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By Anne O'Brien

An blameless pawn 

A nation with no king 

A new dynasty will reign… 

1415. The jewel within the French crown, Katherine de Valois, is ready lower than lock and key for King Henry V. whereas he is been slaughtering her kinsmen in Agincourt, Katherine has been praying for marriage to save lots of her from her distress. however the brutal king wishes her crown, now not her blameless love. 

For Katherine, England is a lion's den of greed, avarice and distrust. And while she is widowed at twenty-one, she turns into a prize ripe for the taking—her younger son the long run monarch, her hand in marriage worthy a kingdom. 

it is a lethal political online game, one the dowager queen needs to examine quickly. The players—the Duke of Gloucester, Edmund Beaufort and Owen Tudor—are circling. Who can have her? Who will smash her? this can be the tale of Katherine de Valois. 

 

"Anne O'Brien has joined the particular membership of fine old novelists."  —Sunday Express 

"An completely gripping story that's either beautifully written and  meticulously researched."  —The sunlight

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Yet first, ahead of I observed Henry back, I knew i need to become aware of the reality to a few unanswered questions. After months of inaction, i used to be swept with a wish to notice what used to be hidden, and maybe to construct a few bridges. It was once certainly not what I had anticipated whilst, observed by means of a magnificent escort, together with either Gloucester and Bishop Henry, I made a bid to find all i may approximately Henry’s imprisoned stepmother and the troubling prophecy. Leeds fort, a gorgeous little gem set in a sapphire lake created by means of encircling fingers of a river, the waters reflecting the blue of the sky, was once no grim dungeon for Madam Joanna. A gentle imprisonment—yet nonetheless, all in all, it used to be an imprisonment if she lived lower than the custody of Sir John Pelham, as Bishop Henry trained me, and used to be now not loose to commute. i used to be either intrigued and concerned. What may this stopover at demonstrate approximately Madam Joanna—or certainly approximately Henry? We have been introduced into her chamber: Joanna of Navarre, Queen Dowager of britain and moment spouse of Henry’s father. She didn't upward push from her chair while Gloucester and Bishop Henry kissed her cheeks with noticeable fondness. and that i observed why she didn't stand whilst she put an affectionate hand on Gloucester’s sleeve. stylish she will be, her natural white hair coiffed, the folds of her houppelande wealthy with embroidered panels, jewels glowing at neck and wrist, yet her palms have been crippled into claws and her shoulders inflexible, and any move deepened the traces among her brows. ache though, i used to be welcomed with a grin and a speculative regard from direct gray eyes. Entertained with song and wine, Gloucester and Bishop Henry proceeded to brighten up her lifestyles with information of court docket trivialities and a few touch upon what Henry was once doing in France. Madam Joanna absorbed all of it, then introduced with quiet authority: ‘I desire to communicate with Katherine. ’ And once we have been by myself, duke and bishop obediently departing: ‘Sit subsequent to me. I was hoping you are going to come and stopover at me. ’ I moved to the stool at her aspect. ‘I didn't fully grasp, my woman. ’ What a negative excuse it sounded even to my ears, and what an appalling state of affairs. ‘I didn't even know—’ ‘That i used to be a prisoner. ’ She accomplished my suggestion with astounding complacence. ‘Henry instructed me you selected to stay a quiet existence. ’ ‘Perhaps i'd, within the conditions. ’ She lifted her arthritic palms with a bit moue of distaste, earlier than permitting them to fall lightly again into her lap. ‘But this can be no selection. ’ Her smile was once wry and humourless, her eyes sharp, challenging a good reaction. ‘And doubtless you must comprehend why my stepson retains me below lock and key? ’ ‘Mistress Waring stated that…’ How may perhaps I voice anything so poor? ‘I was once accused of witchcraft. ’ Madam Joanna frowned as though the phrases pained her. ‘It is right. So i'm accused. Do you think it? ’ ‘I don’t be aware of. I don’t imagine Bishop Henry does. Or Gloucester. ’ Their hot acknowledgement of the Queen Dowager, their affection for her, couldn't be overlooked. ‘I don’t imagine Henry believes it either,’ Madam Joanna further dryly.

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