New post on Julian Stockwin
The Silk Tree
Forced to flee Rome from the barbaric rampages of the Ostrogoths, merchant Nicander meets an unlikely ally in the form of Marius, a fierce Roman legionary. Escaping to a new life in Constantinople, the two land upon its shores lonely and penniless. Needing to make money fast, they plot and plan a number of outrageous money-making schemes, until they chance upon their greatest idea yet.
Armed with a wicked plan to steal precious silk seeds from the faraway land of Seres, Nicander and Marius must embark upon a terrifyingly treacherous journey across unknown lands, never before completed.
The genesis of this book was in a bazaar in Istanbul. Kathy was haggling with a merchant over a rather lovely silk scarf and I idly wondered just how silk had made its way to the West. Later, I did some research and the creative juices started flowing…
The Powder of Death
But then what would be my next book? There are a number of pivotal points in history that I’m drawn to (and which will be the focus of future books in the series) but for my second one I chose the deadly introduction of gunpowder into Medieval Europe. While living in Hong Kong I was also fascinated by Joseph Needham’s monumental histories of science in China, which included a discussion of gunpowder. In fact the books travelled with me to England, and are still in my library. My father was an officer in the Royal Horse Artillery during the war and this book is dedicated to him.
The Powder of Death opens with a returned envoy to China meeting an English scholar in Oxford in the mid-13th century to share a lethal secret. They vow that the knowledge of gunpowder must die with them as the consequences otherwise are too terrible to contemplate. The novel tells the story of its re-discovery, one man’s obsession with the powder of death, and Edward III’s determination to use it to his advantage. He does so at the Battle of Crecy, the first full-scale battle at which guns are deployed in the field. The nature of warfare is changed forever, and the world hears the death-knell of Knightly chivalry.