Revenge of the Rose

Revenge of the Rose

3.8 13
by Nicole Galland
     
 

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Welcome to a world of intrigue of the most intriguing kind, where emperors and popes desperately vie for power, even as their subjects and servants engage in behind-the-scenes machinations of their own.

The Holy Roman Empire circa 1200 A.D.

Impoverished young knight Willem of Dole believed he would spend his life in rural Burgundy, struggling

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Overview

Welcome to a world of intrigue of the most intriguing kind, where emperors and popes desperately vie for power, even as their subjects and servants engage in behind-the-scenes machinations of their own.

The Holy Roman Empire circa 1200 A.D.

Impoverished young knight Willem of Dole believed he would spend his life in rural Burgundy, struggling to provide for his widowed mother and younger sister, Lienor. And so it's with surprise—and apprehension—that he obeys a summons to the magnificent court of Konrad, Holy Roman Emperor, whose realm spans half of Europe. Willem's mischievous friend Jouglet, Konrad's favorite minstrel, is no doubt behind it somehow . . . but what's in it for Jouglet?

Court life is overwhelming to the idealistic young Willem, who is shocked by the behavior of his fellow knights, for whom chivalry is a mere game. Yet under Jouglet's witty, relentless tutelage, the naïve knight quickly rises in Emperor Konrad's esteem—until suddenly his sister, Lienor, becomes a prospect for the role of Empress. This unexpected elevation of the sibling "nobodies" delights Jouglet, but threatens three powerful—and dangerous—men at the court: the Emperor's brother, Cardinal Paul, who has in mind a different bride for Konrad; the Emperor's uncle, Alphonse, Count of Burgundy, who would keep secret certain things that only Willem can reveal; and most especially the Emperor's own steward Marcus, who is hopelessly in love with Konrad's cousin Imogen. For if Willem's star keeps rising, Imogen will be betrothed to the knight by royal decree—and Willem's star will surely continue to rise, unless Marcus figures out a way to stop it. But that would entail outscheming clever Jouglet, ablest of schemers.

Gossip, secrets, and lies are the fuel of daily life in Konrad's court. As Konrad edges closer to proclaiming Lienor his bride, those around Willem play a perilous game of cat-and-mouse as they attempt to secure their own fortunes, knowing that even the slightest move can shift the playing field entirely. And through it all, Jouglet remains Willem's most maddening yet staunchest ally. But what, really, does Jouglet stand to gain . . . or lose?

Transporting the reader to the brilliant, conniving heart of the largest empire of medieval Europe, Revenge of the Rose is a novel rich in irony and tongue-in-cheek wit, and reveals all the grit and color, politics and passion, of court life in the Holy Roman Empire.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
With deep nods to the Roman de la Rose, Galland (The Fool's Tale) has penned a clever novel of courtly love that resolves the ambiguities of the late-medieval work, while leaving some of its own questions. Troubadour Jouglet, honored member of the court of Konrad, the fictional Holy Roman Emperor, has schemed for years to bring his beloved friend Willem of Dole and Willem's beauteous sister Lienor, whom Jouglet secretly loves to Konrad's attention. Brought to court, Willem is a great success, but quickly falls prey to intrigue. Evil priest Paul, the emperor's brother, plots with Willem's dishonest kinsman, Alphonse, to destroy the best-laid plans of Jouglet, and of Willem's new friend at court, the lowborn but worthy Marcus, Konrad's steward. Everyone has his own secret (there are broad hints at another object of Jouglet's affections), many of which are flushed out by the appearance of a mysterious rose and a rediscovered ring. The whipsaw plot twists don't always stop short of the breaking point, and the denouement leaves as many questions as it answers, but this court romp entertains with a flourish. (Aug.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Booklist
“A tasty fictional stew, mixing elements of twelfth-century culture together skillfully to produce a veritable reading feast.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061753183
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
10/13/2009
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
480
Sales rank:
370,084
File size:
1 MB

Read an Excerpt

Revenge of the Rose

A Novel
By Nicole Galland

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Nicole Galland
All right reserved.

ISBN: 006084177X

Chapter One

Idyll

[a poem or short prose in a bucolic setting]

16 June

Jouglet the minstrel and Lienor were flirting again as they waited for Willem on the steps in the small courtyard. Lienor's green linen tunic was laced tighter in the back than her mother would have liked, but Jouglet and Lienor each seemed quite pleased with the effect.

"I'm astonished Willem said yes to this," said Lienor, who was possibly the most beautiful woman in the county of Burgundy, and knew it, but was not much bothered by it. With a grateful smile, she added, "It's only for your sake, Jouglet. My brother never lets me do anything."

"He is concerned only for your safety, milady," the minstrel answered neutrally. "Think of all the scrawny itinerant musicians who would prick your honor, given the chance."

Lienor fidgeted with her wreath of rosebuds. "He's overcautious. I would have more freedom in the cellar of an abbey."

"Come now, milady," Jouglet cooed. "He is a man of great indulgence. I offer my own friendship with him as proof."

Lienor rolled her eyes and sighed dismissively. "It's different for you, you're a man." Her eyes ran over the lean young body and she added, giggling, "Well . . . very nearly."

BoyishJouglet, although used to such jabs, looked affronted nonetheless. "What does milady mean, very nearly? Must I prove myself yet again? I beg the lady to assign me a task only a great hero could achieve, and I'll demonstrate that I am worthy of your feminine regard." But they smiled at each other; this was an old game between them.

"Very well, you lowly knight errant," Lienor recited, feigning disdain. She gestured grandly toward the manor gate. "Travel the earth for ten years and bring me back . . ." She glanced at her pale hands a moment. "Bring me back a magic ring that will make me queen of all I survey."

"Your happiness is my Holy Grail, milady," Jouglet announced, with an absurd level of gravity, and bowed deeply.

"Is it?" Lienor scolded. "I have been waiting three years already, you might at least have slain a dragon for me by now. But I am so gracious and undemanding, I shall be content with a magic ring."

"It is as good as done, milady. And when I return I hope I shall be granted the honor of resting upon your delicate pink bosom."

"My bosom is white," Lienor said, mock-petulant.

Jouglet grinned wickedly. "Not once I get through with it."

Lienor giggled; her mother, Maria, standing watchfully a few paces away, clicked her tongue disapprovingly but said nothing. Maria had come, over the course of three years of Jouglet's unannounced visits, to trust the fiddler with almost unimpeded access to the entire household; even if Jouglet could have claimed the brute masculine strengths that might endanger a young lady's purity--and Jouglet couldn't--Lienor would have been impervious.

Willem stepped out of the musty shade of the stable. He squinted in the bright light, a hooded falcon tethered on his wrist. Willem was a handsome man, his gentle demeanor belied by the crooked nose that was evidence of too many fights. He saw his sister and their guest at their usual banter and smiled despite himself. Their behavior was appalling, but he was too fond of each of them to chastise effectively. Although the musician made it this far west infrequently, there was no one outside his family to whom Willem felt so close. In a world where he had learned he could trust almost nobody, he trusted Jouglet, intuitively and entirely.

Willem was followed out of the stable by the groom, who led three saddled horses. Together they passed a wooden tub of soaking walnuts, the rabbit-tortured herb garden, and the little wooden chapel, before stopping in front of the hall steps.

At the top of the steps, Lienor clapped her hands in delight. "Oh, this will be such a treat! And such a change in our domestic philosophy," she added, pointedly. "Surely you've noticed, Willem prefers that I am not the hunter but the prey--of rich men in search of a mate."

Jouglet loomed over her and crooned suggestively, in a husky tenor voice, "Do you blame the rich men? If I were a rich man, I'd try to mate you."

Lienor looked delighted by the declaration; Willem said, "Behave yourself, fellow," but only because he knew he ought to.

"Yes, you'll never be able to marry me off if word gets around that I've been cozying up to some migrant musician," said Lienor, smiling. She and Jouglet descended the steps together, white hand resting on tanned one.

"I'm only trying to help, friend," Jouglet assured Willem. "I've been trained to cozy up at the highest courts in Europe. How do you expect her to learn feminine wiles if she never has a wooer to practice flirting with?"

"Wooers are one thing she needs fear no lack of," Willem said with a patient smile. "It's the sort of wooers we get that are the problem."

"Anyhow it surely doesn't count as flirting when the wooer's voice has hardly changed," Lienor teased.

Before Jouglet could protest, Willem said, "Careful, Lienor, I asked him the other week over chess whether he might be a eunuch and he nearly gave me a bloody nose."

"And then you gave me a black eye," Jouglet reminded him, sounding inexplicably delighted.

"And then you gave me a kneeing I should have hanged you for."

"Well, at least we know you're not a eunuch," Jouglet pointed out, slapping Willem on the shoulder.

The falcon made a mewling sound, sensing Jouglet's nearness; the musician drew away. With a sweetly coquettish attitude, Lienor took her horse's tasseled reins from the groom. "Jouglet, have you hunted before? You seem to be scared of falcons. How amusing."

"Lienor, don't be rude," said Willem.

Continues...


Excerpted from Revenge of the Rose by Nicole Galland Copyright © 2006 by Nicole Galland. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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