Captain Hollie Babbitt – rising to the dizzy heights of Colonel in the Army of Parliament later in the Uncivil Wars series, although still a captain at the point when we meet him. Hollie being short for Holofernes, a fact he prefers to keep to himself, not wishing to be known as a most notorious Puritan’s whelp. He’s also the first Leveller hero in historical fiction…. but not in this book he isn’t, the Levellers not coming into recognised existence until 1645. You can, though, see him headed that way. (He’s also fictional, but he does pal around with factual people – in no order Thomas Fairfax, Oliver Cromwell, Thomas Rainsborough, and assorted other well-known historical figures of the English Civil War.)
Present story is set in late 1643-early 1644, starting in Essex, moving up to Yorkshire following Thomas Fairfax’s campaign against King Charles in the North. This is the fourth book in the series: the third was set later on in the wars, I just happen to be moving about a little bit chronologically.
What do we need to know about Hollie? The most important thing is that he likes people to think that he’s a hard nut who doesn’t care about anyone or anything. And he isn’t. And that he has a very, very strong independent streak, a tendency to speak his mind at the most unhelpful times, and a fierce sense of justice. (Oh – and that he might fight for Parliament, but that’s only because they gave him the money first.)
The main conflict – ha! Well, in this book, there’s Hollie’s always-tenuous relationship with his father: Hollie having been brought up strict, godly, and often with the buckle end of a stirrup leather. There’s his relationship with his wife, who’s about to have their first child, and he isn’t going to be there because he’s in Yorkshire and she’s in Essex. There’s Hollie’s best mate, the posh poet Luce Pettitt, who has a habit of taking on hopeless causes and who’s landed the troop with a scarred lieutenant with an attitude problem and a bad reputation for intemperacy. (The somewhat illegal nature of Lieutenant Russell’s attachment to the troop being why they’re in Yorkshire, as far away as possible from the lawful custody he was supposed to be in!)
And technically, the main conflict of the book is the battle at Marston Moor….
What mostly messes up Hollie’s life is King Charles and the Royalist Army, who do seem to get in his way quite a lot!
Hollie’s personal goal is, always and ever, to GO HOME. To have a quiet life, and for the increasing number of people whose welfare he feels responsible for, to be safe and happy. As a number of these people are soldiers under his command, the two are not always compatible, and he has to sort one out before he can have the other.
The book’s called “Babylon” – it will be out early next year. Currently the only place to read more about it is on my blog…. sorry!