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Rebel's Knot




September 2023 Author Interview

Rebel’s Knot

By Cryssa Bazos

 

Theme: Action and Adventure

 

 


 

Author Bio:

Cryssa Bazos is a historical fiction writer and 17th Century enthusiast, with a particular interest in the English Civil War (ECW) and romantic fiction. I blog about English history and storytelling at my site, the 17th Century Enthusiast, and I'm involved with the English Historical Fiction Authors blog site and a member of the Romantic Novelist Association (RNA) and the Historical Novel Society (HNS).

My absolute favourite books are romantic adventures, steeped in history, that take me to another time and place. I hope you enjoy my stories.



The book:

Ireland 1652: In the desperate, final days of the English invasion . . .

A fey young woman, Áine Callaghan, is the sole survivor of an attack by English marauders. When Irish soldier Niall O'Coneill discovers his own kin slaughtered in the same massacre, he vows to hunt down the men responsible. He takes Áine under his protection and together they reach the safety of an encampment held by the Irish forces in Tipperary.

Hardly a safe haven, the camp is rife with danger and intrigue. Áine is a stranger with the old stories stirring on her tongue and rumours follow her everywhere. The English cut off support to the brigade, and a traitor undermines the Irish cause, turning Niall from hunter to hunted.

When someone from Áine's past arrives, her secrets boil to the surface—and she must slay her demons once and for all.

As the web of violence and treachery grows, Áine and Niall find solace in each other's arms—but can their love survive long-buried secrets and the darkness of vengeance?

Cryssa tells us how to identify and write action and adventure:

A compelling action scene should revolve around what the character wants and needs. It's not enough to just describe the action, in this case a skirmish, as it becomes wooden and almost gratuitous. But linking in the character's needs with the action helps to move the story forward and highlights the emotional aspect of that need. The same idea can and should be applied to crafting love scenes. It's just an action of a different sort.

In this excerpt the stakes are very high. Niall, a captain in the Irish brigade, must hold the river against the English to give their side time to evacuate camp, otherwise lives will be at risk including the life of the woman he loves. That goal alone would be compelling enough but I've taken the opportunity to up the ante by having Captain Garret appear in this skirmish on the English side. In the beginning of the story, Garret destroyed Niall's family and Niall's primary driving goal has been to hunt down Garret and avenge his family.    

 

Extract from REBEL’S KNOT by Cryssa Bazos

This is an excerpt from Rebel’s Knot when Niall, a captain in the Irish brigade, has mobilized his men against the English approach on their hidden camp. This is a partial scene featuring the skirmish.

 

***

 

A week of heavy rains had swollen the river, and now the waters were high and treacherous. Combined with the darkness, crossing proved to be difficult. Niall led the way across the river, keeping a tight grip on the reins. His horse lost his footing a couple of times, but the beast kept its head and ploughed through the surging waters. Even with the state of the river, the defenders would still have to rely on sheer grit and resolve to prevent the English from crossing.

On the other side, Niall and Cormac split up the men to melt into the shadowed woods crowding opposite sides of the river path. The road leading to the river narrowed like the point of an arrow. For the English to reach the camp, they had to breach the river defences, but first the enemy would have to get past Niall and the others.

An expectant silence wrapped around Niall as his horse shifted uneasily beneath him. Even the rushing waters had dulled. He strained to hear the enemy approaching, strained to see a torchlight betraying their presence. Fionn stood, his ears pricked to attention.

Then he heard it—the steady rumble of thunder. Horses. The drumming grew louder. There had to be a hundred troopers coming their way.

“Spread the word—we fire when they reach that stand of birch a hundred yards away,” Niall whispered to Ruadhri beside him. “Cut the bastards down.” The order rippled through his men.

Niall peered into the shadows, hoping to see Captain Garret leading the English horse. Let him be here. 

The sound of advancing horses grew louder, and a dark mass moved towards them, guided by a few torches. 

Niall focused on his task. His men were spread out along the length of the woods. Low on shot and powder, they had one chance to cut them down at the knees. Everything depended on taking down the enemy’s vanguard.

The English drew closer. Niall checked his carbine while others levelled muskets and carbines. He held up his fist and waited, gauging the enemy approach. He scanned for sign of Garret, praying to see his flamboyant hat with its band of green. 

A hundred feet away . . . fifty . . . twenty.

Niall dropped his hand. Now!

Irish muskets fired in unison. Puffs of acrid smoke stung Niall’s vision. He blinked back the smarting tears before reloading his own carbine.

Horses screamed, and several men fell to the ground only to be trampled by their own panicked mounts. Some of the horses reared and tried to bolt. Shouts drowned out barked orders.

So assured of your welcome. “Not today,” he yelled.

Before the English could organise themselves and fire back, another round of musket fire discharged, this time from Cormac’s side of the path.

Horses reared, and the English advance faltered in the face of a crossfire. Men fought to remain in the saddle, where they had a chance to survive. They recovered quickly enough to fire back, though their muskets discharged blindly into the forest.

A shot whizzed past Niall’s head, shattering a tree branch inches away. Splintered wood struck his cheek. He ignored the stinging and returned his attention to firing another round with his second carbine.

Rather than retreating, the English pressed forward and threatened to sweep past them. Niall released an angry bellow and with his men rushed out of the tree line to attack, his sword flashing. Cormac’s men charged at the same time in a move intended to crush the English within their snapping maws.

The ferocity of the Irish attack checked the English advance, sending their horsemen into a mad scramble to regroup.

Long months of hiding and melting into the shadows had taken their toll on Niall. Now he threw himself into the relief of fighting in the open. With every swing of his sword, with every rasp of steel against steel, his blood surged. In every opponent, he saw a man who had debased his sister, and in every sword a man who had driven a blade into his uncle’s belly and murdered his aunt. A fierceness drove Niall past fear, past exhaustion. The rage that he had kept tightly controlled burst through the dam, and he drove his horse deep into the melee.

For once, Niall gave no thought to his own personal safety. He wanted to burn them all down, mow them like a sickle to grass and trample them all.

And then he saw him—Garret, hovering at the back of his line, clear of the fighting as he shouted orders.

Niall bellowed his rage and fought his way towards the English captain. He slashed and swung his sword in an arc, slicing through muscle and bone. Across the battlefield, Garret’s eyes met Niall’s. The moment hung in the air. Did the bastard feel a moment of fear—did he realise the depth of Niall’s enraged determination?

With a blink of an eye, the tide turned against Niall’s men, and they found themselves pressed in on all sides. Niall narrowly avoided getting his head bashed in with the butt end of a musket. He kicked the side of his horse, causing the animal to sidestep away. Fionn darted in to shield Niall. The wolfhound nipped at the flanks of the English horses, causing the animals to crash into each other in an attempt to get away from the grey-furred threat. 

Niall raked his gaze around the field for Garret. He roared his frustration. The bastard must be somewhere—he could not let him escape.

 

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