Tim Walker has featured frequently on Linda’s Book Bag; last time introducing PERVERSE – a collection of short prose and verse, and sharing a poem with us in a post you can see here.
Another time Tim shared an extract from Arthur Dux Bellorum here and he has introduced his book Uther’s Destiny in a post you can see here, as well as previously writing a fabulous guest post about fiction and fear when the second book in his A Light in the Dark Ages series, Ambrosius: Last of the Romans, was published, and you can read that post here.
However, Tim and I have never stayed in together so today we are putting that right as Tim brings another of his books to share with us.
Staying in with Tim Walker
Welcome back to Linda’s Book Bag, Tim. Thank you for agreeing to stay in with me.
Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?
Hi Linda, thanks for inviting me to showcase my new book, Arthur Rex Brittonum, on your ‘Staying in with’ feature.
Published on 1st June, Arthur Rex Brittonum is my new telling of the story of King Arthur, the legendary British king of Camelot fame. However, my Arthur does not live in a magical castle called Camelot, and there is no shining armour, as he is a rough-and-ready early sixth century warlord, busy organising armed resistance to the creeping colonisation of England by the Anglo-Saxons.
That sounds a bit different Tim. Tell me more about what we can expect from Arthur Rex Brittonum.
He is not distracted by the search for the Holy Grail, nor embroiled in a love triangle with Guinevere and Lancelot – although Guinevere does qualify as she is a character associated with Arthur in early Welsh folklore. Lancelot is excluded from my story because he was added to the legend by French poet, Chretien de Troyes, around the year 1180. The Teutonic (Germanic) Knights may date back as far as the latter years of the Western Roman Empire, and therefore I have included the rank of Knight in my story.
I have been researching what little is known about Britain in the fifth and sixth centuries, a period known as the Dark Ages, due to the paucity of hard facts about events and key people. What I have learned is that some historians believe that Arthur was a real historical character, upon whose shoulders a fantastic legend was built by a succession of Middle Ages writers, starting with Geoffrey of Monmouth in 1136.
Arthur is mentioned by Welsh chroniclers and some early church clerics, including the monk Nennius, writing around the year 820, who attributes twelve winning battles to Arthur. The Welsh Annales place Arthur at the Battle of Mount Badon around the year 519, and tell us his final battle was in the year 539 at Camlann, ‘where Arthur and Medraut (Mordred) fell.’ From these vague glimpses of a historical Arthur, I have built my story, including other historical characters, such as known tribal kings, to imbue it with as much historical realism as possible.
This sounds like a lifelong passion Time. It must have been fascinating to research. Why did you choose this subject?
My mission is to take the real Arthur out of the shadows of the romantic Mediaeval legend and locate him where he belongs – fighting Saxons in the early sixth century. He is one of British culture’s most revered legendary figures, together with Robin Hood and Saint George the dragon slayer. They are legends because their existence has not been categorically proven to the satisfaction of historians. Yes, I know that Saint George is an established historical character – a Roman soldier, who died in the year 303 AD. But George the dragon slayer is a legendary invention, perhaps based on an early English folk tale of Gaarge who slayed a ‘giant worm’ and freed a maiden. I believe two stories have been intertwined to create the legend.
It is my dream that in time (hopefully, in my lifetime), archaeologists and historians will uncover enough evidence to take Arthur off the ‘legend’ shelf and place him alongside real, historical, heroic figures like Alfred the Great and Richard the Lionheart, where he belongs.
My goodness. That’s quite a wish. So, what else have you brought along and why?
I have brought along four photographs of me visiting Roman sites that are connected to my books. I wanted to stand in places where a real, historical Arthur may have lived or visited, and soak up the atmosphere. Also, I wanted to get a sense of proportion and perspective, and imagine what life would have been like in post-Roman Britain. The Welsh folk tales that form The Mabinogion have King Arthur based at the town of Caerleon (‘Caer Legion’ in the post-Roman era).
Here I’m standing in the amphitheatre at Caerleon. I am attracted to the theory that Arthur ruled from ‘Caer Legion’ and the round amphitheatre was a pace where he held his council meetings – could ‘Arthur’s Roundel’ be the protype for the round table?
I bet it could. Where’s this next image from Tim?
Standing beside the wall of the Roman Museum in Caerleon, next to a skilfully made tiled mosaic of a Roman legionary.
An historian, Graham Phillips, makes a case for Arthur being a King of Powys and being based at the former Roman town of Viriconium (Wroxeter), near Shrewsbury. Archaeologists and historians confirm that the walled town was continuously occupied and part of it rebuilt in the two hundred years after the Romans left Britain, and it may have been a base for the kings of Powys.
I love this period of history Tim and you’re making me very jealous with your visits.
Here is a picture of me standing in the entrance that connected the Basilica to the Bathhouse in the ruins of Viriconium – the tallest standing Roman interior wall in Britain.
This picture is of me and my daughter standing in front of a section of Roman town wall at Calleva Atrebatum (Silchester) on the Hampshire/Berkshire border. Note the herringbone stonework pattern, a design that is intended to be earthquake-resistant.
How brilliant. I’ve loved hearing about Arthur Rex Brittonum, Tim. Thanks so much for staying in with me to tell me all about it. I’ll fetch my collection of Roman coins and you can see if any fit the period you write about!
Arthur Rex Brittonum
From the decay of post-Roman Britain, Arthur seeks to unite a troubled land
Arthur Rex Brittonum (‘King of the Britons’) is an action-packed telling of the King Arthur story rooted in historical accounts that predate the familiar Camelot legend.
Britain in the early sixth century has reverted to tribal lands, where chiefs settle old scores with neighbours whilst eyeing with trepidation the invaders who menace the shore in search of plunder and settlement.
Arthur,only son of the late King Uther, has been crowned King of the Britons by the northern chiefs and must now persuade their counterparts in the south and west to embrace him. Will his bid to lead their combined army against the Saxon threat succeed? He arrives in Powys buoyed by popular acclaim at home, a king, husband and father – but can he sustain his efforts in unfamiliar territory? It is a treacherous and winding road that ultimately leads him to a winner-takes-all clash at the citadel of Mount Badon.
Tim Walker’s Arthur Rex Brittonum picks up the thread from the earlier life of Arthur in 2019’s Arthur Dux Bellorum, but it can be read as a standalone novel.
Fans of Bernard Cornwell, Conn Iggulden and Mathew Harffy will enjoy Walker’s A Light in the Dark Ages series and its newest addition – Arthur Rex Brittonum.
About Tim Walker
Tim Walker is an independent author living near Windsor in the UK. He grew up in Liverpool where he began his working life as a trainee reporter on a local newspaper, The Woolton Mercury. A media career ensued, including a stint overseas in Zambia.
His creative writing journey began in earnest in 2013, as a therapeutic activity whilst recovering from cancer treatment. He started an historical fiction series, A Light in the Dark Ages, in 2015, following a visit to the near-by site of a former Roman town.The aim of the series is to connect the end of Roman Britain to elements of the Arthurian legend, presenting an imagined history of Britain in the early Dark Ages.
His latest book is Arthur, Dux Bellorum, a re-imagining of the story of King Arthur, published in March 2019. Book four in the A Light in the Dark Ages series, it won two book awards in April 2019 – One Stop Fiction Book of the Month and the Coffee Pot Book Club Book Award. The final book in the series, Arthur Rex Brittonum, is due out in June 2020.
The series starts with Abandoned (second edition 2018); followed by Ambrosius: Last of the Romans (2017); and book three, Uther’s Destiny (2018). Series book covers are designed by Canadian graphic artist, Cathy Walker. Tim is self-published under his brand name, timwalkerwrites.
Tim has also written two books of short stories, Thames Valley Tales (2015), and Postcards from London (2017); a dystopian thriller, Devil Gate Dawn (2016); and two children’s books, co-authored with his daughter, Cathy – The Adventures of Charly Holmes (2017) and Charly & The Superheroes (2018) with a third in the pipeline – Charly in Space.