The Making of Clash of Empires

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Since I happen to read a lot of historical-fiction, I found it as no surprise when I started thinking of writing a full length novel that it would be of that genre.  It was more of a challenge to find the setting, the time period, the historical event to write about.  It didn’t seem prudent to look to ancient history even though Egyptians, Greeks & Romans fill my bookshelves both with historical and fictional tomes, and while I may know a bit about those civilizations, I felt more comfortable tackling something closer to home.  Besides, I have come to know a few authors(via social media) who are much more attuned to those time periods than I could ever be.  The same holds true for the Dark Ages, medieval Europe, the Crusades, The Norman conquest of Britain, etc,etc.  Fortunately for me there is an abundance of material to choose from in the forming of the United States and the historical sites are a lot closer to me than the Roman ruins in Europe and Britain.  🙂

The French and Indian War turned out to be the perfect precursor to the colonies breaking free from King George, and that in turn spurred my idea for a series of novels that would follow a fictional family through American history in the 18th and 19th centuries.  The name of the family, Mallory, I took from my own family history.  My paternal grandmother’s maiden name was Mallory and she hailed from central PA. (Altoona) where Clash of Empires primarily takes place.

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One of the more enjoyable parts of writing about a historical event or period is that the writer must learn about that which he is going to write.  One book I found to be an excellent source was Empires at War by William M. Fowler.

With the information gathered from this book I scoured the Web for information on the battles and the personalities involved in this, the real first world war.  Websites maintained by the various forts and historical sites proved to be lucrative places to learn.  Also invaluable were the various pages devoted to Native American life and history; especially when finding names and learning about the daily life of the Mohawk, Shawnee, Ojibway, Ottawa and the many other tribes affected by the war.  Wikipedia was also an important source, so much so that I even ponied up a few bucks for this incredible site.  These tools were relied upon heavily when writing about a historical character.  I tried to represent them as truthfully as possible, e.g. most British officers had a disdainful attitude toward the colonial troops at their disposal, and that trait is evident in men like General John Braddock, Colonel Munro, etc, etc.  For the person of George Washington I attempt to show him as an intelligent and compassionate man, and leader.  This period of his life is one of learning the craft of war, and learning the craft of dealing with politicians, important steppingstones to the man he will become.  In the case of the Ottawa war chief, Pontiac, I found extreme opinions on his actual part in the conflict called Pontiac’s Rebellion.  I chose to portray him as a sort of Vercingetorix, uniting the tribes in order to overthrow their new masters, the British.

However, a writer does not live on research alone.  Nay, the author must still call upon his/her muse because stuff still needs to be made up.

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Often times when I am working on my book I amaze myself at some of the things that I come up with.  I’ve come to the conclusion that at least some of the material has to be inspired so I’ve adopted the stance that I have a Muse that does the inspiring(the picture above is one of the 3 or 9 Muses – depending on who you read the number varies – this one is probably Clio the Muse of history).  From Wikipedia: ‘The Muses, the personification of knowledge and the arts, especially literature, dance and music, are the nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne(memory personified). Hesiod’s account and description of the Muses was the one generally followed by the writers of antiquity. It was not until Roman times that the following functions were assigned to them, and even then there was some variation in both their names and their attributes:Calliope (epic poetry), Clio (history), Euterpe (flutes and lyric poetry), Thalia (comedy and pastoral poetry), Melpomene (tragedy), Terpsichore(dance), Erato (love poetry), Polyhymnia (sacred poetry), Urania (astronomy).’

I imagine that I have been inspired by more than one of the nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne but Clio seems to be the most likely given my penchant for my lifelong reading about and studying history.  Sometimes I portray my relationship with my creative sources as being a fickle and often a frustrating one.  Fickle because many of the thoughts and ideas for the story come when I cannot write them down as I am behind the wheel of my car…frustrating as there are periods of time when I can think of nothing at all to add.  Still, however, I am more pleased than pissed with their involvement.

Having chosen which battles or events I want to portray I now have to plan what part(s) my fictional characters will play without disturbing the historical event too much.  An example of this is the ill-fated attempt by General Braddock to take Fort Duquesne(Pittsburgh) from the French.  In this battle my fictional characters do play a part as they utilize the woodland skills I have given them, and as scouts for the colonial militia they are instrumental in helping the historical character of Washington in keeping the rout from becoming worse.  This type of integration of my fictional characters with the historical ones does present challenges as I do not want to distort the event, yet I want the result to be a compelling read.

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Among the many challenges facing me in putting together a full length novel was concocting enough material to fill the spaces between the war chapters.  After all life continues in some fashion even in a dangerous frontier.  So in addition to writing battle scenes full of action, gore, death and bravery there were also other things like character development in some of the other human endeavors.  My characters had to feel friendship, loyalty, betrayal, success, loss and to my surprise they had to find love.  I don’t know what was harder to pen, the battle stuff or the romance; both were fun to figure out.  In chapter one we see a romantic relationship between Liza and Henry that had it’s roots prior to the beginning of the book.  I like the way it played out with Liza being the more forceful one; I also had fun with their dialogue – I just can’t seem to write without having some humor involved.  There are a couple more love stories that involve the two brothers, Daniel and Liam.  I don’t know that I originally intended to have as many romances as I have, but the thought occurred to me that if I wanted to carry this story on into a family saga covering over 100 years, then I needed characters having sex and having kids.  Now don’t get all in a tizzy, nothing graphic mind you just pure and wholesome descriptive behavior.  😁

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The Coffee Pot Book Club Award – review of Clash of Empires

Thomas Mallory was not content with his life as a farmer. He wanted more. The frontier was the only place for someone like him. Thomas longed for the adventure and the freedom a trading post would bring.

But Thomas’ need for adventure comes at a terrible cost to his family. For the frontier was where the battle lines between the French and the British had been drawn. And as the local Indian tribes take sides, the frontier is no longer a place for an Irish-American and his family.

From the comfort of a small farm in eastern Pennsylvania to the horrors of The French and Indian War (1754–63) Clash of Empires (The Mallory Saga #1) by Paul Bennett is a story of one family’s battle to stay alive in the midst of Hell.

Set in a wild yet beautiful landscape, The French and Indian Wars are captured in this magnificent retelling. Like a bard from days gone by, Bennett recounts the events of this terrible seven-year war through the eyes of the Mallory family.

This untamed frontier is Liam Mallory’s idea of freedom. He could breathe here. It is no wonder that his feet led him to the Mohawk tribe. Here, is where he belongs. Liam’s story really drives this book forwards. His tale is terribly tragic, yet strangely majestic. It is Liam’s struggle, which takes Clash of Empires from being a great story to a future classic.

There is a huge cast of characters in this novel and yet, I never once had to look at the character list at the back of the book to keep track of them all. For a cast this size, it is easy to confuse the reader, but Bennett has masterful control. He has a firm grip on all of his characters, and they all bring something important to the narrative. Although the focus is on the Mallory family, Bennett gives the same attention to detail with regards to his supporting characters. The writing is vibrant and rich. Bennett’s descriptive prose was wonderful to read. The story was incredibly compelling. The chapters were long, but they were split up into very readable sections, which I think makes this lengthy book seem a lot shorter than what it actually was. Bennett’s retelling of the famous battles was skillfully done — he writes fabulous battle scenes.

As for the antagonists, and there are many in this book, Bennett has made a calculated decision to show both sides of the argument. So the story of Pontiac and his struggle against British military occupation certainly helps to give a broader understanding of what the Native Americans were facing and why they were fighting. The frontier was their home, and they were determined to keep it. But on the other hand, I didn’t want the protagonists to meet a gruesome end by a tomahawk. As a reader, it was interesting to feel so torn between the two sides. I wanted everyone to come out alive, maybe not so much in Chogan’s case, but I am not going to give away the plot, so I will leave that there.

I think this story can proudly sit alongside James Fenimore Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans. Bennet writes in a similar style to Cooper. Of course, it is about the same era so if you have read or watched The Last of the Mohicans, then there are some names and battles that you will be familiar with. However, saying that, I thought Clash of Empires (The Mallory Saga #1) brings something new to Historical Fiction about this war. I have to say that I thought his characterisation of a young Washington was amazing.

Clash of Empires (The Mallory Saga #1) is simply unputdownable. This story is something very special. I, for one, cannot wait for book 2.

I Highly Recommend.

Review by Mary Anne Yarde.
The Coffee Pot Book Club

https://clashofempires.wordpress.com/2017/04/07/promo-and-buy-links/

 

 

 

Lovely 4 star review

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LadyJBookishNook rated it really liked it

I love reading about American History so I was glad to review Paul Bennett’s Clash of Empires. The book tells the military and political story of the French and Indian War.

The author does a great job sending us back in time and introducing us to the Mallory family. The Mallorys start out farming but soon decide to head west to help run a trading post. As the Mallorys move they find themselves in the middle of fighting between Britain and France. The main character Liam marries into the Mohawk Indian tribe.

I totally enjoyed this well-researched, detail-rich historical novel. The characters are memorable and believable. The book contained plenty of action including the battle scenes. The pace of the book was spot-on and my interest was held throughout. I can’t wait to read more in this series.

Muse Mythology – a revisionist account

I have always claimed that I have a Muse named Wanda who helps inspire my writing. Well, as it turns out, I recently discovered a rare tract about the myths and legends of the Greek Muses (editors note: no he didn’t; he’s making this up), and Wanda had been given a Homeric like epithet. She was known to her fellow Muses as one who was cheerful, mellow, always had a smile on her face, and was a terrific baker of brownies, and so named her Wanda The Merry One. This is not to say that she can’t be a little feisty when she’s doling out inspiration; indeed, she often gives me story ideas for two books ahead of the one I am writing.  For the sake of brevity, however, I will from now on call her Merry Wanda.  🙂

 

Clash of Empires – a synopsis

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In 1756, Britain and France are on a collision course for control of the North American continent that will turn into what can be described as the 1st world war, known as The Seven Year’s War in Europe and The French and Indian War in the colonies.  The Mallory family uproots from eastern PA and moves to the western frontier and find themselves in the middle of the war. It is a tale of the three Mallory siblings, Daniel. Liza and Liam and their involvement in the conflict; the emotional trauma of lost loved ones, the bravery they exhibit in battle situations.  The story focuses on historical events, such as, the two expeditions to seize Fort Duquesne from the French and the fighting around Forts Carillon and William Henry and includes the historical characters George Washington, Generals Braddock, Forbes and Amherst.  The book also includes the event known as Pontiac’s Rebellion in which the protagonists play important roles.  Clash of Empires is an exciting look at the precursor to the events of July 1776; events that will be chronicled in the second book, Paths to Freedom, as I follow the exploits and fate of the Mallory clan.

 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MXR186R

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01MXR186R