Book Title: The Anarchy
Series: Conquest, Book 3
Author: Tracey Warr
Publication Date: 2nd June 2020
Publisher: Impress Books
Page Length: 218 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction/ Historical Romance
Unhappily married to Stephen de Marais, the Welsh princess, Nest, becomes increasingly embroiled in her countrymen’s resistance to the Norman occupation of her family lands. She plans to visit King Henry in the hope of securing a life away from her unwanted husband, but grieving for the loss of his son, the King is obsessed with relics and prophecies.
Meanwhile, Haith tries to avoid the reality that Nest is married to another man by distracting himself with the mystery of the shipwreck in which the King’s heir drowned. As Haith pieces together fragments of the tragedy, he discovers a chest full of secrets, but will the revelations bring a culprit to light and aid the grieving King?
Will the two lovers be united as Nest fights for independence and Haith struggles to protect King Henry?
The Daughter of the Last King (Book 1) – https://geni.us/LPF1
The Drowned Court (Book 2) – https://geni.us/ddAFsas
The Anarchy (Book 3) – https://geni.us/274ZX
Tracey Warr, Conquest III: The Anarchy, Impress Books, 2020
We were all up with the lark in the morning but so was the rest of the household and a great deal of clattering and neighing broke through the swirling morning mist that lifted and lowered around the castle courtyard in waves. The air was damp and Amelina forecast more rain. Readying to dress me, she laid out an oiled riding cloak and heavy boots. She would remain at the castle and wait for my return, but I asked Ida to accompany me and keep her face well concealed. ‘It’s too dangerous,’ she gasped.
‘I have a notion,’ I told her as we stood at the window watching Breri leave to continue his journey into Wales. Through the swirling mist, we glimpsed his flamboyant hat and his back, as he swayed in the saddle, disappearing down the road.
‘I have an idea about this threat.’ In response to her inquisitive glance, I continued. ‘While Breri is in Pembroke, you are at great risk in Wales. I’m thinking you might be safer at Henry’s court for a while.’
‘What are you talking about, Nest!’
‘Henry would not betray you to the Church. I assure you that he will find the notion of a renegade nun a great amusement, and he was very grateful to you for nursing him through his sickness before.’
Ida’s expression showed her hesitation at my idea. ‘But then, I would have to leave you.’
‘Not for ever, just until we are sure that Breri is no threat.’
‘I believe Breri would have no compunction in betraying me for a handful of coin.’
‘Whereas the king would protect you.’
‘I don’t know, Nest.’
‘I have two motives, I confess. I think the king needs you, Ida. I was a little concerned at his speech last night on prophecies of death and births. Perhaps you could help keep him stable, keep him well?’
She nodded, but her face showed her reluctance and anxiety at the risk we would run in exposing her situation to the king.
Amelina’s prediction was true, and we rode for half an hour through sheets of cold rain that blustered at our cloaks, penetrated beneath the brims of our hats and under our collars, slid wet fingers inside the tops of our boots. ‘You’ll be regretting this, Nest!’ Henry laughed.
‘I hope not, sire.’ First, I saw the long, curving line of the grey wall of the deer park running far across the fields, as far as the eye could see. We trotted through the gateway into the park and the trees gave us some respite from the downpour. Then, the hunting lodge came into view through the trees. Halting before the lodge, two of the king’s men came to help Ida and me dismount. We ran for the shelter of the door. ‘Stay close to me,’ I told Ida in a low voice.
‘Come in, Nest, and ….’ Henry turned, holding his hand out to me. Ida stood close behind me with her face swathed in a veil. He stopped mid-sentence at the sight of her, thinking that I had come alone, perplexed that my chaperone persisted in accompanying me even into private conversation with him. I pulled her fully into his chamber and closed the door behind us. The king had already discarded his sopping cloak and Ida and I followed suit. Then Ida slowly removed the veil that was moulded wet to the contours of her face.
‘Sister Benedicta … Haith’s sister,’ Henry said slowly.
‘Yes.’ She cast her eyes to the ground and Henry looked at me bewildered.
‘You are a long way from Fontevraud.’ I saw his eyes roving over her clothing. ‘And from your nun’s habit.’
‘Sister Benedicta is known as Ida de Bruges now,’ I told Henry. He opened his eyes wide to me and then to her, but she only glanced briefly at him, her face flushed. ‘She has temporarily left … she is on an extended pilgrimage.’
‘I see.’ Henry’s voice was loaded with amusement. I was relieved to find that my prediction about his reaction was correct.
‘Henry, I have two favours to ask of you.’ I spoke quickly.
‘Ask away.’ He was chuckling openly now at Ida.
‘Would you keep Ida with you, in your court for a while, and safeguard her. She is at risk of exposure as a runaway nun, and I want to protect her from that.’
‘I would, certainly,’ he assented warmly. ‘I owe her a great deal.’
Ida thanked him quietly.
‘And would you sign my charter and ask witnesses for it from your household members breaking fast in the next room.’
He narrowed his eyes, distracted for a moment from his amusement at Ida’s renegade status. ‘Hmm. You wish to be away from your husband, Nest?’
I did not respond. ‘Very well. It is the least I can do for you, my beloved.’ He took my hand and I let him.
‘I would have it in writing,’ I persisted.
He rummaged in the saddle bag that he had brought in with him and produced my rolled charter. He unrolled it on the table, weighting it at either end with two stones that were left on the table for just such a purpose. He read it through again, and looked up at us both, his eyes glinting with humour. He took a few steps to the door, opened it a crack and called out, ‘Give me a stylus, quick.’ He closed the door and returned, stylus in hand to stare again at my charter spread out on the table.
‘Was it a man?’ he asked Ida, without looking up from his perusal of my charter.
Ida kept her lips tightly pressed together and her gaze directed at her feet.
He signed the charter with a flourish. ‘My scribe will see this witnessed for you, Nest, and sealed with the royal seal.’ Now he looked up. ‘I have no doubt it was a man,’ he said to Ida, smiling delightedly at us both, and holding the charter out to me.
Tracey Warr (1958- ) was born in London and lives in the UK and France. Her first historical novel, Almodis the Peaceweaver (Impress, 2011) is set in 11th century France and Spain and is a fictionalised account of the true story of the Occitan female lord, Almodis de la Marche, who was Countess of Toulouse and Barcelona. It was shortlisted for the Impress Prize for New Fiction and the Rome Film Festival Books Initiative and won a Santander Research Award. Her second novel, The Viking Hostage, set in 10th century France and Wales, was published by Impress Books in 2014 and topped the Amazon Australia charts. Her Conquest trilogy, Daughter of the Last King, The Drowned Court, and The Anarchy recount the story of a Welsh noblewoman caught up in the struggle between the Welsh and the Normans in the 12th century. She was awarded a Literature Wales Writers Bursary. Her writing is a weave of researched history and imagined stories in the gaps in history.
Tracey Warr studied English at University of Hull and Oxford University, gaining a BA (Hons) and MPhil. She worked at the Arts Council, Institute of Contemporary Arts, Chatto & Windus Publishers, and edited Poetry Review magazine with Mick Imlah. She also publishes art writing on contemporary artists, and in 2016 she published a future fiction novella, Meanda, in English and French, as part of the art project, Exoplanet Lot. She recently published a series of three books, The Water Age, which are future fiction and art and writing workshop books – one for adults and one for children – on the topic of water in the future. She gained a PhD in Art History in 2007 and was Guest Professor at Bauhaus University and Senior Lecturer at Oxford Brookes University and Dartington College of Arts. Her published books on contemporary art include The Artist’s Body (Phaidon, 2000), Remote Performances in Nature and Architecture (Routledge, 2015) and The Midden (Garret, 2018). She gained an MA in Creative Writing at University of Wales Trinity St David in 2011. She is Head of Research at Dartington Trust and teaches on MA Poetics of Imagination for Dartington Arts School.
Social Media Links:
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tracey-Warr/e/B0053YDVPE