Ravenspur: Rise of The Tudors

Ravenspur: Rise of The Tudors (Wars of The Roses IV) – Conn Iggulden

Rating: Three Moons and a Half

Genre: Historical Fiction, Adult

In this final book in his ‘Wars of The Roses’ historical fiction series, Iggulden takes us from the restoration of the Lancaster King Henry VI to the destruction of the York King Richard III at The Battle of Bosworth Field. The book reads as any historical fiction / narrative should by presenting the thrill of the events without diluting their historical value… and then noting where artistic liberties were in fact taken.

Iggulden takes the traditional view of casting Richard III as a villain, down playing and questioning only his traditional depiction as a deformed monster who revels in his own deformity and cruelty. He gives voice to Richard III inner thoughts and in so doing explains how and why he would be compelled to the evils that Iggulden accuses him of. In so doing he does add depth and sympathy to the character that previous historians and artist alike have lacked. Though this probably has as much to do with the modern age of moral ambiguity as it does with modern interpretation of the events. Personally, I reserve judgment on Richard III guilt in the murder of his nephews and Henry VI. After all, who can actually know what happened 500 years later. The Princes in The Tower and the last true Lancaster king could have just as easily been killed by another rival.

Which brings me to my final point, The Tudors. The true artistic value of this book is in that the main characters, Jasper and Henry Tudor / Henry VII are barely mentioned. And Margaret Beaufort is only in two scenes. Just as in the actual events and the history books, the characters who truly benefited and probably organized much of the hidden subterfuge of the Wars of The Roses did so in such a subtle way that artist and historians can only speculate about what isn’t written.

I would definitely recommend this book, and it probably deserves a higher rating than I gave it. But I’m harboring bad feelings over Richard III being, yet again, unjustly depicted as a villain.

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Lilith

It was late, or early, I can’t really say which. I was awoken by a strange feeling from a dream I can’t remember. I could feel the darkness of my house pressing in on me as I sat up in my empty bed. I think it was a bad dream, but whatever it was escaped my memory as consciousness regained control of my body. My mouth was dry so I went down stairs to the kitchen for a glass of water.

As I stood before the sink, glass poised below the faucet, I saw something that made me forget about my thirst. Through the window above the sink, I saw a light.

I should say here I live way, way, out in ‘the sticks’. My next door neighbor is a mile away and there definitely should not have been a strange light this close to my house at this hour. So naturally I did what anyone would do, I grabbed the .357 Magnum and flashlight I kept next to the door and went to investigate.

I heard a familiar voice speaking in a foreign tongue. The light was a candle placed on a stump. And The stump was bloody with a hatchet was imbedded into its surface. Heads and bodies of rabbits lay methodically arranged around the stump.

My rabbits. And the speaker of the strange language. The slaughterer of the rabbits none other than my daughter.

I was shocked by what I found. She didn’t seem to notice I was there, so I put out the flashlight and lowered the revolver and approached- slowly, quietly, carefully.

“Lilith? Sweetheart?” I said, unsure of what would happen next.

The Angel: Part II

“Steve,” I said as he pulled me behind him.

“Steve!” I said louder as we entered the rows of headstones.

“STEVE!!! YOU ARE HURTING ME! LET GO OF MY FUCKING WRIST!” I said, disturbing the peace and serenity of the should-be sacred ground. I saw a murder of ravens take wing in my peripheral, startled by my outburst.

Not-Steve turned to look at me with a sadistic smirk on the face. “You enjoy pain, this one’s memories tell me,” the being said with its leathery voice as it tapped Steve’s temple with the index finger of Steve’s free hand.

I tried to pull away but could not free myself from Steve’s hand. It surprised me, I have pulled away from Steve a hundred times when we were playing. I had no idea he was actually this strong. Obviously, Steve restrained himself from fear of hurting me, a concern that Not-Steve clearly does not share.

“It is quite useless to struggle,” Not-Steve said. His voice still sounded like leather being rubbed with a whet stone, but the leather was becoming less dry and more supple with each word. “Not that I mind the struggle, it will make the ending more satisfying.”

I would not show this thing fear, but despite my efforts I could hear it in my own voice. “What are you going to do?”

“For starters, sate my carnal lust. This one’s memories tell me you also enjoy fornicating over marble memorial slabs.”

I forced my voice into some resemblance of calm as Not-Steve grabbed the back of my neck and pushed me over the stone that read ‘Robert Jones’, “then what?”

“Most likely kill you.”

The Angel looked on with a strange look of approval upon its chiseled marble face.

The Great God Pan is Dead!

This story is a sequel to ‘The Huntress and The Horned One‘ and while I tried to write it as a stand alone I would suggest reading it first. Either way, I hope you enjoy!

-D.W.A.

“Kill The Horned One?” The Warrior asked incredulously. “Much as I would like to, he is a god. He can not be killed.”

“There is one way,” The Huntress replied.

“Make the mortals forget him,” The Warrior answered. “Not an easy task, they love him for his libidinous rites and sacraments.”

“Our cults could destroy his,” The Huntress answered. “How could horny farmers prevail against hunters and warriors?”

My Lady’s words hung in the air for a moment, the only noise we heard was Rhea nursing at her breast.

“That isn’t what I want,” The Warrior replied. “The humans go to war far too often over frivolous things. I will not inspire a war, even if it would be a virtuous crusade.”

“You have a better idea?” The Huntress asked.

“Capture him and bind him in a sarcophagus. We will hide that box and then we tell his followers that he is dead.”

“That won’t be easy, brother,” The Huntress replied.

“Which part, the capturing? The binding? Or the hiding?” The Warrior asked with an uncharacteristic laugh.

“All of it will prove difficult, so how do we do it.” The Huntress asked.

“First we would need Mother to fashion the sarcophagus and ropes, and then…”

“No!” The Huntress interrupted, her anger made me snarl as I felt it course into me from her. “It is bad enough that you are even part of this!” She glared at Raven.

“We need one of the Old Ones to make the sarcophagus and bindings. I assumed you would want to keep this in the family as much as possible, but we could probably find another if you wish.”

My Lady glared at him and I felt the anger ebb away from us slowly. “Is that the only way?”

“Do you know how to make god-containing relics? Because I don’t,” The Warrior replied.

“War would be easier,” The Huntress replied.

“War is never the answer,” I must admit The Warrior’s answer surprised me.

It must have surprised My Lady as well for she arched her eyebrow at his words. “Strange words from you, brother.”

“Who but the God of War truly knows the horrors of it? You speak of war so lightly, you are as much a fool as those mortals!” The Warrior said angrily.

“Fool?! You dare call me a fool, brother?” Had Rhea not been at her breast I’m sure that her bowstring would have been. My teeth were bared awaiting her command.

The Warrior stared at her, unafraid. “Are you going to rip my throat out with Her fangs, sister? To what end? I am a god like you, and The Horned One, a bite from Wolf would do less than little to me.”

I felt the unspoken command to stop snarling at The Warrior, and I obeyed. But it took some time for the anger My Lady and I shared through our bond to subside. After some time My Lady spoke, “after Mother fashions the sarcophagus and bindings, what then?”

“We trap him in it.” He said flatly.

“How?” The Huntress asked.

“How do you trap anything?” The Warrior asked.

“By exploiting its weakness,” The Huntress answered, “but what is The Horny Goats weakness?”

“Coitus,” The Warrior answered flatly.

“Many would consider that to be his strength,” The Huntress said with mirthless snark.

“Ones strength is usually their weakness also,” The Warrior said.

“I don’t think I like this plan,” The Huntress said. “I sense that you plan to fashion a trap and bait it with my cunnus.”

“Another weakness of The Horned One is his ego,” The Warrior began. “Send to him, thank him for his gift, tell him you wish to see him again.”

The Huntress stared at The Warrior. I could feel her disgust through our bond. I knew she would never agree to this plan. “And then what do we do?” She surprised me.

——-

We hid some distance away, Raven, The Warrior and myself. Rhea slept in a crib fashioned of boughs and skins, and My Lady sat in a chair near by her daughter. She looked across the stream and I felt the hatred in her heart.

The Horned One came into the glade and sat on the rock. If he sensed our presence their with them he made no sign of it. “I received word that you wanted me again,” The Horned One said as he raised the pipes to his mouth…

“Please,” My Lady said, and it was strength that I felt through our bond.

The Horned One lowered the pipes, “please what?” He asked with an amused smirk.

“Not the pipes. I want a clear head. I want to experience you fully.”

The Horned One smiled in a pleased and flattered way. “I tell you what, you give me your bow and I’ll give you my pipes. Maybe we can teach each other to use them.”

I felt more than a hint of reluctance as The Huntress handed over her bow and took the pipes. She walked over to the crib and laid them beside Rhea.

“Before we…” The Huntress left it unsaid, “would you like to meet our daughter?”

“I’m sure she is just like the millions of other seeds I have sown,” The Horned One said as he waved his hand dismissively and with out making any attempt to move towards the crib.

A flash of anger so hot that I thought My Lady would forget the plan. Surely she would call me to her to rip his throat out and Raven to feast on his eyes.

But the call did not come to us. Still, she did not push the anger away. I could feel it within us. Instead she tuned it, turning it into a whet stone for her senses and her intellect. She focused on the plan.

“I want to try something new.” She said.

“Bored with me already?” The Horned One asked with amusement.

“Do this for me or leave my glade,” The Huntress said, and that wasn’t part of the plan. We weren’t supposed to let him leave at all costs. And here she was daring him to do just that. I was surprised me with her ultimatum.

“What is it you ask of me?” The Horned One asked, almost submissively.

“Let me tie you up,” The Huntress said, trying to sound seductive. She failed, for that language is foreign to her.

“Someone’s been talking to the nymphs!” He was laughing. “Sure, you can tie me up. We’ll make a game of it! Let’s see how long you can keep be bound against my will, and then I’ll tie you up!”

“Agreed,” The Huntress said. Knowing he would never get his turn. But still, I felt a shadow of doubt in her.

The Horned One laid the bow beside him, then standing he held his hands out before him, “make it good and tight, My Dear,” he said in a mocking tone.

“I’ll start with your feet,” The Huntress replied as she knelt before him. I felt the disgust and anxiety through our bond when her face came near to his phallus.

“Oh, of course, you wouldn’t want me to escape,” The Horned One chortled as The Huntress tied the rope just above his cloven hooves, joining one furry goat leg to the other. The rope seemed to be made of an infinite length as she coiled it thickly around him. Working her way upward she mummified him in the bindings. She hesitated when she reached his phallus. “Don’t stop now,” The Horned One said in a playful tone, “it’s starting to get interesting.”

She grabbed his phallus harshly by its shaft and folded it upward so that its head rested between his pectorals. “Hold that there,” she commanded.

“By your command,” he replied in a submissive tone and crossed his arms over his chest and erection. She continued coiling the rope around him and tied it off tightly at his neck. Then she pushed him over backwards. “Oh, I know why comes next. Do let me taste your nectar, merciful goddess!” He said it in an excited, almost pleading tone.

“Can you free yourself?” The Huntress asked.

“I can not, Goddess.” He answered.

The Huntress picked her bow and conjured an arrow. She stood over him and aimed at his nose and asked, “are you sure you can not free yourself?”

“I can not, Goddess,” he repeated. Though he sounded distressed this time and was clearly struggling at his bindings.

Thwump

She released the arrow into his face. That also was not part of the plan.

Gah-eng-ha- The Horned One made a sound of stifling back a scream. “How did you bind me?! I am a god!”

“There are ones older than us, and ones older than them. The Titans of old knew how to contain unruly gods.”

“Your Mother-”

“Is an amazing creature, I know,” The Huntress interrupted with an almost sadistic smile on her face.

“You may have caught me, but to what end? You can’t kill me, and it is only a matter of time before my cultist find me.”

“We will hide you where your cultist will never find you, and with time you will be forgotten.”

Fear and panic marked his face, somehow turning it uglier when he heard those words.

——-

We put him into the sarcophagus. The thing was huge and heavy and it took 42 cherubs to carry it.

East, we traveled east. All of us, My Lady- The Huntress, Her brother The Warrior, Raven and myself traveled beyond our realms and we buried the sarcophagus beneath the mount and temple of the Monotheists One True God, the last place his cult could or would ever look for him.

Then we went down to the edge of the sea, and we all spoke out across the waves and across time. Calling to the one who would one day receive the message…

Thamus, are you there? When you reach Pelodes, take care to proclaim that the great god Pan is dead.

You Homeschool?

“You homeschool your kids?” Rhea said over the top of her coffee cup.

“Of course we do, why wouldn’t we?” I said, sitting on the lumpy couch that James still won’t get rid of.

“Why?” Rhea asked.

“Why what?” I replied, though I know exactly what she is asking.

“Why, Artemis, do you and James homeschool your kids?” Rhea asked me in a slow, loud and overly enunciated manner.

I chose to ignore her disrespect.

“Is there another choice?” I asked her.

“Public school- it’s why you pay property taxes,” she answered in the same tone that one would use to explain that water is wet.

“No, James and I pay property taxes so that the sheriff keeps his ass off our land and his nose out of our business,” I answered.

“Have you never considered it?” Rhea asked.

“Oh, we more than considered sending our kids to school. We actually did it for a year with Anise and Wolfric. James was against it from the start. He said it was a bad idea. But I insisted that they learn how to interact with other children. But things didn’t go well. James said they wouldn’t, and damn it- he was right.”

“What happened?” Rhea asked.

“The school started asking questions that shouldn’t be asked. The principal sent home a note asking why our children brought raw cuts of meat for lunch every day. And then there were all the unexcused absences at the Full Moon, and they noticed that they aged faster than the other kids. And then there was the girl Wolfric bit.”

“Wolfric bit a girl? Why?”

“He said he wanted her for his mate and that he was trying turn her. James hasn’t had the talk with him yet to explain that there is a little bit more to it than that.”

“My gods! What did y’all do?”

“We pulled the kids out of school and politely told the school to stay out of our affairs.”

“I meant with the little girls parents.”

“Why don’t you ask them yourself? They joined our pack last May.”

Saga of The Sioux

Saga of The Sioux (an adaptation of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee – Dee Brown) – Dwight Jon Zimmerman

Rating: Four Moons

Genre: Historical JNF

Definitely one of the best non-fiction books I have read in awhile. This YA adaptation of Dee Brown’s classic Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee is an essential read for everyone. It chronicles the somewhat successful, yet overwhelmingly tragic story of the nearly thirty year on-again/off-again war that the various Sioux bands and their allies fought against the US Government. Spoiler Alert- despite having a morally superior position and decisive victories in the field, the Sioux lose.

I recommend this book to anyone who is (like myself was) only casually aware of the depravity Native Americans suffered during the later half of the 19th Century. And I recommend it even more to anyone who believes in the justification of the policy of Manifest Destiny.

All that said- this is not a historical narrative. It falls some where between a dry text book and a narrative. I had always heard Bury My Heart… was an easy read, and while this book did take me less than a week and is an adaptation- I wouldn’t call it an easy read for your average fiction fan.