The Earls of Mercia series & Side Stories by MJ Porter (.ePUB)
The Earls of Mercia series & Side Stories by MJ Porter (.ePUB)
Requirements: .ePUB Reader, 3.8 MB
Overview: I’m an author of fantasy (Viking age/dragon-themed) and historical fiction (Early English, Vikings and the British Isles as a whole before the Norman Conquest), born in the old Mercian kingdom at some point since 1066. Raised in the shadow of a strange little building and told from a very young age that it housed the bones of long-dead Kings of Mercia and that our garden was littered with old pieces of pottery from a long-ago battle, it’s little wonder that my curiosity in the Anglo-Saxons ran riot. I can only blame my parents!
Genre: Historical Fiction
1. Viking Sword (aka The Earl of Mercia’s Father)
It’s the second Viking Age in England, and King Æthelred II reigns.
Five ealdormen represent him in the old Saxon kingdoms. Battles are being fought against the viking raiders looking to plunder England for her wealth. Leofwine is the ealdorman of the Hwicce.
On a diplomatic mission in 994, escorting home Olaf, the King of Norway, Leofwine is gravely injured in battle, losing the sight in one eye, and badly scarring half of his face.
Leofwine fears his new wife will find him repulsive and leave him, but she stands loyally by his side when he arrives home, delighted that her husband is still alive, as she had been told he died in battle. Leofwine spends time with his wife and their infant son, Northman, as he recovers from his wounds. He is a good man and a brave leader, but now his men fear his limited vision will be a hindrance when he leads them in battle, and that fear is increased when Leofwine falls in front of them. But Leofwine is smart.
He trains his loyal hound Hunter to walk ahead of him, indicating where he may trip, and he trains hard to make up for his limited vision. Having lost his own father in battle with the raiders, Leofwine has taken care of the lands with the help of his father’s closest confidant, Wulfstan, since he was a boy.
But he knows a great battle is looming, and he is not sure if his king, who has never lead his men in battle before, is up to the task of ridding the land of the raiders, and putting a stop to the Viking menace once and for all.
2. Viking Enemy (aka The Danish King’s Enemy)
It’s the second Viking Age in England, and King Æthelred II reigns. Five ealdormen represent him in the old Saxon kingdoms – united now for fifty years. But battles are still being fought against the Viking raiders looking to plunder England for her wealth.
Leofwine is the ealdorman of the Hwicce and has proved himself in the Battle of Strathclyde. But the spectre of Swein, King of Denmark, the man who partially blinded him five years before while on a diplomatic mission, has suddenly become a harrowing reality with the death of King Olaf of Norway at his hands. As the Viking raids intensify under Swein’s command, conflict at the King’s Witan and amongst his councillors is growing.
Leofwine finds himself treading a difficult path between loyalty and the twisted self-interests of the men the King insists on surrounding himself with. The sychophants are winning as an impressionable monarch replaces unsuitable men with those who are even more ineffectual. Leofwine knows a great battle is looming and doubts whether the King is up to the task of ridding the land of the raiders.
Can Leofwine weather more storms and grow his own power base? Will his King, once and for all, lose patience with his damaged ealdorman? Will Swein exact his final revenge on Leofwine? Can Leofwine put a stop to the Viking menace once and for all?
Swein: The Danish King (Side Story)
Before his encounter with Ealdorman Leofwine on his fateful trip to Shetland, King Swein first had to wrestle Denmark from an overmighty father and make his own name as a warrior of great renown.
This side story to the Earls of Mercia series tells of the early years of King Swein’s reign, his first raid on England, his unfortunate encounter with Ealdorman Leofwine and his desire to once and for all kill Olaf of Norway, culminating in the mighty sea battle of Svolder in 999.
Swein, the Danish King is a companion story to the epic Earls of Mercia series and should perhaps be read following Viking Enemy (The Danish King’s Enemy), Book 2 of the Earls of Mercia Series.
3. Northman: Part 1
Northman, the eldest son of Ealdorman Leofwine, fostered, at the King’s insistence, by Eadric of Mercia, finds himself caught between loyalty to his father and his foster father.
Fighting for his own sense of self, whilst Viking Raiders vie for the English King’s land, he must choose his own path, and hold true to his own belief’s amongst murky Court politics and bitter pitched battles.
Leofwine, Ealdorman of the Hwicce, must accept his King’s wishes with regards to his eldest son, even though he finds them abhorrent. Simultaneously he must continue to act in the best interests of his king as the English people face their direst threat yet, the raiding of Thorkell the Tall, the king of Denmark’s own Commander, trusted friend and foster-father of his son, Cnut.
And when events become even direr, will father and son act as one, or will they be torn apart by the machinations of the man who plots to undermine every action the king takes, Ealdorman Eadric?
4. Northman: Part 2
Northman, eldest son of Ealdorman Leofwine, husband, father and brother almost snatched a moment of peace when King Swein of Denmark helped himself to the English throne, and Aethelred removed himself to the Court of Duke Richard II of Normandy, his brother by marriage.
But when Swein unexpectedly dies weeks after his coronation, England is once more plunged into strife and war, for who will succeed to the throne now?
Leofwine, ex-enemy and sometime friend of Swein of Denmark, is given an unenviable task on the short-lived King’s deathbed, one he will struggle to accomplish without compromising himself, his family, and oaths already given.
Northman, son of Leofwine, and foster son of Eadric, Ealdorman of Mercia must once more tread carefully as he tries to navigate the twists and turns of the conflicted Witan, and the men who believe that they should rule England, Aethelred the usurped King, Cnut the son of Swein and the sons of Aethelred, Athelstan, Edmund and his younger sons, Edward and Alfred from his second wife.
As external enemies try to exploit internal divisions, a disunited England becomes a real possibility and one that Leofwine, Northman and Leofric must combat at all odds.
Wulfstan (Side Story)
Wulfstan, the Ealdorman of the Hwicce’s most trusted advisor, mentor and friend, has a few secrets of his own to tell in this side story to the epic Earls of Mercia Series that returns to the beginning of the reign of King Aethelred II, the child-king who must spend his early years over-coming the feuds that threaten to rip the Kingdom of England apart.
Spanning the years from 978 to 1013, Wulfstan is a companion story to the Earls of Mercia series.
England is united but its future rests on the shoulders of a child, the legitimate son of King Edgar, and he is beset on all sides by powerful men and women who want to rule in his name, and not for the good of England. Greedy men who crave power and land more than stability and the safety of England.
Wulfstan, newly come to the service of Ælfwine of the Hwicce, finds himself caught up amongst the in-fighting at the young King’s Witan, his counsel ignored by Ælfwine and his skills put to uses he never intended them for. With his own personal tragedy stalking him, he must gain the trust of Ælfwine and forgive himself for his actions. And in the background, great men fight amongst themselves, imperilling the future of the adolescent Kingdom of England.
Wulfstan is a side story to the epic Earls of Mercia series, charting the final century of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom from 994-1071 through the eyes of the magnificent House of Leofwine, the only family to remain as earls for such a long period of time, outlasting even the mighty House of Godwine. Find out how it all began in Wulfstan, perhaps best read following Northman Part 2 to prevent spoilers.
5. The King’s Earl
Ealdorman Leofwine, bereaved and betrayed by the new Danish King of England, hides away from the politics of the Witan, desperate to forget his past links with Cnut and his father Swein only Cnut won’t let his most trusted ealdorman go quite so easily. He knows that for his fledgeling kingship to survive, he needs the old guard from the previous king’s reign to add legitimacy to his own. His new men, the men who’ve followed him from Denmark, know how to rule, but not how to rule the English. And Cnut has his eye on an even bigger prize than England alone.
Leofric, left reeling by the murder of his older brother and with an ageing father, and dying mother, tries to hold onto his family’s position against the sudden and magnificent rise of Earl Godwin, the newly promoted Earl of Wessex. As much as he despises the new King, he knows his family’s position needs to be upheld. His father has sacrificed too much to allow a usurper to claim the position that is rightfully his.
With Cnut’s view increasingly focused on conquering and ruling the Scandinavian lands, with bloody arguments between the Scandinavian men threatening the stability of the Crown, can the House of Leofwine survive the kingship of the new Danish king and keep their place at the heart of early eleventh-century politics whether they want it or not?
Cnut: The Conqueror (Side Story)
England: The Second Viking Age. To gain what he wanted, what he felt he was owed, he would do anything, even if it meant breaking his oaths to a woman he loved and the mother of his son.
Swein, King of Denmark, and briefly England, lies dead, his son ousted from England as King Aethelred returns from his exile in Normandy at the behest of his Witan and the bishops. Aethelred might have relinquished his kingdom to Swein, the Danish conqueror, but with Swein dead, the men have no interest in supporting an untried youth whose name resounds with the murder of one of England’s greatest bishop’s, a youth known only for his savagery and joy of battle, a true norse man who utilizes his weapons without thought. But Cnut wants a kingdom and he will do anything to gain one.
As England is ravaged by a civil war between the sons of two former kings, Edmund, son of King Aethelred, and Cnut, son of Swein, the men must make personal decisions in the heat of battle as they strive to reclaim their birthrights whilst doing all they can to stay alive.
Cnut: the Conqueror, is an Earls of Mercia side story (full length novel). It is best read after Book 5, The King’s Earl.
6. The Earl of Mercia
Leofric, eldest son of Earl Leofwine, thought he’d done enough to assure himself of his father’s position when he died. But events outside England constantly distract King Cnut, and instead of his prized earldom, Leofric finds himself as Sheriff of Worcester, a position of strength and power, but heaped with the responsibilities of his father without the title to go with it. Admired by many, his advice is sought by the king, queen, and would-be-queen, whilst he’s despised by Earl Godwine; the king’s greatest English ally, related to King Cnut by a tenuous family relationship.
As events force Cnut ever further away from England, and his own ambitions grow so that he sees himself as more emperor than king, Leofric must find his own path through the intrigue of the court, through the murky relationship between Cnut’s two wives, three sons and daughter, as he tries to determine just what it is his king wants from him before he’ll grant him the title of earl and how, if he gains it, he’ll keep it in the face of the ambitions of Earl Godwine.
Only as Cnut turns his attention back to Leofric’s beloved England, threatened by internal discord, does Leofric understand how much his king truly needs his support, and find a way to achieve his life-long ambition, to become, just as his father was, The Earl of Mercia.
7. The English Earl
England, November AD1035. Cnut, the Danish king of England, is dead, his son and chosen heir, Harthacnut, fighting for the survival of Denmark against Magnus, usurper of Cnut’s eldest son’s rule of Norway. Cnut’s Northern Empire of England, Denmark, Norway and Sweden is fragmented and in turmoil, and that’s before news of his death even spreads.
The queen dowager, Lady Emma, has the support of Earl Godwine to rule until her son, Harthacnut, can come to England to claim his inheritance. But there are problems. No one knows how long it will take Harthacnut to regain control of his father’s Viking Empire, and the English will not allow themselves to be left abandoned in the meantime.
Earl Leofric of Mercia, has long been an ally of Cnut’s, but not always an ally of his wife, the queen dowager. And more, Cnut made concessions for his other surviving son, the result of his union with Lady Ælfgifu of Northampton in Mercia, and Earl Leofric must honour those, despite the queen dowager’s determination to ignore the son’s existence.
As England once more faces the threat of external attack, should Magnus prevail in Denmark, Earl Leofric has important decisions to make. He has a long held grudge to settle with Earl Godwine of Wessex, Cnut’s much-favoured earl, while ensuring his own family’s survival. Earl Leofric is the only truly English Earl within England and Mercia is his to command.
And the queen dowager should never be overlooked. In power for her entire adult life, she is desperate to retain her hold on the network of prestige she controls, little caring who she endangers along the way. The queen dowager has twice been England’s queen. She has always had more than the one son she shared with Cnut, and her older sons are keen to exercise their own claim to wear England’s crown.
Harald, son of Cnut and Ælfgifu, Harthacnut, son of Cnut and Lady Emma, Edward and Alfred, sons of Lady Emma and King Æthelred II; four men with an equal, and valid claim to the English kingdom, but there is only one kingdom available. Who will prevail?
8. The Earl’s King
Harald is King of England. Harthacnut still embattled against the pretensions of King Magnus of Norway and, fighting to keep hold of Denmark. Lady Emma, the Queen Dowager, is in exile with Count Baldwin in Bruges, while Earl Godwine has accepted that Harald is the rightful king and England lies peaceful. Or does it?
There are persuasive undercurrents in the English Witan.
Earl Leofric thinks himself safe and secure, his loyalty to the king assured, but Harald is less than pleased with Leofric’s kind treatment of the Queen Dowager. Ever alert to a weakness in his rival, Earl Godwine grows closer to King Harald, while Leofric, vigilant of Earl Godwine’s duplicitous nature, watches from afar, distrusting the supposed discord between him and the Queen Dowager he witnessed when she was banished from England.
England too is threatened, by the growing power of Gruffydd Ap Llewelyn on the border with the Welsh kingdoms, and from the North by Donnchaid Mac Crinain of the kingdom of the Scots.
But when everything seems to have come undone for Earl Leofric and his son, fate will deal a mighty blow that could save the House of Leofwine.
9. Viking King
Harthacnut is king, but a king too long absent from England and reliant on his advisors from Denmark rather than the English earls who’ve long held their positions.
Furious that his despised half-brother was given the crown on the death of their shared father, a relationship he denies, Harthacnut vows to take his revenge on the English and their earls, in any way he can.
Earl Godwine earns the king’s greatest enmity but Earl Leofric, protected from the worst of Harthacnut’s actions, is still left in a compromised situation when it’s Mercia that struggles to pay the king’s exorbitant taxes, and even his wife is forced to protest Harthacnut’s harsh treatment of his new subjects. Only Earl Siward earns the king’s respect, but far from the heartland of Wessex, he’s not easily controlled.
Only then Leofric learns something that might change everything.