If you have yet to read one of Anna's books, I highly recommend you check her out. The historical blog world adores her, as do I! There is a giveaway at the bottom of this post, so be sure to enter!
Take it away Anna....
My recent release, Days of Sun and Glory, is the second in my series The King’s Greatest Enemy. Very briefly, the situation can be summarised as follows: We’re in 14th century England, Edward II is king, Roger Mortimer has fled to France from where he plans revenge, royal favourite Hugh Despenser is his normal nasty self and Queen Isabella has had it with hubby and joined Mortimer’s camp. In the midst of all this mess, my fictional protagonist Adam de Guirande with wife Kit have to navigate a political quagmire that can lead to death and ruin for them both. A nice, emotional tangle – and one which features a child, the young Edward of Windsor, heir to the throne.
I enjoy writing about young boys growing into men. I suppose this is due to the fact that I’ve got three sons of my own, and so I’ve watched the process at close range. I’ve salvaged boys from pools when they insisted they could swim despite being only three, I’ve blown on scraped knees, picked splinters of wooden arrows out of tear-filled eyes. I’ve also seen big brother sit for hours with baby brother in his arms, crooning softly as he rocked him to sleep, and I’ve been the recipient of many, many long and warm hugs – wordless expression of love just when I needed it the most.
When Days of Sun and Glory opens, Prince Edward is eleven. It is late 1323. Edward II spends most of his time with Hugh Despenser and worries constantly about the whereabouts of Roger Mortimer, the king’s “Greatest Traitor” who has managed to escape the Tower. England is an unhappy realm: the king and Despenser pursue all potential allies to Mortimer, and a substantial number of men are hauled before the assizes on skimpy charges of treason. Prince Edward would have been aware of the unrest – but insulated from it. As a young prince, he’d have spent most of his childhood with his own household at some distance from the royal court.
However, as 1323 rolled into 1324, our Edward’s life was affected by the increasing hostility between his mother and father. There were various reasons for this: Isabella of France resented the hold Hugh Despenser had over her husband and detested being marginalised by the royal favourite. Edward II viewed his wife with increased suspicion – not only was she French (and England was at war with France) but her dislike of Despenser could be construed as support for Mortimer. Caught in the middle of their disintegrating marriage was their young son.
When Edward II deprived Isabella of her income, he reduced her to a dependent. Suddenly, she had no income but what he would chose to grant her, and as he had every interest of having her toe the line, she had markedly less money to spend. Isabella was furious – and unhappy, and humiliated. Even more so when Edward II then sent her French retainers into exile. Of course, her son sided with her – a young boy who sees his mother distraught and unfairly humiliated has a knee-jerk reaction to defend her.
“Adam?” someone called, and he recognised his lord’s voice. Adam made as if to stand, when he heard another voice.
The king. Adam sank back down.
“My liege,” the prince said, and Adam heard the sound of cloth rustling as the lad bowed.
“Your father,” the king said gently. “Come here, lad.” There was the sound of muted footfall, and when Adam sneaked a look, he saw Prince Edward enfolded in his father’s arms. Young shoulders were rigid, young arms hung passive, and after some moments the king released him.
“Are you that aggrieved with me?” he asked.
“It is not my place to be aggrieved, my lord.” Edward took a step or two backwards.
“I am doing what I must to ensure the safety of my realm,” the king said.
“So my mother’s household was a threat?” the prince demanded. “Her chaplains spies, her physicians your mortal enemies?”
A deep red suffused the king’s face. “You don’t understand – how can you, mere stripling that you are?”
The prince bowed. “As I said, my lord: it is not my place to be aggrieved.”
“But you are.”
Prince Edward looked at his father. “I am. I love my lady mother and don’t want any harm to come to her.”
“Most commendable,” the king said sarcastically. “A dutiful son to his mother – but what about your duties to me?”
“To you, my lord? I try to do my duty by you as well – I always do.” The lad sounded on the verge of tears.
The king relented. “I know you do, Ned. And I understand how difficult all of this must be for you.” He studied his son. “I do as I must. Your lady mother is not always the most dutiful of my subjects.”
“She is my mother.”
“And she may be plotting against me!”
“But you have no proof, do you, my liege? All you have are the whispered accusations of men like Lord Despenser, vile insinuations that my mother aims to betray you.”
“And if she does? What then, son? What will you do if your mother harms me?”
“But she hasn’t, has she? And it isn’t you who has had your dower lands stripped away from you, it is not you who has been bereft the company of men and women you trust and love.” The prince scuffed at the floor. “I love her, Father. And over the last few weeks you have repeatedly humiliated and hurt her.”
“I have no choice,” The king said.
His son gave him an anguished look. “I don’t believe you, Father – no one does.”
“No one?” The king almost growled. “What do you mean by that?”
Prince Edward backed away from his father. “It is not my mother’s fault that you place higher value on Hugh Despenser than on her.”
The slap sent Prince Edward reeling. His head struck the wall, and Adam was hard put not to emerge from his hiding place to rush to his lord’s aid. The prince straightened up, wiped at his mouth and studied his bloody fingers. The king groaned out loud.
“Forgive me,” he said. “I didn’t mean to…”
“Maybe you had no choice, my lord,” Prince Edward said before ducking under his father’s arm and fleeing the chapel.
Somehow, Isabella overcame her humiliation and put a brave face on her new position in court. Her husband was pleased by her docility and concluded he could trust her enough to send her to France to negotiate on his behalf. The war in France had gone from bad to worse, and Edward needed a truce.
Off Isabella went, and I dare say her son sighed with relief: Maman was back in Father’s good graces and a Happily Ever After hovered on the horizon. (You have to excuse the boy: he was too young to understand the concept of passion and revenge) In September of 1325, Prince Edward followed her across the Channel, newly invested as the Duke of Aquitaine to do homage on behalf of his father. He was never to see his father again.
Once in France, it dawned on Prince Edward that the breach between his mother and father was deeper than he’d understood. His mother refused to return to her husband’s side – and said so publicly – unless the third person in her marriage (Despenser) made himself scarce.
The English emissaries returned to England, but Prince Edward remained with his mother. Unwittingly, he had thereby become the most powerful weapon in his mother’s future attack on his father. At the time, no such attack was forthcoming: Isabella seemed content to remain at her brother’s court and salve her wounded pride. Until, in December of 1325, Roger Mortimer rode into the bailey of Charles IV’s castle.
Soon enough, Mortimer and Isabella were constantly in each other’s company – day and night. They also forged an alliance to rid the world of Hugh Despenser. Was it their intention to also depose Edward II? No idea – and I suspect they didn’t have one either.
In England, Edward II was enraged by his son’s extended stay in France – and his wife’s relationship with Mortimer. Letter after letter were sent across the sea to the prince, ordering him to return home ASAP. Except, of course, that Prince Edward was in no position to do so. Isabella was not about to let him go, not when he was the lynchpin on which her plans depended. I suspect it wasn’t a question of her forbidding him to return home – she just turned large, tear-filled eyes his way and told him how much she depended on him.
To find the ships and men required, Isabella and Mortimer negotiated with the Count of Hainaut. In return for Hainaut’s support, Prince Edward would marry one of his daughters. King Edward II sent his son more letters, now forbidding him to wed without parental approval. Once again, our prince had little choice in the matter – but he must have agonised as his father’s letters became increasingly terse, until that last missive when Edward II essentially told his son he was now no more than a rebel, and he would punish him as he would punish any rebel, thereby making an example of him. The boy was all of thirteen…
In September of 1326, Prince Edward returned to England – at the head of an army with his mother by his side. Isabella made it very clear that she was only here to restore law and order to the realm – and safe-guard her son’s claim on the throne. Young and handsome, Prince Edward elicited loud cheers of approbation, the figurehead of an invasion that had as its final purpose to destroy Despenser and bring King Edward II to heel. What our prince thought of all this we don’t know – but those who loved him, like Adam de Guirande does in my novel, must have commiserated with their young lord, torn in two by his parents.
Ultimately, Edward II was not brought to heel – he was deposed. In February of 1327, Prince Edward was crowned as Edward III, while his father was reduced to being Sir Edward of Caernarvon and destined for a life behind walls. Edward the son must have wept – Edward the young king, however, promised himself he would never, ever, allow something like that to happen to him. It never did. From the moment Edward III rid himself of the double-yoke of mother and Mortimer in November 1330, he ruled in his own name – a powerful, competent ruler who never forgot just how easy it was to depose a weak and inept king
About Days of Sun and Glory
Days of Sun and Glory (The King’s Greatest Enemy #2)by Anna Belfrage
Publication Date: July 4, 2016
eBook & Paperback; 418 Pages
Series: The King's Greatest Enemy
Genre: Historical Fiction
Adam de Guirande has barely survived the aftermath of Roger Mortimer’s rebellion in 1321. When Mortimer manages to escape the Tower and flee to France, anyone who has ever served Mortimer becomes a potential traitor – at least in the eyes of King Edward II and his royal chancellor, Hugh Despenser. Adam must conduct a careful balancing act to keep himself and his family alive. Fortunately, he has two formidable allies: Queen Isabella and his wife, Kit. England late in 1323 is a place afflicted by fear. Now that the king’s greatest traitor, Roger Mortimer, has managed to evade royal justice, the king and his beloved Despenser see dissidents and rebels everywhere – among Mortimer’s former men, but also in the queen, Isabella of France.
Their suspicions are not unfounded. Tired of being relegated to the background by the king’s grasping favourite, Isabella has decided it is time to act – to safeguard her own position, but also that of her son, Edward of Windsor. As Adam de Guirande has pledged himself to Prince Edward he is automatically drawn into the queen’s plans – whether he likes it or not.
Yet again, Kit and Adam are forced to take part in a complicated game of intrigue and politics. Yet again, they risk their lives – and that of those they hold dear – as the king and Mortimer face off. Once again, England is plunged into war – and this time it will not end until either Despenser or Mortimer is dead.
Days of Sun and Glory is the second in Anna Belfrage’s series, The King’s Greatest Enemy, the story of a man torn apart by his loyalties to his lord, his king, and his wife.
About the AuthorHad Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a professional time-traveller. As such a profession does as yet not exists, she settled for second best and became a financial professional with two absorbing interests, namely history and writing. These days, Anna combines an exciting day-job with a large family and her writing endeavours.
When Anna fell in love with her future husband, she got Scotland as an extra, not because her husband is Scottish or has a predilection for kilts, but because his family fled Scotland due to religious persecution in the 17th century – and were related to the Stuarts. For a history buff like Anna, these little details made Future Husband all the more desirable, and sparked a permanent interest in the Scottish Covenanters, which is how Matthew Graham, protagonist of the acclaimed The Graham Saga, began to take shape.
Set in 17th century Scotland and Virginia/Maryland, the series tells the story of Matthew and Alex, two people who should never have met – not when she was born three hundred years after him. With this heady blend of romance, adventure, high drama and historical accuracy, Anna hopes to entertain and captivate, and is more than thrilled when readers tell her just how much they love her books and her characters.
Presently, Anna is hard at work with her next project, a series set in the 1320s featuring Adam de Guirande, his wife Kit, and their adventures and misfortunes in connection with Roger Mortimer’s rise to power. The King’s Greatest Enemy is a series where passion and drama play out against a complex political situation, where today’s traitor may be tomorrow’s hero, and the Wheel of Life never stops rolling.
The first installment in the Adam and Kit story, In the Shadow of the Storm, was published in 2015. The second book, Days of Sun and Glory, will be published in July 2016.
Other than on her website, www.annabelfrage.com, Anna can mostly be found on her blog, http://annabelfrage.wordpress.com – unless, of course, she is submerged in writing her next novel. You can also connect with Anna on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.
Blog Tour ScheduleMonday, August 29
Kick Off at Passages to the Past
Spotlight at What Is That Book About
Tuesday, August 30
Review at Beth's Book Nook Blog
Review at Historical Fiction Obsession
Wednesday, August 31
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Spotlight at Queen of All She Reads
Thursday, September 1
Review at Lampshade Reader
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Friday, September 2
Review at Book Nerd
Monday, September 5
Review at Just One More Chapter
Tuesday, September 6
Guest Post at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Wednesday, September 7
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Guest Post at A Literary Vacation
Thursday, September 8
Interview at Books and Benches
Character Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Friday, September 9
Review at A Holland Reads
Monday, September 12
Review at Broken Teepee
Tuesday, September 13
Review at Let Them Read Books
Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Wednesday, September 14
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time
Thursday, September 15
Review at Seize the Words: Books in Review
Monday, September 19
Review at A Book Drunkard
Tuesday, September 20
Review at CelticLady's Reviews
Wednesday, September 21
Review at It's a Mad Mad World
Friday, September 23
Review at The True Book Addict
Spotlight at The Reading Queen
Monday, September 26
Review at Diana's Book Reviews
Tuesday, September 27
Guest Post at Passages to the Past
Thursday, September 29
Review at Bookramblings
GiveawayTo win a copy of Days of Sun & Glory by Anna Belfrage, please enter via the Gleam form below.
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Days of Sun and Glory