Waterloo and remembering our veterans

Today, as you’ll probably have noticed, is the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo. One aspect of the battle that isn’t often mentioned is the reason for its name. The naming of battles isn’t always consistent and can tell you much about cultural assumptions. In the aftermath of Waterloo, the Prussians referred to the engagement as the battle of La Belle Alliance to signify the allied victory (La Belle Alliance is also the name of the inn where Napoleon had spent the preceding night). The French as befits their practical nature of the time called it the Battle of Mont-Saint-Jean, because the Mont-Saint-Jean ridge was where the French and Anglo-Dutch armies slugged it out.

British soldier of 23rd Foot  (Royal Welch Fusiliers). At Waterloo  they fought under Mitchell's 4th Brigade stationed near Hougoumont. With the heavy rain of the night before, the white trousers were said to be stained pink from dye running out of the jacket.  Image (c) Jakebnb (own work).

British soldier of 23rd Foot (Royal Welch Fusiliers). At Waterloo they fought under Mitchell’s 4th Brigade stationed near Hougoumont. With the heavy rain of the night before, the white trousers were said to be stained pink from dye running out of the jacket. Image (c) Jakebnb (own work).

The British didn’t like either of those names and settled on Waterloo, the name of the village where they’d placed their headquarters. The fighting was several miles away, but Waterloo sounded more British, apparently, and so that is the name we call it in the English-speaking world.

I know this trivia because thirty years ago I was mad keen on studying the Napoleonic Wars. Wargaming it too. I rediscovered something of a love of the period recently, when my brother gave me a collection of the stories of Brigadier Gerard by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Today I write military science fiction for a living and love doing so. Yet somewhere within the writer of 2015 is still the fourteen year old boy who stomped up the Lion’s Mound on one vacation to Belgium and surveyed the ridges, lanes and hamlets of the Mont-Saint-Jean ridge laid out before me.

Nonetheless, despite all the colorful paintings of perfect dress uniforms of the period that still impress today, the Napoleonic and Revolutionary Wars were a brutal meatgrinder that blighted Europe across three decades.

The celebrations and enactments playing out this week remind me of a perspective of a later war described by my friend, author, and veteran, Bob Atkinson. Authors write about war, in part, because life or death conflict places the people populating their stories under such intense stress that they are forced to reveal their character. Sometimes it’s good to remind ourselves that real wars are not generally fought for entertainment.


By Bob Atkinson

During a visit to San Diego, California, my wife and I visited the Shamu show at Sea World. The thing I recall most vividly about that day was this request made by the announcer prior to the show:

“Ladies and gentlemen, please give a round of applause to those men and women of our armed forces, past and present, and those of our allies”.

Now, I know San Diego is a major U.S. Navy and Marine Corps base, but I’ve never experienced anything of that nature here in the U.K.

The sad fact is the British do not hold their armed forces in the same high regard as do the Americans. The recent experiences of our troops in Afghanistan is slowly changing this perhaps, but we are a long way behind the U.S.

My father arrived home from the battlefields of France in 1945 on a hospital ship. He’d been badly injured at Nijmegen in Holland. Three years earlier he’d come home in another hospital ship, also badly injured, this time in Malta.

My dad just did not get along with the Germans.

He never talked about the war, at least not until the last few years of his life, when he began to open up about his experiences. When the boys came home from the war, he told me, nobody wanted to know what they’d been through. Anyone who tried to talk about it was seen as a bore. A blowhard. So they learnt to bottle it up and get on with life. But their experiences stayed with them all their days.

Many years ago, in the course of my work, I visited an old Highland croft-house in the back-end of beyond. The house was occupied by an old brother and sister, neither of whom had ever married. As the sister led me into the living room her brother scuttled into the kitchen, and remained there until I’d left.

“You have to excuse my brother,” said the lady. “He’s been like this since he came home from a German prisoner of war camp in 1945”. He had been captured with the rest of the 51st Highland Division at St. Valery in France, and had spent much of the next five years slaving in a Polish salt mine.

It broke my heart then, and it breaks it now to think of it: a soldier of the 51st, one of the finest divisions in the British army, reduced to this. Perhaps if he’d had counselling, been encouraged to talk about his experiences, the depression would not have taken him in his later years.

My father has been dead a long time now, but I am so grateful for the hours I spent listening as he unburdened himself. So, if there is a moral to this story it is this: If you are fortunate enough to have a family member, still alive, who served in WW2, or any conflict since then, talk to them. Today. Don’t believe this rubbish that they won’t want to talk about it. Lend a sensitive ear and they will unburden themselves.

It could be one of the most profound experiences of your life.

Bob Atkinson — 2012

RedSkyMorning_400pxBob wrote this to coincide with the launch of The Last Sunset, his bestselling time travel novel set at the time of the Battle of Culloden in 1745/6. If you enjoyed that book, then you’ll be delighted to hear that the sequel and concluding novel, Red Sky in the Morning, is out now in paperback and for pre-order in Kindle format (although it might not be available to buy for a few hours as it’s just been published).

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Red Sky in the Morning


Delicious artwork from Jon Banchick

For anyone waiting for the sequel to Bob Atkinson’s 2012 bestseller ‘The Last Sunset‘, your wait is nearly over. ‘Red Sky in the Morning’ concludes the adventures of Andy Macmillan and the other cast of soldiers and vacationers stranded in the Scottish Highlanders at the height of the 1745 rebellion.

The novel is overflowing with romance, danger, politicking, tragedy and atonement. And hovering just out of sight is the army of the Duke of Cumberland, or ‘Butcher Cumberland’ as the history books know him. The Duke’s redcoat army suffered a reverse in the first book, but no more than that. There will be a reckoning between the redcoats and the rebels, and Bob Atkinson does not shortchange his readers as he delivers a stunning climax.

The paperback is already available from Amazon. The Kindle edition will be available to pre-order shortly. Stay tuned (or press the subscribe button at the top-right of the website) for further news.


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Greyhart editor releases debut adventure fantasy with an exotic setting

Ashamet-CoverCongratulations to Terry Jackman, who did a great job editing some Greyhart titles a while ago, because her debut novel is on pre-order now, published by Dragonwell Publishing.

I haven’t read the book myself, but I have read Terry’s work before, and it is very good. Hence I’ve pre-ordered a copy myself from Amazon. I suspect Ashamet, Desert Born would go down particularly well for readers of our Greyhart fantasy series: The Lineage of Tellus.

“Headstrong was the least they said about me. Unpredictable, a wicked sense of humour? Gods, I hoped so.”

 A desert world. An empire where females are rare and males turn to each other for love.

And for Ashamet, its prince, a suddenly uncertain future…


All Ashamet wants is the warrior life he already has. But then a divine symbol appears on his arm, closely followed by an attempt on his life. Now nothing is simple any longer, even less so when a new and very foreign slave seems shocked by both his new surroundings – and his master’s amorous attentions.

Could this innocent young male hold the key to Ashamet’s survival? And to his heart?

Further details from Dragonwell Publishing.

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Second Part of The Lineage of Tellus — out now.

Tellus_Bk2_Cover09_flat_frontonly_800px_159dpiPoison & Passion is out today in Kindle and a luxuriant illustrated paperback edition.

If you enjoy classic fantasy adventure quests, with evil sorcerers, dragons, romance, not-at-all evil sorcerers, pirates, and treasure maps, and you enjoy indulging in a little broad-minded raunchiness, then you should throw away all your current book-reading places and read Poison & Passion instead. Even better, read Memories & Murder first, but you do not need to read the first book to enjoy the second.

Here’s some nice things people have said after reading Memories & Murder:

“… a solid adventure interspersed by intimate interpersonal exploration…” — Piers Anthony, author of the Xanth series.

 “The story and characters are so real and likeable…as they go from one crisis to another that you can’t help but get involved. I laughed and cried with them as they go on their exciting undertaking.” — 5* Amazon.com customer review

 “Give this book a try! You will be surprised at this modern cheeky take on fantasy.” — 5* Amazon.com customer review

We think Poison & Passion is even better. Here’s a snippet to show you what we mean.

Finn wasn’t able to sleep for long. He awoke with a start, covered in sweat, and quickly swatted a hand to his side to feel for Tris. It landed on the familiar swell of his back, which jerked slightly at the sudden touch.

Tristane reached an arm back and swatted him dismissively. “Stop messing about, Finn. Not now. Too tired.” He immediately fell back asleep and started to snore gently.

Why haven’t I been sleeping well? And what’s with these dreams? Finn ran a hand through his messy hair and shook his head, pulling the sheets off of him. Elder knew he’d had enough bad dreams before. That was how his memory had come back to him. Ashei’s mom—HIS mom—dying by his hand, and Varrus’s innocent sister … they had been nightmares that he hadn’t known were memories. The fact that it had been his father to blame for it all hurt more than anything. Yet, had he not been sent to Grenvale and Fleurdan, he never would have met Tris or any of them.

He looked back to the sleeping boy, who breathed deeply and steadily. “If it weren’t for you,” Finn thought aloud, sweeping back the tumble of silver from Tris’s fluttering lashes, “I might not be here. You mean more to me than you could possibly know.”

He kissed his cheek gently, the simple gesture unable to convey the depth behind it. Without him he might have lost his mind as his father had. He felt at times like he might still, but Tris was always there to talk to him, to hold him, to just be with him. It was a beautiful bond, one he had never thought he could have and still didn’t fully realize the scope of.

He got out of bed and stretched, the chilled air from the window cooling his warm body. Suddenly, a searing pain tore at his head and he grabbed it, cursing while falling to his knees.

What in—?

He could bear pain, but this was something far worse. He’d only had twinges before, but this was infusing him with a hot, deep throbbing that made his head feel like it was a drum being beaten by a blacksmith’s hammer. Finn buried his face in his hands as the heat spread to his nose in an agonizing torrent, then he gasped as blood dripped to the stone floor beneath him. What in blazes was going on with him? This wasn’t because of the Magus earlier, was it? It couldn’t be stress.

Shards of pain assaulted him so suddenly that he screamed, waking Tristane out of a dead sleep. He scrambled out of bed and darted over to Finn, grabbing him. “Finn? What’s wrong?” He smoothed back his hair to look into his eyes, then spied the blood. “Your nose … oh, Elder,” his hands drifted down to Finn’s chest, “you’re bleeding all over! Where did these cuts come from?”

Finn looked down. Blood was everywhere, smeared and streaming down his chest, his stomach, his legs…


For the Kindle version click here. And here for the paperback.

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The second Tellus book is available for pre-order, and it’s a cracker!

Tellus_Bk2_Cover09_flat_frontonly_800px_159dpi Kindle eBook available to pre-order

for release April 9th 2015

“… a solid adventure interspersed by intimate interpersonal exploration…” — Piers Anthony, author of the Xanth series on The Lineage of Tellus.

Greyhart Press is delighted to publish Poison & Passion: book 2 of The Lineage of Tellus, a high fantasy series for fans of adventure, dry wit, and broad sexuality. Written by author and illustrator Lauren J. Hasbrouck. The second book in the series gets straight into the action. Lovers become enemies, and dark truths are revealed as the struggle for the world gathers pace. For maximum reading pleasure, read the first book beforehand, but that isn’t necessary to enjoy reading this book.

If you pre-order (at the reduced price of 99cents), Amazon’s Whispersynch will deliver the Kindle edition to your devices by magic on April 9th. Let’s see if we can get this book up the charts because it certainly deserves to be a resounding success.

Ashei Greyhawke just inherited the realm of Fleurdan – and a wealth of problems. Her friends have left her for their lovers, her bodyguard wants to do more to her body than guard it, and her unstable brother—the murderer of their mother—has gone missing, presumed cursed. The dragon seen flying around has to be him, surely …

Join Ashei and her companions on a journey of sacrifice and struggle to save her brother… or kill him.

Poison & Passion, is the second book in The Lineage of Tellus, a high fantasy series for fans of adventure, dry wit, and broad-minded sexuality. You don’t need to have read the first book in order to join the adventure with Poison & Passion.

Some illustrations from Poison & Passion:

0_1_EB 1_EB 5_EB 11_EB




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It’s Christmas

From Greyhart Press, wishing you a Happy Christmas and a most excellent New Year.

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These are brilliant books.

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