Tried watching the Olympic sabre matches yesterday. Lost interest after five minutes. It’s a terrible cultural travesty that over the course of the 20th century we lost our European martial arts tradition. The noble art of defence has degenerated into an electrified wrist-flicking, weenie-wire speed-reflex test with no relation to its dueling antecedents. You can be sure the Japanese would never let such a thing happen to their sword traditions. They know that form follows function. I know I’m biased–but I actually did foil and epee as an undergraduate, and played with sabre as well before discovering something better. Thank the stars above that over the last 20 years, enthusiasts all over Europe and North America are rediscovering true European martial arts through sword academies that resurrect the fencing manuals and techniques of the renaissance and 17th centuries. This isn’t some choreographed stage fighting but actual practice and sparring under controlled conditions, fought in the round, not on a piste. No one wants to skewer their best friend. Many groups are in federations now, with proper certification, training, and structure to make it more than a lark. They are claiming back European swordsmanship using real swords and not kebab skewers. There are many examples on the web and I’ve included a few videos here. Maybe we can take back the Olympics in another 20 years.
My debut novel, Gideon’s Angel, is published in mid-March 2013 by Solaris Books but there’s still editing to be done and I’m frantically writing revisions right now. Some rip-roaring cover art is being worked on as we speak. You can read the announcement from the press here: http://blogs.coventrytelegraph.net/thegeekfiles/2012/02/solaris-picks-up-clifford-beal.html
It’s historical adventure, and largely true to actual events, but with some judicious sprinkling (ok, lashings) of the fantastic. Here’s the cover blurb for you:
He came back to kill a tyrant. He found the Devil instead.
1653: The long and bloody English Civil War is at an end. King Charles is dead and Oliver Cromwell rules the land as king in all but name. Richard Treadwell, an exiled royalist officer and soldier-for-hire to the King of France and his all-powerful advisor, the wily Cardinal Mazarin, burns with revenge for those who deprived him of his family and fortune. He decides upon a self-appointed mission to return to England in secret and assassinate the new Lord Protector. Once back on English soil however, he learns that his is not the only plot in motion.
A secret army run by a deluded Puritan is bent on the same quest, guided by the Devil’s hand. When demonic entities are summoned, Treadwell finds himself in a desperate turnaround: he must save Cromwell to save England from a literal descent into Hell. But first he has to contend with a wife he left in Devon who believes she’s a widow, and a furious Paris mistress who has trailed him to England, jeopardising everything. Treadwell needs allies fast. Can he convince the man sent to forcibly drag him back to Cardinal Mazarin? A young king’s musketeer named d’Artagnan.
Black dogs and demons; religion and magic; Freemasons and Ranters. It’s a dangerous new Republic for an old cavalier coming home again.
Jeez, I’ve got goosebumps just reading that again.
Welcome to my blog. You’ll find here various posts about my writing, forthcoming books, and miscellaneous ramblings about whatever takes my fancy. Even the occasional rant.
My writing has taken a hard turn to port since my first book was published back in 2007 and I’m now concentrating on fiction (though one cheeky reviewer said Quelch’s Gold WAS fiction).
You can read the most recent review, from The Spectator, here: http://images.spectator.co.uk/arts-and-culture/night-and-day/7651153/a-ripping-yarn.thtml