Thursday 10 December 2020

Have a sneak-peak between the covers of Craig R. Hipkins fabulous book – Clement: Boy Knight of Normandy #HistoricalFiction #ChristmasReads #YoungAdult @CraigHipkins


Publication Date: September 19, 2020
Publisher: Hipkins Twins
Page Length: 274
Genre: Historical Fiction/ YA

Clement is no ordinary thirteen year old boy. He lives in a castle in 12th century Normandy. After helping Adalbert on his quest to find a long lost treasure, Clement and his friend Dagena return for another adventure. This time, Clement must overcome the evil ambitions of his wicked uncle, Sven the Terrible! Prepare yourself for some medieval action and excitement that you will not soon forget. This is the first book in a planned trilogy. Clement and Dagena first appeared in the novel Adalbert.

Clement instinctively pushed Dagena behind him as he pulled out his dagger. Olaf followed suit and the two boys started to back up as the giant slowly moved forward. 

“Stand back, sir! I warn you or thou will feel the taste of my blade!” Clement exclaimed boldly. 

The giant stopped, much to the surprise of the youths, who looked at one another with wonderment. 

“Who art thou that trespass in the abode of Jacques?” the big man asked with a surprisingly nimble tongue.

“Your abode?” Clement questioned. “I do believe that this cave and the land surrounding it belongs to the Count of la Haye! You, sir, are the one who is trespassing.”

The giant’s mouth curled into a snarl. “Well, boy! When I see this Count of la Haye, I shall crush him under my boot as if he were a vile insect! And when I am done, roast him on a spit and feed him to my dogs!”

Clement’s eyes narrowed and he boldly took a step forward. “Well, if you must know…I…” Dagena quickly grabbed him from behind and covered his mouth with her hand before he could finish the sentence. 

“Uh…Clement. That would not be a wise thing to do,” she said, whispering in his ear. “What is it about being roasted on a spit that you don’t understand?”

The giant had a canvas bag slung over his shoulder that he gently dropped to the ground in front of him. He then crossed his arms and looked at the trio menacingly. 

“I am hungry!” he roared. The sound of his powerful voice echoing through the cave. 
“Oh no, Clement! I knew this was a bad idea. He’s planning to eat us!” Olaf screamed waving his dagger at the giant, whose expression changed from one of menacing danger to one of curious introspection. 

“Eat you?” The giant let out a violent laugh and pointed to Olaf, who was looking at him fearfully. “Eat you, the boy says! Why would I do that?”  

The two boys looked at one another and then glanced behind them at Dagena, who had a perplexed look on her face.

Amazon USAmazon UKHipkins Twins

Goblins, Fairies, House-Spirits & the Imagination

"Plucked from the Fairy Circle"
A man saves his friend from the grip of a fairy ring : Wikipedia

The world is full of legends, myths and folk tales that become imbedded in a country’s cultural history. In the days of old, people were at a loss as to explain certain aspects of the natural world that they did not understand. They explained these mysteries using the only means in which they had been endowed. They accomplished this through reason and experience. Often, they would come up with erroneous conclusions based on their limited scientific ability. Naturally, they would turn to the spirit world where such mysteries must (according to them) come from. Each culture has its own legends that often times transcend the bounds of reason. These legends do not have to fit in with the corporeal world of mere mortals. They belong to another realm where something greater than mankind dwells. A place where the fragile human is reduced to being a subject of interest, or a plaything for these superior beings. These beings might take the shape of omnipotent Gods like Zeus, or Odin. They might appear as great warriors such as the Irish hero Cuchulainn, or the Sumerian King, Gilgamesh. However, they may appear in a more innocuous form, at least at first, before beguiling the unwary human. Some of these beings’ issue forth as goblins, fairies or house spirits.

When I was a small child living in the backwoods of rural New England my brother and I would often form exploratory parties and venture off into the woods to see what we could find. I can still recall the feeling that I would get when I noticed or heard something that I did not yet understand. One time, during the autumn, when the leaves had fallen from the trees in thick, brown, red, orange and yellow piles, I heard a sound close by that I had not previously heard in my short life. It was a creaking sound, as if something heavy was being moved. I immediately scanned the forest looking for a giant, or ogre who might suddenly appear above the treetops wielding a large club. I then thought that I heard heavy footsteps crushing the brittle leaves. Even after I finally determined that the creaking sound was coming from a dead tree swaying in the cool autumn breeze I still made leaps and bounds over fallen logs, and boulders as fast as my little legs would carry me back to the safety of our house. My brother, of course, reaching the safety of the backdoor yards ahead of me. I bring this up only to show that the human mind can imagine and invent many things. It can create something out of little or nothing. This is how legends start.

House spirits have been a part of folklore for centuries. The English house spirit is commonly referred to as a Brownie. In Russia it is called a Domovoy, and the Germans call it a Kobold. Typically, these spirits are guardians of a house, barn, or stable. They are generally benevolent spirits that merely guard the residence and protect it from evildoers. Traditionally, the resident of the house gives these spirits an offering of some kind. Usually this is in the form of a block of cheese, some bread, a bowl of milk, or some other edible. There are, however, other fairies that are not so nice, and in fact are associated with mischief of some kind, and sometimes downright terror. There is the Irish Banshee that howls or cries outside of a bedroom window at night. This is usually taken as an omen that the occupant of that room will soon die. Probably one of the most terrifying fairy legends has circulated among the English countryside for centuries. It is a water spirit that haunts the creeks, marshes and brooks of old England and goes by the name of Jenny Greenteeth. This wretched monster is an old ugly hag, usually green and slimy looking with long hair and sharp teeth. It crawls out of the water grabbing unsuspecting children and carries them into the watery depths to an early grave. This legend probably arose from an innate fear that parents had of their children drowning.

"Watch out for Old Jenny, or she'll pull ye down into a watery grave!"

  Goblins have a long history, especially in Europe. There is Redcap who lurks in the ruins of old houses and castles and preys on the unwary traveler who might cross his path. His cap is supposed to be dyed red in human blood. Probably the most famous of goblins is the English, Puck. Puck resides in the forest, and often makes mischief by raiding farmers barns, toppling things from shelves, and opening stable gates. He makes an appearance in William Shakespeares play A Midsummer-Night's Dream.

Puck: Fairy, thou speak'st aright;
           I am that merry wanderer of the night.
           I jest to Oberon, and make him smile
           When I a fat and bean-fed horse beguile,
           Neighing in likeness of a filly foal:
           And sometimes lurk in a gossip's bowl,
           In very likeness of a roasted crab;
           And, when she drinks, against her lips I bob
           And on her wither'd dewlap pour the ale.
   Another well-known goblin, or fairy like creature comes from either a German, or Dutch legend called Rumpelstiltskin. A certain miller brags to his king one day that his daughter can weave straw, or hair into gold. The king imprisons the girl and threatens to cut off her head if the room she is in is not filled with gold by the next morning. The girl, of course, does not know the secret of alchemy, however she is saved by the sudden appearance of Rumpelstiltskin. He emerges from the shadows and agrees to fill the room with gold if the miller's daughter gives him her ring. She readily agrees, and the next morning the room is filled with gold, much to the satisfaction of the greedy king. The king then demands that she fill the room with gold again or lose her head in the morning. If she succeeds, he will marry her. Once again, Rumpelstiltskin comes to the rescue. This time, however, he demands that she is to give up her first-born son to him as payment. She agrees, and the next morning the king returns to see more gold and keeps his promise by marrying the girl. Sometime later, the girl has her first-born son, and Rumpelstiltskin returns for his payment. She refuses him outright, but he swears revenge. He tells her that she can keep the boy if she can find out what his name is within three days. She sends a spy to the goblin's cottage where he is seen dancing around in his parlor repeating a chant.

                                Today I'll brew, and tomorrow I'll bake.
                                And the child away I will take.
                                For little knows the queen.
                                Rumpelstiltskin is the name!

Rumpelstiltskin returns to the queen and demands his due, but she shocks him by divulging his name. He becomes so mad that he stomps his feet on the ground causing a great crack in the earth where he falls in never to return.

     Rumpelstiltskin was one of my favorite stories from my childhood. It brought out the imagination, and I would often believe that I would meet up with a goblin-like character on one of my forays into the woods where the Nipmucks had trod centuries before. Perhaps I would even enter a fairy circle and join them in a dance, never to return to the world I knew. Of course, the circle that I encountered was nothing more than a whirlwind, turning the crisp autumn leaves into a funnel in which I soon entered...It was the whirlwind of youth, a time when you could enjoy the freedom of imagination.

Craig R. Hipkins grew up in Hubbardston Massachusetts. He is the author of medieval and gothic fiction. His novel Adalbert is the sequel to Astrolabe written by his late twin brother Jay S. Hipkins (1968-2018)

He is an avid long-distance runner and enjoys astronomy in his spare time.

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See you on your next coffee break!
Take Care,
Mary Anne xxx