Any history geek will tell you that there are some subjects that can really get the debate going, heated arguments for and against flying back and forth. One such subject is Richard III: did he or didn’t he kill his nephews? Some are utterly convinced he did. Others furiously claim he most certainly did not. Few are the history nerds who don’t have an opinion one way or thh other . . . And yes, I have an opinion as well, but seeing as today is NOT about me, I shall keep it to myself.
Today’s guest, Nancy Northcott, falls into the category that believes Richard to be innocent. And with that belief as a building block and a penchant for magic, she has just released The King’s Champion, third in her series, The Boar King’s Honor, which delivers an intriguing mix of history and fantasy. But before we introduce this her latest release, Nancy has given us some background as to why–and how–she has chosen to combine the story of the last Plantagenet king with a healthy dose of magic. Take it away, Nancy!
Roaming through History
The Boar King’s Honor trilogy was born of my love for history and mysteries. It started with my interest in the controversy surrounding England’s Richard III and the fates of his nephews,
Edward IV’s sons, whom we know as the Princes in the Tower.
According to the traditionalist view and to Shakespeare (who was not an historian and, in fact, made things up for a living), King Richard had his nephews killed so they couldn’t stand in the way of his claim to the throne.
The more I read, the more I became convinced that the case against him was shaky at best. Parliament had passed an act, the Titulus Regius, declaring that the boys were bastards, with no claim to the throne, because their parents’ marriage was bigamous. This act also held that Richard, then Duke of Gloucester, was Edward IV’s rightful, legal heir, and he was duly crowned.
The Duke of Buckingham looked like a more likely suspect in the deaths of the boys. He occupied a position of trust that would allow him access to the Tower of London, where they
were housed, and he rebelled against King Richard in October of 1483, about the time they were last reported seen in the Tower.
Buckingham had a claim to the throne, although an inferior one, and would’ve had an interest in eliminating anyone who might stand in his way. Bastards or not, the boys might’ve been seen by some as preferable to him when picking a king.
My thinking has since evolved, and I’ve become convinced that Edward IV’s sons survived their Uncle Richard , but that’s a topic for another time.
Anyway, I decided I wanted to write a book premised on Buckingham having done away with Edward IV’s sons.
The Tower of London was a royal residence, a very secure one, not only a prison. There would’ve been guards about at all times along with workers and household attendants for the two
boys. So how would agents sent to murder them enter the Tower and their apartments and then (as the traditional account claims Richard III’s henchmen did) bury them under a staircase and
leave, all without being seen?
The answer I came up with was, by magic.
In the imaginary backstory for the trilogy, a wizard named Edmund Mainwaring was part of Buckingham’s affinity. He helped the duke’s agents enter the Tower, accomplish their deadly
goal, and slip out again unseen. When he learned he had unwittingly abetted murder, he was horrified. He threw himself on the king’s mercy, but King Richard, citing the political climate,
told him to keep silent until the king gave him leave to speak.
Unfortunately, the king died at Bosworth Field before allowing Edmund to reveal the truth, and the Tudors who came to power devoted themselves to besmirching King Richard’s reputation,
denying his claim to the throne, and blamed him for the boy’s deaths. Speaking out would’ve cost Edmund his life.
Tormented by guilt, he cursed his line so his heirs would never rest in life or death until they cleared the king ’s name.
The family’s quest to do so runs through the Boar King’s Honor trilogy, which is so named because Richard III used a white boar as his emblem. I picked up their story in 1674 with the first book of the trilogy, The Herald of Day. I knew I didn’t have enough to sustain a novel-length story, so I also had the characters confront a bigger problem with higher stakes. A wizard changed the past so that he could seize power and create a dictatorship of the magically Gifted. If the main characters couldn’t figure out what had happened, who had done it, and how to undo it, the grim new reality would become permanent. Their efforts to resolve the Mainwaring curse were woven through that.
I chose 1674 as the year for the story because that was the year the bones labeled those of the Edward IV’s sons were discovered under a staircase in the Tower of London. Those bones are now interred in the Henry VII chapel at Westminster Abbey. Although a forensic examination in the 1930s purported to confirm their identities, modern forensics experts have cast doubt on that.
For story purposes, though, I assumed those were the boys’ bones, and I used the discovery as a means for the villain to splice through time and change the past. The book was originally designed as a standalone, but when I reached the end, the resolution seemed too easy.
A friend suggested making it a trilogy.
The more I thought about that idea, the more I liked it. But I needed two more high-stakes problems for these two books. I thought first of the Battle of Waterloo, which occurred in 1815. It was probably the single most important event between 1674 and the twentieth century. If Napoleon had won, he would’ve plunged Europe back into war. As I read about it, I became increasingly curious. Before his 1814 surrender and abdication, Napoleon bankrupted France. He wiped out the better part of a generation of young men. Yet
Frenchmen flocked to his standard. Why? I saw a way to answer that question with a combination of magic and history.
Now I had the main plot for The Steel Rose, but what would I do about the subplot of the Mainwaring curse? I went back to 1483 and found the answer. Richard III, then Duke of Gloucester, presented Parliament with proof that his brother’s marriage was bigamous. We don’t know exactly what he offered because his evidence has disappeared, probably within days of Henry VII assuming control. But part of it showed Edward IV had contracted marriage with Lady Eleanor Butler and consummated the contract, making it a valid marriage under canon law. In Lady Eleanor, I saw a way to affect the Mainwarings’ situation. I don’t want to say what it was because I don’t want to spoil it. 🙂
That left me with one more book to plan, and the choice of setting was easy. I’ve always loved reading about the summer of 1940 and the Battle of Britain. France had fallen, and Britain stood alone. Against the odds, the British withstood the Nazi attacks while they rebuilt their armed forces. Because they did, the Allies had a place to stage D-Day in 1944. The modern world might be very different if Britain had fallen.
The books in the trilogy are set during a span of 266 years and in three different eras. The overall story, though, begins in 1483 and ends with VE Day in 1945, encompassing 462 years in all. I’m really glad I didn’t have to research all those centuries.
I thoroughly enjoyed the research I did do, though. I’m a history geek and an Anglophile. I chose eras I like studying in English history as settings. I love fantasy and adventure and magic, so how could I not enjoy roaming through history to weave all of that together?
Thank you for having me, Anna!
And thank you for sharing that with us, Nancy!
Now onto the blurb for The King’s Champion:
A wizard’s misplaced trust
A king wrongly blamed
A bloodline cursed until they clear the king’s name.
Caught up in the desperate evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from France in the summer of 1940, photojournalist Kate Shaw witnesses death and destruction that trigger disturbing visions. She doesn’t believe in magic and tries to pass them off as survivor guilt or an overactive imagination, but the increasingly intense visions force her to accept that she is not only magically Gifted but a seer.
In Dover, she meets her distant cousin Sebastian Mainwaring, Earl of Hawkstowe and an officer in the British Army. He’s also a seer and is desperate to recruit her rare Gift for the war effort. The fall of France leaves Britain standing alone as the full weight of Nazi military might threatens. Kate’s untrained Gift flares out of control, forcing her to accept Sebastian’s help in conquering it as her ethics compel her to use her ability for the cause that is right.
As this fledgling wizard comes into her own, her visions warn of an impending German invasion, Operation Sealion, which British intelligence confirms. At the same time, desire to help Sebastian, who’s doomed by a family curse arising from a centuries-old murder, leads Kate to a shadowy afterworld between life and death and the trapped, fading souls who are the roots of her family’s story. From the bloody battlefields of France to the salons of London, Kate and Sebastian race against time to free his family’s cursed souls and to stop an invasion that could doom the Allied cause.
The King’s Champion concludes Nancy’s Northcott’s exciting Boar King’s Honor Trilogy.
This series is available to read on #KindleUnlimited.
The Herald of Day
Universal Buy Link
The Steel Rose
The King’s Champion
The Boar King’s Honor Trilogy Links:
Author Bio: Nancy Northcott’s childhood ambition was to grow up and become Wonder Woman. Around fourth grade, she realized it was too late to acquire Amazon genes, but she still loved comic books, science fiction, fantasy, history, and romance.
Nancy earned her undergraduate degree in history and particularly enjoyed a summer spent studying Tudor and Stuart England at the University of Oxford. She has given presentations on the Wars of the Roses and Richard III to university classes studying Shakespeare’s play about that king. In addition, she has taught college courses on science fiction, fantasy, and society.
The Boar King’s Honor historical fantasy trilogy combines Nancy’s love of history and magic with her interest in Richard III. She also writes traditional romantic suspense, romantic spy adventures, and two other speculative fiction series, the Light Mage Wars paranormal romances and, with Jeanne Adams, the Outcast Station space mystery series.
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Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/stores/Nancy-Northcott/author/B00ITY5KLS