Tim Walker is my Guest Author today: King Arthur, The Romans, and The Dark Ages
I am really pleased to welcome historical author,
to my blog for the second time.
Tim is a fascinating author who has also co-written with his daughter.
Let’s find out about Tim:
Tim Walker is an independent author based in Windsor, UK.
His background is in marketing, journalism, editing and
He began writing a historical series,
A Light in the Dark Ages
(set in Fifth-Century Britain),
set at the time the Romans left Britain.
This was extensively revised and re-launched as a second edition in 2018.
Ambrosius: Last of the Romans,
was published in 2017
and the third installment,
was published in March 2018
The adventure continues from March
2019 in the fourth book,
Arthur, Dux Bellorum.
His creative writing journey began in July 2015 with the publication of a book of short stories,
Thames Valley Tales.
In September 2017 he published a second collection of short stories
Postcards from London.
These stories combine his love of history with his experiences of living in London and various Thames Valley towns.
In 2016 he published his first novel, a dystopian political thriller,
Devil Gate Dawn,
following exposure through the Amazon Scout programme.
In 2017 he published his first children’s book,
The Adventures of Charly Holmes,
co-written with his 12-year-old daughter, Cathy, followed In 2018 by a second adventure,
Charly & The Superheroes.
His latest publication:
Arthur Dux Bellorum
published March 2019
Here is the blurb:
From the ruins of post-Roman Britain, a warrior arises to unite a troubled land
Britain in the late Fifth Century is a troubled place – riven with tribal infighting and beset by invaders in search of plunder and settlement.
King Uther is dead, and his daughter, Morgana, seizes the crown for her infant son, Mordred.
Merlyn’s attempt to present Arthur as the true son and heir of Uther is scorned, and the bewildered teenager finds himself in prison.
Here our story begins…
Arthur finds friends in unexpected quarters and together they flee. Travelling through a fractured landscape of tribal conflict and suspicion, they attempt to stay one step ahead of their pursuers, whilst keeping a wary eye on Saxon invaders menacing the shoreline. Arthur’s reputation as a fearsome warrior grows as he learns the harsh lessons needed to survive and acquire the skills of a dux bellorum, a lord of war.
Tim Walker’s Arthur Dux Bellorum is a fresh look at the Arthurian legend, combining myth, history and gripping battle scenes. Although in a series, it can be read as a standalone novel.
Fans of Bernard Cornwell, Conn Iggulden and Mathew Harffy will enjoy Walker’s A Light in the Dark Ages series and its newest addition – Arthur Dux Bellorum.
Uther’s Destiny Extract…
Merlyn persuaded the moribund Uther, some weeks later, to come with him to The Stones to witness the midwinter ceremony of the druids.
Stars winked in the deep blue blanket above them as the promise of dawn seeped upwards from the distant edge of the world; a golden glow that prompted the start of the ceremony. Druids holding burning brands chanted to the steady beat of hand drums as a line of riders wrapped in bearskin cloaks breathed mist into the cold air, their rising vapour trails like souls from the departed buried beneath them making their way to the netherworld.
“Merlyn, this had better be the sight you have much talked of,” Uther growled, his horse stamping impatiently on the frozen earth.
“My lord,” Merlyn replied, “this is the dawn on midwinter day for which these stones were erected and aligned by the ancients who understood the movements of the sun and moon. We are blessed with a clear sight of the rising sun, and you will soon see it shine through yonder stone portal and light up the altar on which a sacrifice will be made to the goddess Beira for seeing us through another winter…”
“My lord!” Bishop Andreus interrupted, causing Uther to turn to his left.
“What is it?” Uther demanded of the shivering, tonsured priest.
“Beira is a pagan goddess of the druidic religion of the dark forests, banned by our former Roman masters,” he said through chattering teeth. “It is not long since the people bowed to the Roman god Saturn at their feast of Saturnalia…”
“And what is your point?” Merlyn challenged.
“My point is this: the Romans have now departed, taking their gods with them! The old ways are passing into legend as the one true Christian God banishes them to the dark corners of this land. I urge you to turn away from this base pagan bloodletting and embrace this day as the feast day of the birth of our saviour, Jesus the Christ. For our God is the one true light of the world…”
Uther raised a hand to silence him. “Save the sermon for later, Father. Now let us bear witness to the mystery of nature revealed to us.”
A murderous huddle of crows cawed impatiently atop the standing stones as the smell of incense mixed with sandalwood wafted before the line of horsemen. Merlyn pointed, drawing Uther’s attention away from the fretting priest towards the stone altar and the light now bathing it in an eerie glow. Three druids stepped from the shadows, each holding a struggling creature in one hand and a raised knife in the other. Fowls clucked their desperation and kids screamed as their throats were cut and their blood dripped into silver goblets. The drummers increased their tempo as men and women dressed in animal skins and masks danced around the altar where the druids chanted to the rising sun.
“This is an impressive sight,” Uther said, transfixed by the final spectacle. Bright sunlight was illuminating a hitherto unseen ceremonial avenue from east to west that cut through the centre of the stone circle. A golden shaft beamed through the windows of the largest pairs of standing stones on opposing sides of the circle, now in perfect alignment with the rising sun, like a bolt from the gods.
“From this day onwards, our days grow longer,” Merlyn said, “and hope is restored to the people after the darkness of winter, and the earth is reborn.”
“You are forgiven for calling me out on such a cold night,” Uther said to Merlyn with a smile. He turned his horse to signal his readiness to leave and remarked to Bishop Andreus: “And we shall pray to the baby Jesus when we return to my hall, then raise a goblet to ALL the gods and pray for a successful campaign against the Saxons! Onwards!”
During their return to Venta, Merlyn proposed a sacrificial ceremony to mark the feast and raise the people’s morale following the defeat.
“What sort of sacrifice do you propose?” Uther grumbled.
“My lord, a blood sacrifice to the old gods so they may return to our cause,” he replied. “Perhaps some animals and a couple of Saxon slaves would appease both the people and the gods?”
Andreus interrupted, “My lord, human sacrifice is for the pagans and not for a Christian king. I beg you turn away from this barbaric suggestion. Goats and fowl perhaps…”
“Hmmm, if you think it will help raise spirits, then organise it,” Uther said, turning away from his priest and addressing Merlyn.
Arthur Dux Bellorum Extract Two…
Artorius (the young Arthur), Merlyn and Gawain are on the run from Mordred’s men and take to the Ridgeway path to escape their pursuers….
They set out early in a steady drizzle, leading their horses along the sheepherders’ path that wound upwards. “It is dry underfoot,” Merlyn explained to Artorius, “because of the white rock that devours the rain. We can expect to see travellers and drovers of sheep who use this path for safety as you can see a long distance in all directions. Bandits, bears, wolves and even storms can be seen approaching. There are few trees or bushes on top of the ridge. It is cold and windy because it is exposed, but it offers safety and a direct route towards the north and east. Ancient peoples live here, unaffected by the Roman occupation, and may offer us hospitality.” He stopped briefly to catch his breath, then continued, “…and the way is marked by ancient forts where our forebears protected themselves from attack by men, wild animals, giants and dragons.”
With aching legs, they reached the top of the hill and saw they were at the start of a long upland ridge that snaked into the distance before them. They were now below blue skies and above low, scudding white clouds.
“We have ascended to the heavens,” Gawain gasped in awe, as they mounted their horses.
“Follow me in single rank and keep your eyes open for movement of horsemen below,” Merlyn said, leading the line. The wind had died and their way was pleasant along a worn dirt track, lined by tufts of hardy moor grass and sage scrub, undulating across the ridgeback. After an hour they saw burial mounds on a high plateau, with sheep grazing about them and an indifferent boy sunning himself on a hillock. He briefly looked up as they slipped by, although his dog gave chase to the skittish horses. Shortly after they came upon their first hill fort.
Merlyn called a halt by the gates of the wooden stockade, the tell-tale curls of smoke signalling that it was occupied. “I’ll go ahead with Varden to speak to the occupants,” he said, dismounting. They approached and pushed the unguarded gate open, slipping inside.
Artorius sought out Gawain and asked, “Do you believe Merlyn’s story that I’m Uther’s one true son?”
Gawain smiled and replied, “Yes Artorius, I believe it. I cannot say I have evidence, for although Hector was my fellow knight, I did not see him again after Uther sent him into retirement to his farm in the west, and Merlyn also disappeared from court at that time. But you have the look of Uther – his dark and searching eyes, the same unruly hair and shape of his face. He was bigger in the body, mind, but there is still time.” Gawain squeezed Artorius’s bicep and they shared a laugh. Artorius was mildly content with his answer, but reserved his judgement.
Varden beckoned them to come to the gate and they filed into the fort. Inside, there were two wooden huts built on to the stockade side, a pen with an assortment of animals, and some crude thatched huts in a semi-circle facing a fireplace with a cauldron bubbling over it. About twenty people – family groups – turned and stared at them. Merlyn was deep in conversation with a bearded druid and they stood waiting patiently.
“You are welcome, friends of Merlyn,” the older druid said, indicating that they should tether their horses on the fence of the pen. Dirty children came running with arms full of hay for the horses. Drying animal skins and clay pots, and sods of peat cut for burning were the only signs of industry in the place. They were invited to sit by the women, who served elderberry-infused water in wooden beakers to quench their thirst.
“We shall eat and rest for an hour and then continue,” Merlyn said, unpacking some object from his saddlebags and entering the hut of the druid.
Varden saw the quizzical look on Artorius’s face and whispered, “Best not to ask.”
“Is Merlyn a druid?” the curious youth asked.
The burly soldier jabbed a stick at a tuft of moor grass and considered his reply. “He often seeks out the company of lonely druids hidden in remote places. They are rarely seen in towns, where Christian priests would round on them and publicly denounce them. And so Merlyn goes creeping around in swamps and wooded places. But he is not a druid, although he shares some of their beliefs. I think he is searching for something or someone.”
Artorius regarded his companion with a quizzical expression. “Why do you think he is searching for someone or something, and who or what?”
Varden laughed, drawing the attention of others. “That I do not know, nor dare to ask. All I know is that he says he is guided by visions and the wisdom he finds in books and scripts – and he has an understanding of our world and what lies in the hearts of men beyond that of ordinary folk. Remember, he was an advisor to two kings.”
They shared some biscuits with the silent locals, in exchange for a bowl of meat and vegetable broth. It was clear they cared not for conversation, offering one-word responses when spoken to, or sometimes merely nodding in the direction of the druid’s hut.
“There is not much joy here,” Gawain muttered, drawing a snigger from Artorius.”
Praise for Tim Walker:
“Tim Walker just doesn’t begin this story with a boy and end it with a man. Arthur’s right of passage wasn’t served on a plate, he earned every man’s respect and grew with age into a legend that is still talked about. The story is mesmerizing, brutal and stunning. Loving this series.”
“Arthur, Dux Bellorum is the sort of engaging historical fiction I’m always delighted to discover… I hope there is more to come as I will definitely be reading any future books in the series.”
“The author skillfully blends aspects of the Arthurian legend with researched history of the period – the Dark Ages – a time a great uncertainty for the people. A great read, I thoroughly recommend it.”
“This was a very engaging tale where historical fiction meets fantasy, with harrowing battles, peoples at war on all sides, an ever-maturing Arthur preparing to fulfil his destiny, and hints at the magic and might of one of the greatest sorcerers of literature. All in all, a satisfying and enjoyable read!”
(Amazon reviewers’ comments)
I hope you have enjoyed finding out about Tim Walker – do drop your comments below and
for more about his writing please drop
over to his author website to find out more:
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Author Website: http://timwalkerwrites.co.uk
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Amazon Author Page: http://Author.to/TimWalkerWrites
Facebook Page: http://facebook.com/TimWalkerWrites