December 17, 2014

Kamil Gruca's Gentlemen of Pitchfork - Guest Post

Is there anything left to be said about the knights and Middle Ages?

The knight as the subject of European culture and certain archetype has been so present across centuries that it’s easy for us today to assume we know everything there is to know about them. However a lot of us, including myself, still cannot get enough. Even though the knight has been ridiculed so many times, all his flaws emphasised and attacked, there still seems to be some attraction in the notion of a brave, noble warrior filled with virtues. Those virtues were Christian at the source, but may as well be replaced by any others that suit us. We can clearly see the link between the jedi knights and their medieval ancestors for example. It’s this combination: fighting + virtue that makes a knight such a great carrier for storytelling.

Why is that? My answer is: because it’s rare. It is rare that strong protect the weak and play by the rules when they could just take advantage. How rare exactly? Maybe it’s so rare that it actually never happens? Maybe there are no knights?

I believe that it would have been a sad truth. I believe that the knights existed and still exist and that we continue to tell stories about them because we want it to be this way.

There are three main characters in my story and they are all knights. I hope that by the end of reading everyone will be able to see that it’s rightful to call each of these men a knight, even though they differ so much as human beings. By that I do not merely mean that they are formally knights by the trivial fact of being born as nobles. They all represent chivalric virtues, each in his own way and according to his abilities.

The background of my story is early XVth century France. Once more it may seem that so many has been said about Middle Ages. So, do I claim I have anything new to say? Let me share my idea of depicting the epoch. On one hand I attempt to grasp many aspects of life, like: society, communication, ideas, clothing, fighting, love and even bathing (which despite quite common misconception was popular up until around second quarter of XVth century). On the other I often go into details in each of the respective domains. I don’t perceive the time and place I’ve chosen for my novel’s action to be just a pretext to tell another adventure story. I want this historical scenography to be really convincing, no wooden swords (unless for training purposes), no dialogues governed by mentality of XXIst century people, no woolen chain mails. On the other hand it is still fiction, it is still an adventure story. Most of the characters and events are fictitious. But when a given event is something that really happened I care to tell it as it was. When it comes to historical characters, some of them were purposefully depicted differently than they probably were. The best example is count David Rambourg. So when it comes to characters not everything comes with historicity warrant.

I believe I did say something, if not entirely new, than at least refreshing both when it comes to knights and the Middle Ages. Oh, and I also believe story is not that bad too. But… you be the judge.

About the book
Publication Date: July 13, 2014
eBook; 258p
Translator: Pawel Brzosko
Genre: Historical Fiction

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The year is 1415. France is weakened by the recently ended Civil War between the factions of Burgundians and Armagnacs. The young and belligerent King Henry V Lancaster decides to pay the French a neighbourly visit. With him – the flower of the English knighthood.

Among them – Sir Arthur, the Baron of Pitchfork, an ideal of all chivalric virtues – his uncle, Sir Ralph, a veteran soldier with a taste for women and bitter humour – and his cousin, Sir Robert, a young and romantic would-be scholar who will have his first taste of war, sieges, duels, betrayal and intrigue but also love and practical philosophy.

Together they ride as secret envoys of their King to meet Burgundian emissaries. But the Armagnacs’ spies keep their eyes open for any sign of treason on the part of their political opponents and three powerful French armies are gathering to cross King Henry’s way.

Interview with Kamil Gruca

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About the Author
Kamil Gruca is a Polish writer born in 1982 in Warsaw. He is a graduate of the Faculty of Philosophy at the Warsaw University.

Kamil is also an active knight who confirmed his battle prowess by winning the Polish National Knights League in 2006 under the alias of Sir Robert Neville. He has studied medieval swordsmanship for over 15 years hence his novels are full of dynamic and realistic swordplay.

Being an avid re-enactor and a passionate history geek Kamil moved to France for two years to study documents unavailable in other countries that would add to the feel and realism of the book on multiple levels.

His first novel “Panowie z Pitchfork” was published in 2009 by a major publishing house Rebis. Receiving a warm welcome from Polish critics, readers and fellow writers, the first part of the adventures of the young and keen Sir Robert was soon followed by a sequel “Baron i Łotr”, published by another publishing house Znak, bringing closure to the major plot.

Currently Kamil lives in Warsaw with his family and is working on another series of historical novels focused around one of Poland’s most famous knights – Zawisza Czarny – and his not so famous yet equally interesting brothers.

For more information about the book please visit or You can contact Kamil at

If you want to learn more about how Kamil trains medieval swordsmanship please visit HAM-Historyczna-Akademia-Miecza on Facebook (Site in Polish), as well as (Site in Polish).

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