than that), Marguerite, and Samuel Webb. 

General Washington has plans for the Mallory boys…plans which see some of them in a few of the more important battles of the war… the escape from Long Island, the surprise attack at Trenton, the turning point battles at Saratoga NY, as well as taking part in numerous guerrilla type skirmishes. 
A long ways away from the conflict Liam, with Wahta, are living with the Crow along the Bighorn River. Liza and Henry made the trip to Boonesborough with Daniel and Deborah, but do not go with them to The Wabash….they have their own adventures.


Although I write fiction tales, the historical aspect of the saga provides the backdrop. History is often overlooked, or is taught with a certain amount of nationalistic pride, whitewashing controversial events, much to the detriment of humankind. So I hope that what I write might help broaden the reader’s horizon a bit, that what they learned in school isn’t necessarily the whole story. Two main historical topics in the story of America that frequent The Mallory Saga are slavery, and the plight of the indigenous people who have lived here since before the founding of Rome; two historical topics that linger still in America’s story. Entertainment and elucidation; lofty goals for a humble scribe telling a tale.

Connect with Paul Bennett and buy his books


Friday, 13 November 2020

REVIEW: FUGITIVE by Paul Fraser Collard

Fugitive (Jack Lark, #9)Fugitive by Paul Fraser Collard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

With villains aplenty, and a cast of memorable characters surrounding Jack Lark, Fugitive is a great addition to this fabulous series. From the smog-filled alleys of Victorian London to the arid plains of Abyssinia, Jack, is never far from danger. The battles are loud with cannon-fire and the screams of the dying. The stench of gunpowder and death is heavy in the air, as Collard's wonderful rogue, Jack Lark, rampages through skirmishes and cataclysmic battles, in search of riches, vengeance and, ultimately, his place in the world.

Once again, Paul Fraser Collard proves he is a true master of action adventure.

View all my reviews

Thursday, 1 October 2020

The Serpent Sword Team Q&A

On 23rd September 2020, Matthew and The Serpent Sword team did a Facebook Live Q&A. They answered all sorts of questions, from casting and preparation of the Proof of Concept Trailer, to the future of the TV series. Watch the full video here:



Monday, 24 August 2020

Bebbanburg 2020: the lessons I learned from a 7th-century siege

Read the article I wrote for Historia, to find out the unexpected similarities I discovered between the 7th-century siege of Bebbanburg and my life in 2020, whether it’s coping with lockdown or making a television trailer.

http://www.historiamag.com/bebbanburg-2020/

Wednesday, 5 August 2020

Publication day: FORTRESS OF FURY (and WOLF OF WESSEX paperback)

It is finally publication day for, FORTRESS OF FURY, the seventh book in the Bernicia Chronicles!



Beobrand is besieged in the action-packed instalment in the Bernicia Chronicles set in AD 647 Anglo-Saxon Britain.

War hangs heavy in the hot summer air as Penda of Mercia and his allies march into the north. Caught unawares, the Bernician forces are besieged within the great fortress of Bebbanburg.

It falls to Beobrand to mount the defence of the stronghold, but even while the battle rages, old and powerful enemies have mobilised against him, seeking vengeance for past events.

As the Mercian forces tighten their grip and unknown killers close in, Beobrand finds himself in a struggle with conflicting oaths and the dreadful pull of a forbidden love that threatens to destroy everything he holds dear.

With the future of Northumbria in jeopardy, will Beobrand be able to withstand the powers that beset him and find a path to victory against all the odds?


The audiobook will be released on 20th August.

The hardback is out in October 2020.

Also out today is the paperback of WOLF OF WESSEX. You can find that in all good bookshops, some supermarkets(!) and online.


Thank you to everyone who has already bought these books. If you enjoyed them, please take a moment to leave a review somewhere online and let your friends and family know! 

Happy reading!

Thursday, 23 July 2020

The Serpent Sword Proof-of-Concept Trailer is here!

After months of work, the Proof-of-Concept Trailer is finally live!


Trailer Link: The Serpent Sword Proof-of-Concept Trailer

We hope you love the trailer and that it gives you a flavour of what we would achieve if we had a full budget at our disposal.

We are now pitching the series to producers and distributors, and one of the things that will help us is for this trailer to really get some traction. So, if you would like the full series to become a reality, please share the trailer with all your friends and contacts. The more views, likes and comments, the better.

And make sure you follow The Serpent Sword on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram, and keep spreading the word by sharing our posts.

If you want to get something extra back for your support, perhaps Patreon could be for you. On Patreon, you will find lots of exclusive and advance behind-the-scenes photos, videos and info, as well as advance snippets of Matthew Harffy's writing, and insights into what he is currently working on.

Thank you for all your support and we hope you enjoy the trailer!

Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Author of the Day on Manybooks.net

I was recently featured as Author of the Day on manybooks.net. I talked about the inspiration behind Wolf of Wessex, research, my not-so-secret talents, The Serpent Sword TV series project, and my dog, Blue.

Matthew Harffy - Action-Packed Thriller Set in the Forests of Wessex

wolf1v

Please give us a short introduction to what Wolf of Wessex is about.

Wolf of Wessex, is my first departure from the seventh century, which is the period in which my series, The Bernicia Chronicles, is set. Wolf of Wessex takes place a couple of centuries later in the early years of the Viking Age and follows the tale of an aging warrior, Dunston, as he tries to find a man’s vicious murderers, keep the victim’s orphaned daughter alive and uncover the dark secret that threatens to plunge the kingdom into war. The book has been very well received, with The Times calling it “a treat of a book”.

What inspired you to write about the forests of Wessex AD 838?

I love the outdoors and have been interested for a long time in survival and bushcraft, such as is taught by the likes of Ray Mears, who has presented many successful documentaries and written lots of fabulous books on the subject of how people from different cultures live as one with the land, harmoniously harnessing nature to support them. I live in Wiltshire, England, which in the ninth century was part of Wessex, and near my house is one of the remaining parts of the ancient woodland that was known as Selwudu (Selwood, or Sallow Wood). Walking among the trees there, I found my mind transported back to a time when much of the land was covered in woodland, and I began to think what it would have been like to live alone deep in the forest away from the noise and concerns of the world. And so, Dunston was born.

Read the full interview on Manybooks.net