Today Mary Lancaster, author of A Prince to be Feared about the real historical Vlad Dracula, joins the site today for a guest post about her character and her book. Yesterday, I gave a great review for A Prince to be Feared and you can read that HERE. Keep reading for the guest post!
Be sure to enter to win a ebook copy of A Prince to be Feared at the end! Enjoy!
Vlad the Impaler – Improbable Hero!
By Mary Lancaster,Author of A Prince to be Feared
If you’re anything like me, you prefer a hero who isn’t too perfect. A troubled, even a flawed man can be so much more interesting, not to say more believable. However, you might also think that choosing the legendary Vlad Dracula the Impaler, as the hero of my novel, is carrying the anti-hero concept too far! After all, surely the reader has to like him to some degree.
Well, to be honest, when I started out I didn’t really mean Vlad to be my hero. I was just vaguely toying with the idea of a book in which he showed a different side of his character from the blood thirsty monster of legend. I was struck by the contrast between that side of him and the side that was credited with manners, learning, justice and military courage, qualities which made him a hero to his own Romanian people, and the friend of men with far purer reputations. I never really intended to dispute the atrocities. In fact, when I first started reading up on him, I was so sickened that I shut the book I was reading and forgot about the project for several months.
However, since it was a fascinating period of history, I ended up returning to Vlad. And it slowly dawned on me that something didn’t ring true. Not just the sheer number of atrocities he’s accused of but… Why should a ruler who made continuous efforts to improve the safety and prosperity of his country, even clearing swathes of unusable forest land to allow more arable farming, deliberately and systematically set about ruining his economy and security by impaling half his population on whims?
I dug a little deeper, and found that despite the continual dynastic conflicts which plagued the principality of Wallachia, Vlad retained the loyalty of a considerable proportion of his nobility, even after he was safely deposed by the Sultan and imprisoned by the Hungarians. No one assassinated him during the years he ruled, not even at the end of his second, main reign, when he must have been an easy target. So I began to wonder if the atrocity tales weren’t just exaggerated but largely untrue. A case of Chinese whispers that got out of hand? Maybe, but the destruction of his reputation was so thorough, that I suspect there had to be more behind it than the ageless human love of salacious and gory details. It had to be the deliberate policy of powerful forces. When I looked at his story from this point of view, it seemed very different. And I think the true villain is fairly obvious!
And so, A Prince to be Feared began to form in my brain. My Dracula is not a perfect or a gentle man. He’s a gifted soldier, proud, arrogant, ambitious, and, like all his contemporaries, he can be brutal in pursuit of his own ends. I seriously doubt he was any crueler than his fellow rulers of the region, and I believe he had considerably more vision and honour than many of them. I think he fostered a fearsome reputation as a tool of government, and that his enemies used that against him when they needed to.
However, I don’t want to reveal my entire theory here :). I’d like you to read A Prince to be Feared and imagine the same Dracula I do: a hard, even a frightening man of profound loyalty and enduring love.
The giveaway is for one (1) eBook (PDF, mobi or ePub) of A Prince to be Feared and is open internationally. Enter to win by 11:59 p.m. EST two weeks from the date of this post.
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A PRINCE TO BE FEARED, Synopsis~
Europe’s most fearsome prisoner, Vlad Dracula, gifted military commander and one time Prince of Wallachia, the notorious Lord Impaler himself, is about to be released after twelve long years, in order to hold back the tide of Ottoman aggression. The price of his new alliance with his Hungarian captors is the king’s cousin Ilona.
Ilona does not wish to be married. In particular, she doesn’t wish to marry Vlad. Gentle, faded and impossibly vague, Ilona is hardly fit for court life, let alone for dealing with so difficult a husband.
But Ilona’s wishes have nothing to do with Vlad’s reputation and everything to do with a lifelong love affair that finally broke her. Ilona’s family blame Vlad; Vlad vows to discover the truth and sets out by unconventional means to bring back the woman who once enchanted him. Among court intrigues, international manoeuvrings and political deceptions, Vlad reveals himself more victim than villain. But he’s still more than capable of reclaiming his lost rights to both Wallachia and Ilona; and Ilona, when it counts, has enough strength for them both.
Author Mary Lancaster, Biography~
As a direct consequence of the first love, she studied history at St. Andrews University, after which she worked variously as editorial assistant, researcher and librarian. Although she has always written stories for her own entertainment, she began to make serious efforts toward publication in order to distract herself from a job she disliked. She now writes full time at her seaside home in Scotland, which she shares with her husband and three children.
Mary is the author of three historical novels: An Endless Exile – the story of Hereward, 11th century outlaw hero, A World to Win – a Scottish governess finds love in revolutionary Hungary and A Prince to be Feared: the love story of Vlad Dracula.
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