Today I’m thrilled to be hosting a stop on the blog tour for K.T. Findlay’s medieval historical fiction novel In Two Minds. If you’re a fan on time-slip novels or alternative history, check out the excerpt below!
Title: In Two Minds
Series: The Prince Wulfstan Series
Author: K. T. Findlay
Publication Date: November 1, 2019
Genre: Historical Fiction, Alternative History
Themes: Medieval History, Time Displacement
Hurled twelve hundred years into the past, into someone else’s body, things could hardly be worse. And then the body’s owner wanted it back…
Museum curator Thomas and ten year old Anglo Saxon Wulfstan have to cope with a fifty year age gap, a huge culture clash and never knowing from one moment to the next who’s going to be in control.
As they’re trying to come to terms with it all, they inadvertently antagonise Wulfstan’s father, King Offa of Mercia. The King is already frustrated with his son’s “late” development and issues the boy a challenge. Wulfstan is given just a year to find and train ten slaves who can beat the King’s own champions in a fight to the death, but there’s a twist.
When his son accepts the challenge, Offa turns the screws to make him back down and limits him to females only. In the brute strength world of Anglo Saxon battle they surely haven’t a chance, but Thomas convinces Wulfstan that if they can find the right people, a few new ideas and enough practice might just give those women the tools to become the heroes Wulfstan so desperately needs.
The extract takes place in the palace market the day after Rowena and Berthilda have joined Thomas and Wulfstan’s team. They’re taking advantage of the fact the market sells the best horses in the country.
‘Now,” he said, “I believe you’re a pretty good horsewoman too. Let’s go and choose our mounts.’
Being the palace marketplace with the King in residence, some of the finest horses in the country were there. They did an initial check of all three horse merchants to see just what was on offer, before they settled down to the selection process.
‘We’ll start with one for you Hengist.’ said Wulfstan.
‘But I already have a horse Your Highness.’ said Hengist.
‘That’s true, but he’s your personal mount. I’m going to get you one specifically for our challenge. That way, if anything happens to it, you’ll still have your own. Now, go and choose one, and don’t worry about the money. You can get your own back on my father at this point!’ he laughed.
Hengist grinned, a little sheepishly, then picked out a beautiful piebald stallion that at 14 hands was one of the biggest in the country. He also seemed to have a mind of his own, but Hengist was confident he could handle him.
Rowena fell for an almost pure white gelding. The horse was beautifully muscled, yet gentle in nature. When she was astride it, with her glorious red hair and pale complexion, the effect was otherworldly.
Berthilda chose a lovely roan gelding with three white feet. He wasn’t quite as good looking as the other two horses, but handsome enough and Berthilda sensed something in him. He in turn seemed to bond almost instantly with her.
That left Wulfstan, but at this precise moment he found himself outside the body again, watching Thomas.
‘Bother! I could get really tired of this!’ he shouted. ‘Oh well, we both want the same one, so go get him Thomas.’
From the moment they’d seen him, Thomas and Wulfstan’s hearts had settled on an almost pure black gelding. Its muscles rippled under the sheen of its coat as it stood proud and aloof, held by the merchant’s servant.
The boy was bored and began to play a game, tossing the end of the lead rope into the air and catching it in the same hand. The higher he tossed it, the less accurate he became, and eventually he got it wrong. The end knot landed heavily on the horse’s nose, causing it to flick its head in alarm. The boy took the blow full in the face and was sent flying. The merchant rushed up and prepared to strike the horse with his whip, but Thomas leapt between them and held up his hand to stop him.
‘Your Highness!’ called Hengist. ‘You should stay back! He could flatten you!’
Thomas turned slowly to face the horse, who watched him warily. He held out his hands in front of him, open, showing he had nothing in them before taking a step slowly towards the animal. The horse stepped skittishly away, keeping the distance the same.
Thomas cocked his head to one side, dropped his shoulder, and snaked his head gently towards it.
The horse stood still, watching carefully.
Then Thomas turned his body so he was parallel to the horse, and again cocked and snaked his head.
The horse remained still.
Another couple of rounds of this and Thomas was next to the horse. He held up the back of his hand, limp, so the horse could smell him. It began to nuzzle him gently, and in turn allowed Thomas to softly stroke its nose.
Within a minute it was calm enough for Thomas to nestle his forehead into its neck. The horse lowered its own head over Thomas’ shoulder, and closed its eyes in pleasure as the little human scratched it behind the ears.
‘We’ll take him.’ said Thomas.
The others were watching him with astonishment. He shrugged his shoulders with an embarrassed smile. ‘I just behaved like a horse. I used my body like another horse would, and he understood I meant him no harm.’
‘But where did you learn how to do that?’ asked the merchant. ‘It’s like magic!’
Thomas shook his head. ‘No. Not like magic. I’ve been watching horses for a long time, and learned how they behave, how they move. I thought that if I tried to speak their language, it might help, and it did. Berthilda does it too if you watch her. That’s why she’s so good with them. They trust her.’
‘I do that?’ asked Berthilda.
‘Sort of, only you’re much better than I am. For you it’s a natural thing. You’re just not aware you do it. But how many others can ride with no reins? Very few. The reason you can, is that they trust you, and you’re directing them with your legs. That’s all they need from you. It’s a gift, but it isn’t magic.’
About the Author
K.T. Findlay lives on a small farm where he dovetails his writing with fighting the blackberry and convincing the quadbike that killing its rider isn’t a vital part of its job description.
Follow K.T. Findlay
Webpage : www.ktfindlay.com
Many thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to participate in the Blog Tour.