Tag Archives: Impaler

Don’t forget. . .

that we are currently giving away copies of Born in Blood, Kate Paulk’s prequel to her new novel Impaler, as well as B. Quick, a mystery by C. S. Laurel.

Also, don’t forget to check out our latest novels, Nocturnal Origins and Death of a Musketeer.

Finally, check back tomorrow for a snippet from Tom Easton’s novel, The Great Flying Saucer Conspiracy, which will be published later in the week.

 

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Impaler is Here!

Impaler by Kate Paulk revisits the tale of Vlad Dracul, also known as Vlad Tepes and Vlad the Impaler.  This is the tale of historical fact mixed with fiction and a touch of fantasy.  But this is most definitely not the tired tale of vampires skulking in the night, lying in wait for innocent victims.  Impaler tells the tale of a man devoted to family and country, cursed and looking for redemption.

December, 1476. The only man feared by the all-conquering Ottoman Sultan battles to reclaim his throne. If he falls all of Europe lies open to the Ottoman armies. If he succeeds…

His army is outnumbered and outclassed, his country is tiny, and he is haunted by a terrible curse. But Vlad Draculea will risk everything on one almost impossible chance to free his people from the hated Ottoman Empire.

You can purchase Impaler now from our site .  It will be available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other e-book retailers in the coming days.

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A Giveaway or Two and a Reminder

Just a quick note to let you know we have two free titles available for download from our webstore.

B. Quick, by C. S. Laurel, is the first in the Quick series.  The second, Quicksand will be available this summer.

It was a night of triumphal activity for the Society For The Elimination of Good Looking Blonds.  By sheer chance, middle-aged literature professor Bill Yates interrupts a murderer in the act of dumping an unconscious young man into the local river.  Bill surprises himself by rescuing the young man and unwittingly plunges into a maelstrom of murder, psychoanalysis and Shakespeare.  Falling in love with the young man he rescued is either fitting punishment or just reward for his trouble, and it will be a long time before Bill knows which.

The second is Born in Blood, by Kate Paulk.  This is the prequel novella to Kate’s upcoming novel Impaler.  Impaler will be available later this week.

Vlad Dracul, known later in life as Vlad the Impaler, suffered more than any should at the hands of Mehmed, son of Sultan Murad.  Of all the pain and indignities brought upon him at the behest of the future ruler of the Ottoman Empire, the curse was the worst. All the young Vlad can do is try to survive and plot his vengeance.

And now the reminder.  We open for submissions on April 1st.  You can find out submission requirements here.

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March Update

The problem with running a small press is that, well, there aren’t a lot of people involved in the operation.  That means when one — or in our case several — of us get sick or have real life intrude, things slow down.  That’s what happened this month.  But have no fear.  We will get the rest of the schedule out.  Impaler by Kate Paulk and Blood Reunion, a short story collection by Sarah A. Hoyt, will be out next week.  Without a Trace by Dave Freer, which is currently available here as an E-ARC, will be out the following week.  In the meantime, check out Death of a Musketeer by Sarah D’Almeida and Nocturnal Origins by Amanda S. Green.

In the meantime, I’m going to cut back blogging to three times a week.  Of course, if something happens that I think we need to talk about, I’ll pop up long enough to post it.  Our next blog will be Friday.

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Run, don’t walk to Lunacon

For those of you who are going to be at Lunacon later this month, be sure to stop by and check out some of Kate Paulk’s panels.  She’ll also be reading from Impaler and who knows what else she might have up her sleeves 😉

You can check out her schedule here.

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As Promised . . .

This is just a quick post to make a few exciting announcements.

First, NRP is excited to announce that the digital edition of Sarah D’Almeida’s Death of a Musketeer will be available Wednesday, Feb. 23rd.  Death of a Musketeer was originally printed in 2006.  This will be the first time the book will be available in digital format.  Included with the book will be a preview of Musketeer’s Confessor.

Next, we’re pleased to announce that we will be publishing some of our titles not only in digital format but also in print.  The first of these, Impaler, by Kate Paulk, will appear next month.  There are others in the pipeline I’ll be able to announce over the next several days and weeks.

We hope you’re as excited by this news as are we.  Stay tuned for more updates in the next few days.  Regular blogging to return tomorrow.

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The Kindness of Cruelty

Kate Paulk is today’s guest blogger.  Born in Blood, the prequel to Impaler, was published last November.  Impaler will be published by NRP in March.

The Kindness of Cruelty

(This is the second of a three part series. The first post in the series can be found at Mad Genius Club and the third will be posted at my site tomorrow.)

In this post, I’m going to cover some of the reasons Vlad Dracula intrigues me. Most of the information here comes from my conclusions drawn from a relatively sparse historical record. Where I could, I read translations of primary sources (all hail Google). The rest is from the standard Dracula references, interpreted with an eye to why Dracula acted as he did.

First up, it helps to remember this was a brutal era by anyone’s standard. Even Vlad’s favored method of execution – impalement – was pretty normal in the Ottoman Empire. For instance, Ottoman policy was that any ships trying to evade the Ottoman tax assessors (who were based at the forts known colloquially as the “throat-cutters”) be sunk, and the survivors impaled. I gather it was an effective way of discouraging tax evasion.

Another point of perspective is that every one of Vlad’s European contemporaries was at some point in their youth held captive or hostage, with a real chance that they’d be killed by their captors. That kind of thing doesn’t make for nice, well-balanced individuals.

Then there’s the situation in Wallachia. We’d call it a failed state. The noble class (boyars) were choosing princes and then betraying them at a phenomenal rate (at one point the average reign was less than six months), there was no effective law, and the old free commoner class was being forced into serfdom by the boyars. Vlad was smart enough to see that he’d lose everything unless he could restore order – but to do that he’d need to take drastic measures. Those measures became the “meat” of the Dracula horror stories.

When you look at the assorted Dracula horror stories, his executions tend to fall into three groups:

  • political – and clearly aimed at removing rival claimants to the throne as well as breaking the power base of the boyar class (there’s evidence in his letters that he considered the boyars to be the root cause of Wallachia’s problems
  • law enforcement, where to convince people they needed to abide by the law he imposed extremely harsh punishments (that the method succeeded is demonstrated by the tale of the golden cup left by a remote fountain for travelers to drink from – and never stolen during Vlad’s reign), and
  • the “oddball” cases, which seem to me to be Vlad’s vile temper: the documentation available suggests that he was prone to fits of rage that weren’t that far off berserker fury. These were probably the atrocities that did the most damage to his reputation.

Interestingly, there’s also evidence that Vlad was well aware of his faults. He was well known for seeking isolation to pray, often for hours, and made many generous bequests to the churches of his area.

This entire mess would have been problematic in the best of circumstances, and Wallachia wasn’t anything like the best situation around. It was a buffer state between the Hungarian Empire and the Ottoman Empire, with effective control wavering between the two depending on who was paying more or had better hooks into the Wallachian Prince. Betrayal happened on every level imaginable.

Then you’ve got Vlad’s personal history: he was twelve or thirteen when he and his eight-year-old brother Radu were handed to the Ottoman Sultan Murad II as hostages – in circumstances where Vlad’s father Vlad Dracul wouldn’t have left alive if he didn’t hand his sons over. The details of the next five or so years aren’t clear, but some of the things that are known aren’t exactly comforting.

Once he was free of Ottoman lands, Vlad’s father Dracul played a hugely risky double-game, taking no direct action against the Ottomans, but discharging his obligations as a Hungarian vassal by sending his oldest son Mircea with troops to support John Hunyadi’s campaigns – a tactic that placed his younger sons in serious danger of torture and mutilation at  best. There are letters that have survived where Dracul is practically begging Hunyadi to release him from his obligations so he can fetch his younger sons back to safety.

Evidence of the conditions of Vlad and Radu’s imprisonment varies: some sources suggest that they were kept in the kind of conditions I described at the start of Born in Blood, where others suggest the two princes had relative freedom and were educated in part by the same tutors teaching Murad’s heir Mehmed (later Mehmed II Conquerer). In addition, Mehmed was well known to be a thoroughly unpleasant specimen, vindictive, cruel, and with a taste for attractive boys (as Sultan, he was well known to keep a boy harem). There’s evidence that he raped the hostages – and aspects of Vlad’s actions support the possibility of his having been sexually abused in Ottoman custody.

That he was physically abused is without doubt – there’s casual mention in the Ottoman records that he was sullen, bad-tempered, and regularly beaten for “insubordination”. His brother, on the other hand, was a favorite of the tutors and ultimately became well known as Mehmed’s catamite.

I chose the sequence of events in Born in Blood as the most likely, given the information available. Vlad’s less-than-perfect memory of that part of his life shows up as short flashbacks in Impaler at times when he’s stressed and something reminds him of what has to have been the worst part of his life.

From Vlad’s perspective, everyone he should have been able to trust is either taken from him in some way, or betrays him. His response appears to have been to withdraw into himself, and later, to constantly, almost obsessively test the loyalty of those he doubted – which was almost everyone.

The list of betrayals Vlad suffered in his life is impressive:

  • his father left him to the “mercy” of the Ottomans
  • his younger brother turned to Mehmed (there are rumors Radu converted to Islam as well)
  • his father was betrayed and murdered by his liege lord and his supposedly loyal boyars.
  • His older brother was betrayed and murdered by the same people, but in a more gruesome fashion: he was blinded then buried alive
  • his cousin Stephen of Moldavia (known today as Stephen the Great) attacked and captured the key strategic fortress of Chindia at a time when Vlad was battling to keep his land and his life
  • Vlad’s own liege lord (Wallachia was a vassal state of Hungary) King Matthias Corvinus, not only failed to send promised military aid, he used the gold he’d been sent for an anti-Ottoman crusade to ransom the Hungarian crown (the story behind this is long, convoluted, and not proven – but the evidence points very strongly in that direction), then forged documents purporting to prove Vlad was conspiring with the Ottomans to justify arresting him and holding him as a political prisoner.
  • Later, Matthias forced Vlad to convert to Catholicism (he was Orthodox), a conversion reinforced by marrying Vlad to his cousin Ilona Szilagyi, most likely as a condition of releasing Vlad from captivity. Vlad remained effectively a dependent of Matthias for a number of years after this, before he was given the forces he needed to recapture Wallachia.

Curiously enough, a lot of the Vlad horror stories were written by Hungarians…

A few of the other knowns were that Vlad hated Mehmed II with an unholy passion – and was the only man ever to terrify the sultan into retreating from a war. The various accounts of Mehmed’s reaction to the Forest of the Impaled all end with him and his hardened soldiers retreating – some versions have them fleeing, leaving… deposits… as they ran. What I think is likely is that Mehmed realized the ranks of impaled men (most of them dead – Vlad’s armies had been gathering every corpse from every battle for weeks) were a pointed message for him personally: this was his fate if Vlad ever got hold of him.

It’s the only time Mehmed II retreated, and he never set foot in Wallachia again. All subsequent Ottoman action in that part of the world was done through proxies. I think it’s reasonable to draw the conclusion that Vlad terrified Mehmed – and that Mehmed knew if Vlad ever regained power, he would be fortunate to die in battle.

In those circumstances, Vlad was quite possibly the only kind of person who could survive and turn things to his advantage. He needed to be brutal simply to survive, but he needed to be intelligent and quick-witted to actually win more than a temporary throne. It’s the tension between the two needs and Vlad’s desire to spare his children the life he endured that drives much of Impaler.

In tomorrow’s post at my site I’ll explore the Vlad of Impaler, the man behind the monster stories.

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