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Sunday, May 27, 2012

I Serve: A Novel of the Black Prince by Rosanne E. Lortz

Genre: Historical Fiction

Setting: England and France, 1346 to 1360

First Sentence: It was an unusual sight these fifteen years and more to see a man traveling the road alone - especially  a solitary Englishman in the heart of the French countryside.

The Black Prince was a real person.  He was Edward of Woodstock and the Prince of Wales.  His father was King Edward III of England, and his son was King Richard II of England.  He died one year before his father, and became the first Prince of Wales not to succeed his father.  The action of this novel takes place about 20 years before Edward's death.

The main character of the story is Sir John de Potenhale.  At the beginning of the novel, Sir John is searching for Lady Jeanne de Virgey.  He is carrying a great treasure to give to her.  He finds her deep in prayer.  Before he can give her the treasure, Lady Jeanne asks him to explain by relating his story from the beginning.  Sir John tells the story of his knighthood.  Using the first person point of view, Sir John tells of his rise from squire to knight.  He tells of how Prince Edward, the Black Prince, knighted him.  Additionally,  he tells of his service to the prince, and the many battles he and the prince fought in.

There is a mystery to be solved.  What is the treasure and why is it so important for Sir John to bring it to Lady Jeanne?

There are two love stories.  Both the Prince and John have woman that they love.  They are prevented from marrying.  So, as chivalrous knights, they behave honorably.

The concept of chivalry is an important theme of this novel.  This is a time in history when knighthood was changing.  Knights were no longer just armed warriors.  Knights were becoming honorable, pious men.  Often, they would treat vanquished enemies with kindness and friendship.  Sir John learns about chivalry from Sir Geoffroi de Charney.  During a battle, Sir John captured Sir Geoffroi.  As was common in those days, high born prisoners were held for ransom.  As Sir Geoffroi was waiting to be ransomed, he and Sir John become friends.  From Sir Geoffroi's chivalrous actions in battle, Sir John learns a great deal about chivalry. 

I enjoyed reading this book.  I especially like the way the author used archaic English words to spice up the dialogue.  I read this book on Kindle and I made copious use of the dictionary function. 

The plot of this novel is interwoven with English and French history from this time period.  The author does a great job of relating the history without becoming dry or long winded.  In fact it was  a nice easy read.  I enjoyed it!

I Serve: A Novel of the Black Prince.

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