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The Guild of Salt and the King's Messenger

England Is On The Brink of War

Robin Isard

AD 1173.

England is on the brink of war. Loyalties are divided across the nation and nobody is safe.

Young acolyte, Ralph and his friend, Harold, are thrust into the chaos of the warring factions when they are tasked to deliver a vital message to the Royalist forces.

Esmé, a young noblewoman, sets out on a quest to recover her inheritance while escaping the abusive grasp of her betrothed.

The travellers cross paths and form an unlikely alliance. But as the land becomes increasingly lawless and filled with danger, will the bond of their friendship prove strong enough when faced with the harsh realities and brutal savagery of a revolt against King Henry II Plantagenet?

Book Excerpt or Article

“This man was a messenger of the King, one of his heralds. Look at him. He didn’t fall from his horse, Ralph. The war overseas, the revolt against the king, it isn’t over, as people this side of the channel believe.” Ralph stood in shock, his third of the night.

For the better part of a year, war had raged in northern France. This wasn’t unusual, but the thunderclap at the core of the conflict was its origin: the king’s own son had raised a hand to his father’s cheek. Henry II — the King the Father — had been attacked by his eldest, Henry, the King the Son. Eighteen years old and impatient for power, his vanity made a virtue by the French king, the Young King had revolted.

The Old King met the onslaught in France. He resolved to defend his ancestral home, the spiritual centre of the Plantagenet dynasty, Anjou, and the 15 Old King savaged his enemies. By the autumn, he’d broken the rebels, and the kings — Father and Son — reconciled. So said the news from France over the last few months.

“But —” sputtered Ralph.

“But Robert, Earl of Leicester feels humiliated by the Old King, and he’s determined to square the account. At the peace accord, where all combatants gathered to witness Father and Son exchange the kiss of peace, Leicester fell to arguing with the Old King. He even attempted to draw a weapon in the Presence. He had to be dragged from the room. Unfortunately, he managed to escape to Flanders before judgment could be passed on him.

Sir Bertram came face to face with the young scribe. “Ralph. We know the Earl’s plans. Our spies — merchants, messengers — tell us he’s gathered an army in Flanders. And ships enough to carry them.”

Ralph looked around the room. Everyone seemed to be looking at him. He snapped his mouth shut, only just realizing it was open.

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Robin Isard is a faculty librarian and archivist at a small liberal arts university in Canada.

He studied history at Western University and started his library career working at the Washington DC public library as Head of Intranet Development.

Following that, he lived many years overseas, primarily in West Africa building IT infrastructure in The Republic of the Gambia, Sierra Leone, Guinea Bissau and Guinea Conakry. He also worked in Ethiopia and Uganda on a telehealth project on behalf of The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada.

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