The day of my sixteenth birthday was the day I killed another person for the first time.
They attacked us without warning; riding fast upon us from the south along the valley through which the Afon Gwy flows, the slight rise in that direction hiding them from those working the fields about our village until it proved too late to shout warning to the rest of us. A good number of folk had come from neighboring villages to join ours in celebrating my day and the market was filled with song and dance and copious drink when our world was torn asunder.
A platform had been erected for the festivities by my father, Lord Iorwerth of Llanfredd in Cantref Uwch Mynydd, and it was on there I stood together with him and mother, able to look over the heads of our kinsmen when I saw the horsemen at the fringe of the village. At first I refused to believe that such a group would venture this far from Offa’s dyke but a moment later I recognized them for what they truly were—Norman knights. Their conroi numbered fifteen and wore their distinctive hauberks and conical helmets with the nose guard, and carried the kite shields.
I looked on in horror as they couched their lances. Then came the screams. Until that moment I had never heard so much pain and terror packed into a single cry. Imagine that sound rising from dozens of throats as people, of all ages, attempted to flee the attack only to be spitted on a Norman lance. I swear at one point I witnessed a young child lifted high above the crowd writhing in agony on the end of a knight’s spear before being tossed aside. The slaughter intensified as each knight took up his broadsword, standing high in the saddle for more leverage and freedom to strike at the innocents. Some folk escaped the blade only to fall to the ground to be trampled to death beneath the powerful destriers ridden by the horsemen.
The market became a killing ground; the ground awash with spilled blood and innards, bodies writhing in agony, wounded clawing the earth seeking safety, a father here shielding his boy with his body from a sword that merely cut through them both with a single blow, a mother there holding her child tight to her bosom only to have a lance pierce them both through and through, and a miraculous moment when a babe, crying pitifully beside the body of its parent, is snatched away to safety by someone fleeing the carnage.
All this and far more did I witness in what seemed the blink of an eye, but in fact was many minutes. I must have stood like a damn stump, overcome by the scene unfolding around me, for it took my father’s strong hand to shake me back to my senses.
“Take your mother and any others you can and flee to the woods, son,” he shouted at me. We stood face-to-face and I could see clearly the red rage in his eyes. He shot a glance at my mother. “Go with Cochgam, woman. Save yourselves. Go!” The last he screamed when my mother hesitated.
I knew full well she meant to stand at his side against the horsemen, but Father seized our arms and spun us about and shoved the two of us towards the stairs leading off the platform. Again Mother faltered, but I dragged her along by her wrist as I slung my birthday gift over my shoulder. The last I saw of my father was when I chanced to look back to see him, sword in hand and with a howl of rage, leap off the platform at a horseman. They both tumbled from the horse to be lost amidst the bloody turmoil.
A Special Announcement to all the members of my Merry Band of Readers, as well as those following me.
I have just begun working on Book Two - The Journal, the sequel to The Archer's Diary - Book One.
And I also take this opportunity to reveal the cover design for Book Two.
I cannot give a release date yet for the sequel, but promise to keep you all updated on its progress.
And keep watch for a SPECIAL CONTEST COMING SOON that will give 2 people a unique opportunity to live and fight alongside the welsh prince, Cochgam ap Cadwgon (aka Robin Hood)!!
I am giving serious thought to extending the branding of my new book by designing this sticker that can be used to 'spread the word' of our Merry Band of Readers.
If I were to make this available to members at a fair price, would you be interested in using on your vehicle, etc to help promote our group?
The sticker would be printed on clear plastic @ 3 x 5 inches and would be water resistant, etc.
Your response will help make the decision to boost the exposure of our group. To that end, please send me your comments to email@example.com.
Thanks for your time and support.
"No Forest is equal in beauty to an oak forest and no such oak forest is to be found elsewhere to match the Royal Forest of Dean. It is the 'Queen of Forests'."
Forest of Dean Tourist Information and Travel Guide
Originally chosen by the Saxons primarily for hunting its abundance of wild game, this large tract of woodland was reserved as a royal hunting ground sometime prior to 1066. It wasn't until 1086 that The Forest of Denu was officially recorded in the 'Domesday Book'. Denu being old English for Dene or Dean and taken from the Denu valley situated in the north-east of the area. Some historians also believe the Forest of Dean derived its name from the ancient Norman ruins of 'Old Castle of Dene' combined with the Valley of Dene near Littledean.
In 1938 The Forest of Dean was declared England's first National Forest Park, and over the years underwent a program of reforestation until, today, the woodland now covers an estimated 24,000 acres.
The period during which 'The Archer's Diary' is set, The Royal Forest of Dean extended further north than shown by the map (above), encompassing Hay-on-Wye and straddled the border between Wales and England.
Credit: © 2018 Chris Jones
The Welsh Marches (Welsh: Y Mers) is an imprecisely defined area along the border between England and Wales in the United Kingdom. The precise meaning of the term has varied at different periods.
The English term Welsh March (in medieval Latin Marchia Walliae) was originally used in the Middle Ages to denote the 'marches' between England and the Principality of Wales in which Marcher Lords had specific rights, exercised to some extent independently of the King of England. In modern usage, "the Marches" is often used to describe those English counties which lie along the border with Wales, particularly Shropshire and Herefordshire, and sometimes adjoining areas of Wales. However, at one time the Marches included all of the historic counties of Cheshire, Shropshire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire.
In this context the word march means a border region or frontier, and is cognate with the verb "to march," both ultimately derived from Proto-Indo-European *mereg-, "edge" or "boundary". (Wikipedia)
Aerial view over Hay-On-Wye
Hay is quite a small town. It's possible to walk around the circumference of the town in about 20 minutes. Once you are here, there is no need for public transport to help you get around!
The town is a pretty and thriving market town on the Wales/Herefordshire borders and is the north eastern gateway to the Brecon Beacons National Park. Situated on the banks of the River Wye in an area of high scenic value, it is set in some of the prettiest borders scenery in the area with the nearby Black Mountains offering some of the best walking, mountain biking and riding in the country. For a town of its size, it has amazing facilities, principally because of its importance as a tourist destination and has about 20 bookshops including reputedly the largest second hand bookshop in the world. These are augmented by restaurants, coffee shops, boutiques, clothes, gift and antique shops and a thriving Thursday street market which provides a further attraction for tourists throughout the year. The surrounding countryside has a number of pretty and well serviced villages and a variety of country cottages, smallholdings, farmsteads and country houses.
Aerial view over the mountains across Hay Bluff
and beyond, walking and cycling for miles.
This is the setting I chose for "The Archer's Diary."
Hay-on-Wye is a destination for bibliophiles in the United Kingdom, still with two dozen bookshops, many selling specialist and second-hand books. Hay-on-Wye was already well known for its many bookshops before the festival was launched. Richard Booth opened his first shop there in 1962, and by the 1970s Hay had gained the nickname "The Town of Books".
Since 1988, Hay-on-Wye has been the venue for a literary festival, which draws a claimed 80,000 visitors over ten days at the end of May or beginning of June to see and hear big literary names from all over the world. An annual literature festival held in Hay-on-Wye, Powys, Wales, for ten days from May to June. Devised by Norman, Rhoda and Peter Florence in 1988, the festival was described as "The Woodstock of the mind". Peter Florence continues to be director of the Festival.
The Festival is reported to have directly generated £83 million in Hay-On-Wye's economy over the last ten years (2019).
From its inception, the festival was held at a variety of venues around Hay, including the local Primary School, until 2005 when it moved to a unified location in the West of the town, as well as classical music concerts in St Mary's Church.
A book town is a town or village with many used book or antiquarian book stores. These stores, as well as literary festivals, attract bibliophile tourists. Some book towns are members of the International Organization of Book Towns.
I thought I would begin a series of blogs to introduce you Wales—that corner of the world that is the featured location of The Archer's Diary. There will be a mixture of past and present information that I hope you will find interesting. If you have any comments or questions, I hope you will leave them here for me to follow up. Enjoy.
Hay-on-Wye (Y Gelli or Y Gelli Gandryll in Welsh) is a small town with a population of about 1,900 in Mid Wales, on the River Wye, very close to the English border and within the borders of Brecon Beacons National Park.
A "town of books", with at least 41 separate bookshops (mostly second-hand / antiquarian / collectors), Hay-on-Wye is probably best known as the location of a prestigious annual Hay Festival.
Since 1988, Hay-on-Wye has been the worthy venue for a literary festival which draws over 80,000 bibliophile visitors over 10 days at the end of May / beginning of June, in order to buy books, attend book launches and to see and hear big literary names from all over the world. High profile visitors to the Book Fair have included former US President Bill Clinton.
The release date for The Archer's Diary is on target for 20 June. The ebook version is already available for pre-orders, and my distributor is currently checking over the files for both the paperback and hardcover print versions.
That said, I am actively seeking to grow my list of followers and have extended my offer of a FREE Ebook to the end of April 2020 to those who visit my website and sign up to my Exclusive Reader Group.
Right now, there are several readers going through their FREE ebook copies and I'm eagerly awaiting their reviews to begin rolling in. Feed back to date has been extremely positive and encouraging.
And to those already members of my Exclusive Reader Group, aka "Hoodies," I hope you are enjoying the book enough to recommend it to all your friends and contacts.