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About andersen52

Mark is a writer living in Houston.

King Arthur History Question of the Week 6


What peoples did Arthur battle?

Who were King Arthur’s enemies?

(**) Many groups invaded Britain. Which of this second group of tribes or nationalities would a historical King Arthur have likely fought? (more than one answer may be correct)



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You’ll also be able to follow the progress of publication of my first novel, Merlin’s Knot. As a bonus, the newsletter includes the exciting serial adventure, The Last Gonzo Joy Ride to the End of the Galaxy.

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King Arthur History Question of the Week 5

Why did the Norman invaders like tales of King Arthur?

Question 1

*6. According to Edward Gibbon in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, why did the Norman conquerors of Britain listen with fond credulity to the tale of Arthur?

King Arthur History Question of the Week 4


Do you know Arthur’s enemies?

Question 1

(*) King Arthur had many enemies. Which of this group of tribes or nationalities would a historical King Arthur have likely fought? (more than one answer might be correct)

King Arthur History Question of the Week 3


Question 1

(*) What Arthur-related location is pictured?

King Arthur History Question of the Week 2

Question 1

(*) One specific gravesite is now claimed for King Arthur. Where is it?

King Arthur History Question of the Week 1

How much do you know about the history of King Arthur?

TintagelWebThe existence of a King Arthur who ruled Britain is still debated, but ancient evidence of his life and of his probable times survived. Such documents date from the time of Arthur and later. Some of the history reported in the documents may be mere fantasy, but their antiquity gives them standing as historical documents. These questions are based around those historical documents, but with some modern sensibility.

Question 1

(*) King Arthur’s historical existence is unproven. If he lived, which of the following is the most likely time for his life? (dates are A.D. or C.E.)

Who Wants a Modern Fairy Tale?

UpTreeI’ve been on a fairy-tale kick lately. It started when I was thinking about the backstory of a character in my second Merlin novel. It led me to think about the character’s maternal grandparents. I’d already established the character as being Slovakian, and the character himself was based around a mythical being common in Slavic folk tales.

Quick disclaimer here: so far as I know, I have no Slavic blood. I’m a quarter Danish and the rest is a mélange of Western European nationalities.

This character’s sister was introduced in my first Merlin novel, and she told me when I was working on that book then that she was Slovakian, so what could I do? Well, that’s an easy question to answer: research. That’s how I discovered her brother.

Back to the fairy-tale kick. I had the idea to tell his back-story in the form of a modern fairy tale. I suppose some people would call it magical realism, but let me stick with fairy tale. I wrote a story about a girl who gets lost in the forest while being chased by a couple of nasty two-legged beasts (men) until she is saved by a (mystical) woodsman. I like the two main characters, but there was a minor character in this fairy tale—Babka—who insisted that I should tell her story.

I’ve had an on and off fascination with myths and fairy tales. Back when I was in grad school, I audited an anthropology class for fun. The name of the class was something like “Myth, Symbol and Ritual.” I wish I still had the class notes for that. It was a lot of fun, and a definite diversion from physics. I don’t think it was part of the class, but that was about the time that I read Bruno Bettelheim’s The Uses of Enchantment. But then life happened and I spent several decades doing science and technology. My shelf of folk and fairy tale books mostly sat unread.

One of those volumes was The Complete Fairy Tales and Stories by Hans Christian Andersen. I’ve already written about the little gems I found there when I recently read that book cover to cover. It struck me that he seldom used the “once upon a time” formulation, and also how often he set the tales in (his) contemporary time. So, I wasn’t doing anything new by writing using a contemporary voice to tell a fairy tale.


I really only liked about one tale out of eight from H. C. Andersen’s stories. But I noticed that the ones that I did like had a magical feel to the writing. I decided, if I’m following in the footsteps of my distant not-relative, I should shoot for that quality.The story that old
Babka wanted me to tell is episodic, starting with her birth. Then, there are two vignettes of her as a girl, and the fourth occurs on the cusp of her adulthood, which also sets the stage for her role in the original girl-lost-in-the-woods story, where she’s an old lady. My intent is for each fairy tale to stand alone, but if you read them all together, they entwine. I’ve concentrated on making them feel magical.

I’m not sure that I’ve told her whole story yet. She might whisper something to me one day. But for now, I’ve got five tales.

I like the characters and what is happening to them. What I don’t know is whether contemporary readers want to read fairy tales. Would people buy a short book of newly made up folk and fairy tales? What do you think?

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Discover a Few Old Gems You Need to Read

CoinsHave you heard the story of the coin that is accidentally left behind in a foreign country? The shilling knows that it’s good, honest, and true, but in this country it is yelled at and called false and counterfeit. It feels even worse when the people who discovered it in their pockets pass it to others in the dark, so in the light of the next day it is again called worthless. Now, imagine its pleasure when it’s finally returned to its own country, where it is hailed for its honest picture of the beloved king.

If you recognize that story, then you know “The Silver Shilling,” by Hans Christian Andersen. I found it charming, even if it’s not as famous as some of his other stories. His most notable tale is “The Little Mermaid,” but you might not recognize that tale in the original. Continue reading Discover a Few Old Gems You Need to Read

Time Passes Oddly in The Three Musketeers

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading Alexandre Dumas’ novel The Three Musketeers. But if you’re a bit on the compulsive side, like me, you might’ve noticed that occasionally book-time passes more quickly than you’re expecting.

SPOILER ALERT: if you haven’t read The Three Musketeers but plan to, note that there are significant plot points discussed here.







A French village. © Dennis Owusu-ansah | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Continue reading Time Passes Oddly in The Three Musketeers