The new book is now available on AMAZON – Paperback and Kindle.
Epic Fantasy set in Medieval Italy.
I need readers and reviews!
“If I may continue,” Bishop Anselm coughed with feigned humility. “Philip of Swabia has made clear his intentions to revisit the investiture controversy. Such a claim serves only to undermine apostolic succession.”
Gherardus released a wearisome sigh. “The Concordat of Worms decided that issue once and for all.”
“My Lord Gherardus, the concordats we draft and the laws we implement are no better than the wind itself, apt to shift this way and that, burst asunder in a storm of passion. Commandments need roots…” – Excerpt from THE CRYSTAL CRUX – BETRAYAL by AM WERNER
For those willing to read Historical Fantasy, a passing knowledge of history often helps the readers understanding. If you read general Epic Fantasy, you’ll find the authors creating complex histories that never really did exist, and often times they have the characters speak of these things without elaborating on them. We simply take them as knowledge the character possesses that we don’t need to really understand.
In THE CRYSTAL CRUX series, I will do the same thing with my characters, have them speak and talk of matters that the reader may or may not fully comprehend or understand. These issues give the characters greater depth and help reveal a big world around them that even they can’t control or manipulate.
Some fantasy, in my mind, tends to go to the extreme, and the powers of the character are too extreme, and there seem to be little to no limitations. They may face a foe but there aren’t necessary bigger worlds and forces that dictate to them. I believe that establishing that broader world, makes them more real, more human, and easier to identify with.
In the scene I excerpted above, Lord Gherardus Fabbro is meeting with Bishop Anselm who represents the Roman Catholic Church. It is a secret meeting and there are two plots being addressed.
First – there is the larger plot, the one that is more universal and will effect all of Europe. The year 1197 saw the death of both the Pope and the Emperor. The new pope, Innocent III, tried to influence Europe with Catholicism and used the discord over the choosing of the next Holy Roman Emperor to his advantage. He convinced many, especially in Italy, that the election of Otto IV or Otto of Brunswick, was necessary. Most of the Germans supported Philip of Swabia, the late Emperor’s brother and a direct descendant of the much despised Frederick Barbarossa and House Hohenstaufen. They were sure that Philip meant to re-address the investiture controversy which decided who appointed church officials and lands – the Church or the Emperor. Both had enormous investments in these. This was the real power of medieval Europe – land and those who controlled it. The first plot is minor to the actual story I wrote but it gives my characters motivation for what they do.
Second – the smaller plot, the one the story centers around, is petty greed, jealousy and hate. It is 1198 and early in the year, Pero de Alava had a physical altercation with Parthenope’s native son, the Castellan of the city, Rugerius Fabbro. Pero was victorious but his victory came with a price. He had sworn allegiance to Philip in a room full of people supporting the Church and Otto. There was an incredible surplus of hate for Pero created in that moment. This secret meeting, for the characters in my story, is acknowledgement of their plans to destroy Pero, using his support of Philip as a reason. In truth, they don’t give a damn about Philip or Otto or anything happening on an international level. They are aware but that is all.
So the discussion between Gherardus Fabbro and Bishop Anselm tends to disintegrate quite easily. As I stated, the things happening internationally are secondary to Gherardus, so he mocks the Church officials zeal to bear light and carry forth righteousness. In fact, Gherardus isn’t all that enthused about their plans to destroy Pero because he actually likes Pero.
When Bishop Anselm brings up the investiture controversy, Gherardus doesn’t want to hear about it. He remembers the Concordat of Worms which was signed in 1122 – in the city of Worms, that supposedly straightened out the controversy. Bishop Anselm expresses Pope Innocent’s concerns that Philip won’t uphold the treaty.
“The Griffin was alone. He had no labors to perform for his lord. He had no men-at-arms to command. There was not a single ritter in his retinue. His overlord, Sir Geoffrey Clayton Wolfe, would be completely ruined had he not been afforded the protection of the throne of England, a remuneration of sorts for his charitable efforts in better times, as well as his unstinting support for the Crown during the last baron’s rebellion. Several of the Wolfes ambitious neighbors still guarded their intent to plunder him, but none were so bold as to challenge the legal shield placed around his estates by King Henry II, not yet anyway.”
– Excerpt from THE CRYSTAL CRUX-BETRAYAL by AM WERNER
A person who is recalcitrant resists authority. They are disobedient and refuse to conform or submit.
A recalcitrant knight during the Middle Ages was a knight who had sworn an oath to a Lord, Duke, Baron, Prince or King, and breaks that oath.
In The Crystal Crux series, Francis Whitehall is a honorable knight who refuses to break his oath to his lord, although his lord is nearly destitute and his other knights have abandoned him.
“Francis Whitehall was not one of the fallen for he refused to evolve. His was a steadfast faith that rebuffed the privileged ranks of the unrighteous overlords. The allure of their despotism failed to entice him. Those who had prospered by compromising with their courtliness found his presence at knightly functions a baneful inclusion. Francis was ostracized for he had become an unwelcomed reminder of antiquated gallantry. And it was a gallantry and integrity that left him nearly friendless and rather penniless.”
– Excerpt from THE CRYSTAL CRUX-BETRAYAL by AM WERNER
You can learn more about Francis Whitehall by clicking on this link
FRANCIS WHITEHALL – THE GRIFFIN
You can purchase the book of the series, THE CRYSTAL CRUX-BETRAYAL, on Amazon as a Paperback, Kindle or Ebook. There is also a YA version for those who prefer less graphic violence and sex.
PURCHASE THE CRYSTAL CRUX – BETRAYAL
“My gage to Lord Geoff is irrevocable. No one, not even you and your serpents tongue can poison it. It is final. I am a knight of Christ and I will not share with you this sinful fruit. I will not reward an eye for an eye. I will not strike you down though you be the devil himself.”
– Excerpt from THE CRYSTAL CRUX-BETRAYAL by AM WERNER
Sorry I’ve been off the grid for awhile. I was busy revising The Crystal Crux – Betrayal. It is not available in YA format. The language has been toned down to a high school reading level. The sexuality and violence has been limited as well. Overall, the story line remains true. I hope you take a chance to read it. The YA edition is only available through Amazon paperback. It should be available as a Kindle ebook in the next 24 hours. I’ve included the link below. Be sure to write a review and tell your friends, families and neighbors about it. This book is much more accessible to a wider reading audience. Happy Reading.
It is official. I have released the title of Book Two in THE CRYSTAL CRUX series.
The Crystal Crux – Volume Two – Blue Grotto
I’m still shooting for an October release date.
I’m happy to announced I’ve produced new three-fold brochures to promote THE CRYSTAL CRUX – BETRAYAL. They look absolutely wonderful and include a map of the Italian countryside where the story is mainly grounded. Now I have to figure out places to display and distribute these pamphlets. Sorry to say this to those who love doing it BUT marketing sucks and I’m still not very good at it. Working on it!
You can purchase the book in paperback, audio and ebook. Be sure to check it out and leave a review. I’m always looking for reviews! CLICK HERE TO BUY THE CRYSTAL CRUX – BETRAYAL
One of the greatest challenges of writing an epic fantasy tale is creating unforgettable characters that don’t have to constantly appear in the book in order to be remembered. Epics must have many characters and no matter what you do, you can’t expand on all of them right away. Some of them are developed gradually, some much later on.
In BETRAYAL, the first book of THE CRYSTAL CRUX series, Young Viridian only appears in one chapter near the beginning. I named the chapter after her and I am wholly confident readers won’t forget her even by the time they get to the end. Even with all the violence and swearing, Viridian is one of the chief reasons THE CRYSTAL CRUX is an Adult fantasy. Viridian has an unnerving libido, a heightened drive to be pleasured and pleasure.
“Make me love you, make me hate you – make me curse your name.” – Viridian
Viridian is actually one of the more central figures in The Crystal Crux series but you might not realize it after reading the first book. She does, however, have an integral part to play in the outcome. This is a ten day journey readers have begun and Book One (Betrayal) is only the first day of that journey.
Viridian is Rugerius Fabbro’s lover, his lady-in-waiting. She is also his cousin, the daughter of his deceased aunt on his mother’s side. Viridian’s parents were lost tragically at sea during a shipwreck when she was twelve. She was distraught and lonely and brought to the palace in Parthenope to become an adoptive daughter to Gherardus and Druda Fabbro.
Unexpectedly, the young girl took one look at her powerful cousin, the Castellan of the great city, and fell head over heels for him. Her lust erupted.
Rugerius Fabbro was a lout anyway, warring and carousing with anybody and everybody. His eager young cousin took advantage of him one night in a drunken state. Once Rugerius’ senses returned to him, he thought he’d have fun with her and keep the relationship alive, thinking she’d fold and run home.
She didn’t. She rose to meet every twisted challenge he set before her and soon Rugerius found himself a bit smitten by her. Viridian pleasured in ways few other women could, so he kept her despite his father’s protests.
Viridian is now nineteen and fantasizes incessantly about being seduced and loved by the gods, or demons, or anything supernatural and otherworldly.
Her relentless passion is bound to lead her to places she has yet to imagine.
There will be much more to read about Viridian in forthcoming books. I promise you that. She will guarantee that the Adult content in The Crystal Crux series doesn’t wilt.
“Inclined comfortably on one arm, Viridian waited a few heartbeats, staring patiently at the open doorway as if expecting someone else to arrive.”
– Excerpt from The Crystal Crux – Betrayal
Will you arrive?
I’m currently busy working on Book Two of The Crystal Crux series. Much of my time, right now, is spent researching the Alps, Mont Dolent and the village of Chamonix. This region will be the birthplace of the albino giant, Sinibaldus. His mother Claire suffers tragically, fueling the vengeful fires inside the magician. But you’ll just have to wait for the next book to discover more. Be sure to read the first book if you haven’t already and write a review on Amazon, Goodreads, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Facebook and ibooks – anywhere and everywhere!
Anthea Manikos was born in October 1174 in Sounion, on a rocky sterile plain on the southern most tip of the Attica peninsula in Greece. The only thing the land there is really good for is mining. Anthea’s father, Nikitas, owns several mines in the region chiefly Laurion, producing iron ore and silver. Nikitas is miserly and they live a very Spartan lifestyle.
Penelope, Anthea’s mother died when she was a child and Nikitas brought in the best nannies and teachers he could find to educate her and prepare her to be wed to a nobleman someday. This is the arrangement that brought Anthea to Italy, to Parthenope.
Pero de Alava first meets Anthea in a small chapel the night before her marriage to another. Anthea turns his head from the get. Despite his intoxication and her inexplicable grief shedding involving both tears and hair, Pero is drawn to her, proposing to wed her then and there.
Anthea is very religious, the orthodoxy of the eastern Byzantine Empire. Francis Whitehall, the Estate Steward of Capua, so swears that Anthea is the kindest human being he has ever met. He couldn’t imagine her ever thinking evil of others. She is nearly always smiling and helping others, her heightened awareness seemingly tapping into the quintessence of her surroundings.
Twenty-three, Anthea has been living in her own apartment at Capua for a year now. She was devastated by the miscarriage of the arranged marriage her father prepared for her. The city of Parthenope so disappointed her, she has sworn to never return to that city. She is just beginning to recover from the trauma of that event.
After announcing their engagement in August 1197, Pero swept Anthea off on a whirlwind tour of Spain and his holdings there. Anthea enjoyed most of the holiday, everything that is except the time she spent with Maria Alava, Pero’s saintly mother. It seemed the woman was testing her at every turn. Anthea is still not confident, even to this day, that Maria approves of her.
Despite that misgiving, Anthea continues to prepare for their wedding in a fortnight. She plans to make her own dress, several prototypes already fashioned in a backroom. She is involved in every detail of the event. It is to be her magnum opus.
The chief reluctance still haunting her, however, is Pero himself. Every since the caballero was expelled from a banquet thrown in his honor in Parthenope after an unexpected dust up with the powerful Fabbro family, Pero has been distant. His mind wanders and he seems all alone.
‘She started to think her affection for him was not inspiring enough to rouse him from his stupor and fully awake him from his worries.’ (Excerpt)
Anthea didn’t want to believe Pero was having a change of heart but his constant mindless wanderings into dark foreboding shadows worried her.
When Pero shows up at her door wearing his armor, Miriam sheathed at his side, she knows things are truly amiss and their world is about change. She is frightened and clings to him, rosary beads in hand. She tries her best to dissuade him from taking this reckless course he seems determined to walk.
For those who have not read the book, be sure to pick up your copy of THE CRYSTAL CRUX – BETRAYAL on Amazon, available in both Paperback and Kindle (soon in audio-book as well). When you get done reading this book, the first in the series, you will have only gone one days journey on a ten day hike. It promises to be a long and eventful ride. I hope you come along.
While I’m trying to build and reveal the personalities of many characters in my series, THE CRYSTAL CRUX, the character who drives the story and would be considered the protagonist is Pero de Alava.
Pero de Alava was born in Spain in 1164, the bastard son of Blassilo Velez and Maria Alava.
Blassilo is a wealthy caballero with many holdings in Spain including Cielo Diamantes, his favorite horse ranch, located several miles southeast of his military posting at Penafiel Castle.
Maria Alava is a well-to-do socialite of Mozarabic descent. She prefers the culture and refinement of the big city, especially her birthplace, Valladolid. She is infatuated by the uncouth cabellero of House Velez but refuses to marry a man who is always warring and cannot control his libido. She also has no desire to live on a horse ranch in the middle of nowhere.
When Pero is born, they decide to split his time between them. Pero winters with his mother in Valladolid, receiving a proper education and religious training. In summer, he is with his father learning about the ways of the knight.
Blassilo and Maria maintain a correspondence by letters. Although Blassilo cannot read or write, he has scribes who can translate and assist him with this endeavor. Twice a year, when exchanging parental guardianship, Blassilo and Maria meet at Cielo Diamantes and spend time together as man and woman, husband and wife. This is enough to satisfy Maria as she spends the rest of the year fending off handsome, willing paramours. Blassilo, meanwhile, is openly lascivious. On his deathbed, he expresses his shame in this regard. He tells his seventeen-year-old son, at that time, how he wishes he had been wiser and more willing to stay by Maria’s side the only woman he had truly loved. This is why he invested so much into raising Pero and not the other ‘mongrels’ as he calls them.
When Blassilo passes, he orders that Pero be taken to Emperor Barbarossa to be knighted and named heir of everything belonging to House Velez including Cielo Diamantes. The Roman Catholic Church is already at odds with Barbarossa and the Hohenstaufen line of emperors and sees anyone allied with them as an enemy.
When Richard de Couer, the Lionheart King of England is taken prisoner by the new emperor, Barbarossa’s son, Emperor Henry VI, in 1193, the Church is rendered impotent. The Hohenstaufens of Germany had long plagued the peoples of Italy, driving troops into their country, forcing compliance with the Empire. Wielding power and influence, Emperor Henry VI commands that Pero de Alava accept an Imperial appointment to the castle in Capua governing and taxing activity around the Volturno River.
Pero, along with his best friend, Francis Whitehall, an Englishman who once saved his life from would-be assassins at a melee, takes command of Capua in November 1193. Pero’s administration is just and admired. He meets a Grecian beauty named Anthea Manikos to whom he proposes almost immediately.
Then, while touring Spain with his bride-to-be, Pero initiates a trade pact with the Almohads bringing unique and exotic goods, as well as more coin to Italy.
The Fabbro family who rule the Campania region where Capua is located, call for a banquet in Pero’s honor at Parthenope. Things get heated as political allegiances begin to arise. Pero’s benefactor, Emperor Henry VI has died and there is civil unrest in Europe over his replacement. Pero, of course, favors the next Hohenstaufen, Philip of Swabia. The people of Parthenope, including the Fabbro family are friendly with the Church of Rome and despise the tyranny of the Hohenstaufen. They support of Otto of Brunswick. Tempers flare. Pero does the unthinkable and defends himself against the kingdom’s native son, Rugerius Fabbro.
It is war and Pero believes he is alone in this. He fears his actions will have lasting repercussions on his loved ones. In a desperate attempt at rediscovering peace, Pero breaks off his engagement, rebukes his best friend’s advice and bolts for Eagles Pass thinking that serving as a scapegoat, the wrath of the Fabbro family will be satisfied. Sadly, he has miscalculated and failed to see how evil and determined they are. His friends stand to pay a heavy price even in his absence.
When you get done reading THE CRYSTAL CRUX – BETRAYAL, you will be one day in on a journey that will last ten days. I hope you all come along for the ride.