THE BOAR KING’S HONOR TRILOGY
By Nancy Northcott
A wizard’s misplaced trust
A king wrongly blamed for murder
A bloodline cursed until they clear the king’s name
BOOK 2: THE STEEL ROSE
Amelia Mainwaring, a magically Gifted seer, is desperate to rescue the souls of her dead father and brother, who are trapped in a shadowy, wraith-filled land between life and death as the latest victims of their family curse. Lifting the curse requires clearing the name of King Richard III, who was wrongly accused of his nephews’ murder because of a mistake made by Amelia’s ancestor.
In London to seek help from a wizard scholar, Julian Winfield, Amelia has disturbing visions that warn of Napoleon Bonaparte’s escape from Elba and renewed war in Europe. A magical artifact fuels growing French support for Bonaparte. Can Amelia and Julian recover the artifact and deprive him of its power in time to avert the coming battles?
Their quest takes them from the crowded ballrooms of the London Season to the bloody field of Waterloo, demanding all of their courage, guile, and magical skill. Can they recover the artifact and stop Bonaparte? Or will all their hopes, along with Amanda’s father and brother, be doomed as a battle-weary Europe is once again engulfed in the flames of war?
The Steel Rose is the second book in the time-traveling, history-spanning fantasy series The Boar King’s Honor, from Nancy Northcott (Outcast Station, The Herald of Day).
My Road to Waterloo
by Nancy Northcott
Readers frequently ask authors, “Where do you get your ideas?” There are many answers to that question. Some authors cite books, newspapers, playing what if, or a combination of those. Another common answer is that in a series, the first book sets the parameters for those that follow. That’s how I came to write The Steel Rose and wound up doing a deep dive into the famous Battle of Waterloo.
The Steel Rose is the second book in a trilogy, so that dictated some story elements. The trilogy follows the efforts of a wizard family, the Mainwarings, to lift a blood curse. When they die, the Mainwaring heirs’ souls are trapped in a wraith-ridden shadowland. This is because their ancestor Edmund unwittingly helped murder Edward IV’s sons, who’re known as the Princes in the Tower. Edmund magically helped agents of his liege lord sneak into and out of the Tower of London unseen. He had no idea they would murder the boys, who’d been installed in the Tower’s royal apartments by their uncle, King Richard III, for their safety.
When Edmund realized he’d abetted murder, he flung himself on the king’s mercy. Because of the political situation, King Richard told him to keep quiet until the king gave him leave to speak. Unfortunately, Richard III died at Bosworth Field before that happened. Revealing the truth under the Tudors, who blamed King Richard for the boys’ deaths and anything else they could, would’ve been disastrous. Edmund would’ve been killed as a traitor, and his confession suppressed. Tormented by guilt, he cursed the heirs of his line to not rest in life or death until the family cleared the king’s name.
The first book in the trilogy, The Herald of Day, sent the hero and the heroine on a quest for a monastic chronicle that contained previously lost information justifying Richard III’s claim to the throne. They also had to battle a wizard who’d changed history to create a dictatorship of the mageborn, who’re known as Gifted.
In The Steel Rose, a new generation must deal with the family curse but in a different way. I’ve been a Ricardian (one who thinks Richard III was not nearly as bad as Shakespeare painted him, for those unfamiliar with that term) for most of my adult life, so I had a pretty good idea of the path I wanted to take regarding the curse. I don’t want to spoil it by saying too much, but I will say the Mainwarings hope the affidavit of a spurned would-be queen will provide the proof they need.
With that, I had the seeds of the plotline dealing with the blood curse. I still needed the larger plot that would drive the book.
Changing England’s history in The Herald of Day led to cataclysmic upheaval and thus involved high stakes. To follow up, I needed equally important stakes for The Steel Rose—something that involved a widespread threat with a lot on the line. Changing history again would’ve been repetitive, and I didn’t want to write a trilogy with that in each book anyway. I’ve read quite a few Regency romances and am drawn to those that feature the Battle of Waterloo or its aftermath. That battle, the greatest of its age, would supply the high stakes I needed.
The more I read about Waterloo, the more fascinated with it I became. As you may know, there have been more than enough books written about it to fill a library, even with double (and possibly triple) shelving. Writers talk about research taking them “down the rabbit hole,” and I definitely went there with Waterloo. I read everything I could get my hands on. In the end, only small bits landed on the page. The Steel Rose focuses more on the run-up to the battle than on the battle itself. But I needed to see the big picture to decide which parts I should include. The Prussians’ role, for example, struck me as critical and inspired an important event in the story.
There’s some disagreement as to what happened in the final moments of the battle, as Napoleon’s elite Imperial Guard charged the British and Allied line. I chose the sequence of events that worked best for my story. I’m happy with the result, and I hope readers will be too. Meanwhile, I’m hooked on the period. I’ll continue to read about this sprawling, important conflict from time to time. You never know when a story idea will pop up.
This is from Chapter 1, which is set at a ball in London on February 26, 1815. Stymied in her quest for information that will help lift the family curse, the heroine, Amelia Mainwaring, resolves to enjoy the rest of the evening. But a seer never knows when her Gift will change her plans.
Amelia sighed. She had done what she could this evening. She should put her disappointment aside for now and enjoy herself. Sophie and her family were always good company, and Amelia could begin a new round of inquiries tomorrow. One never knew who might have a clue to the truth or information about other ways to lift family curses.
“Let’s walk again,” Sophie said.
The two women moved along. Amelia watched the dancing, smiling couples. They seemed to enjoy themselves, and why not? She and Crispin, her tall, dark-haired husband, had enjoyed flirting with each other from the moment they met until a few days before his death.
They’d shared everything about themselves, including her closeness to the family ghosts. She would’ve bet her pin money few of the dancers, if any, believed in ghosts.
Yet ghosts had been Amelia’s main teachers in the use of her Gifts. Her mother opposed the use of magic, allowing training for Adam, Amelia’s twin, only because he was the heir. Fortunately, Adam had shared what he’d learned, and their ghostly great-great-grandparents had offered further aid. Grandmother Miranda had taught her summoning and guided her in using her Gifts since she was small.
“Sophie, do you—”
The ballroom winked out of being. In its stead, faint, fuzzy images drifted over shadowy ground. Gradually they resolved into men in blue or red or green uniforms fighting on foot or horseback. She knew those uniforms, worn by Napoleon Bonaparte’s armies and the Allies who opposed him.
A red-jacketed cavalryman charged at her, his sword high. Shrieking, she tried to dodge, only to have him ride through her in a rush of icy cold that made her shiver.
Out, she thought. I need out of this vision. Out.
She tried to put power behind the words, as her ghostly tutors had instructed, but nothing changed. Another rider charged. She scrambled out of his path—and through a red-coated infantryman’s musket barrel. Gasping with cold and terror, she dived under a slashing blade to cower against a waist-high outcropping of rock.
The soldiers fired at each other through air already thick with gunpowder smoke. The din rang in her ears. Smoke and the acrid stench of blood stung her nostrils, and she coughed.
As suddenly as it had begun, the vision ended. She was back in the ballroom with Sophie peering at her anxiously. The scents of beeswax and perfumes supplanted those of gunpowder and blood. The musicians still played the same quadrille.
Yet her heart pounded, and her head felt light. Shivering, she clutched her shawl. Her seer Gift had never manifested so strongly on its own. Why now?
“Did I do or say anything odd?” she asked Sophie.
“No, but you looked dazed. What is it?”
“Not here. Let’s find a private place.”
The library or some other unoccupied room would have a fire. Amelia could use the flames to scry, to see if she could develop what she’d Seen.
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.
She has written freelance articles and taught at the college level. Her most popular course was on science fiction, fantasy, and society. She has also given presentations on the Wars of the Roses and Richard III to university classes studying Shakespeare’s Richard III. Reviewers have described her books as melding fantasy, romance, and suspense. Library Journal gave her debut novel, Renegade, a starred review, calling it “genre fiction at its best.”
In addition to the historical fantasy Boar King’s Honor trilogy, Nancy writes the Light Mage Wars paranormal romances, the Arachnid Files romantic suspense novellas, and the Lethal Webs romantic spy adventures. With Jeanne Adams, she co-writes the Outcast Station science fiction mysteries.
Married since 1987, Nancy and her husband have one son, a bossy dog, and a house full of books.