Today I'm welcoming author M J Porter and her new book - The
Last King: England: The First Viking Age (The Ninth Century Book 1) - to my blog as part of the blog tour hosted by The Coffee Pot Book Club (founded by Mary Anne Yarde).
I'm delighted to be able to share an excerpt with you which I will do after I've introduced the book.
Last King: England: The First Viking Age (The Ninth Century Book 1)
By M J Porter
sent three hundred warriors to kill one man. It wasn’t
Mercia lies broken
but not beaten, her alliance with Wessex in tatters.
a fierce and bloody warrior, hears whispers that Mercia has been
betrayed from his home in the west. He fears no man, especially not
the Vikings sent to hunt him down.
To discover the truth of
the rumours he hears, Coelwulf must travel to the heart of Mercia,
and what he finds there will determine the fate of Mercia, as well as
Publication date: 23rd April 2020
You can purchase your copy via the following links -
Now for the excerpt -
taste it on my lips, and over the salt of my sweat.
I scowl. It’s not a flavour I wish to get used to. All the same, I
know what it is without a second thought.
seax glistens slickly in the dull light, the gleaming claret
reminding me more of an exotic wine from the south than the lifeblood
it truly is. The double headed-eagle impeccably depicted on the
handle seems to wink at me, as the eyes fill with the ruby mixture.
that I focus on it for more than the time it takes me to blink.
horde feels as though it’ll never stop, and I’m determined to end
the lives of as many of them as possible. Such slaughter doesn’t
bring me joy, but this is my skill. I wield it because I must.
weapon, so sharp it cuts through byrnies as though they’re no more
than spider webs, is busy today.
come against my force, as small as it is, and they mean to annihilate
us. But we will not go without making our sacrifices to their god of
seax sweeps effortlessly along the abruptly exposed throat of my
enemy, the realisation of what’s befallen him only reaching his
eyes as he falls to the ground. I step over him, already sighting my
one swirls an axe in his left hand, as I reveal my bloodied teeth.
His entire body recoils, almost a backward step. Before he can
consider his move, I’ve sliced through his belly, the gut
threatening to spill at my feet. I dismiss him and move onto the next
ground beneath my feet squelches with each step, slick, more like a
flooded river than the solid ground it should be.
awash with the dead and wounded, the long shield wall that tried to
defeat us long since disintegrated to small spots of desperate one to
one fighting. This is my favourite part of any battle.
turn, noting the angle of the sun, the brush of the breeze against my
slick body, breathing deeply through my nose. This is not my first
battle. Far from it.
hear the cries of those boys who thought themselves men, and equally
of those men who’ve found they are but boys when their lives are
scorn them. They’re not worthy of my attention.
I reach for my weapons belt, keen to know that all is where it should
be. My hand brushes over the sharpened edges and deadly blades that
make a home there. For now.
I pick my next target, a tight knot of men fighting not five steps
away, and move forward.
don’t hurry. Not this time. Neither, as I’ve seen others do, do I
check the weight of my weapon, or test the strength of my arm as I
consider my next move. Instinctively I know that all is well.
not fail me. They haven’t before.
sun is high above my head, few clouds to be seen, other than high up,
more wisps than anything substantial.
battle has been long. It began with the streak of fire across the
eastern sky, and I don’t foresee it ending other than when that
same stripe sinks below the western horizon.
who met their death in the first wave of the assault will be cold and
stiff by then, the heat of the sun of no help to them.
yet shivering with their mortal injuries will watch for the flashes
of disappearing gold with fear. They’ll not see it rise again.
simply mark it with detachment. There are more warriors to kill.
are always more enemies to kill.
seax arm sweeps to the right. I would sooner not kill a man who
doesn’t know I’m there, but he should be paying more attention.
wound along the back of his neck opens up with unsurprising ease, and
I notice how my sworn-man takes advantage of the action to slice
across the throat.
enemy wobbles, his head bobbing. I fear it will topple to the floor
before he does, and so I step around him.
grins at me, his black beard dripping with the blood of his foe, as I
grunt an acknowledgement, and nothing more.
pivots to face the next enemy, as I stride beyond him. Coldly I count
how many face us, how many are my warriors, almost pleased to see
that the numbers, with my presence, are now equal.
not how we started this battle.
it’s not how I plan on ending it either.
ensure we roundly defeat our enemy, and when they’re dead, I’ll
plan my next move.
focus my thoughts, sight my target, and rush quickly toward them. He
barely has time to raise his seax before I slice across his body.
Blood spurts, as the links of his metal coat burst open under the
blow from my weapon.
step, a slash of the seax from left to right, and blood is falling
I think the enemy make it too easy for me. I’m fast and relentless,
and always have been. But, I’m cautious against my arrogance. My
men tell me that my strength is prodigious. For one always used to
being so strong, it’s impossible to know what it must feel like not
enemy staggers, perhaps not appreciating the extent of the injury. I
take a cold moment of pity and allow him to fall onto the edge of my
final gasp of air is filled with fluid, as I reverse my hold, letting
him slide to the floor.
step gingerly over the rapidly growing pool of blood, grimacing at
the stench of opened bowels and salty iron, at the result of my
particular talents. Each kill is more than a number. But only just.
feel as though I sweep through the enemy. They are warriors of all
shapes and sizes, ages and skill levels. They all fall beneath my
weapons, as though I fell defenceless saplings. This butchery gives
me pleasure, and a burst of adrenaline only found in battle.
when I glance up, finding no enemy before me, do I stand upright,
bring my legs together, menace with my seax, and glance at the field
lead twenty men. The enemy must have numbered at least double that.
Of those who remain, three are stood, angled to protect the back of
each other, while three of my warriors threaten them. Another five
wait to take the place of any who might fall. I think they’ll wait
forever. My sworn warriors know how to make a kill, but some of them
will insist on enjoying it first.
the far right, I see where one lone figure attempts to escape into
the muddy field ditch, alive for now, but not for much longer.
than those four opponents, all others are dead, or fled, or
pretending to be dead.
sigh heavily, abruptly aware of the ache in my shoulders, and the
dryness of my mouth.
could drink a barrel of cold water. But it’s not yet time to
declare this battle won.
many?” I call, as though to no one, but Edmund answers, as quickly
as always, his voice rich with the joy of battle.
who will die, three with injuries that should recover, and Pybba, who
lost his hand. The damn fool.”
turn to meet the eyes of Edmund. He grins at me, as cocky as ever
when the battle seems to be won. It’s not the same when a battle
starts. In fact, when a battle commences, I almost expect him to run
from the attack, or, if he stays, to soil himself, there and then.
courage is slow to arrive and takes days to dissipate. But he fights
with a tenacity I admire, and I’d never wish to go into battle
one alive,” I turn and bellow, reminding my warriors that we must
employ the tactics of the Raiders, even if I don’t want to. One
must always live to tell of what befell their friends and comrades on
the field of slaughter.
late,” Edmund’s voice is soaring with laughter, as he too watches
the remnants of the three Raiders losing their fight to live. “They
always get bloody carried away,” he complains, but amusement thrums
through the words rather than anger.
bring me the one over there, heading toward the field ditch. We’ll
stitch him up and send him on his way.” Once the killing begins,
it’s almost impossible to stop until everyone on the battlefield
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 AD1066. I write A LOT. You've been warned!
You can connect with M J Porter via the following links -
Hope you will check out M J Porter's work.
Till the next time.
Take care Zoe