The Harrying of the North #SampleSunday #HistNov Blood of Ironside Part 7

King Malcolm had already heard much of what I had to tell.  Of the meeting with the Danish fleet at York, the fire in the city and how we took the two castles and slaughtered all of the Normans in them.  I did not speak of Anna’s role in the capture or, for the moment, anything at all about her.

 I told them of our journey down the river towards the mouth of the Trent, of my attempt to raise the people of Lincoln to our cause and our disastrous battle with the Normans.

‘You were lucky to escape,’ Malcolm said.

‘Yes.’  I fell silent, thinking back on how that had happened.  ‘If it had not been for Count Robert of Mortain I may not have done.  I suspect he allowed me to escape.’

‘Robert of Mortain?  William’s brother?  Why would he let you escape?’

‘I don’t know.’ I shrugged.  ‘He is an honourable man.’

Margaret shook her head.  ‘How can a Norman be honourable?’

‘I have learnt there is honour in many men, even my enemies,’ I answered.  ‘And low dishonour and treachery amongst those who claimed to be my friends.’

Malcolm raised an eyebrow.

‘I speak of Esbjorn, the brother of the Danish king,’ I said.  ‘We assumed that the Danish army was led by the princes, Cnut and Olaf.  We were wrong; Esbjorn is the real leader.  He is a fearsome warrior.  And a man of the greatest evil.’

I swallowed, thinking of how he had used Anna.  I shook my head to clear my mind of it.

‘I know little of him,’ Malcolm said.

‘He betrayed us to William,’ I said.  ‘That is all you need to know.  And also this.  If it suited his purpose he would caress you with honeyed words while readying a knife to plunge into your heart.’

‘Edgar and he were not good friends,’ Godwin said lightly.

Malcolm shot a glance of disapproval at him.

‘Esbjorn met secretly with William,’ I continued.  ‘He arranged to sell me to him.’

Malcolm looked visibly shaken at hearing this.  His huge head shook in disbelief.

‘So how did you escape from Esbjorn?’ he asked.

‘We wouldn’t have done without the aid of Willard the outlaw.  It was he who led us to safety after the defeat at Lincoln.  Then, when we found out about Esbjorn’s treachery, Willard broke into the Danish camp and helped us escape.  We travelled up river and eventually came to where Cnut and his men contested the river-crossing with the Normans.’

Malcolm frowned.  ‘You went to Cnut even though Esbjorn had betrayed you?’

‘Not willingly.  We were caught by Danish longships and taken to him.’

Margaret gasped at this. ‘You must have been in fear of your life,’ she said.

I shook my head.  ‘Not at all.  I came to respect Cnut.’

Malcolm frowned at this and he shook his head in surprise.

‘Respect a Dane?’ he said.  ‘I wonder if that is truly wise.’

I smiled grimly.

‘I did more than merely respect him. I saved his life in the battle of the ford.’220px-Vikings_fight

I drew out the sword Cnut had given me and handed it to Malcolm.

‘He gave me this in thanks.’

Malcolm held the sword high and examined it closely, running his eyes down the blade and marvelling at the keenness of it.

‘This is a magnificent weapon,’ he said.  ‘I had heard the Northmen are great swordsmiths.  It is a kingly gift.’

‘It was not made by any Viking,’ I said.  ‘Cnut told me that it had been forged by Wayland the Smith.’

Margaret looked outraged at the mention of this pagan hero.  Her reaction amused me and, for the first time in weeks, I felt a smile grow on my lips.

Malcolm handed back the sword, with some reluctance I noted, and asked me to continue.

‘Cnut held the Normans for many weary days,’ I said.  ‘But in the end the Normans found a place to cross the river far to the west.  Cnut was outflanked and had to take to his ships to escape.’

‘And what did you do?’

‘I had no wish to return to Esbjorn,’ I said.  ‘We made our way north.’

‘It was then that William began to hunt you in earnest?’ Malcolm asked

I nodded.

‘We fled north and came upon a thegn called Thorfinnr.  He was a good man and gave us sanctuary during the worst of the winter.  But eventually William’s wolves heard rumour of our whereabouts and ravaged Thorfinnr’s villages.’

I found my hand going to my mouth at the memory.

‘They nailed Thorfinnr to the door of his hall.’

Margaret gasped and made the sign of the cross.

‘Thorfinnr was a strong man,’ I continued.  ‘We prised the nails from the door and carried him to safety.  His eldest daughter, Estrid, was taken by one of William’s barons.  We could do nothing to save her.  The younger daughter, Freya, we brought here to safety.’


‘Blood of Ironside’ is the third novel in The Lost King series.  All the books in the series are available on Smashwords, Kobo, Nook, Sony Reader Apple, and other devices for $3.08, £1.97 or €2.68. Please check out the individual retailer web-sites. You can buy my books on Kindle by clicking on the links below, by clicking on the covers to the right (for the UK) or through Amazon outlets in your own country.

Amazon US link is:

Amazon UK link is:

It is also available

My other novels, ‘Outcasts’ and ‘Artful’ are also available as e-books as are several collections of short stories.

My subscriber list gives you advance notice of my new releases and exclusive access to free stories. index

If you’d like to sign up to my subscriber list please look for the link on the sidebar to the right which says Newletter.  It’s a little below the pictures of my books.  It’s simple to sign up…..

Right click on the URL and open it in a new web page. This will take you straight to the sign up page. It is managed by Mailchimp and I promise I won’t pass on your details to anyone. I won’t bombard you with emails either, promise.

Alternatively, email me on martinlake dot 14 at gmail dot com and I’ll email you back with a link to sign up. (Sorry about having to code the email address but it helps stop robots, cybermen and Daleks.)


About Martin Lake

Martin Lake lives in the French Riviera with his wife. After studying at the University of East Anglia he worked as a teacher, trainer and company director. A serious accident shattered his arm and meant that he had to rein back his work. He decided to concentrate on writing and is now writing full-time. He writes a wide range of fiction. His main interests are historical fiction, short stories and fiction for young adults. Martin has a series of novels 'The Lost King' which are set in the years following the Norman Invasion of England. They concern Edgar Atheling, last representative of the ancient English royal dynasty and his fight to regain the throne from William the Conqueror. Martin has also published 'Artful' the further adventures of the Dodger and 'Outcasts' a novel about fall of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem. His latest novel, 'A Love Most Dangerous' is about a maid of honour who becomes the lover of Henry VIII. Martin’s work has been broadcast on radio. He won first prize in the Kenneth Grahame Society competition to write a story based on 'The Wind in the Willows.' You can get the collection, 'The Wind in the Willows Short Stories' from Amazon.
This entry was posted in Blood of Ironside, Vikings, War and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Harrying of the North #SampleSunday #HistNov Blood of Ironside Part 7

  1. Pingback: Blood of Ironside Part 8 #SampleSunday #HistNov | martinlakewriting

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s