Who is Nikki the Knife?

Medieval Musings: Your Newsletter from Paul J Bennett

'I’m thrilled at finding a new series I can embrace wholeheartedly' - Diane

In this week's Medieval Musings:

  • Fate of the Crown - reviews
  • Gamer's Corner: The birth of an RPG
  • Heart of the Crown audiobook sample
  • Character origin: Lady Nicole Arendale
  • WIP update
  • Author Spotlight & Book GIveaways

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Thank you! Fate of the Crown has received some amazing reviews!

"Totally mesmerising" - Lady L 
"Edge of your seat stuff" - LM
"Wow, what a great story" - Tony
"Another epic adventure - absolutely brilliant!" - Judy
"For all lovers of action fantasy - a must read!" - Tim
"Everything that you want in a great story is there" - Sean
"Non-stop Action, Adventure, Magic, and Romance with some great twists!" - Kathy
"The characters are wonderful, the writing excellent and the stories are superb" - Bob
"Wow! Just wow! This is definitely my favourite new epic fantasy series, that’s for sure!" - Emily

Google Play

Gamer's Corner

Birth of a Role-Playing Game

I first tried role-playing games(RPG) in my early teens, and since then I have played many genres of games, including science fiction, fantasy, and historical. These had different game mechanics (how you determine skills, damage, attributes)  and though enjoyable, to my mind, they all seemed to have one problem: the class system.

This usually meant you had to be a wizard, a thief or a warrior. You couldn’t have a wizard that used swords or a warrior that could wield magic (although newer RPG systems have incorporated this, I am talking about over 30 years ago). I tried tinkering with modifying rules, but because I have always been drawn to percentile based systems, typically games that use the concept of skills, I wanted a game that allowed full customization.

The first iteration of this my RPG system occurred after I read an article in Dragon magazine (I actually have Issue 1 & 2 of this magazine!) about skirmishing in the Napoleonic period. Being a fan of the Sharpe books by Bernard Cornwell (which I heartily recommend), I decided to create an RPG using the British army in Portugal and Spain during the time period of 1808 to 1815.

The game was quite successful, each campaign lasting a number of years, and I ran with multiple groups of gamers. One day Brad (the person who created & played Revy Bloom) suggested making a fantasy version. The original RPG was called Peninsula War, and so the fantasy version simply became Fantasy Wars. Where the original had weapons like muskets and pistols, the new version had different types of swords, axes, maces etc. but the biggest change was the introduction of magic, a system that I still use today.

Will I ever publish Fantasy Wars? Possibly, but the whole system needs rewriting. I have the core rules and then lots of additions and addendums that have been added over the years. This would all need to be collated and organized, not something I have time to do at present, but who knows, maybe on weekends?

Until next time, keep the dice rolling!

First three audiobooks now available!

Google Play
Heart of the Crown Audiobook Sample

Character Inspiration: Lady Nicole Arendale

Ah, Nikki the Knife, also known as Lady Nicole Arendale, dates back to the early days of the role-playing game (RPG) I ran. Originally, she was just part of the background of Arnim Caster but then Jeff (the player in that role), decided to write to General Valmar (the title of marshal-general is only used in the books) and suggest he train Nikki as a sort of undercover bodyguard for the young princess.

Of course, at this point in the game, Valmar wasn’t yet a known villain, his evil ways still hidden from the players.

Enter Lady Nicole Arendale, a name that Valmar selected to conceal her true identity. He blackmailed her & forced her to report back to him. His training methods were brutal, a plotline that made it into the series, though the scene you read was only in the book.

In the RPGgame, the details of their past were quite vague, though she was in love with Arnim, and their background was complicated due to her betrayal of him. Also, she was introduced much earlier, first appearing during Prince Alfred’s funeral (making it Sword of the Crown, if you’re keeping track), but in the books, I held off her arrival until Heart of the Crown.

Her introduction as Anna’s lady-in-waiting was timely, especially with all that had happened when the princess first arrives in Weldwyn. During the third book, Nikki's secrets were hinted at, especially her relationship with Arnim, but it took Shadow of the Crown for the character to grow into her own, providing an intriguing story arc as a backdrop to the major plotline.

Coincidentally, Nikki was introduced in the same gaming session as another familiar character, Lady Aubrey Brandon, but more in her on a future newsletter.

Another book almost complete!

Ashes, the first book in The Frozen Flame series, is coming along nicely, with the first draft due to be completed in a week or so. When I first started the story, I picked out what spells Athgar and Natalia (the main characters) knew, and this has proven to be most beneficial.

I’ve put them to good use in at least one naval battle, as they struggle to fight off a couple of pirate ships, a scene that I hope you’ll find most entertaining. At this point in the storyline, there are no epic battles with armies, yet, though there is plenty of action for our intrepid companions.

Both are from backgrounds that limit them in different ways, but they quickly learn that they must rely on each other for survival. It’s been fun writing these new characters, and I’ve already outlined more adventures for them!

So what happens after Ashes? It’ll be back to the world of Merceria as I begin Burden of the Crown, though I might write a short story first. I’ve had this idea for the origin of Fitz that keeps coming back to me.

Until next time, Happy Reading!

Author Spotlight!

Here are a few featured books that are free, discounted, or new releases. These authors are returning the favour by sharing my books with their readers. Thanks for checking them out!

A Time of Turmoil: Tenoch knew peace long ago when the dragons three ruled over the evil, susceptible peoples. Now, however, the dragons are long since dead, and humans rule.   For better or worse. The king is a broken sloth. The crowned princess doesn’t want the throne. ...More

Shadow of the Overlord: A heroine no one knows they need. A reluctant warrior with a dark secret. A crumbling kingdom on the brink of war. Taliesimon has always dreamed of being the first female Dragoon warrior, but the commander and his lackeys will do anything to ensure she fails.  ...More

Prison in the Sky: The portals opened. Poison seeped in. The world changed forever.
After the war, Marklus the Healer is confronted by a murder, a curse and falling in love with the King’s exquisite—and forbidden—daughter.  From International Bestselling author, Angela J. Ford...More

The Phoenix Ascension: From the ashes, a new life is born. Kari and her allies have seen numerous miracles in recent months, from the glorious rebirth of a friend to the unprecedented alliance of many peoples from across Terrassia and beyond. Now, all the pieces are in place, the military campaign...More

Squire Hayseed: Not a hero. Not a chosen one. Hayley is only a survivor. At fourteen she finds herself with a choice -- hang for being caught stealing or become a squire. She knows nothing about the world of knights, chivalry, swords, and horses, but she knows a lot .  ...More

Dragon's Fire: After thousands of years, Slayvin, a corrupted, soul-devouring black dragon has finally escaped imprisonment. The war for souls has begun. As the flames of the Black Dragon's War are fanned, Orcs, Dwarves, Elves, Humans, and more are left with a choice;   ...More

Book GIveaways!

Here are some FREE books, short stories and samples from other authors in the SciFi and Fantasy genres. Please give them a try. Each Giveaway is a collection of authors who want to share their stories with you. Feel free to send links to friends and family!

  • If you were a casting director, which actors would you choose to star in the Heir to the Crown series
  • Who are the Therengians
  • Revy Bloom's voice in the Audiobook
  • Gamers Corner - How does a character advance/train
  • Character origin of Lady Aubrey Brandon
  • More about The Call of Magic

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Happy reading from Paul J Bennett,
Author of Epic Fantasy in the Land of Merceria and beyond!

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Medieval Musings: A Paul J Bennett Newsletter