Canadian author Jill MacLean’s medieval novel for adults, The Arrows of Mercy, set in 14th century England, was published in early March 2023 and launched in Halifax in April.
You can purchase the book from various independent bookstores and online. Please see below for the complete list.
The year is 1348. Haunted by the blood on his hands, an archer named Edmund returns home from the French wars to a life of serfdom.
His brutal elder brother doesn’t want a hero of Crécy on his doorstep. The woman he loves yearns for a wider world, the ambitious wise-woman challenges him in ways he deplores, and an abused servant-girl is a thorn to his flesh. The priest denounces his mercy killings. Yet, as the days pass, Edmund is impelled to fight for the impossible: love and redemption.
Then plague arrives in the village and everything changes.
“…Richly imagined and compellingly realized, The Arrows of Mercy draws the reader into a story of the past that is imbued with the urgency and immediacy of our own time.”
Anne Simpson, award-winning author of Speechless
“…Gripping, immersive, and penned with wisdom and a fiery prescience, The Arrows of Mercy is a story of human desire that pushes the boundaries of language to make a powerful statement on the passions and impulses that shape morality itself. A story for the ages.”
Carol Bruneau, award-winning author of Brighten the Corner Where You Are
The Miramichi Reader has a stellar review of the novel:
“Engaging, thought-provoking and thoroughly satisfying, it is one of those books you can’t put down and yet wants to savour for its beautiful prose, compelling story and rich characters.”
Heather McBriarty, The Mirimichi Reader
The Historical Novel Society (US and UK) has selected The Arrows of Mercy as an Editors’ Choice, “Highly recommended.”
How to Purchase The Arrows of Mercy
The Arrows of Mercy can be purchased through any of the following channels:
Bookmark Halifax (my closest independent bookstore)
Also The Dartmouth Book Exchange (Dartmouth NS), Tidewater Books (Sackville NB), On
Paper Books (Sydney NS), Block Shop Books (Lunenburg NS), The 5 Cents to 1 Dollar Store,
Antigonish NS, Bookmark Charlottetown (PEI) and Woozles (Halifax NS, in the adult section).
Amazon.ca, Amazon.ca Prime, Amazon.com, Amazon.com Prime, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com.au
Barnes & Noble, Chapters Indigo (online only), Bookshop.org
eBook listing: Kindle, Indigo Chapters, Smashwords, Apple Books
I am a Canadian author who has lived in all three Maritime provinces and in Manitoba, and I’ve spent considerable time in central and western Newfoundland.
Two of my middle-grade novels won the Ann Connor Brimer Award for Atlantic Canadian Children’s Literature, as did my free-verse young adult novel, Nix Minus One. My third middle-grade novel won the Red Cedar Award, and my other young adult novel is in the Nova Scotia school system, as is The Nine Lives of Travis Keating. All five books received numerous nominations, four of them international.
I am an avid gardener and canoeist, and live in Bedford, Nova Scotia, near my family.
I also love writing. It can be fulfilling, obsessive, exasperating, exciting and nerve-wracking – all on the same morning. It’s always a challenge.
After the publication of my fifth book for young people, I felt I was getting in a rut, that I needed a new direction – but what? Gradually, into that (frightening) vacuum arose my longtime fascination with the medieval period. I searched out historians who specialized in rural England. I travelled to Berkshire, the county where I was born, for the setting. And finally, I took the plunge (very frightening) and started writing a novel, for adults, set in the 14th century.
Because I was so fascinated by the research, I wrote a a sprawling, unmanageable mess. Revising it, paring it down to its essence, took, literally, years. And now The Arrows of Mercy is launched and I have to let it go.
The novel’s themes of scorched-earth warfare, PTSD and plague are all-too relevant for today’s world.
Then there’s Book Talk where I post a blog about various aspects of the writing process or about books I’ve read that have really grabbed me. You’re always welcome to read them and comment!
The Arrows of Mercy
Sunday April 16 | 4:00 -5:30pm
at the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia (1113 Marginal Road, Halifax)
Bookmark will have copies of The Arrows of Mercy available for sale at the launch.
Thank you to everyone who was able to attend; you were a wonderfully responsive audience.
I loved the spontaneous burst of applause for our Halifax independent bookstore, Bookmark, whose manager Mike Hamm was on hand to sell books (many books, as it turned out, and thank you for that, too).
When Edmund’s stand-in as a medieval archer, Cavan, was speaking about the role of the peasant’s bow and arrow at the battle of Crécy, utter silence.
When Brian Bartlett introduced the novel (an introduction that blew me away), and when I read a section from the novel, I could feel how attentive you all were.
So Edmund is now launched into today’s world. If you enjoy reading the book, I’d be most appreciative if you’d pass the word along, online or in person.
Again, a heartfelt thank you.
Cavan (as medieval archer) & Jill MacLean reading at the Book Launch
The image is from the Luttrell Psalter, a book of psalms commissioned by Sir Geoffrey Luttrell, a wealthy landowner whose home manor was in Lincolnshire but who owned property throughout England. The psalter dates from 1320-1340, was the work of one scribe and five or more artists, none of whom are known by name, and contains an exceptionally large number of images of everyday life that are inventive, detailed, often humorous and, probably, idealized. The psalter also abounds in “grotesques,” wildly imaginative combinations of animals and humans.
You can see all the images in the psalter in the digital version on the British Library’s website.
I chose this image because my protagonist, Edmund of Flintbourne, is an archer, and would have participated in the Sunday afternoon practice sessions on the village green.