History and Mystery - by Helen Hollick

Today I'm delighted to turn the blog over to author Helen Hollick, whose new book in her Cosy Murder Mystery series has just been publis...

Sunday, 26 April 2020

Guest Post by Fiona Glass, author of Echoes of Blood

When Annie kindly suggested I write a guest post about my new book for her blog I wanted to do something that matched her love of history. Bit difficult, you might think, when the book is a modern-day love story set in Liverpool. On the face of it, you’d be right. But there is history in ‛Echoes of Blood’, quite a bit of it, in ways you might not expect.

For starters, main character Daniel is a history lecturer. He’s from Liverpool originally, and flees back to the city when his civil partnership breaks down, taking a job and a tutor’s apartment at Liverpool University while he tries to get his life back on track.

Daniel’s speciality is Roman Britain. He’s fascinated by the scars still left on the landscape after nearly two thousand years - the roads, the forts, the place names. He’s also intrigued by the old tales of the missing Ninth Legion, which apparently vanished from Eboracum (modern day York) in the second century AD. Lots of stories have been woven around the disappearance of the legion over the years. Some are relatively sensible, some less so, but I’m willing to bet none of them involve vampires. Because ‛Echoes of Blood’ is, in the end, a vampire tale. And that’s where the rest of the history creeps in. Vampires are immortal, as everyone knows. And where there’s long life, there’s history. A lot of it, in this particular case.

On the lookout for a bit of fun, Daniel visits a New Romantic gay club in the city, only to find himself being sucked into another world. It’s a world full of fascinating history: the men he meets are older than they look, telling tales of a past he never knew. One of them may even have links to the Ninth Legion itself. But ultimately it’s a world of danger, and a world of blood. One that wraps its tendrils around Daniel, and may take him to his doom.

I first heard about the Ninth Legion at university, while studying for a degree in History and Archaeology. We didn’t learn much about it, but what we did learn suggested that it was known fact: that the legion - and its disappearance - was well documented at the time. Researching for ‛Echoes of Blood’, I found that wasn’t the case at all. The legion is barely mentioned in historical documents; there’s a reference to the men building walls at the fort at Eboracum, and after that, there’s silence, until another reference to an entirely different legion marching into York at least a century later. That may not sound strange, but if one legion was in residence they’d be unlikely to add another one - there simply wouldn’t be room for all the men. And in Roman times that very silence is unusual, because the civilisation tended to record everything. Some historical records get lost over time, but it’s unlikely that every last mention would disappear, which is where the various theories have stepped in.

The last definite attestation of the Ninth: a stone inscription at York dated 108
On display at York Museum (Image Credit)

So what did happen? Well, historians now favour a more straightforward explanation: that the Legion was recalled to Rome, and wiped out fighting the Persians at some later date. But there are no records for that, either, so really it’s still anyone’s guess whether the men died here in Britain or elsewhere.

One thing’s certain - their end is unlikely to have involved vampires in any shape or form. But I had a lot of fun writing about the possibility, and hope readers will enjoy reading about it, too, woven into the tale of Daniel and his new and deadly friends.

Echoes of Blood’ is available on Kindle for only £2.99, or free on Kindle Unlimited. You can find more details including reviews and an excerpt on my website (http://www.fiona-glass.com/blood.html) if you’d like to try before you buy. And many thanks to Annie for letting me and my vampires loose on her blog!

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