Today's guest blogger is Pat McDermott, author of the alternate history adventure novel A Band of Roses.
A Band of Roses is an alternate history adventure set in modern day Ireland. The "what if" premise of the story supposes that Irish High King Brian Boru survived the Battle of Clontarf in 1014 A.D. and founded a dynasty that rules Ireland to this day.
Crown Princess Talty Boru, the daughter of the current King Brian, is the heir to the throne, though she wishes she weren’t. She’d prefer to pursue a military career, but she’s resigned to her royal fate until England’s Prince Geoffrey seizes a tiny Irish island in the North Atlantic and the oil-rich ocean bed around it. Geoffrey plans to return the island to Ireland in exchange for oil wells in the Irish sea. He proposes a conciliatory treaty that would marry Talty to the unbalanced young English King. Talty agrees, as the terms demand that she relinquish her title as heir to the throne. She believes she’s free of her duties as crown princess, but a murder attempt on her wedding night turns her life upside down.
Multiple attempts on Talty’s life force King Brian to send her away to protect her, though he unwittingly sends her into further danger. From Japan to California, Talty must hide her true identity until her elders can set things straight. She can’t disguise her ingrained training as one of Ireland’s ancient Fian warriors, however.
Her recruitment into International Security Forces’ top secret Peregrine Project allows her to visit strange worlds, one an eleventh century Ireland preparing for the Battle of Clontarf. She finds romance and adventureand brings back a discovery worth more than any oil well, yet all she wants is to return to her family and her lifelong friend and protector Neil Boru, the adoptive cousin she secretly loves and can’t have—or so she thinks. Talty’s warrior cousin has a secret of his own, one that emerges as the Boru clan works with England's MI6 to thwart an invasion of Ireland and bring Talty home.
What If? by Pat MacDermott
From time to time, most of us wonder how life might have turned out if we’d had richer parents, attended another school, married a different person. Historians have asked similar questions concerning the outcome of world events. What if the Roman Empire hadn’t fallen? What if the American Revolution had failed? What if Germany had won World War II?
Hold those thoughts for a moment, please. As a second generation Irish American, I’ll never know what it is to be truly Irish. I only have the stories my grandparents told, the songs they sang, the letters from siblings and cousins they never expected to see again. My childhood vision of Ireland was one of magical legends and ancient kings, banshees and leprechauns, rebellions and heroes. When at last I saw the real Emerald Isle, the palm trees astonished me. My grandparents never mentioned palm trees!
I longed for the Ireland I knew through song and story. My aunts had assured me our family had descended from Irish royalty, kings and queens long gone but hardly forgotten. How could such great men and women simply vanish?
What if they were still around?
In 1002 A.D., the chieftain of an obscure Irish clan rose to claim the High Kingship of Ireland. Brian Boru united Ireland’s warring tribes under one leader for the first and only time in Irish history. A scholar as well as a warrior, King Brian rebuilt churches, encouraged education, repaired roads and bridges, and roused the country to rise against the Norse invaders who had ravaged Ireland for centuries. On Good Friday in 1014 A.D., Brian’s army challenged a host of Vikings and their allies on the plains of Clontarf. Though his troops were victorious, Brian’s son and grandson perished in the battle. Brian himself died as he prayed in his tent, murdered by fleeing Vikings who stumbled upon his camp.
Many historians have speculated that Ireland would be a different place today if Brian Boru and his heirs had survived the Battle of Clontarf. A Band of Roses presents one possible scenario.
So begins the preface of A Band of Roses, a book whose concept offered the refuge I sought. In my Ireland, King Brian survived the Battle of Clontarf. His descendants still rule modern Ireland, and the current crown princess, Talty Boru, longs to be anyone but the heir to her father’s throne. She quickly learns to be careful what she wishes for. Her adventures take her from Japan to California to an ancient Ireland whose facts don’t fit the history she knows. Time travel? Not quite. The parallel world she visits is ours.
While some argue that “Alternative History” is more grammatically correct, “Alternate History” has emerged as the common name of this interesting genre of fiction. The “what if” asked by so many authors has produced a wealth of thought-provoking tales. My “what if” has created an Ireland that might have been, one where all are welcome. I invite you to stop by and lose your way for a while.
Born and educated in Boston, Massachusetts, Pat McDermott grew up in a family full of music and myths that have found their way into her stories. She is a member of The New Hampshire Writers' Project, Seacoast Writers' Association, Romance Writers of America, and Celtic Hearts Romance Writers. A frequent visitor to Ireland, she lives in New Hampshire, where she is currently working on her next novel.