Queen Of KnightsBy: David Wind
To Kate Duffy. (1953—2010) —for the trust to let me free my mind.
To Tony Chilton—resident expert in arms and armor for the BBC —for sharing his devastating wealth of knowledge with me in Hay-on-Wye, Wales.
To Roberta Gellis—the first lady of historical fiction—for allowing me not only to
pick her brain, but her extensive research library as well
To Leslie O’Gwin Rivers—for her invaluable aid as my researcher.
To Frank Yerby, Rafael! Sabatini, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and Andre (Mary Alice) Norton, to name but a few—who through their novels taught me the meaning of adventure, speculation, history, and fantasy.
To Julia Coopersmith — who believed when others did not.
And to all the wonderful people in England and Wales who helped me with my research and aided me in my travels.
What People Are Saying about Queen Of Knights
"Historical fiction and fantasy…Outstanding!"—Andre Norton
“QUEEN OF KNIGHTS is an unusual fantasy in which history as well as fiction dances to the author’s piping.”—Roberta Gellis, author of the Rosalynde Chronicles
"The writing of this book draws a reader in. The story is told almost mythically.... In the end, it was a fun read!"—Amazon.com review
On the Estate of
Sir Hughes Kildrake, Duke of Devonshire,
at the Pool of Pendragon
The sun glanced daringly across the calm waters of the forest pool as a young woman stood near its edge. The cool water beckoned to her and, as if in a trance, she disrobed and entered.
She was a maiden of beauty, a true daughter of the land of England. Her complexion was fair, with sapphire-blue jewels for eyes, and raven hair that gleamed boldly against the milky whiteness of porcelain skin. The birds who sat upon the branches of the forest trees sang sweet tunes whilst they watched Gwyneth, daughter of Sir Hughes Kildrake, barely ten and six years, welcome the first warmth of summer by entering the pool.
This part of the forest, since earliest memory, had always been called the Pool of Pendragon. Here, it is said, King Arthur and his queen rested and played in the days of the first Lord of Devonshire (Sir Hughes’s great ancestor, Byron of Kildrake, first Duke of Devonshire), who had been granted these lands by his Majesty Arthur, and dubbed by the sword Excalibur.
And now, centuries later, in the almost mystical pool, the youngest of the line of Kildrake, Gwyneth, daughter of Hughes, lay on the shallow rock bottom, her eyelids half shuttered and her mind in a dreamlike state while she remembered the words of the old seeress.
It had happened the night before when they had finished the evening meal and she and her mother, Ariel, had gone to the women’s chambers to work on their tapestries. As they worked and talked, an old woman had entered and come toward them. Gwyneth had seen her many times about the castle, but had never spoken with her. Yet her mother, Gwyneth knew, had spoken frequently with the strange old woman. The woman’s eyes, like the small black berries found in the farthest corner of her father’s lands, burned intensely into Gwyneth’s.
The woman’s name was unknown, but everyone called her the old one and whispered of ancient powers. They said she was a Druid priestess.
The old woman had come directly to them, and Gwyneth remembered clearly what had transpired, as if it were happening now, in the Pool of Pendragon.
“Through a mist of many-colored bands will come the father of your child. A giant among men, the last of his earthbound race. Gold will spill from his head and flow past his shoulders. His muscles will ripple with the strength of the mightiest bear, yet he will move with the grace of a running stag.
“His eyes will be the color of the early morning sky, and he will come to you, as if in a dream, and beget by you the lifeblood of a new race. Greatness will follow the issue of this union , greatness unknown ever before. Kings will bow low before the power and might and strength of this child when the child grows to adulthood.
“This child will be among the tallest in the land, with fair hair and a mind that grasps the unthinkable, and will turn the impossible into reality. Across the breadth of the world; valor and strength will be known of the issue of Kildrake, and the legend will grow.”
Last night, Gwyneth had tried to understand the meaning of the crone’s words, but had been unable to. Today brought no enlightenment. Her hand was promised to Malcolm of Kingsgrove, but he was short, wide, and of a dark, ruddy complexion. No child of golden hair and sky-blue eyes could be foretold. No child of stature and strength would come of that union .
In just three cycles of the moon she would wed. To leave this forest, this glade, this pool, and her home forever.