Endeavour Press Ltd. (November 26, 2013)
England, 1069. The nation is still recovering from the Norman invasion three years earlier – and adjusting to life under its sometimes brutal new rulers. A young girl trembles in the shadows of what was once her home. Avis is homeless and penniless, and with no family left alive she is forced to become a ward of Richard, the Norman lord who has taken her home. But when King William decrees that Norman lords must marry Anglo-Saxon women Avis must make a terrible choice. Either marry the repulsive Richard or take a chance on another Norman, Melville, a man she has never met. Soon she realises that survival in a time of turmoil and war depends of putting aide the prejudices of the past And if she can do so, kingdoms and hearts can still be among her ‘Conquests’. ’Conquests’ is a brilliantly researched and involving historical drama that is perfect for fans of Alison Weir and Philippa Gregory.
The village burned in the darkness. Anglo-Saxon women crawled in the ashes and blood, crying, but quietly. They did not want to be found. They knew what would happen to them if they were discovered. In the light of the flames only one building could be seen left standing; the great manor house. None dared approach it. They knew that if the men returned, that would be exactly where they would go to. In the courtyard of this house, a shadow wept.
A young girl was crouched in a corner, sobbing. The stone wall behind hid her in its silhouette, and she tried to muffle the sounds of her cries. She did not want to be discovered.
A noise startled her; the sound of hooves on wood. They were coming.
Picking herself up and wrapping her long skirts around her, the girl ran – but she was not fast enough.
A whining man’s voice rang out into the darkness and broke through the silence. It was the rider of the horse that she had heard, but now many more horses had joined him. It was a whole host of men. The girl gasped and tried to run faster, but there was nowhere to run to. Nowhere was safe now. Before she could reach the other side of the courtyard, strong rough hands had grabbed her. “Bring her here!” The same gruff voice spoke, and the girl struggled. The man holding her had to drag her over to the horse of the speaker. The man had dismounted, and the girl caught sight of his broadsword. She gasped, and pushed backwards trying to stay as far away as possible from the blade. She had seen swords similar to that one. She had seen what they could do. “Hold her up.” The man was older than her, probably as old as her father. He stank of sweat, and his mean eyes bore down into her. When he gazed down upon his captive, he was surprised. The lonely figure that he had taken to be a child was much older. The girl must be verging onto womanhood. He leered at her. “Do you have a name, my sweet?” The girl stared back at him. Fear danced in her eyes, but also resentment. She knew why he had come to her home. She knew what he wanted. “My lord Richard asked you a question!” said the man holding her back, twisting one of her arms so she let out a yelp of pain. “Avis,” she breathed, her arms searing and tears brimming in her eyes. “My name is Avis.”
Emily Murdoch is a medieval historian and writer. Throughout her career so far she has examined a codex and transcribed medieval sermons at the Bodleian Library in Oxford, designed part of an exhibition for the Yorkshire Museum, worked as a researcher for a BBC documentary presented by Ian Hislop, and worked at Polesden Lacey with the National Trust. She has a Joint Honours Bachelors degree in History and English, and a Masters in Medieval Studies, both from the University of York, UK. Emily is currently working on a new twelve part book series, as well as writing freelance.
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