When one belongs to an author support group as I do, it's natural to read books written by friends made in that group. One of those authors is Oregonian, Amy Maroney. Amy has a flair not only for literature, but for art--specifically that of the Renaissance.
Amy's newest project is a series taking place on the Greek island of Rhodes. I was naturally curious about this book, since I travelled to Greece several times, researching my Antonius Trilogy. However, Amy's work takes place during the Renaissance when the Knights Hospitallar were basing their defenses on Rhodes, against the Ottoman Empire. I highly respect Amy's work, but I'm also rather excited that she's tackled an era and place that is so FRESH! Hardly anyone else has scratched the fictional surface of this region and period to bring the world a story from it.
Amy has done this and done it exceptionally well.
I hope all of my readers enjoy this choice excerpt from Amy's second book in her Sea and Stone Chronicles. I've now read both books written thus far in the series, and it's truly excellent.
Read ON, everyone!!!
All About Sea of Shadows by Amy Maroney
1459. A gifted woman artist. A ruthless Scottish privateer. And an audacious plan that throws them together—with dangerous consequences.
No one on the Greek island of Rhodes suspects Anica is responsible for her Venetian father’s exquisite portraits, least of all her wealthy fiancé. But her father’s vision is failing, and with every passing day it’s more difficult to conceal the truth.
When their secret is discovered by a powerful knight of the Order of St. John, Anica must act quickly to salvage her father’s honor and her own future. Desperate, she enlists the help of a fierce Scottish privateer named Drummond. Together, they craft a daring plan to restore her father’s sight.
There’s only one problem—she never imagined falling in love with her accomplice.
Before their plan can unfold, a shocking scandal involving the knights puts Anica’s entire family at risk. Her only hope is to turn to Drummond once again, defying her parents, her betrothed, even the Grand Master of the Knights himself. But can she survive the consequences?
With this captivating tale of passion, courage, and loyalty, Amy Maroney brings a lost, dazzling world to vivid life.
Sea of Shadows is Book 2 in a series of stand-alone historical novels packed with adventure and romance.
Sea of Shadows Excerpt
Drummond and Sir Peter led the way through the city gates to the Collachium, where most of the Order’s knights and servants lived. Their three companions trailed them, talking loudly amongst themselves in French as they took in the sights. A few passersby—pilgrims from Western Europe, by the looks of them—stopped to stare. Drummond eased his stride as they entered the Street of the Knights and climbed the curving hill to the grand master’s palace.
As usual on this street, the cobblestones were clean, swept morning and evening by servants in the employ of the knights. The new hospital lay to their left, still under construction. Just past the hospital on the right was the Inn of France. He craned his neck, admiring the windows fitted with tiny diamond-shaped panes of thick glass, the doorway framed by intricate stonework.
“It’s the best of the lot,” he remarked to Sir Peter.
“For my part, I prefer the simple comforts of our English inn. Though I’ll never tire of the sight of her.” Sir Peter’s gaze traveled to the statue of the Virgin Mary in a niche on the wall of the building.
“Aye,” Drummond said, one hand going to his amulet. “Bless the sainted lady.”
At the entrance to the palace, huffing a bit from the climb, they bypassed the queue of locals who milled about, hoping for an audience with the grand master.
“Poor sods,” Sir Peter said as they stepped around the crowd and filed through the palace gates. “Now that you’re here, they may not get their time with the big man.”
Drummond raised an eyebrow. “Is that what you call Lord de Milly these days?”
They reached the door leading to the formal chambers of the palace, where a young page awaited them.
“It’s no insult,” Sir Peter protested. “You can’t dispute the fact he’s nearly as tall as you. With the bones of an ox.”
“I’ll refrain from telling him you said that.”
Sir Peter’s eyes twinkled. “Saints praise you.”
“See you at the inn this evening,” Drummond said. “I hope your chess game has improved in the past month.”
“Be prepared to kiss your queen good-bye,” Sir Peter replied. “You’ll be so deep in your cups by the end of the night that you’ll use the chessboard as a pillow, I wager.”
Drummond scoffed. “No offense, but I’ll not be sleeping at the Inn of the English on this night or any other.”
“None taken, my friend.” Sir Peter inclined his head and turned on his heel.
Drummond and his charges followed the page through the door and down a shadowy corridor laid with squares of marble, then up a sweeping staircase. Torches burned at intervals on the walls. His companions had fallen silent, either cowed by the majesty of their surroundings or exhausted by their long journey.
After surrendering his weapons to a pair of guards, Drummond and the men were ushered into a small chamber near the cavernous receiving hall. The grand master spent many hours each week in a high-backed chair on a dais in that hall, hearing grievances, approving marriages, giving permission for men to free their slaves.
This study, in contrast, was a quiet, contemplative space. The wood-paneled walls were hung with colorful tapestries; stained-glass windows let in jewel-toned sunlight. Lord de Milly sat behind a desk flanked by two attendants. A falcon sat quietly on a perch nearby, a leather hood covering its eyes.
“Master Fordun, you are safely returned to us,” the grand master said to Drummond in French. “As are your companions.”
Drummond bowed, thanking God for his French mother and grandmother. “Yes, my lord.”
The grand master stood and came around the front of his desk. His gaze settled on the three men behind Drummond. They shuffled their feet nervously, hands clasped behind their backs.
“Well?” he demanded. “What do you have to say for yourselves?”
Only one of them had the courage to speak, the man who had wanted to send word home on the merchant ship from Narbonne.
“We were well-treated, my lord,” he ventured. “The infidels fed us, though not much meat. Mostly vegetables and biscuit. They took our tunics and boots and our swords—”
“You are fortunate to be alive.” The grand master advanced on the men, his eyes dark with fury. “Your swords are meant to protect Christendom—not the honor of merchants in Famagusta! I do not spend my days negotiating ransom agreements with the Mamluk Sultanate so I can send my best privateer across the sea to rescue the likes of you.”
The three young men hung their heads, terrified. No doubt they were imagining themselves tied to the whipping post by the Kastellania or locked up in its dark cells. Knights were sometimes flogged in public, but it was rare, especially for knights from the most powerful noble families of Europe. Drummond had no idea who these three men were, though, nor how valuable their families were to the Order. They were cargo to him, in the end, goods he had safely delivered.
“You will not return to your private residences,” said Lord de Milly in a cold, clipped tone. “You will sleep in a dormitory at the Inn of the French, and you will not leave the Collachium until further notice. You will hear mass at St. John’s Church each day, and you will assist the physicians in the hospital each afternoon, washing the feet of the ill and poor. You will not attend any social functions until I give permission for you to do so. I will assign pages, monks, and priests to observe your habits and report back to me, so do not think for a moment you can flout these rules. Is that clear?”
The three men stared wide-eyed at the grand master as the details of their punishment sank in. Drummond nearly laughed aloud at their indignant expressions. They must be quite rich, then. Only knights from the wealthiest families enjoyed the luxury of private homes.
“Yes, my lord,” said the knight who had spoken before. “Thank you, my lord.”
The other two repeated the words with sullen reluctance.
“Go now,” the grand master ordered them. “A guard will accompany you to the inn.” He glanced at Drummond. “Stay a moment longer, please.”
“As you wish, my lord.”
Amy Maroney, Author
Amy Maroney studied English Literature at Boston University and worked for many years as a writer and editor of nonfiction. She lives in Oregon, U.S.A. with her family. When she’s not diving down research rabbit holes, she enjoys hiking, dancing, traveling, and reading. Amy is the author of The Miramonde Series, an award-winning historical fiction trilogy about a Renaissance-era female artist and the modern-day scholar on her trail. Her new historical suspense/romance series, Sea and Stone Chronicles, is set in medieval Rhodes and Cyprus.
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