Today as we look back on the events of the year 1066, author Paula Lofting again shares with us an excerpt, this time from her second novel, The Wolf Banner, set in the years leading up to the one that would change so much. My review for this amazing work can be found here. The story continues the one begun in Sons of the Wolf (updated review here), the banner itself providing one of the crucial links between the two. Lofting’s excerpt below hints at the banner’s role and import, its history being revealed in the two novels.
Thank you for joining us today for a glimpse of that world, and in remembering what is arguably the most important year in English history, and one in which so many sacrificed so much, in a fight for freedom that we still value to this day, 950 years later.
Author Paula Lofting is so graciously gifting a Kindle copy of The Wolf Banner to one lucky winner. If it happens our winner has not read its predecessor, they will also receive a copy of Sons of the Wolf.
How might you be that winner? Simply comment below and you will be entered in our drawing! (See below for alternate commenting options.)
From The Wolf Banner
by Paula Lofting
Standing behind the front line watching his master fight the big Norþmann, Yrmenlaf clutched Running Wolf’s shaft in his sweaty hands, the pressure of his grip increasing as the tension between Wulfhere and his opponent intensified. His task as standard bearer was not to fight, but to protect the standard and to keep it out of the enemy’s hands. Wulfhere had told him he was to rally the men to him should the lines break. It was a daunting prospect at first, being charged with such a responsibility in his first battle, but as he watched Wulfhere gain his bloody victory, he was comforted. His master had fought bravely. It was an omen – a sign that they would prevail today. And that God was on their side.
He thrust the banner upwards and cried out in victory, his voice just one of many, lauding their champion. Then his heart leapt with fear as he saw Wulfhere struggling with Harald and the spear that the dying man would not relinquish. Harald’s sister was screaming in fury. Some of the Norse, broken out of their lines, were charging toward the pair of grappling warriors. Fearing his lord was about to come under attack, Yrmenlaf let the banner slip from his hands, hitting the man in front, as he pushed past.
On the field, it was sheer confusion. As he ran, he could hear the woman wailing, an ear-piercing, ear-shattering howl, like a wounded wælcyrie interspersed with utterings of what seemed to be an incantation. Warriors of the two sides had started to push and shout abuse at each other. Anxious that the battlefield was about to explode before either side could regroup, Yrmenlaf hurried to his lord. A man from their unit was trying to prise Wulfhere’s fingers from the spear that he just would not let go of. It protruded right the way through Harald, who was now clearly dead, on his knees, slumped forward onto the spear shaft, grotesquely, as Wulfhere hung onto it. Yrmenlaf thought him dazed, touched by the heat, and confused. He spoke softly to him, telling him that the fight was now over, he had won, and he needed to let go.
“Let’s get him away from this lot before they tear us limb from limb,” one of Wulfhere’s rescuers suggested.
“My spear,” Wulfhere kept repeating, the words coming breathlessly.
“Forget your fucking spear, Wulfhere, we can get you another!”
The men were half-carrying, half-dragging Wulfhere to the safety of their lines, his arms draped over their shoulders. Yrmenlaf followed, facing the Norse, holding his seax defensively, in case anyone tried to attack them. He saw men fighting on the battlefield in front of him, and his legs turned to jelly.
Remember to comment below OR the review (here) OR at our Facebook thread (here) to get in on the drawing for a FREE COPY of The Wolf Banner. Let us know if you haven’t yet read the B.R.A.G. Medallion-winning Sons of the Wolf and the ever-generous Paula Lofting will send along a copy of that, too! Drawing extended to December 20, so keep your eyes peeled to see if you are our winner!
About the author …
Paula has always wanted to write. Since she was a little girl, coming home from school to sit at the table with her notebook and write stories that buzzed around in her head. A prolific reader, she loved nothing better than to spend weekends with a book in her hand. Earliest influences such as Rosemary Sutcliffe, Leon Garfield, Charles Dickens, C.S.Lewis, inspired an interest in history. It became her lifelong wish to one day write and publish a book, but not being able to type, and having no funds for a typewriter to learn on, this ambition was reluctantly put on hold.
With the advent of PCs and a need to retrain and use a computer, this old ambition was stirred and she decided to rekindle her love of books and writing at the grand old age of 42. At this point, she had reached a turning point in her life and studied nursing, and also decided to write the book she had promised herself one day she would write.
Her debut novel, Sons of the Wolf, was first published with the assistance of SilverWood Books in 2012. More recently she has republished it with her new publishing company, Longship Books, in Kindle. A new paperback version will be published by June. It is a story set in the years leading up to the Norman Conquest of England and the first in the Sons of the Wolf series, about this amazing time in English history.
She has always admired the works of Sharon Penman and Bernard Cornwell, Edith Pargetter and Mary Stewart, amongst many others. History is a great love of hers and her interest in the subject goes beyond that of the keyboard. She also enjoys Anglo-Saxon re-enactment with Regia Anglorum, also a great source of research for her writing. Paula says: “Write for enjoyment, write for yourself, regardless of what others say you should; for if you don’t write what you love, then how can you expect others to love what you write.”
Follow author Paula Lofting and keep up with her news, including her magnificent new blog and impressively researched and written entries about 1066, as well as the upcoming Wolf’s Bane, third in the Sons of the Wolf series. You can find her at her blog, Twitter and Facebook.