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.
|Product dimensions:||5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.08(d)|
About the Author
Nicole Galland's five previous novels are The Fool's Tale; Revenge of the Rose; Crossed; I, Iago, and Godiva. She writes a cheeky etiquette column for the Martha's Vineyard Times. She is married to actor Billy Meleady and owns Leuco, a dog of splendid qualities.
Read an Excerpt
Revenge of the Rose
[a poem or short prose in a bucolic setting]
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."
Boyish Jouglet, 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.Revenge of the Rose. Copyright © by Nicole Galland. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Reading Group Guide
In the spring of 1199, Willem, a naive, poor young knight, is summoned to the magnificent royal court of Konrad, the Holy Roman Emperor, whose realm spans much of Europe. An audacious fighter, Willem wins great honors for his knightly prowess. His champion, friend, and guide to courtly life is the irrepressible, mysterious minstrel Jouglet, a longtime admirer of Willem's sister Lienor. Willem soon learns, to his dismay, that gossip, schemes, secrets, and lies are what really fuel courtly life—and that not even a knight is immune—or safe.
Question: Transporting the reader to the magnificent, conniving heart of the largest empire of medieval Europe, Revenge of the Rose brings to vivid life a long-ago time full of drama, intrigue, and sparkling wit in which colorful characters cunningly vie for power, wealth, and favor.
Questions for Discussion
Question:Question: 1. Why do you think the author has chosen to tell a medieval story using a deliberately modern tone?
Question: 2. Jouglet and Konrad both poke fun at stereotypes of idealized romance. To what degree do those stereotypes still function in today's world? Are they hurtful or useful to women? To men?
Question: 3. Jouglet refuses to fall into the "idealized romance" stereotype with Willem, yet seems to enjoy playing into that stereotype with Lienor. What context justifies the two different kinds of behavior?
Question: 4. There are three male-female couples at the end of the story. Which one stands the greatest chance of having a successful marriage by the standards of medieval society? By the standards of modern society? Why?
Question: 5. Does Marcus, and the ministerial class in general (a group that earns upward mobility by loyal service, rather than by family ties, money, or physical might), have a modern equivalent?
Question: 6. Who is worse, Alphonse or Paul? Why? Compare their moral codes, or lack thereof. How does Marcus compare to either of them?
Question: 7. Marcus causes harm to Lienor and Willem, but he does it only reluctantly, and only to protect Isabel. Do his ends justify his means? What other course of action might he have taken? How sympathetic is he as a character?
Question: 8. Without Jouglet's influence, does Willem fulfill the traditional role of hero/protagonist? If so, how? If not, what about his behavior would have to change?
Question: 9. Imagine Willem in today's world. In what ways would he have to change to be as heroic to us today as the original Willem would have been 800 years ago? What does this say about the ways western society in general has changed?
Question: 10. Is Lienor's persona an inevitable result of her circumstances, or is she deliberately playing a role? Do modern women have an equivalent form of role-playing?
Question: 11. Would you rather be Lienor or Jeannette? Jeannette or Jouglet? Why?
Question: 12. At what point in the story do you think Konrad realizes the truth about Jouglet? Why does he not say anything until he is forced to?
Question: 13. How would you characterize the relationship between Jouglet and Lienor? Does Jouglet have a closer relationship to Willem or to Lienor?
Question: 14. Which character do you most and least admire, and why? (If you answered that you most admire Jouglet, then: other than Jouglet, whom do you most admire?)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I loved this book. Nicole Galland does not dissapoint. The plot was interesting and intriguing, I couldn't put the book down--I had to find out what was going to happen next! There are wonderful, exciting and unexpected twists in the storyline. The characters are well-rounded, humourous, and easy to relate to. What a fun read. Highly recommended!!!
Despite the fact that I absolutely love Nicole Galland's 'Fool's Tale', I feel as if 'Revenge of the Rose' was not her best one. The setting itself of the story was so confined in the sibling's 'the main character' home and the royal court that it felt almost like a Shakespearean play. I also felt like there was something lacking making some of the characters appear one-dimensional. I was hoping there was more complexity in the character of the siblings, Willem and Lienor, as they had the potential to and were more interesting at the start of the book. On the plus side though, Jouglet's secret was a really interesting twist. And the book still has Galland's usual humor.
Nicole Galland's Revenge of the Rose is an interesting twist on the medieval 'Romance of the Rose.' Its strengths are the delightful characters, the interesting presentation of historical detail for an entirely fictional background, and, my favorite, a strong heroine. Its major weakness is Galland's tendency to visualize the entire novel with little attention to interior states [this is more screenplay than novel]; her novels are very visual, but she needs to work at moving from screenplays to novels. That said, the conclusion is among the most satisfying I have ever read. It's a winner!
Revenge of the Rose is a satirical view of courtly love in the thirteenth century. The book takes place in the court of the fictional Konrad, Holy Roman Emperor. At the behest of Konrad's troubadour, Jouglet, a young knight named Willem comes to court, where he shines on the jousting field. His success is detrimental to three major men at court: Marcus, Konrad's best friend, who is engaged to marry the love of his life and is afraid that she'll be taken away from him; Alphonse, Konrad's sneaky uncle; and the emperor's brother, a clergyman, none of whom are impressed with or thrilled by the sudden elevation to prominence of a "nobody" provincial knight and his sister, Lienor, whom Konrad wishes to marry. The novel is witty and lively, and peppered with characters with secrets. Although those same characters seem one-dimensional and wooden at times, Nicole Galland has a sense of humor that shines through in this, her second novel, which was based on Jean Renart's Roman of the Rose (Konrad is based on Otto IV). It's a highly enjoyable novel (though not completely historically accurate by any stretch of the imagination) and I look forward to reading Galland's next book, Crossed, about the fourth crusade.
This is a knight with honor book. You will find damsels in distress and even minstrels who do not know which side they play for. It is comedy and yet shockingly sad in places. It is a fun romp through the late twelveth century as seen through a bright pair of glasses. If you want to experience medieval times but want it light, this is your book. Definitely kept me hanging on till all the melted butter was licked off my fingers. I even found myself rooting for one of the bad guys despite myself. It would make great beach reading and a good escape book. If you buy it and take it with you, you won't be sorry. How can you fault a book that makes fun of itself? Hype, Hype, Hype get this medieval experience book and please tell your friends. It is too delightful not to recommend.
So intriguing. At first I thought it would be a replica of Galland's first book, The Fool's Tale, and while they are similar, this book has its own twists and turns. And a happy ending, yey!
I know that there were hardly any real historical facts in this book I still found it wonderfully entertaining. Most historical fiction books I already know the ending because well it's history so it was nice to not know the ending beforehand this time.
A silly medieval soap opera, complete with farcical misunderstandings, illicit pregnancy, upper crust scheming, and mistaken identities. It's fine if you like that sort of thing, but I prefer historical fiction with more depth.
As she demonstrated in her first book , The Fool's Tale, Miss Galland is a splendidly interesting writer and an imaginative genius. Not a bad historian either.
I love this author. She is just great. Her stories are riveting, and funny, and she has wonderful historic knowledge.