Thursday, October 9, 2014
The Allure of Medieval Romance
Yesterday, an article I wrote on the resurgence in medieval romance appeared in USA TODAY's Happy Ever After section. I thought you might like to read it--and I'd love to know your thoughts!
You can read it below and see it as it appeared HERE.
The Allure of Medieval Romance by Regan Walker
On Amazon, for example, there are nearly as many medieval romance novels as there are historical romance novels. Many of the new ones are self-published, possibly because publishers haven’t been as interested in the subgenre. But some of the authors I have spoken with are making a good living off their medieval stories. Some are Amazon bestsellers. So, perhaps the publishers should take note.
Why do we love to read about that time when knights battled for their king and ladies swooned at their victories? Perhaps it is the notion of chivalry, a valuing of womanhood and virtues such as truth, honor and valor. A knight who rises to duty, and the maiden who would take her place at his side. In Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, he describes a knight as being distinguished in truth, honor, generosity and courtesy, who is both wise and modest. A nobility of spirit, not just a nobility of title and lands.
In today’s medieval romances, readers want good love stories, but they also want more. They want to experience a time when, putting on rose-colored glasses, a simpler life allowed for the graces and time for romantic love. A knight might woo his lady with love notes and gifts, and take a ride with her on his palfrey, not just swing by for a beer. And he will be saving her from certain peril at some point. With all the modern fiction available, full of crude language and ill treatment of women, readers are looking for a change. A look into the past, when women wore courtly gowns, their virtue was (generally) protected and a man’s honor was everything, is refreshing. Of course, the heroine must be intelligent and courageous. I don’t wonder if that is one reason Game of Thrones is such a popular TV series. Though not set in any particular time in history, it definitely has a medieval feel, and the females are among the strongest characters.
One of my fellow authors, Kathryn LeVeque, told me “more and more readers enjoy getting involved in a big medieval book for the adventure and romance.” According to Kathryn, “readers are 'over' vampires, werewolves, ghosts, shape-shifters, bad dukes and sinful earls.” According to her, “They like the thought of a virtuous knight sweeping them off their feet and a good, old-fashioned damsel in distress.”
I heard much the same thing at the Romance Writers of America when it comes to future trends in historical romance. It made me think medieval romance is about to experience a come back.
I was drawn to medieval romance myself, both as a reader and as an author. My earlier novels and stories were all set in the Regency era, though I would never have described them as “light” romances. (Each has real history and mystery as well as a love story.) But the deep past kept calling to me. It was an adventure to dive into the 11th century and take a look at England after the Norman Conquest. It wasn’t all a pretty picture, to be sure. No, indeed. William the Conqueror was a brutal king who treated his enemies despicably. But the knights in my story, The Red Wolf’s Prize, are of a noble bent, inclined to pay homage to womanhood, even if the hero does lust after the heroine. And of course, my heroine is brave and noble of heart, though her independence leads her into trouble. Since it’s a romance, you can expect conflict and difficulty, but in the end, even an English maiden will succumb to a Norman knight if he proves himself to be a man of valor and honor.
So, as you consider your reading options, take a look at the more than one thousand medieval romances available for your reading pleasure. And, please take a look at The Red Wolf’s Prize!