After what seems like an age, the Amber Crown is out today. I’d already written a first draft before I sold my first book to DAW in 2013. That sale led to six books (two trilogies), so I didn’t have time to go back to The Amber Crown until I’d finished all the books that were under contract. Once I delivered Rowankind, I dug out The Amber Crown and started a major structural edit, swapping things around, writing in extra backstory, and completely rewriting the ending.
Why is it set in the Baltic?
A few years ago I was sitting at my desk, falling down a google-shaped rabbit hole, hopping from one random factoid to another when I came across an article on the Livonian Brothers, the Teutonic Knights, and the Northern Crusades. Like most people I always thought of the Crusades as being exclusively Jerusalem-focused and featuring Saladin and Richard the Lionheart in a hot, arid landscape. But the Northern Crusades were the Christian colonisation of the pagan Baltic peoples by Catholic Christian military orders. Separate crusades came in waves from the late 12th century through to the 14th. Until then I’d assumed that Christianity had continued to spread northwards, much as it had spread through the British islands. How wrong I was. Although I considered it, I didn’t set my book in that exact period, but one thing that stuck with me was that the Baltic lands were Christianised late and that pagan beliefs (and magic) lasted longer there. That gave me an opening, so my book is set somewhere around the 16th century in an imaginery country, Zavonia, that’s approximately where Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia are today.
I researched the architecture, the clothing, the food, and tried to capture a Baltic feel, though I changed the names of the countries. Of course I’m not writing history, but I wanted the flavour of history. Verisimilitude.
They say if you are going to steal, steal from the best. I stole the Polish Winged Hussars from history, and transplanted them to my Zavonia. If you want to be amazed, look them up. These guys rode into battle with enormous wings made of eagle feathers on an iron frame strapped to their backs; the shock troops of their day.
Characters and Conflict
A story is all about conflicted characters in difficult situations, and this one has plenty of character conflict, with three main protagonists, Valdas, Mirza, and Lind. They start out separate and come together as the book progresses.
Valdas was the first character who presented himself to me. As the story starts he’s captain of the High Guard, King Konstantyn’s bodyguard. He’s a good soldier, solid and responsible. He didn’t rise to his position by being ordinary. He’s a decorated hero of the battle of Tevshenna (complete with wings) but that doesn’t help him when the king is killed and he’s accused.
Lind, the clever assassin, dispassionate and cold blooded, presented himself to me next. His thoroughly professional exterior hides a mess of a man with more hangups than your average wardrobe. I really enjoyed writing Lind. He’s the character who goes through the biggest change, from a terrible childhood to… well I can’t tell you that, you’ll have to read The Amber Crown.
So where does the magic come in? Mirza is the witch-healer of a Landstrider band of travellers. She’s tasked by the ghost of the dead king, to travel with Valdas because he doesn’t believe in magic (which is unfortunate as it turns out). There’s a dark power rising in the capital city of Biela Miasto and Mirza is the only one who can stand against it – though she can’t do it alone.
If you read this in time and you fancy coming along to the virtual launch event on Facebook Live, it’s at 8.00 p.m. (UK time) – that’s 3.00 p.m. in New York – on Tuesday 11th January 2022. I’ll be in conversation with Tiffani Angus and there will be a Q&A session too. You’ll find it here: https://www.facebook.com/jacey.bedford.writer If you’ve missed the actual event by the time you read this, the video will be up on Facebook and Youtube afterwards.
I hope you’ll buy the book and enjoy it, and if you do it would be a tremendous help to me if you can review it, shout about it, mention it anywhere, your own blog, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Amazon, Instagram, Bookstagram. Once a book gets more than 50 reviews on Amazon it’s bumped up in the algorithms and shown to a lot more people. Your review doesn’t have to be reams of purple prose, just a few words will be fine. It’s the number of reviews that count on Amazon, not the length. Though, of course, I’ll be doubly grateful for thoughtful words.
You can buy now in dead tree version or electronic.
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Books A Million
Ebooks also from: Google Play Store and Kobo