18 Aug 2017

First Line Fridays #5 - The Message in a Bottle Romance Collection

Finally progress! Bread of Angels audiobook done, and Oswui: King of Kings finished.  I've finally made a start on a book I requested from NetGalley way back in January. I have not included the author in the title because it's one of those collections of short stories by multiple authors. 
I have to confess: I requested it mostly for the first story: The Distant Tide by Heather Day Gilbert, a Viking Romance because her previous full-length Viking Era novel Forest Child won me over.

So currently I am working through the first of five novellas in the collection: it's enjoyable- but...  Yes, there is a but: I am concerned about the Historical details in the story. It's set in Ireland in 1170, something I did not realize: I thought it was set in the 9th century. 
Vikings would be fine in the 9th century, but not in the 12th after what historians refer to as 'The Viking Age' ended. There were no more raids on England after 1066, and in Ireland, they stopped even earlier as the Vikings started to settle down, develop a more stable economy and become Christianized. 

Also, the heroine and her family live in the inevitable castle- but there's only one problem with that: Castles were brought to Ireland by the Normans, the same people who introduced them to England after their famous victory at the Battle of Hastings. Hence, an Irish royal family at the time the Normans came to conquer Ireland a century or so later would not have been living in a big old stone castle. 
 So yes, it's a nice story; but it really should have been set a century or so earlier. I think it's a general problem with a lot of Fiction: that knowledge of the Middle Ages is rather limited, and the expectations of audiences mean that things like castles and Vikings can be dropped into just about any Medieval story, regardless of the historical context. Hollywood has been doing something similar for 50 years, so perhaps they are partly to blame.

I'm going to finish the story as a truly believe Mrs. Gilbert is a wonderful author, and read the others in the collection (it's extremely rare for me to ever give up on a novel), but historical accuracy is important to me.

The first line from the Prologue (which introduces the Message in the Bottle which gives its title to the collection) reads: 

Ballyfir Monastery, The North of Ireland, 
834 AD 

Flames lapped at the monk's robes.  

I apologize if this week's posts reads like a prolonged history lesson. I'll wrap up by wishing everyone a happy Friday from little old England. 


  1. I quite enjoyed this collection.

    I've got the first line from "Chasing Secrets" by Lynette Eason on the blog today, but I've just finished reading "A Rose So Fair" by Myra Johnson, so I'm going to share the first line from that here:

    "Now just you hold it right there, mister." Rose Linwood sighted her unwelcome visitor down the length of Grandpa's trusty Winchester.

    She's a spunky one!

  2. I've been wanting to read this book for some time! :)

    I'm featuring "Healing Love" by Jennifer Slattery on my blog today, but I'm currently reading "A Name Unknown" by Roseanna M. White.

    May 1914

    Rosemary Gresham may have been a thief, but she was a thief who preferred to work in broad daylight.

  3. Happy Friday! My first line is from An Alaskan Christmas by Belle Calhoune: “Finn O’Rourke paced back and forth in terminal 27A of the Anchorage airport.”

  4. I've been wanting to read this collection!

    Since I'll be finishing Pepper Basham's The Thorn Healer before lunch, I'm sharing the first line from my current Chapter 22: "I hate leaving you like this." Catherine stilled her movements from packing her trunk, her coral walking suit an elegant fit on her delicate frame. "Not when David and Alexander could help tend the sickness."

  5. Heather Munro gazed down Victoria Street so long, she became another gray-suited statue along the Royal Mile.
    From The Case of the Clobbered Cad by Debra E. Marvin!

  6. Love novella collections! Happy Friday!

  7. This has got to be my favorite collection yet! I reviewed it for netgalley and then ended up buying a printed copy to keep!

  8. This book has some great authors.


  10. My first line comes from Hold the Light by April McGowan.

    "Unremarkable. Amber glanced out the steaming windowpane at the cityscape below her."

  11. Hi there! As always, I appreciate your interest in my Viking tales! And as usual, I'm happy to share why I made the writing decisions I did based on the research I did. To elaborate, I felt from my research that it wasn't impossible that some more powerful Irish "kings" could own smaller castles, and I also felt that since this was a revenge raid based on an earlier raid (in an area of Ireland that hadn't been settled by Vikings, or would not be settled by Normans), it made sense Ari could take a very small crew to attack the one place for a specific mission, not with the intent to plunder or settle. So I was very careful choosing my fictional locale for this story (County Kerry). Obviously, with any fictional story, authors have to fill in from the information available to them, but I do strive to stay true to the information I can find. I hope you read the other stories in this collection, which I feel show that much time and attention went into the historical details. And for me, I'm always happy if one of my stories inspires readers to research for themselves about that time period! Thanks again for picking this up and just letting readers know they can always contact me with questions about the historical details I include. Thanks!

    1. Hi Heather and thanks for visiting.
      Obviously, I meant nothing personal in my remarks and its a sweet story so far. I have not read anymore yet, as i am trying to finish another book: I'm usually reading two or three at a time.

      I know some parts of Scotland were still ruled by the Norway until the 13th century, but I'm not sure if they were 'Vikings' as we would know them by then. Isn't the word meant to mean 'Pirate' or something, so what to we call all the other Scandinavians who did not go pirating, or raiding or whatever? Its not an easy question to answer.

      I'm sure the Irish chieftans would have had halls or residences of some kind, probably made of stone. Maybe they called them something other than Castles? Something unpronouncable in Gaelic perhaps?

      I would like to include more contact details in my posts, but I have to do everything manually as I don't any any neat plugins and don't know any CSS code, so it takes a lot of time and effort. I think I did in one of my reviews of your other books.

      All the best to you and your writing journey.


I like to hear from readers, so feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...