A Place Beyond Courage (Paperback)

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9780751539011: A Place Beyond Courage (Paperback)

It is a time for ambitious men to prosper, and royal servant John Fitz Gilbert Marshal is one of them. Raised high, as the kin of the deceased King Henry battle each other for England's throne, John reaps rich rewards but pays a terrible price for the choices he makes - as does his family. His wife, fragile, naïve Aline is hopelessly unequipped to cope with the demands of a life lived on the edge and, when John is seriously injured in battle, her worst nightmare is realised.

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About the Author:

"A star back in Britain, Elizabeth Chadwick is finally getting the attention she deserves here,"-USA Today. Chadwick is the bestselling author of over 20 historical novels, including The Greatest Knight, The Scarlet Lion, A Place Beyond Courage, Lords of the White Castle, Shadows and Strongholds, The Winter Mantle, and The Falcons of Montabard, four of which have been shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists' Awards.

Peter has been a working actor for over thirty years. In theatre he has played a wide range of roles, including rep all around the UK, and an active TV and film career. He has often chosen jobs involving travel. Most importantly (to him), Peter enjoyed a spell on the BBC Radio Rep. That all led to audiobooks, and his only regret about this is that he doesn't usually travel far to do it!

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

1

Vernon-sur-Seine, Normandy, Autumn 1130

"Why," John FitzGilbert asked with icy displeasure, "does the list say palfreys when the beasts I've just seen in the stables are common nags?" He cast his deputy a penetrating look from eyes the hue of shadowed water.

"My lord?" A muscle ticked in the fleshy pouch beneath the man's left eye.

Tresses of autumn sunlight swept across the rushes carpeting the great hall of King Henry's hunting lodge and trailed the edge of a trestle table, illuminating the lower third of a parchment covered in a scribe's swift scrawl. A strand of gold touched the back of John's hand and twinkled on the braid cuffing his tunic. "One's spavined, another's got mange, and the chestnut's old enough to have carried Moses out of Egypt!" He stabbed a forefinger at the offending entry on the exchequer roll. "It says here that Walter Picot renders five palfreys in payment of his debt to the King. If those creatures out there are palfreys, I'll salt my boots and eat them."

"My lord, I-"

"No excuses, Ralph. Return these sorry beasts to Picot and make him replace them with others fit to the description. If he refuses, report to me and I will deal with him. I'm not in the habit of giving house room to other men's leavings." Leaning back from the table, he laid his hand to his sword hilt in deliberate emphasis. As King Henry's marshal, he was responsible for discipline in the hall and a sword was part of his daily apparel rather than an accoutrement of ceremony and war. "Of course," he added, rubbing a reflective thumb over the smooth curve of the pommel, "if I find out that Walter supplied five good palfreys and someone has been using my absence from court to line his own purse by switching them for nags..." He let the sentence hang unfinished.

Ralph licked his lips. "I am sure it is not the case, my lord."

John raised a skeptical eyebrow. Leaning forward again, he placed his hand upon the parchment, arching long fingers over the words. "I expect absolute loyalty and competence from my men and I reward it generously. Play me false or let me down and I will find out-and if you live to regret it, you will be unfortunate. Understood?" John was barely five and twenty, but had won the right to be the King's marshal by more than heredity. Three years ago, he had defended a challenge to his position in trial by combat and settled the matter so convincingly that no one had questioned his abilities to fight or administrate since.

"My lord, I will attend to the matter," Ralph answered, pale and set-lipped.

"See that you do." John picked up the parchment and studied the next entry concerning quantities of bread for feeding the royal hounds. Usually he would have delegated the scrutiny of such lists to a subordinate but having been absent from court dealing with personal matters of estate in the wake of his father's death, he needed to stamp his authority on his office like a seal impressing warm wax.

"Christ, how much bread does a dog-?" He stopped and looked up as a shadow blocked his light. "Sire?"

"Never mind that," said Robert FitzRoy, Earl of Gloucester, standing over the trestle, arms folded, the sun streak now warming his blood-red tunic. "Come outside. There's something you need to see."

John mentally sighed. It was pointless telling Gloucester he wanted to finish assessing these accounts before he went anywhere. As the King's eldest son, albeit bastard born, Gloucester wielded a powerful influence at court. It was in John's interests to be accommodating; besides, the man was a friend, ally, and sponsor.

He pushed to his feet. Gloucester was tall, but John topped him by the length of an index finger, although the Earl's broader frame made them look much of a size. John picked his hat off the board and tucked it through his belt, thereby conceding he was unlikely to return to his accounts this side of the dinner hour.

"My cousin Stephen has a new horse."

Pinning his cloak, John stepped around the trestle. "Take those tallies to my chamber," he commanded over his shoulder to Ralph, "and I want to see the military service receipts for the months I've been gone. I'll expect a report on what's been done about that walking dog meat in the stables before noon tomorrow."

"Yes, my lord." His deputy bowed, sweat beading his brow.

John quickened his pace to catch up with Robert, his stride long and confident.

"They know you're back," the latter remarked with amusement.

Mordant humor curved John's lips. "They had better do."

"You've found foul deeds hidden in the murk?"

John's smile deepened, putting creases in his cheeks, showing where one day harder lines would develop. "Not as yet. Some questionable horses and dogs that appear to be eating best wheaten bread in suspicious quantities, but nothing I cannot handle."

"And the women?"

"Nothing I cannot handle there either."

Robert laughed aloud and set his arm across John's shoulders. "I should hope not. Ah, it's good to have you back!"

The courtyard was a churn of noisy, organized chaos, signaling the imminent departure of the hunt. Amid misty clouds of breath and pungent aromas of horse and stable, men were mounting up or conversing in groups as they waited for their grooms. Dogs snuffled underfoot, or, quivering with anticipation, strained on taut leashes. John observed the rib-serrated flanks of a white gazehound and thought about the accounts he had just been reading.

A crowd had gathered to watch a ruddy fair-haired man putting a powerful roan stallion through its paces. Robert and John joined the group and stood with arms folded to watch the performance.

"Spanish," John said with an appreciative eye and felt a twinge of envy. As the King's marshal, he owned fine horses himself but a beast of this caliber was too rich for his purse. However, it was standard fare for Stephen, Count of Mortain, King Henry's nephew and so high in favor that he was flying above most other folk at court. Not that Stephen was haughty with other men because of it. John had heard Henry's daughter, the Empress Matilda, remark with contempt that Stephen would drink water with the horses like a common groom rather than quaff wine out of a precious goblet as a man of his rank ought to do.

Stephen made the horse rear and paw the air. A broad grin lit up his face and his eyes sparkled with pleasure. He brought the roan down to all fours and dismounted but only to spring back into the saddle facing backward. Then he scissored round to the fore and swept a flourish to his appreciative audience. He was so exuberant that it was impossible not to be caught up in his high spirits and John began to laugh and then applaud with the rest of the crowd.

Gloucester cupped his hands to shout at Stephen, "Have you ever thought of performing such tricks for a living?"

John glanced at the Earl, noting that his mirth was tinged with asperity. There was an edge of rivalry between Gloucester and his cousin Stephen. Both were magnates; both were close kin to the King. All the time they were slapping each other's backs and drinking together in the hall they were jostling for position and favor.

"Many times!" Stephen called back cheerfully. He gathered the reins and settled the horse, patting its neck, tugging its ears. "But then I would lose the joy."

"John has to earn his crust keeping the court concubines in order. I haven't seen any diminishing in his enthusiasm for the task, and it involves just as much sleight in the saddle as yours!" Robert retorted.

Stephen gave a knowing grin. "I wouldn't dare to compete with the anvils and hammers of a royal marshal on that score!" he quipped, to the laughter of all, for everyone knew these were the time-honored symbols of a marshal as well as a euphemism for the male reproductive equipment. John's reputation in the latter department was somewhat notorious and he did nothing to play it down. Now he merely flourished a sardonic bow.

Stephen's attention focused on a point beyond his audience. "The King is here," he said. "Best mount up or you'll be left behind." He nudged the roan toward a stocky, grizzle-haired man who had emerged from one of the lodging halls and was setting his foot to the stirrup of a handsome bay. A heavy gold clasp pinned his short hunting cloak at his shoulder. Two swaggering young men-Robert de Beaumont, Earl of Leicester, and his twin brother Waleran, Count of Meulan-accompanied him. They were Stephen's cronies and treated with suspicion by Robert of Gloucester because of their intimacy with his father the King. Meulan had proved a traitor in the past, but the King had forgiven him his transgressions and welcomed him back at court. Beaumont, the more circumspect of the two, cast an observant glance around as he took his courser's reins from a groom. John thoughtfully assessed their proximity to Henry. This was another area where he needed to focus following his absence. Every subtle change and nuance had to be taken into account in order to survive and advance at court.

Stephen greeted them all with natural bonhomie. John thought-with further admiration for the Count of Mortain-that such ebullience was also a way of opening doors and disarming men of their caution.

"You're riding out with us," Robert told John as he called up his mount and set his foot to the stirrup. "I've had your horse saddled." He snapped his fingers to a groom who led forward John's freckled gray courser.

John tugged his hat from his belt and pulled it down over his blond-brown hair. "Thank you, my lord," he said with muted enthusiasm.

Robert chuckled. "You don't mean it now." He tossed John a boar spear, which the latter caught mid-haft with a lightning reflex, "but you will in a while."

***

Cantering along a forest trail, the first autumn leaves glimmering from the trees in flakes of sunlit amber, the ground firm but springy under the gray's hooves, John realized Robert had been right. The powerful surge of his horse w...

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Elizabeth Chadwick
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Descripción Little, Brown Book Group, United Kingdom, 2012. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. The early twelfth century is a time for ambitious men to prosper - and royal servant John FitzGilbert is one of them. But when the old king dies and his successor is appointed, John s position at court is weakened and his wife, the pious, pliant Aline, is hopelessly unequipped to deal with a life lived on the edge.John knows the only way to protect his lands and his children is to divorce Aline. He meets his match in new wife Sybilla, daughter of his enemy Patrick of Salisbury, as she possesses a strength and courage that equals his own. But when Sybilla s son, William, is seized by the king, John is forced to make a terrible sacrifice. Sometimes keeping your honour means breaking your word . . . Nº de ref. de la librería AA29780751539011

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Descripción Sphere 2008-10-16, 2008. Estado de conservación: New. Brand new book, sourced directly from publisher. Dispatch time is 24-48 hours from our warehouse. Book will be sent in robust, secure packaging to ensure it reaches you securely. Nº de ref. de la librería NU-GRD-00490044

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Descripción Little, Brown Book Group, United Kingdom, 2012. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. The early twelfth century is a time for ambitious men to prosper - and royal servant John FitzGilbert is one of them. But when the old king dies and his successor is appointed, John s position at court is weakened and his wife, the pious, pliant Aline, is hopelessly unequipped to deal with a life lived on the edge.John knows the only way to protect his lands and his children is to divorce Aline. He meets his match in new wife Sybilla, daughter of his enemy Patrick of Salisbury, as she possesses a strength and courage that equals his own. But when Sybilla s son, William, is seized by the king, John is forced to make a terrible sacrifice. Sometimes keeping your honour means breaking your word . . . Nº de ref. de la librería AA29780751539011

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Descripción Sphere. Estado de conservación: New. 2008. Paperback. The story of William Marshal's father is captured in this first novel in a spellbinding standalone trilogy, by award-winning novelist Elizabeth Chadwick. Series: William Marshal. Num Pages: 560 pages. BIC Classification: FV. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 198 x 128 x 36. Weight in Grams: 366. . . . . . Books ship from the US and Ireland. Nº de ref. de la librería V9780751539011

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