Jason Vail books in order
Jason Vail is a martial artist and author of historical fiction, historical mystery and non-fiction books.
He is known for writing book series such as Attebrook Family Saga, Lone Star Rising Books, and the Stephen Attebrook Mysteries.
A martial artist by profession with expertise in karate, jujutsu, judo, boxing, wrestling and mixed martial arts, Vail combines his rich storytelling abilities with realistic martial action in his literary works.
Vail has for the longest time been enhancing his knowledge of historical European martial arts and is a passionate longsword and backsword/broadsword fencer.
He is also quite spirited about restoring the dagger combat system prominent in the European fighting guides dating back to 1409 due to his love of history, and their application in modern self-defense.
Attebrook Family Saga
- The Outlaws (2014)
- The Poisoned Cup (2021)
- The Heiress (2023)
Lone Star Rising
- Voyage of the Wasp (2012)
- T.S. Wasp and the Heart of Texas (2013)
- Medieval and Renaissance Dagger Combat (2018)
Stephen Attebrook Mystery
- The Wayward Apprentice (2010)
- Baynard's List (2011)
- A Dreadful Penance (2012)
- The Girl in the Ice (2013)
- Saint Milburga's Bones (2015)
- Bad Money (2016)
- The Bear Wagon (2017)
- Murder at Broadstowe Manor (2018)
- The Burned Man (2020)
- The Corpse at Windsor Bridge (2020)
- Missing (2021)
- A Curious Death (2022)
- Bag of Bones (2022)
- The Richest Man in Town (2023)
- Saga of the Lost Ship (2018)
- Snorri's Gold (2019)
Detailed book overview
Attebrook Family Saga
Eustace FitzWalter, Giselle de Hafton, and Robert Attebrook could not be more different. Eustace is the bastard son of an earl, Giselle the sheltered daughter of a dotting gentry father, and Robert the son of an impoverished village carpenter.
In ordinary times, their lives would not intersect. But when Robert breaks his uncle out of Earl Roger FitzWalter’s gaol, he sets in motion a series of events that sends their lives colliding in a maelstrom of murder and revenge that drives them all outside the laws and customs of England.
Step into the tumultuous years of the Twelfth Century, and stand alongside Eustace as he schemes to inherit his father’s title, lands, and power, using every means within his grasp; Giselle as she fights to free herself from a forced marriage and to save her inheritance; and Robert as he struggles to rise above the limitations of his birth in the face of Eustace’s quest for vengeance.
King Henry II is dead. All Europe thinks he died of a lingering sickness, but Robert Attebrook, who has risen from his birth as a carpenter’s son to become one of the king’s trusted household knights, discovers the monarch was poisoned — the fatal potion concealed in the stem of a specially crafted cup, slipped to him by someone he trusted.
This secret murder plunges the Attebrook family — Robert and his indominable wife Giselle — back into conflict with their fearsome enemy, the ruthless Earl Eustace FitzWalter. FitzWalter has schemed for years to recover his earldom, confiscated by King Henry for treason. FitzWalter blames the Attebrooks for his loss, and has nurtured hopes of revenge.
With King Richard, FitzWalter’s close friend, now on the throne, he takes back what he lost and more, and sets into motion his plan to destroy the Attebrooks for good. Follow the struggles of the Attebrooks across the face of old England and its forbidding forests inhabited by desperate outlaws and into the depths of France and Germany, where kings clash in the game of power and death stalks King Richard.
Queen Eleanor, wife of Henry II and mother of King John, is dead at last after a long and tumultuous life.
Ever sensitive to opportunity, Earl Eustace FitzWalter obtains the dead queen’s secret correspondence and discovers what he sought — proof that his neighbor and enemy Robert Attebrook spied for the queen when he was one of King John’s household knights — an unforgiveable betrayal of his sacred oath to John.
But international events present an obstacle to Eustace’s plan to destroy the Attebrook family. Eleanor of Brittany— grand-daughter of a king, daughter of a prince, and heiress to the duchy — has escaped her imprisonment in England. Because she fled into the wilds of Wales, where English writ does not run nor where English agents are free to roam, the king orders Robert to find her and bring her back. John holds Robert’s wife Giselle and children hostage until he succeeds.
Since this odious assignment is the only way to save his family, Robert pursues Eleanor through Wales and across the sea to Ireland, where her rescuers intended to rest before proceeding to Brittany.
Meanwhile, Eustace obtains custody of Giselle and the children and plans to murder them to fulfill his lust for vengeance.
During a chance encounter in Dublin with Eustace’s son Edmund, the young man boasts to Robert that his family is already dead at Eustace’s hand.
It is a lie, but Robert is convinced of its truth. Believing he has been betrayed by the king, Robert determines to strike back in the only way open to him — by taking Eleanor to Brittany himself.
Only she has fallen into the hands of an Anglo-Irish earl who intends to ransom her to the king.
Lone Star Rising
Beware the Wasp! For fans of Alternative History, Lone Star Rising is essential reading. Jason Vail joins the ranks of Pat Conroy, Harry Turtledove, and Eric Flint. George Washington is dead. The American rebellion has failed.
Led by Andrew Jackson, the few surviving revolutionaries have fled to Spanish territories and the wasteland called Texas. But Jackson is not content to be a Spanish subject. He dreams large. Texas must be free and independent from the corrupt old empires of Europe. But with no army other than the Texas Rangers, and no navy, Texas has no hope of opposing the mighty forces of Spain. No hope, that is, until David Crockett meets an unemployed, sardonic naval officer named John Paul Jones II on the wharves at Baltimore.
Together they buy and refit a broken down warship to become the first ship of the Texas Navy. With a handful of Crockett's men, the blessing of a voodoo queen, and a dubious crew of French pirates, they set sail to seize Spanish treasure and remake history in a ship called ... TS Wasp.
British forces spread across the rebellious colonies, crushing all resistance now that George Washington is dead and the American army is dispersed. But defeat is merely a reckoning postponed. A few die-hards flee west into the Tennessee and the unsettled wilderness beyond the frontiers of British control, where after many years a leader arises among them, Andrew Jackson.
Yet the British cannot ignore these upstarts, and Banastre Tarleton eventually arrives to crush them as well. Those who survive, lead by Jackson, escape into the Spanish Empire — to Texas. Still, even within the Empire the fugitives are not safe and free, for Spanish tyranny bears upon them. So Jackson and his friends pool their resources to buy a warship.
Renamed the T.S. Wasp, they dispatch her to acquire guns for the Texas Army. On the way, Wasp finds more than they expected. In this second book of the Lone Star Rising series, Captain John Paul Jones II, David Crockett, and their crew set sail aboard the T.S. Wasp in another gripping adventure. The fate of Texas and the world teeters in the balance.
Daggers are mentioned in many modern books about medieval and Renaissance swordplay, but until now none described how daggers were used in combat. Drawing from sources written from 1409-1600 (including the works of Hans Talhoffer, Fiore dei Liberi, Filippo Vadi, Joachim Meyer and more), this book uses step-by-step photos and historic illustrations to demonstrate the deadly and effective techniques of European dagger fighting.
Talhoffer and the others were men with real fighting experience, not self-promoted "grand masters" or denizens of the training hall, and they wrote the manuals that form the basis for Medieval and Renaissance Dagger Combat. The dynamics of the knife fight have not changed over the centuries, and the masters' lessons are as useful against an attacker with today's tactical folder as they were against the first dagger.
Stephen Attebrook Mystery
Stephen Attebrook, a crippled knight facing poverty and ruin, seems condemned to a quiet life when he takes a position as deputy coroner in the small medieval town of Ludlow.
But instead, he plunges into a web of murder, espionage and intrigue.
A death Attebrook rules an accidental drowning turns out to be a murder, and he must find the killer with little evidence pointing the way.
Then a commission to return a runaway apprentice pitches him into the midst of a conflict between a rebellious earl and King Henry III that is about to erupt into civil war.
Caught up in the twilight struggle among spies readying for war, Attebrook races to defend the apprentice against a charge of murder while dodging killers in the employ of one of the factions.
A secret list identifying the supporters of both King Henry and his rival for power Simon de Montfort has disappeared following the murder of the King’s master spy in the west of England.
Stephen Attebrook, the part-time deputy coroner for medieval Ludlow, must find Baynard’s list for his former master, the grasping and ambitious crown justice Ademar de Valence — projecting Attebrook into a cesspit of medieval murder, espionage, intrigue and betrayal.
Attebrook faces his greatest challenge as a discoverer of secrets as he races to obtain the list before a rival gets it first, while the life of someone close to him hangs on the outcome.
War with the savage Welsh is coming to the March, the wild borderland between medieval England and Wales. The English are uncertain, however, where and when the blow will fall. So, Sir Geoffrey Randall, coroner of Herefordshire, dispatches his deputy, the impoverished knight Stephen Attebrook, to the border town of Clun to spy out the Welsh plan for invasion.
At the same time, Randall directs Attebrook to investigate the murder of a monk found dead in his bed at the Augustine priory of St. George at Clun.
The assignment thrusts Attebrook into a tempest of espionage, murder and a desperate feud between the priory and the lord of Clun, while a forbidden love leads to suffering and death.
A sudden thaw on Christmas Day reveals to Harry the beggar a dead girl of extraordinary beauty frozen beneath the snow off the pathway to Saint Laurence’s church in medieval Ludlow. It looks like murder, and medieval deputy coroner Stephen Attebrook, a poverty-stricken knight, feels compelled to find those responsible.
It is a task that propels him into the domain of his worst enemy, Earl Percival FitzAllan, where he must play an involuntary role in the shadow war of espionage and raid being waged between the supporters of King Henry III and the rebellious barons under Simon de Montfort — a game that could cost him his life.
Stephen Attebrook, the deputy coroner of medieval Ludlow, wants more than anything to be part of an army gathering for an invasion of Wales, hoping for a stroke of luck that will bring him to the attention of some magnate and free him from poverty. But as the army is about to depart, a castle guard is found murdered at the foot of the castle walls and the precious relic of a saint intended as a gift for Prince Edward goes missing from a locked and guarded chamber.
Stephen’s superior, Sir Geoffrey Randall, is quick to volunteer his services to Edward to find the relic. The commission pitches Stephen into the path of a bitter and powerful enemy, Earl Percival FitzAllen. And the search for the relic — and the guard’s killer — leads to adventure deep into Wales itself, where Stephen finds the battle he craves.
Medieval Ludlow’s deputy coroner, Stephen Attebrook would like nothing better than to enjoy a temperate spring, the Broken Shield Inn’s sweet ale and delicious mutton stew. But a murdered man in possession of stolen stamps for minting money is found floating in the inn’s privy. And counterfeit money turns up in the hands of innkeepers Gilbert and Edith Wistwode.
Possessing counterfeit money is a hanging offense, and to save his friends from the gallows, Stephen pursues those behind a desperate plot to mint false money — intrigue that stretches into the upper reaches of English society and threatens the throne of King Henry III.
A dead girl is found floating in the River Teme at one of medieval Ludlow’s mills, drowned under mysterious circumstances that only the most addle-witted could think was anything but murder.
Yet Stephen Attebrook, an impoverished knight and sometime deputy coroner, can spare no time to investigate this crime. He and his friend Gilbert Wistwode must pursue a more immediate threat — unknown ruffians traveling under the guise of bear baiters have kidnapped Stephen’s niece, Ida, his estranged brother William’s daughter, along with other young women across England.
Set against the backdrop of war brewing between King Henry III and rebellious barons arrayed about Simon de Montfort, a desperate chase of the bear wagon across England unfolds, reaching to the depths of London itself and far into Norfolk, as Stephen races to find Ida before she meets a fate worse than murder. The Bear Wagon is Stephen’s most complex and dangerous adventure yet.
Sir Rogier FitzHerbert, a close supporter of Simon de Montfort, is found hanged in his locked bedchamber alongside the body of a young man at his estate outside the medieval city of Hereford. The new coroner for the county rules the deaths a murder-suicide, but Stephen Attebrook, a struggling knight without means and deprived of his position of deputy coroner, comes to think that all is not as it appears.
What looks like a routine murder inquiry draws Stephen and his friends Gilbert Wistwode and Harry into the game of espionage and diplomacy, for Montfort had sent the dead lord on a mission to the Welsh, bearing a letter with Montfort’s proposals for a secret alliance. Men would kill to get that letter, which went missing upon FitzHerbert’s death. Stephen finds himself in pursuit of that letter, for it seems to hold the key to the mystery.
Stephen’s troubles pile up by leaps and bounds for he must dodge deputies sent after him by Sheriff Percival FitzAllan, who accuses Stephen of murder himself, and he delves deeply into Hereford’s underworld where death lurks in every alley and byway in his search for the truth.
One of medieval Ludlow’s mills burns to the ground during a cold November night. Former coroner Stephen Attebrook walks down to the site out of curiosity the following morning like many of the town’s residents, where he discovers the charred corpse of the miller in the smoldering ruins. It could have been an accident, but the evidence points to murder.
Mysterious deaths are no longer Attebrook’s business — or so he mistakenly supposes. The constable of Ludlow Castle, anxious to ingratiate himself with the local lord who owns the mill, pushes Attebrook into pursuing the culprit, a move that pitches him into a tapestry of murder and robbery that reaches even into his own home — for a rampaging criminal gang steals all the money he has in the world, threatening him with poverty and ruin. Pulled two ways, Attebrook must decide whether to save his fortune or seek justice for the miller’s death.
Two weeks after Father Giles de Twet disappeared, his rotting corpse is found in the River Thames beneath the bridge at medieval Windsor, weighed down by a block of stone. Stephen Attebrook, a one-time coroner now at loose ends, finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time after he agrees to escort a herd of cattle from Ludlow to Windsor to feed King Henry’s army, which is preparing for civil war. Edward orders Stephen to find Father Giles’ killer.
Meanwhile, Stephen’s arch enemy, Percival FitzAllan, the earl of Arundel, has brought Stephen’s niece Ida to Windsor as his captive to petition the king to make the beautiful young woman his ward. FitzAllan’s ultimate plan — marry Ida to a retainer to gain control of Hafton Manor, Stephen and Ida’s home. Stephen struggles to solve the murder while risking his life and his fortune to shield Ida from a loathsome marriage.
The war between the rebellious barons under Simon de Montfort and those loyal to King Henry III seethes around the border town of Ludlow during February and March 1264, with contending armies ravaging the countryside on every side.
But not all of medieval Ludlow’s citizens are caught up on the conflict, or so they think. Some have more pressing personal business — such as Harry the woodcarver, whose life is jolted by the unexpected return of his estranged wife, Megge. She stuns Harry with the confession that she sold their two sons into serfdom to stave off her own poverty.
What can Harry do in the face of this monstrous revelation but ask his close friend, Stephen Attebrook, the finder extraordinaire, to get the boys back?
This request plunges Stephen and his two friends, Harry and Gilbert, into the midst of the war as they rush across the March in search of the missing children — a search that ultimately leads them into the dangerous wilds of Wales where murder and violent death await.
The deputy constable of Oxford Castle, Miles de Dinesley, is found dead in a tub at a local bathhouse, just two alcoves away from where Stephen Attebrook, once a coroner at Ludlow, and his good friend, Gilbert Wistwode, are enjoying a soothing bath after a long journey.
The Oxford coroner rules the death an accidental drowning.
But Dinesley’s influential uncle, Percival FitzAllan, the earl of Arundel, is not convinced. Even though no one saw anyone enter or leave Dinesley’s alcove, FitzAllan believes his dear nephew was murdered.
With nowhere else to turn, FitzAllan engages Stephen, his bitter enemy, to find the killer. Stephen, content to put the profession of solving murders behind him, would rather avoid involvement. So, FitzAllan makes an offer too tempting for Stephen to refuse: the recovery of Stephen’s childhood manor, which had been confiscated by the crown and granted to FitzAllan.
But war interferes. Prince Edward sends Stephen on a perilous secret mission to pave the way for the first battle of the war about to erupt in earnest between Edward’s father, King Henry, and the rebellious barons under the leadership of Earl Simon de Montfort.
With Stephen preoccupied and the title to Hafton Manor in the balance, Gilbert takes up the charge — which drags him into the corrupt morass of Oxford’s underworld and taxes his deductive powers to the limit.
The Ludlow beggar One-eye Dick finds the scattered bones of two dead men on a hillside north of the town — and a precious gold ring. Hoping to make some easy money, he sells the ring to Will Thumper, a well-known criminal in town, who then resells the ring to a crooked Ludlow goldsmith.
But the ring is identified as belonging to a wealthy cattle merchant and his bodyguard who went missing weeks before. Thumper is arrested and charged with the merchant’s murder and that of the bodyguard. Given Thumper’s unsavory reputation, it is obvious that the local jury who know him well will be happy to send him to the gallows regardless of the evidence.
Yet Stephen Attebrook, newly appointed as coroner for southern Shropshire, has doubts. These are strong enough to entice him to promise Thumper’s family that he will do what he can to exonerate the rogue.
Thumper’s dilemma is the least of Stephen’s troubles. For he must confront the campaign of one of his greatest enemies, Nigel FitzSimmons, to convict him of treason and the vendetta of the brother of a man he killed in battle. Defeat by either man means Stephen’s death and the confiscation of his manor.
Harry Carver, the legless artisan, and his wife Joan find the corpse of the richest man in Ludlow in the dead man’s back garden on a snowbound November morning. Wool merchant Laurence Hoketon’s head is bashed in, a clear case of murder.
But there are no witnesses to the crime, and the town’s leading finder, the knight-coroner Stephen Attebrook, and his companion and clerk, Gilbert Wistwode, are stumped. The town’s leading citizens clamor for a quick arrest but the two men have no suspects or significant clues. The indications point to simple robbery. But was it more sinister? For the day after the gruesome discovery, someone unknown redeemed a letter of credit made out by Hoketon for five-hundred pounds — a huge fortune in hard money.
While Stephen puzzles over how to solve this bewildering crime, the winds of war interfere. For despite King Henry’s catastrophic loss to the rebellious barons under Simon de Montfort at the Battle of Lewes, which should have decided matters, the king’s partisans in the Welsh March have not given up. Under Baron Roger Mortimer, they plot a rising.
Pivotal to that rising is the recovery of Ludlow Castle from the baron’s forces — a task given to Stephen, who has only a handful of men to carry out the attack on the seemingly impregnable fortress.
Walk alongside Stephen and Gilbert in the muddy streets of medieval Ludlow as they struggle with two impossible tasks at once while the corpses pile up around them.
Ari Thorgilsson builds a cargo ship, the Uxi, in a desperate attempt to save the family from poverty and ruin. Ari sails it out of his home in the fjords of Norway to the Orkney Islands and then into the Irish Sea, where a chance encounter makes an enemy of Ivar the Younger, a son of the Danish Viking Ivar the Boneless.
While pursued by Ivar the Younger, a storm drives the ship onto the rocky coast of a hostile land, where the ship is wrecked he and the crew are captured by native Britons. Execution or enslavement seem to be their fate. But there is yet hope, for Artgal, king of the British kingdom of Alt Clut, is in need of warriors.
He promises Ari a new ship if he and his companions garrison a fortress on the border with the Picts to the north, while he takes an army to fight the Angles in the east. Ari and his friends accept the offer, and plunge into a year of intrigue and battle in the depths of the land that one day will be known as Scotland, testing their mettle and their commitment to their honor.
A Pictish invasion seems to spell the end of Ari’s dream of a new ship. And then a fleet of Danish Vikings sails into the River Clut to lay siege to Argtal’s fortress, thrusting that dream well beyond his grasp. Or does it?
When Atli Helgason encounters a blind poet in the marketplace of Lundenwic shouting at a stormy sky about a lost treasure, his first thought is to walk by. He has no idea that his life is about to change forever.
But something in the old man’s ravings sparks a memory, for Atli’s grandfather had told him a tale about a lost hoard of gold and silver — a true tale of betrayal and stolen wealth exactly like the one falling from the old man’s mouth.
So on impulse, Atli accepts the poet’s invitation to recount the full story in exchange for a meal.The poet not only knows the full tale, but he also knows where the treasure is hidden — far off in the wastes of distant Scotland — because he is one of those who buried it more than thirty years before. He offers to guide Atli to the hoard, but Atli and his companions have no ship to take them there, and the overland journey is far too perilous to risk on such a thin promise of wealth.
Yet Atli and his friends are game for the sea voyage to Scotland. They steal a ship belonging to a Danish warlord, Sven Havardsson, who strikes out after them to recover the ship and seize the gold for himself.A harrowing race ensues that takes Atli and his ship, the Sea Hawk, to hostile Frankland, around the vast island of Britain, and into the depths of savage Scotland while they strive to stay one jump ahead of the merciless Sven.