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Historical Stories of Exile - it's here!
a new short story anthology from 13 authors (including me!)
With stories by Anna Belfrage, Elizabeth Chadwick, Cathie Dunn, J.G. Harlond, Helen Hollick, Loretta Livingstone, Amy Maroney, Alison Morton, Charlene Newcomb, Elizabeth St.John, Marian L Thorpe, and Annie Whitehead.
With an introduction by Deborah Swift.
My contribution to the anthology is “A King’s Man No More.” Robin du Louviers races to England ahead of the news of King Richard’s death in April 1199. The king’s successor John will be out for blood—Robin’s blood. Check out the excerpt below.
ABOUT HISTORICAL STORIES OF EXILE
Exile: a risky defiance, a perilous journey, a family’s tragic choice – or an individual’s final gamble to live. Exile: voluntary or enforced, a falling-out between friends, a lost first love, a prejudiced betrayal – or the only way to survive persecution?
In this historical fiction anthology thirteen authors (they are not superstitious!) have written exclusive short stories on the theme of exile. Some are based on true history, others are speculative fiction. All mine the depths of human emotions: fear, hope, love, and the fortitude to survive.
Join an inspiring Anglo-Saxon queen of Wales, a courageous Norwegian falconer, and a family fleeing back in time to escape the prospect of a ruthless future. Oppose the law with the legendary Doones of Exmoor, or defy the odds with two brave WWII exiles. Meet a Roman apprehensively planning exile to preserve the 'old ways', and a real Swedish prince forcibly expelled in heart-wrenching circumstances. Thrill to a story based on the legend of Robin Hood, sail with a queen of Cyprus determined to regain her rightful throne; escape religious persecution, discover the heart-rending truth behind the settlement of Massachusetts and experience the early years that would, eventually, lead to the founding of Normandy. Experience the stirring of first love, and as an exclusive treat special guest author, Elizabeth Chadwick, reveals a tale about the 12th-century’s heiress, Isabelle de Clare, and the Greatest Knight of all time – William Marshal.
With an introduction by multi-award-winning author Deborah Swift, enjoy these tales of exile across the ages. Some are hopeful, some sad, some romantic, some tragic, but all explore the indomitable spirit of resolute, unforgettable characters.
"Each [story] conjures up the times and characters excellently, and they are often glimpses into the authors' other works. If you, like me, were drawn to this by a favourite name you will finish it with several more, and a much longer To Be Read List." Reader's Review (ARC edition)
Excerpt - “A King’s Man No More”
I rode out taking one last look at the keep. “Goodbye, Nottingham. May our paths never cross again.”
Dark clouds loosed a torrent of rain as I crossed the open fields north of town. I pulled my woolen hood over my head and my cloak closer to ward off the stinging cold deluge.
I did not know how or when, but I would see Allan again. I admired him for choosing to stay in Nottingham, but I had tired of saying goodbye and someday to Marian. The thought of falling asleep with her in my arms sent ripples of pleasure down my spine. We would have a life at Castle l’Aigle, even if we must forever hold the secret of our family there.
Unplowed fields gave way to Sherwood Forest. I slowed Fer to a trot, wary of roots and ruts on the road. Birch and oak rose like an army around me. Bracken and evergreens carpeted the forest floor.
Allan’s gang had eyes on the road for riders traveling alone like me no matter the weather. At close inspection, an outlaw might believe my purse was heavy with coin.
The rain dwindled to a drizzle. The clop-clop of Fer’s hooves on fallen leaves and the song of woodlarks filled me with a peace I had not felt since learning of the king’s lethal wound. Rest his soul.
Bushes half up a hill rustled, but not from a breeze. The outlaws were here. Watching. I reached for my wineskin, lifted it to them and then uncorked it to take a swallow. Would Allan’s men know me?
I saw the archer from the corner of my eye. Then two more in plain sight, and a fourth man brandished a sword in the road ahead of me. Every one of them, including a boy who looked no older than fifteen summers, dressed in brown from head to toe. All but the boy were broad through the chest from years plying their skills with bow.
I reined in, both hands held high to show I wasn’t reaching for my blade.
“We’ll have your coin, friend.” The sword-brandishing outlaw was brash and confident.
I nodded, tossing my hood back and slowly resting my hands on the pommel of my saddle. “True on both counts.”
That drew a frown, and I noticed the other men blink, confounded by my response.
I locked eyes with the outlaw, certain I could be as bold as him. I’d been accused of it, teased about it, often enough through the years by friends and foes. “I’ve just left our friend Allan packing his goods at the castle.”
I’d have missed the slight tilt of the outlaw’s head had I not been watching him.
Three more men with bows appeared at the edge of the road. I didn’t recognize any of them but Allan trusted them, and so must I—at least to a point.
“I had a token engraved with a hooded falcon—do you know that sign?” Years earlier, we used the wooden token to signal friend. My mind on family, I’d forgotten to ask Allan if carrying that would give me safe passage through Sherwood. At least I knew the Hood gang wasn’t in the habit of murdering travelers. “Or mayhap Allan exchanged it for another?”
The outlaw took a step towards me, his face no less stern. “He’s packing you say?”
“King Richard was mortally wounded in Aquitaine. John, who will be king, has no kind thoughts of Allan or me.” I brushed raindrops from my cloak. “I am—was—Robin du Louviers, and would ask you to forget my name.”
My journey to York was only for me and my closest friends to know and I’d tell them no more. The old Robin must disappear. For Marian and my children—it was the only way to keep them safe.
With a shrewd smile, the man eyed me. “King Richard’s man. Tales of your exploits are near legend.”
There were past times I would revel in that, but I cringed. I did not need my name waved over John’s head.
The outlaw signaled one of his archers forward. I gave his gang a quick look. They stood firm, arrows trained from my head to hip. Did they believe me?
Exchanging his sword for the archer’s bow, the outlaw nocked it and drew back the string. His men relaxed, some even grinned. “Prove you are who you say.” He loosed the arrow, his shot penetrating an oak a hundred feet away.
The archer offered me an arrow. I shrugged, and then slid from the saddle. The outlaw handed over the bow. I tested the string, nocked and let fly. The arrow hissed through the air. And missed!
—end of excerpt—
That’s all for now. I hope you’re doing well and finding good things to read.
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