Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Sixth Surrender by Hana Samek Norton

The Sixth Surrender by Hannah Samek Norton

About The Sixth Surrender

It’s Anno Domini 1200. King Richard the Lionheart is dead. And in the final years of her own eventful life, queen-duchess Aliénor of Aquitaine launches a deadly dynastic chess game to safeguard the crowns of Normandy and England for John Plantagenet, her only surviving son.

To that end, Aliénor coerces into matrimony her two pawns: Juliana de Charnais, a plain and pious novice determined to regain her inheritance, and Guérin de Lasalle, a cynical and profligate captain of a band of Richard’s mercenaries, equally resolved to renounce his. But Aliénor wants their marriage to save Jonn’s patrimony from the plots of Philip, the king of France, and her own vassals, the traitorous lords of Lusignan, descendants of the legendary half-serpent Mélusine.

Preferring the company of his routiers, bawds, and barrel houses, Lasalle does not intend to be a husband to the shy young woman, nor to become entangled in John’s own matrimonial mire, but at the heart of Aliénor’s scheme is the mystery of his own past that could cost John his thrones—and Juliana her life.

Read the Excerpt!

After three days of hiding in the cart, her stomach so knotted that she could hardly force down a mouthful, Juliana decided that she had to face her fears. Hermine urged her to drink some of her raisin wine, but the heavy, sweet taste did not appeal to Juliana. She would rather face Lasalle sober. If I don’t, she told herself as she climbed out of the cart one morning, I may as well take the veil. Still, she could not bring herself to approach Lasalle, and so she smiled tentatively at one of the servants and asked if there was a palfrey to be had.

The man bowed and called her Madame, and a few moments later a dappel-gray mare was brought by a friendly groom of about sixteen, who introduced the mare as Rosamond and himself as Donat. He told Juliana that he had given up the life of a student for far more exciting prospects in the service of my lord Lasalle.

As she listened to Donat, a tide of panic nearly overwhelmed her. Surely they were all looking at her, at her nun’s hair hidden under her wimple, her crooked nose, her gown whose lacing only emphasized her ungenerous figure, her propensity to stammer when anxious, and her conventual manner of lowering her eyes. Her distress must have been obvious to Donat, who assumed the solicitous attitude of an older brother.

“Don’t mind these men, my lady; they are not as bad as that. Not even Kadolt, not with a platter of sausages in front of him.”

Juliana hid her smile behind her hand and was about to ask Donat about his adventures when a snorting sorrel rounsey bore down on them, foam from its bit spattering her gown. She jumped back to flatten herself against the cart wheel. The mud-splattered, ill-tempered rider sat back in the saddle, his hand to his hip.

“You’ll not ride without Donat or out of sight of this company. If you do, I’ll have you tied to the tail.”

She closed her fists against her skirts. Lasalle addressed Kadolt with more circumspection than he offered Juliana de Charnais. At first she had thought that his voice would be a disadvantage to someone commanding a potentially fractious force, but she soon discovered that he kept it low deliberately, to compel those around him to pay heed. Now he was using the same tactic on her.

“Why?” It was a brave question and foolish in its bravery.

“Because you are my wife.”

There, he had said it, the truth of the words steeped in sarcasm. She had to hold her breath to keep back a scream. One did not challenge a man who held dominion over one’s life. She belonged to Guérin de Lasalle, along with the fishponds and the buttery. He knew it, and spurred his horse past her.

About Hana Samek Norton

 Hana’s passion for the Middle Ages dates to a childhood exploring the ruins of castles and cloisters in the (now) Czech Republic. She also developed that “lurid taste in fiction,” by reading dog-eared novels full of the drama and melodrama of history. She graduated with an MA from the University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada, and a Ph. D. (both in history, of course), from the University of New Mexico where she currently resides. She is married to an Englishman, teaches part-time, and works as a historical consultant.

Her latest book is The Sixth Surrender.

You can visit her website at http://www.thesixthsurrender.com/

My Take:
This was a great historical Novel!.  Hana draws you into this book and you keep reading because of the plotting and scheming going on all for the survival of the royal line.  Boy what these royals would do to stay in power. 
So if you want to be swept up into another place and time then this is the book for you. 

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