Unhappily married to Stephen de Marais, the Welsh princess, Nest, becomes increasingly embroiled in her countrymen’s resistance to the Norman occupation of her family lands. She plans to visit King Henry in the hope of securing a life away from her unwanted husband, but grieving for the loss of his son, the King is obsessed with relics and prophecies. Meanwhile, Haith tries to avoid the reality that Nest is married to another man by distracting himself with the mystery of the shipwreck in which the King’s heir drowned. As Haith pieces together fragments of the tragedy, he discovers a chest full of secrets, but will the revelations bring a culprit to light and aid the grieving King? Will the two lovers be united as Nest fights for independence and Haith struggles to protect King Henry?
Buy Links: The Daughter of the Last King (Book 1) — The Drowned Court (Book 2) — The Anarchy (Book 3)
Excerpt From The Anarchy
The Bees’ Book
The book lay waiting in a deep crevice in the crumbling castle wall after she had pushed it down with a long pole, where nobody would ever find it. On the pages of the book, her life whispered like wind in leaves, speaking the grammar of love, the vocabulary of resistance. Masonry bees moved into the crevice pushing the book further down, expanding the hole in all directions to hold their seething golden corridors in the darkness. The book lay captive in the hive, bound in amber chains of honey, its fabric woven into the solidifying honeycomb. The filament touch of the wings and feet of bees brushed softly over it again and again like her eyelashes against her cheek as she closed her eyes to remember the scenes of her life, to write her story.
The book listened to the ceaseless zzzrs of the bees, the thick drip of honey, the wind caressing the old walls of the ruin, the sea far below lapping back and forth, over and over, the seabirds calling as they flung themselves recklessly at the air, grouped to be blown together upriver, riding the thermals. In the past, long ago, the book had listened to other sounds: the clatter of horses’ feet on cobbles, the shouts and laughter of men, women and children, groans of rope, chains and timbers as the portcullis was raised or the sudden rush and thud when it was lowered like a guillotine, swords clashing, arrows futtering, men screaming, calling out at the last for their mothers: ‘Mam!’. Those sounds were all long gone. Those voices had spilled their brief vivid lives into the vivid emerald lozenge of the bailey, leaving only a faint echo on the breeze, some impressions in the grass, beneath the grass, words scratched on parchment.
The bees went back and forth, their thighs loaded with pollen. They walked over each other and over the book like more black words let loose from the page to wander and find new homes in new sentences. The laughing children who had played around the castle well, running up and down the stairways, through the kitchens and stables, grew up to die in battle, in childbed, in sickbed, or released at last from the pangs of old age, their wishes, regrets and tears seeping into the soil. As time passed and the voices were silenced, the wall partly collapsed, chunks of stone tumbled to the ground and the bees angrily rebuilt their ramparts. The bees’ fine filigree wings turned to piles of fine dust. The long legs of spiders traversed the crevice adding balled-up, sticky web. Slugs slid across the stone. No rain penetrated here. Occasionally clumps of snow thawed but the icy drips were swallowed quickly by the thirsty stone, and none seeped into the book sealed in its golden carapace. The book was wrapped more and more in layers of honeyed time and waited.
About the Author
Tracey Warr (1958- ) was born in London and lives in the UK and France. Her first historical novel, Almodis the Peaceweaver (Impress, 2011) is set in 11th century France and Spain and is a fictionalised account of the true story of the Occitan female lord, Almodis de la Marche, who was Countess of Toulouse and Barcelona. It was shortlisted for the Impress Prize for New Fiction and the Rome Film Festival Books Initiative and won a Santander Research Award. Her second novel, The Viking Hostage, set in 10th century France and Wales, was published by Impress Books in 2014 and topped the Amazon Australia charts. Her Conquest trilogy, Daughter of the Last King, The Drowned Court, and The Anarchy recount the story of a Welsh noblewoman caught up in the struggle between the Welsh and the Normans in the 12th century. She was awarded a Literature Wales Writers Bursary. Her writing is a weave of researched history and imagined stories in the gaps in history.