Saturday, March 9, 2013

Historical Fantasy/Alternative Histories: Guest Post by A.F. Henley

Author A.F. Henley was kind enough to come onto my blog and write about a subject near and dear to my heart: historical fantasy and alternative histories. 


The question was: do you consider Honour to be historical fantasy or alternative history? The answer is: Yes.

The cynic in me will insist that all romantic fiction is fantasy. The romantic in me however, will shut that cynic down and cage it back where it belongs. Then the romantic in me will step forward, smile at the assembly, and tell everyone that Honour is an alternative history that holds its placement in the early-mid 1600's of England.

I've stated in an earlier blog that I am no history major. I promise not to bore you with too many dates or facts as that would end up irking me probably more than it would you. There was research, however. And I tried to keep Honour as true to the time constraints as I possibly could. (Even if I did spend far too much time avoiding, and sifting through, articles about Kate and the babe-to-be. Seriously Google? I specifically said 1600's.)

For example:

Succession Laws

Since 1936, succession to the British throne is governed both by common law and statute. Common law states that the crown is inherited by male-preference cognatic primogeniture. (Did I lose anyone there?) That means that succession passes to the king's/queen's individual sons, in birth order, then to their daughters, also in birth order. This law was modified in 2011 to eliminate gender preference, but back in the day your first-born son was everything. Let's just say Little Prince First-out-of-the-Womb Whomever didn't get the option of choosing not to be part of Daddy's business. The Prince of Wales (born in 1948) was the first individual listed as an official successor to the British throne.

Emmett eyed Andrewe through the dark. "You have a duty to your people."

"I do?" Andrewe laughed, "Who am I? Am I the great and powerful man that my father is? Am I this country's saviour and protector? I will never be the king my father expects. I am so far different to him that it is as though we were born of separate worlds. England deserves a good and strong ruler. It deserves more than I."

Sumptuary Law

Black's Law Dictionary defines the Sumptuary Law as "Laws made for the purpose of restraining luxury or extravagance, particularly against inordinate expenditures in the matter of apparel, food, furniture, etc." They were supposedly put in place to regulate the balance of trade, limiting the market of expensive imports. Mostly they were an easy way to identify rank and privilege and of ensuring that certain folks did not "dress above their station." In other words, they were a way for those who had to discriminate and stigmatize those who had not.

"Do tell me, sir. Do you wear the fur that lines your jacket as a show of disrespect to the royal family and their ordinances? Or are you merely ignorant to the laws?"

The question startled Emmett. While he was familiar with the decrees regarding who could wear what and the supposed reasoning behind them, Emmett also knew they were rarely challenged and scoffed at by most. Emmett narrowed his eyes and glared at the rider. "I wear the fur, sir, because I like the feel of it against my skin. And the sumptuary laws are both ridiculous and pointless."

High Treason

High treason is the crime of disloyalty to the Crown. It is one of the most serious of offences, often met with extraordinary punishment because it threatened state security. Before morality and humanity lessened the severity of punishments, traitors were facing drawing and quartering at the worst, hanging at its most common, and banishment at its most lenient.

The Treason Act of 1351 includes:

  • the death of the sovereign, or of the sovereign's wife or eldest son and heir;
  • violating the sovereign's wife, or the sovereign's eldest unmarried daughter, or the sovereign's eldest son's wife;
  • levying war;
  • adhering to enemies, and giving aid and/or comfort, be it within the realm or elsewhere;
  • killing the King's Chancellor, Treasurer or Justices

"So, Emmett," the king stood, startling Emmett back to the conversation. "This leaves me in a position that I am not comfortable with. If I have you destroyed then my son will never forgive me. He would probably never forgive himself for that matter. And what kind of a king does a broken man make? Surely not a just or wise one? And if I do nothing, how does that look to my people? That their king would allow a traitor to live?"

And finally, the act that made men hide love that should not be hidden, that made men fear retribution for nothing more than an act of affection … the law I like to think that was put in place to ensure the safety of children but which, in my heart, I know had a hell-ton more to do with the nature of those in power:

The Buggery Act

Henry VIII set this act in place in 1533 although it was piloted by Thomas Cromwell. It was for the elimination of unnatural sexual acts against the will of God and man. It was not repealed until 1828.

According to the Act, convicted offenders would suffer such pains of "death and losses and penalties of their good chattels debts lands tenements and hereditaments as felons do according to the Common Laws of this Realm." It also reiterated that, "no person offending in any such offence shall be admitted to his Clergy." (If you're not grinning sideways here, I don't know why.)

Andrewe spoke slowly, quietly. "Then what would be your intention?" Andrewe began to step into Emmett's tub and Emmett's breath rushed from between his lips. Instead of sinking into the water however, Andrewe rested his ass on the board, feet on either side of Emmett's lap.

"Merely your confirmation that I will not meet up with any repercussions. Not everyone agrees with … differing … tastes, shall we say." Emmett looked up and met Andrewe's eyes.

As this is not an official book report and will not, in fact, be a major consideration in this semester's grade (smirk), I will save you all the trouble of linking my research. I will however, gladly offer it if asked. So this, patient readers, is the end of our history lesson for today. I hope it was interesting. I hope it inspired some curiosity in the novel. Oh, and there's a test next Wednesday, be prepared.

There totally is not. Even I am not so cruel as to pull that on you. I will however, thank you for your time and your attentions by offering up an opportunity to win a copy of Honour, in the ebook format of your choice. Anyone who leaves a comment is eligible, assuming they are of legal age and able to legally accept the work, and winners will be selected via a random number generator. The contest will close March 16th.

Also, if I can be so bold, I'll include this for those who are interested:

M/M Historical Romance
45,500 words

Recently docked after a voyage abroad, Emmett wants only to find a warm bed and good food, for himself and the cabin boy he's taken into his care. Those plans are impeded, however, by an altercation in the streets—with a man he realizes too late is England's heir to the throne, Prince Andrewe.

When the encounter unexpectedly leads to a position in the royal household attending the prince, Emmett is not certain what to think. On one hand, it's a reliable income and ensures the safety of his charge. On the other, it's neither the life Emmett knows, nor an environment that he's comfortable in. Left to learn his lessons the hard way, Emmett spends his days contending with a spoiled, infuriating prince who leaves him in a constant tangle of emotions.

Then he begins to hear whispers of treason and must make a choice: defend Prince Andrewe, or betray him.


  1. The was one of the most interesting history lessons since school time :). Can't wait to read the book.


    1. Thanks, Joanna, glad you enjoyed it. :D

  2. Thank you so much for hosting the blog for me. I enjoyed spending the time with you and hope to get the chance to do it again soon. :D

  3. I really enjoyed learning more about the historical aspects that went into the writing of the book, and the snippets of story!

    I'd like to throw my hat into the ring. :3 bounddreamer at gmail.

    Either way I'll definitely be adding Honour to my reading list!

    1. Thank you so much! I'm thrilled and honoured to hear that. :D

  4. You would have made a fine History teacher, sir! I like your choice of topics. So much more interesting than "Was Tacitus view on the Romans an objective one?".

    1. If you just pictured me staring blankly at your comment with this oh-god-did-I-forget-about-this-test look, then you'd be right on the money. XD

      Glad you enjoyed it, sir. Thank you so much :D

  5. Hey, a good cover for an alternative historical romance should have which of the following:
    A. Appropriate, evocative imagery
    B. elegant typography
    C. Wonderful use of color
    D. All of the above

    Loved your history mini lecture. Thank you!

    brendurbanist at gmail dot com

    1. Hmm... good question - I choose (E.) A fantastic cover artist. XD

      Thanks so much! Glad you enjoyed it. :D

  6. I'm a total microhistory nerd and would read an entire book's worth of this info footnoted to where it was used in the novel, but that's probably just me, haha.

    1. Thanks, Alison. And you just made me increasingly nervous as to your overview of the novel. Here's hoping that it serves both fiction and history well. :D

  7. Really some interesting facts to know. Thank you for delighting us with it.

    humhumbum at yahoo dot com

    1. Thank you so much H.B. for reading it and commenting! Glad you enjoyed it :D

  8. *geeks out over the history*

    I did enjoy Emmett's response about his clothing :)

    I adore the word "buggery" Cool info on the act!!!

    Thanks for the lesson and the awesome read so far *goes to get back to reading*

    1. Thank you so much, I'm thrilled and relieved you're enjoying it. :D

  9. You didn't say what time on the 16th so I hope I'm still in time to enter.

  10. Congratulations, Joanna. Lucky #1 was the winner for the free ebook copy of Honour. Please see your email. :D

    Thank you so much to E.E. Ottoman for hosting the blog and the contest, I appreciate it to no end! And thanks to everyone else who stopped by and shared some time with me.


  11. Thank you so much! 'The early bird catches the worm' was true in my case :)