|Image courtesy of Wikipedia|
The book is Huw the Bard, and she's bringing us back to her bawdy, bittersweet medieval universe.
First, a taste of what's in store for the lucky readers:
Despite his best efforts, he’d become rather seedy-looking, and his clothes now sported stains he couldn’t remove. Few people would give him work much less a meal, thinking him a ne’er-do-well who might rob them of their valuables.
At last, he managed to make his way to the town of Lumley, which marked the nearest border between the duchies of Grefyn and Weyllyn. Lumley answers to the Grand Duke Weyllyn. I should be safe enough here, he thought. But just as he was about to step out of the hedge and onto the high road, a troop of mail-clad Crows appeared riding down the road in the distance, all bravado and noise. Ah. This is why game has been scarce the last week. The Grefyn saves his gold by making his Crows live off the land and the poor must starve. I remember hearing he makes them sleep in the stables when they come to an inn. They have to buy their own ale and because of his parsimony, they bully everyone and take what they want rather than pay for it.
Settling back into his hedge, Huw waited until long after dark before finally making his way to the backdoor of the Spotted Dog, an inn where he’d spent many an evening with his harp while traveling from house to house in the old days as a journeyman. Knocking quietly, he waited in the dark, hoping Glyn had heard his tap.
When the door was opened, it was with shock he saw his host. Glyn’s face bore many fresh bruises, and his left eye was swollen shut. “Who is it?” The cleaver in his hand gleamed in the light of the kitchen.
“It’s me, Huw Owyn,” Huw replied, horror tingeing his voice. Someone had beaten Glyn mercilessly.
Glyn’s fist reached out and pulled him into the light. “You’re not welcome here,” he whispered, upon seeing it was truly Huw standing there. “There are Crows nesting in this town, looking for your sort, and they’re not being gentle about it.” Abruptly releasing him, Glyn said, “Wait a moment. I’ve a bite to spare for you.” The man turned back to the kitchen and returned with something in his hand. Thrusting a trencher of bread filled with stew at Huw, Glyn firmly shut the door in his face.
Huw vanished into the darkness. Crouching under shrubs in the shadows outside the city walls, Huw said a quick prayer of thanks and a blessing for poor Glyn, who’d tried to help him despite the presence of Crows in his common room. Then he ate every last scrap, feeling the pain of hunger diminish with each mouthful. He’d never tasted anything so good in his life. When he finished, Huw ghosted among the piles of refuse and the privies in the alleys of Lumley, making his way out of town as silently as he was able.
*****And here's what the book is about:
Huw Owyn is the last true bard in Waldeyn.
Fleeing a burning city,
Everything he ever loved in ashes behind him,
Penniless and hunted, no place is safe.
Abandoned and alone, eighteen-year old Huw the Bard must somehow survive
It’s two-hundred leagues to safety,
And then two-hundred more.