Saturday, 19 September 2009

Medieval fiction and literature

As a writer of historical fiction, I thought I would make a brief return to the principle subject of this blog and give my take on the genre, in the wake of much recent debate...

Historical fiction may centre on historical or on fictional characters, but usually represents an honest attempt based on considerable research (or at least serious reading) to tell a story set in the historical past as understood by the author's contemporaries. Of course, those historical settings may not stand up to the enhanced knowledge of later historians, given the propensity for technological advancements in research and investigation.

Of course, many early historical novels played an important role in the rise of European popular interest in the history of the Middle Ages, whilst historical fiction has also served to encourage movements of romantic nationalism. Historical fiction can serve satirical purposes, the best example being George MacDonald Fraser's excellent Flashman series, although these were set several hundred years later, during the height of the Victorian era.

It is fair to say that I have been clear in my thoughts on politics and accuracy within historical novels. However, whilst I would like to think of my Silver Knight series sharing in the same league of detail as the Flashman series, it is a very different beast. Comedy and satire, though tools endemic to my view of life, are not particularly evident within the narrative. Nor is the central character as free from piety, morals and decency, although I believe the sequel to The Silver Knight will make for interesting reading on that subject (further news in due course!)

There is quite clearly a difference between historical fiction, fiction and alternative history. The Silver Knight was aimed firmly at the first camp, but then when definitions change so frequently, one can never been truly sure!

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