The Passionate Brood: A Novel of Richard the Lionheart and the Man Who Became Robin Hood [NOOK Book]


A Spirited Retelling of King Richard the Lionheart and the Third Crusade

"Margaret Campbell Barnes has been one of the most reliable of England's historical novelists."
-Chicago Tribune

In this compelling novel of love, loyalty, and lost chances, Margaret Campbell Barnes gives readers a new perspective on Richard the Lionheart's triumphs and tragedies. Drawing on folklore, Barnes explores what might have happened if King Richard's foster ...

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The Passionate Brood: A Novel of Richard the Lionheart and the Man Who Became Robin Hood

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A Spirited Retelling of King Richard the Lionheart and the Third Crusade

"Margaret Campbell Barnes has been one of the most reliable of England's historical novelists."
-Chicago Tribune

In this compelling novel of love, loyalty, and lost chances, Margaret Campbell Barnes gives readers a new perspective on Richard the Lionheart's triumphs and tragedies. Drawing on folklore, Barnes explores what might have happened if King Richard's foster brother were none other than Robin Hood, a legendary figure more vibrant than most in authentic history. Thick as thieves as Richard builds a kingdom and marshals a crusade, the two clash when Robin Hood so provokes the king's white hot temper that Richard banishes him. The Passionate Brood is a tale of a man driven to win back the Holy Land, beset by the guilt of casting out his childhood friend, and shouldering the burden of being the lionhearted leader of the Plantagenets.

Praise for Margaret Campbell Barnes

"Barnes vividly depicts Anne's hopes and fears in an age where royal marriages were brokered like a cattle fair, and beheading could befall even a Queen."
-Publishers Weekly on Brief Gaudy Hour

"Rich in detail and flows beautifully, letting readers escape into Anne's court and country life. It is a must read for those who love exploring the dynamic relationships of Henry VIII and his wives."
-Historical Novels Review on My Lady of Cleves

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781402254703
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/1/2010
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 125,989
  • File size: 748 KB

Meet the Author

New York Times bestseller Margaret Campbell Barnes, now deceased, wrote several historical novels, including Brief Gaudy Hour, My Lady of Cleves, King's Fool, The Tudor Rose, Within the Hollow Crown, With All My Heart, Isabel the Fair, The King's Bed, Lady on the Coin, and Mary of Carisbrooke. Her novels have sold more than 2 million copies worldwide.

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Read an Excerpt

From Chapter One

Blondel de Cahaignes was fifteen and homesick. It was four days since he had parted from his parents, and the life he had shared with them in their unpretentious manor seemed like a lost world. Of course, he had wanted to come to Oxford to serve in the royal household, and the journey up from Sussex had been more exciting than all the rest of his life put together. He had slept a night in London and ridden over the new wooden bridge across the Thames and seen the Conqueror's Tower and Edward the Confessor's Abbey at Westminster. But as the gentle hills which had sheltered his childhood gave place to flat and unfamiliar river country he had begun to realise how much his future happiness depended upon the kind of man whom he was to serve as page. And this Richard Plantagenet had been abroad so much in his duchy of Aquitaine that no one seemed to know much about him, except that he was tall and ruddy and turbulent like the rest of Henry the Second's sons.

It had been dark when Blondel arrived at Oxford Castle, and he had been packed off to bed without ceremony in the Constable's room over the gatehouse. And now the old farm servant who had accompanied him had gone back to his pigs and his plough, and the last link with the rural manor of Horsted de Cahaignes was broken. Blondel had waked to find the whole castle astir and had dressed hurriedly, wondering if his new master had already asked for him. But the Constable only laughed. "Duke Richard and his foster brother were off to Banbury fair two hours ago," he said.

"And what's more they've taken the whole pack of clamouring pages with them, so it looks as if you'll have to lay the King's table." "The wild way things go on here, it's a good thing the Queen has come home again!" added the Constable's wife, coaxing the boy to eat some breakfast.

Blondel knew there was scandal in the royal household; but he knew it only with the uncomfortable, unacknowledged awareness of youth. So he made no answer but stood by the windlass that lowered the great portcullis, staring out enviously at a dusty road which he imagined might lead to Banbury. How much more fun to go to a fair in good company, he thought, than to begin one's new duties all alone! But, being a conscientious lad, he lingered for no more than a few seconds to view the enchanting picture framed in each sunlit arrow-slit as he descended the dark spiral of the stairs. As he pulled aside the leather curtain at the end of the hall his heart beat hard against the velvet of his fine new coat. In his inexperience he expected to find the King and Queen of England sitting there with some of their family grouped about them, just as everybody sat and talked and worked in the hall at home. But the great hall of Oxford Castle was deserted save for half a dozen hounds stretched about the central hearth and the servants who were strewing fresh rushes on the floor and setting up trestles for the midday meal. Blondel did not yet know of the Tower room where the young Plantagenets really lived, and he was too unsophisticated to take it for granted that at this hour of the morning the King was usually with his mistress at Woodstock.

The hall seemed long as a cathedral to a country boy walking the length of it under the servants' curious gaze. He was overawed by the tall torch sconces and banners and tapestries, and when he reached the King's table at the far end he stood rather desolately regarding a pile of freshly laundered napkins, stacks of plates, a large finger bowl, and a great gold salt cellar.

He was still wondering what to do with them when a heavy door banged somewhere up in the gallery that ran round the hall and two girls came out of one of the small rooms built in the thickness of the second storey wall. One of them was golden and the other dark. Seeing a stranger in the hall they stopped on their way to the turret stair, and in his embarrassment Blondel seized the nearest pile of plates and began doling them out along the table. The girls leaned over the edge of the gallery to watch him and the dark one laughed contemptuously. "Just look at that fool of a page putting a wooden platter for Richard!" she said carelessly, so that he could hear. "We shouldn't tolerate such service in France!"

"Well, thank goodness, this is England!" countered the other one. "And, anyhow, he is new." There was something gallant and arresting about her clear voice and, sensing Blondel's discomfiture, she immediately included him in the conversation by calling down to him pleasantly, "You're my brother's new page, aren't you? What is your name?"

Although no more than a year or two his senior, she seemed to him quite grown-up. The thick plaits hanging like red-gold ropes on either side of her slender breasts confirmed his guess that she must be the popular Johanna Plantagenet, who rode and swam and hunted almost as well as her brothers. Blondel held his head high and answered her with grave courtesy; but his sensitive face, framed in a formal straight-cut bob of fair hair, was still hot with humiliation.

"It must be horrible having to leave home and begin life all over again among strangers!" she said. And because her lively interest in people killed formality and the haughty, dark girl had shrugged herself away up the turret stairs, Blondel found himself asking this Plantagenet princess which plates he ought to have used.

Instead of calling to one of the servants to instruct him she came down into the hall herself, attracted by his ingenuous smile. "One of the other boys should have stayed behind to show you!" she exclaimed indignantly. And-princess or no princess-she tucked up her long green velvet sleeves and herself showed him how to lay the family table. "Those wooden platters are for the people at the trestles-squires and bailiffs and shire reeves and so on," she explained. "The servants will see to them. Put pewter for the family, always. Unless someone special comes, and then we eat off the gold. But we do not have many banquets since poor Archbishop à Becket's death." She picked up a long rye loaf and with quick, capable fingers showed him how to roll a piece of bread in a napkin for each person.

"I was wondering what to do with all those napkins," he confessed. "We do not use many at home."

The youngest daughter of Henry of Anjou and Eleanor of Aquitaine was too great a personage to make him feel small. "Then your sisters must be very lucky people!" she laughed. "We have to embroider the tiresome things during the long winter evenings. Now put a knife at the left of Duke Richard's plate in case he wants to divide his meat. You will like working for him, Blondel."

"I'll do anything-anything...It's just this waiting at table..." muttered the boy, without looking up. When one's heart is an aching tenderness for home, kind words are difficult to bear without tears.

"Oh, it's quite simple really," she assured him. "The servants will bring all the dishes to that door. All you have to be careful about is not to slop water over people's feet when you hold the finger bowl for them as they go out. My eldest brother's page ruined a new pair of shoes for me only yesterday."

"At least I shan't do that," vowed Blondel, with a smile. "I often wait on my father's guests at home. But then he is only a knight. Here at court, where every other person is a prince or a duke, I am afraid of serving the wrong one first."

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Table of Contents


Part I: Oxford 1
Part II: Navarre 51
Part III: Dover 83
Part IV: Messina 119
Part V: Cyprus 151
Part VI: The Holy Land 179
Part VII: Rome 243
Part VIII: Guildford 259
Part IX: Chalus 309
Reading Group Guide 349
About the Author 351

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2014

    Go for it!

    I liked the writing and the historical aspect. It is pretty well done. I knew how it would end but I learned new things about Richard. He was a fascinating man.

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    Posted November 17, 2013

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    Posted September 6, 2013

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    Posted May 8, 2011

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