Towards the end of summer I started work on a number of projects (see What To Write? Help!). As sometimes happens, I ended up being swept away by a story I had never intended to write. It’s called Servants of Infamy, and the first draft is almost half-finished (42,000 words) so I’ll tell you a bit about it.
It’s set just before the outset of the Wars of the Roses and the narrative loosely turns around the rise of Richard Plantagenet, Third Duke of York (hence, the White Rose).
Why did I start writing White Rose? The best inspiration for writing often comes from reading. In this case, I drew on the successes and failures of something I’d read.
It was a historical novel set during the Wars of the Roses and it was very well-written (I may review it in the future). I found the period and historical events to be fascinating and worth further exploration. But there was a drawback that I couldn’t escape noticing as I read through the novel.
Where are all the people? That’s what I kept asking myself. There were plenty of intriguing characters, but they were mostly royals and nobles. Where are the “ordinary” people? I’m not a king or a duke, so there will always be a wall standing between me and a nobleman character, preventing me from fully empathizing with them.
That’s why I’ve said above that White Rose only loosely concerns Richard of York. He’s certainly not the principal character. In fact, the protagonist has neither title nor lands. His name is Jack, and he’s not even English. At present, the most important aristocratic characters are lowly knights or orphan daughters of defunct noble houses.
This is a view of the Wars of the Roses that I can get excited about. It’s medieval politics and civil war seen from the mud, blood and sour ale perspective.
“The year is A.D. 1443 and a lull has fallen in the Hundred Years’ War. Henry VI of England lacks the stomach for battle and France still reels from the defeats suffered at Agincourt and Crecy.
Jack, a young Scotsman, and his warlike grandfather take service as mercenaries in Anjou, driven by a vengeful hatred of the English. Meanwhile, a powerful faction within England schemes for a truce with the Valois throne.
The white rose of York cries out for the war to continue.
A young man fuels the fires of revenge with English blood.
And two orphaned daughters of a French knight are dragged into the sinister politics of their enemies’ royal court.”
I’d appreciate any honest feedback you have to offer on the premise or blurb, as well as your initial reaction!