Not Without Mercy The Black Death

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Blog posts from the Author

Not Without Mercy The Black Death SECOND EDITION IS HERE!

September 11, 2016

I just released the SECOND EDITION (Kindle E-Book version) of Not Without Mercy The Black Death.  Book One was edited by two different editors and still had errors.  The Second Edition has corrected the errors from the first edition.  I anticipate republishing both the Hardcover and Paperback versions too. Thanks to all of those who caught errors, and to those who have enjoyed the book even with the errors!   Book two should be out by Christmas 2016!

Not Without Mercy The Black Death hits #24 on amazon.com Best Seller List!

January 5, 2015

The first volume of the Not Without Mercy series, The Black Death, hit a Best Seller milestone on amazon.com by reaching number "24" in the book category of historical/infectious disease. Although the story is based in the midst of the Black Plague of 1348, it was never my intention to write a book about infectious disease. However, if it made it to the amazon.com  Best Seller list on numerous occasions, I'll gladly take the accolades, especially considering that there are millions of books available on amazon.com.

 From time to time, I receive personal email from my readers telling me how the story gave them hope, or helped them deal with challenges in their own lives. I remind people, especially at book signings, that this is not a history book, it is a novel and a story of how a family survives the Black Plague.  Occasionally, someone will buy the book expecting a no- fiction history of the Black Plague in medieval Europe, only to  be frustrated when they discover that it doesn't focus on the Black Plague, but on a family. A couple of reviewers called it a soap opera, one even gave it only one star calling it a "A poor soap opera."  I haven't lost any sleep over her comments, especially when over 70% of the reviewers gave it 5 stars and the average is 4 stars.

 I didn't start out to write a history book.  However, my book is packed with history, especially the chapter notes.  I intended to write a story of faith, family, love, hope, and redemption. I will admit that book one has more grammatical errors than I would like, my publisher insisted on publishing it even after three edits,but  I am happy with the story.  As of this post 1/5/2015, I am nearly finished with book two, The Passage Home.  And for those who want to focus on the technical instead of the story, I will also be releasing a re-edited second edition of book one, The Black Death. 

 Here are some of my favorite comments from those who kindly posted reviews about my book on amazon.com;  

 "Such a great book! This looks like a long book, but you will be so drawn in time will fly by. The characters are developed in a way that you feel like you know them, and are on the same long journey. The story is set during the plague, even if you do not know anything about the plague, the author will have you feeling like an expert by the end. Faith, family, and ties are tested during a dark time, who will last?"

 " I am more of a romantic fiction reader with all the happy endings but since the author is a cousin I decided I would like to give it a try. I started it and decided it was too depressing a subject for me so I put it away for awhile. Then one day decided to give it another try and could not stop reading. Great story filled with people you fall in love with and though heart-wrenching at times I couldn't put it down until I finished it. Looking forward to book 2."

  "I'm not anywhere finished with this book and am thoroughly enjoying it! "

 " I love historical fiction, if it is done right; the characters must make it believable for me. I not only got a sense of the country and it's turmoil, but I fell in love with the characters. They became real to me. I lived their hardships and felt their grief, fear, love, and faith. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to get lost in a story and come away wanting more."

 "Phill has the unique ability to pull you into the lives of the characters and make you feel as though you are right there with them. As I was reading this story, I felt as though I was sharing in all of their sorrows, fears, and joys. I could almost smell the smells and feel the physical pain that some of the characters endured."

 I  never intended to write a book that would become everyone's favorite; an unrealistic task. I simply had what I believed to be a wonderful story to tell, and I felt compelled to tell it. The characters, their lives and the setting have all become real to me.  I see them in my dreams and I long to know more of their story.  I am very excited to release book two very, very soon!

 

The Pestilence of Great Mortality

October 14, 2013

The Pestilence of Great Mortality (The Black Plague)

by Author, Phillip C. Wright

Imagine living in Medieval Europe in 1348. If you were the average European, you were a peasant who either tended the orchards, fed the animals or worked in the fields of the upper-class.  The nobles had inherited their land through birthright, or some, through service to the king as a soldier in his army or night in his court.

Life in the 14th century wasn’t glamorous neither was it easy.  Most people never ventured out of their own town.  Most were uneducated, which in truth, kept the servant class in their place, for education then, as today, always meant more opportunity, and the nobles and the royals knew this.  In fact, the only education the average person received was on Sunday by the local Priest of the Catholic Church. The nobles and the royalty hired Monks to teach their children, everyone else continued illiterate generation after generation, to follow in the footsteps of their father, which usually meant learning the family trade and performing it from one generation to another.

In England, the king maintained a stronghold over his subjects. To keep order and to collect taxes, every town was organized with a local government that reported back to the King.  The local sheriff kept order, kept the peace and supervised the collecting of taxes. Unfortunately, it wasn’t uncommon for unethical government officials to take advantage of the locals. In fact, a famous sheriff of the time, John Oxford of Nottingham, was known for his extortion and robbery from his community, due to his notoriety he later became a famous character in the Robin Hood series.

Not every town was controlled by corrupt leaders, and for most life was simple and very predictable in medieval Europe, but something happened in the summer of 1348, something that not only changed lives, but livelihood, politics and even religion.

Imagine it’s June 1348, and that you just finished purchasing a bag of grain from a local merchant in the seaside town of Bristol, England.  With over 10,000 full-time residents, Bristol was the second largest city in England and the main English port for trade throughout Europe. As you loaded the bag onto your cart, you noticed a ship anchoring in the harbor.  Of course, this was nothing you hadn’t seen before, there were always ships coming and going in the Bristol harbor.  But among the cargo of this ship was a unique stow-away, one of many unnoticed passengers that had already caused havoc in the lives of thousands as it traveled all the way from Eastern Mongolia, Asia, to Egypt, Western and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and today it was debarking into the beautiful and welcoming town of Bristol. Neither you, nor any of the other residents and visitors of Bristol, had any idea that today would be the beginning of the pestilence of great mortality, in England.

Most modern day researchers agree that it was the flea that carried the Black Plague from Asia, to Africa and to Europe.  As the strain of the pestilence grew it also morphed into different types of bacteria.  The most common form entered the blood stream, and the other lodged in the lungs, so just breathing on another person transmitted almost certain death.

Those infected had little hope of survival.  For most, the plague ended their lives within days, and some within hours. The pain was so intense that the infected welcomed death as an end to their suffering. Once infected, lethargy overcame the body, accompanied by high fever, delirium, boils under the arms and in the groin, black circles on the skin, and dried blood as the flesh decayed from the inside out. The un-assaulted lived in fear of becoming the next victim of this unyielding, blood sucking killer.

Within days you get word that the merchant you’ve done business with for years has died of a horrible sickness, days later his wife and even children also die. You hope that it is an isolated event, but then discover that one of your neighbors has contracted what appears to be the same sickness. 

You are awakened at three o’clock in the morning by loud screams.  At first, you think that someone down the street has been robbed.  You look out the window of your second story apartment that is meshed between many identical homes on the cobble stone street, and all of the doors appear to be locked.  You then notice an unusual sight of pigs wandering down the street.  You assume that they got out of their pen from the farmer's house about a mile away in the country. So you go back to bed, only to be awakened again by more screams.  This time, your wife and children also wake.  The screams continue for the next two hours.  Finally, just before sunrise you dress, tell your family to stay inside, and you muster the courage to leave your home.

The pigs are gone, but the sounds of human sobs continue.  You walk just three doors down and you hear a man sobbing from the open window, he is your friend Arthur. You look into the window and see that he is sitting on a bed holding the corpse of his dead wife, a woman that you spoke to on the street just two days earlier.  Before you can speak, he looks up and notices you.  His eyes are bloodshot, and filled with salty tears of despair, that are running down his cheeks and throat. He shakes his head as he speaks to you,

“My friend, evil has come and we are all going to die. Run! Leave now, while you still can!”

He turns his head back toward his dead wife, and you notice a large black pustule on the side of his neck. You slowly move away from the window trying to make sense of what you just saw and heard.  Suddenly you hear screams coming from two blocks away, and then more, even closer.  It occurs to you that with the rising of the sun more people are discovering the dead all around them. 

You turn around and begin running back to your home.  You run up the stairs, fling open the door and shout to your wife and children to dress.  You tell them that you must all leave now before it’s too late.  They begin to ask questions, your six-year-old daughter begins crying causing a chain reaction to your ten-year-old daughter, and 12-year-old son. Your wife tries to comfort the children as she too fights to maintain her composure.  After five minutes, everyone is dressed, small bags of clothes are packed, two loaves of bread and dried fruit and meat are shoved into a basket. 

You take your wife by the hand, the children join hands making a human train that rushes down the stairs and out the back of the building.  You rush everyone to the cart.  You open the stable door and take your horse from among the other horses still tied to the hitch. You think about your job working for the local blacksmith, and wonder what your boss will think when you don’t show up for work today.

You attach your horse to the cart, jump on its back, kick it in the shanks and pray that somehow God will spare your family as your little cart heads for the countryside. Unfortunately, you soon discover that nowhere, and no one is safe from whatever evil has come to Bristol.

By the time the Black Plague begins to devour the town of Bristol, it has already moved deep inland and up the coast.  It is only a matter of days before it hits London and all of the major cities of England. News comes that a mysterious pestilence is overcoming France, Germany, Italy and all of the coastal communities of Europe.

Physicians began to administer treatment, to no avail.  Communities are shocked and terrified as the doctors succumb to, and die of the sickness.  The people turn to the Catholic Church for an answer.  Church officials are baffled as to the cause, or how to defeat the plague.  Soon Priests, in fear of their own lives, begin to hide from their parishioners, so many have died that local churches and towns cannot keep up with the burials.  Eventually, towns begin to dig mass graves; workers are paid to dump the plague victims into the graves.   The Pope declares absolution to anyone who dies from the plague, even midwives are given authority from the Pope to administer last rights to newborn children and their dying mothers.

Everyone wanted answers to the cause and treatment of the plague. Theories came from every direction.  Some believed it was a plague from God caused by wickedness.  Others thought it was an unusual alignment of the planets, still, others thought it was a poisonous cloud traveling through the air, and others thought it was a virus-like menace carried by cats, the known companions of witches. A decree was sent throughout all of Europe to kill every cat. Obviously, as the cat population decreased, the rat population increased, and so did the plague.

Those who adhered to the religious belief that God had sent the plague to clean the land of the wicked, looked for ways to separate themselves from the wicked.  A group of zealot priest arose in Germany, who decided that God wanted another sacrifice to rid the earth of the plague. They formed a coalition of like-minded priests and parishioners that became known as the Flagellants.  These men marched from town to town, carrying crosses, beating themselves with whips laced with glass and metal shards, unwittingly taking the plague from town to town. They believed that God would accept their public display of humility and remorse, along with the shedding of their blood, as a type of atonement for the sins of mankind.  The Pope eventually put an end to this vile display of self-debauchery, with a decree condemning it.

As the plague continued to grow another idea of its origins surfaced. The followers of the Flagellants determined that the Jews had been poisoning the wells and the public water system. Throughout Germany Jews, men, women, and children were rounded up and burned in mass fire pits. The Pope came to the rescue a second time, condemning anyone involved in such an act as being "seduced by that liar, the Devil." and threatened punishment for anyone involved in such an act of wickedness.

Although 1348 ushered in the beginning of the Black Plague which lasted about three years, the plague returned on several occasions over the next twenty-seven years, at one point returning for two years and only killing boys. The last known occurrence of the Black Plague ended in 1665.

By the end of 1350 more than 25 million people, one-third of Europe’s population, not to mention the great number in Africa and Asia, had died. This tremendous death toll caused an economic strain on England and Europe.  In England, the serfs who had survived the plague began to charge higher wages for their work, some became land owners, and even Nobles began to work in their own fields. 

But one of the most interesting effects of the Black Plague happened to the Catholic Church.  During the middle ages the only common bond between the bickering European countries was the Catholic Church.  The Pope had amassed great power and influence over the Kings and rulers of Europe, none of which wanted to be seen as a heretic of the Church. In fact, the Church was highly involved in politics almost as much as it was in religion. 

As the plague ravaged Europe and the Church had no answer to stop it, more and more believers began to question the legitimacy of the Church and more specifically the Pope.  During this time the Pope Clement VI, sent mixed messages to the masses by asking astrologers to help explain the origins of the plague, condemning the murdering of innocent Jews, the wondering Flagellants, and then issuing Indulgences, that were essentially a free pass to heaven for anyone willing to pay a certain price to the Church. Thus began the reformation era.  A faithful Catholic Englishman by the name of John Wycliff lost his faith in the Church and began to teach that all people should have access to the Bible and that it should be printed in English.  He later printed the first English version of the Catholic Vulgate, the Holy Bible.

The Black Plague was certainly the most horrific killer of all time, and the effects of this plague not only caused a major decrease in the population of Europe, but it brought about political change and religious change in Christianity which effects are still being felt today.

My novel, Not Without Mercy The Black Death, is book one in the Not Without Mercy series.  Although the story takes place during the Black Plague, it is not a story about the Black Plague.  It is a story of how one family survived in the midst of terrible odds.  It is a story of faith, family, love, courage, hope and redemption.

The Pestilence of Great Mortality caused moral malaise in the land.  It created two types of people, the faithful and the faithless. The faithless became fearful as they saw death all around them, with no way out.  The faithful, became fearless, as they looked toward God for survival, and as they discovered in the midst of the most frightful killer of all time, that God had left them Not Without Mercy.

Why write an Historical/Fiction and Why read it?

September 10, 2013

The first thing I tell my readers at book signings and other author events, is that this is not a book about the Black Plague.  It is a book about a family who survives death in the midst of the world's most horrific killer.  It is a story about life, love, faith, courage, hope and redemption. 

I created over 100 characters in this series, including many characters who actually lived during this time.  Not Without Mercy is filled with adventure, intrigue, soul searching, drama, suspense, love stories, faith in God and a host of other human emotions. 

I wrote the story because I could not get the constant dreams about these people and their lives out of my head.  It has been exciting for me as a writer to see their stories come to life.  It has also been exciting to see how this story has inspired real people.  I have met with and spoken to many who have been touched by book one, The Black Death; many who have related to a specific character that has had a profound impact on their lives. 

My book sales have been incredible.  I cannot thank my new fans enough for your support!  I have suspended all book signing and PR engagements so that I can focus on finishing books two and three.  I hope to have book two, The Passage Home, on shelves by the end of the year.    Thank you again for reading my book.  Remember, that you have many options to read Not Without Mercy The Black Death (536 pages), Hard Cover, Paperback or the e-Book versions.  My book is available at Barnes & Noble, Hastings and many other book stores nationwide. But some of the best prices are found on amazon.com. As of this post my e-book version is only $2.99!