Guest: Ashley York - The Norman Conquest Series

I'm so happy to be back on your blog. I've just released the second book in The Norman Conquest Series and wanted to give your readers a little bit of background. The series takes place after William of Normandy has been crowned King of England but the actual crowning at Westminster Abby did not make the people of England accept him as their king. The struggle to get the rest of England to cooperate was an ongoing task for William. It ended up requiring strong arm tactics that demonstrated little regard for the people living there. One of the most heinous of strategies was The Harrying.

“In his anger at the English barons, William commanded that all crops and herds, chattels and foods should be burned to ashes, so that the whole of the North be stripped of all means of survival. So terrible a famine fell upon the people, that more than 100,000 young and old starved to death. My writings have often praised William, but for this act I can only condemn him.”

The Harrying was essentially a slash and burn technique and it began with York but much of northern England was affected. Any environmentalists will recognize those words. It's the technique used in South America, for example, to take down the rainforests. William ruined the land the people lived off in order to make it impossible for them to survive. It was unusually cruel but this is the man who supposedly beat his future wife when she rejected his proposal. I find that hard to believe, however, because he trusted her with everything. When he was in England, it was Matilda than oversaw his Norman lands and surrounding areas. She ruled in his absence.

This area is where Peter must travel at the King's orders and comes across the Irish princess, Brighit. The desolation of the area reflects Brighit's own feelings about having left her beloved Ireland.

The Norman Conquest Series

The first in the series, The Saxon Bride is about John, the man who killed the brother of King Harold, Leofwine. He is betrothed by King William to Rowena, who just happens to be the daughter of Leofwine. Talk about awkward. A Norman and a Saxon being forced to marry would be difficult enough but throw in the murder of the bride's father? How could they ever work that out?

The Saxon Bride
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The second book is The Gentle Knight. It tells the story of Peter, John's close friend, who returns to Normandy after the end of the first book to find his lover died in childbirth just as his own mother had delivering him. Quite a blow. King William sends him north to the disputed area of York for information. Peter comes across a young lady from Drogheda Ireland, Brighit, in need of some assistance. She is determined to follow through with her father's dying request and take her vows at the Priory. The developing attraction the two have for each other is not something either one of them needs.

The Gentle Knight
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The third book will be about Brighit's brother, Tadhg. He was the sixth son of the seventh son of the seventh son. If any of you are Irish and know the legend, it's the seventh son of the seventh son of the seventh son who is supposed to have magical powers. After Tadhg, only Brighit was born. This is where the connections to the Godwinsons really gets played out.

So I'm still accumulating feedback about the title. Should this book be called The Seventh Son? That was my first inclination but technically it's about the sixth son—Tadhg. So maybe it should be called The Sixth Son? I'd love your opinions. Thank you, Vonda, for having me here today. 

Thank you for being our guest, Ashley! It's always a pleasure when you visit Fierce Romance!

Please visit Ashley online:


Ashley York said...

Thanks for having me on your blog, Vonda.

Barbara Monajem said...

It's a fascinating era, but yes, it's hard not to have mixed feelings about William the Conqueror.

Alanna Lucas said...

Enjoyed the excerpt- sounds intriguing. Congrats on the release!

Ashley York said...

Thanks for stopping by.

Red L. Jameson said...

Oh, Ashley, you had me at slash and burn! Hee-hee! I shouldn't kid, but as a military historian, this is what I find fascinating. To further raze land, many armies would, after the slash and burn, salt the land too, ensuring nothing would grow for months, if not years to come. I agree it's a horrible thing. However, politically it's very sage. The people who have been razed and salted have no choice but to be completely dependent on the military and/or sovereign who ordered the razing. Hence, a people who might rebel won't, for food is the ultimate leverage in war. Okay, I'll stop now. And go read your books! Yay!

Barbara Bettis said...

I love your books. What can I say :) Good luck with the latest!!

Mary Gillgannon said...

Very interesting juxtaposition of Irish and Saxon struggles with the ruling class (Norman French). I think you should go with Seventh Son. It's the legend that people will relate to.

Ashley York said...

Thanks, Barbara.

Ally Broadfield said...

Intriguing excerpt. This isn't a time period I've studied much.

Anastasia Abboud said...

So glad to have discovered this series via Vonda's great blog! The books look to be awesome reads! Congratulations on your new release!

Ashley York said...

Thanks, Anastasia.