Helena Schrader's Historical Fiction

Dr. Helena P. Schrader is the winner of more than 20 literary accolades. For a complete list of her awards see: http://helenapschrader.com

For readers tired of clichés and cartoons, award-winning novelist Helena P. Schrader offers nuanced insight to historical events and figures based on sound research and an understanding of human nature. Her complex and engaging characters bring history back to life as a means to better understand ourselves.

Friday, January 26, 2018

"Encounter in a Seaside Tavern" - An Excerpt from "The Last Crusader Kingdom"

The Last Crusader Kingdom

"Encounter in a Tavern"
An Excerpt 

 In the stables, John first got Lord Aimery’s palfrey tacked up and then Centurion, while [his dog] Barry kept watch at the door warily. It seemed a long time before Lord Aimery loomed in the stable door, but he had their gear, and together they tied it on the pack horse. 
From the tavern came the sound of men grumbling and calling for their bills. “Closing time!” John whispered to Lord Aimery.

“They’ll all be coming out, then,” Lord Aimery drew the correct conclusion. “Hurry.”

John grabbed the lead of the pack horse and took Centurion by the bridle, while Lord Aimery took charge of his two horses. They made it out into the courtyard, but before they had a chance to mount, men spilled from the tavern into the yard.

“Mount!” Lord Aimery hissed at John, but before he could even get his foot in the stirrup one of the Greeks lunged at John, drawing a knife as he did so.

John saw the steel blade in the darkness and tried to jump aside, only to collide with the pack horse. He felt the blade hit his side and then slide over the rings of his hauberk. The man drew his arm back for a second strike as, with the clatter of hooves, Lord Aimery spurred forward, his sword raised. Most of the crowd fled to the safety of the building, but the attacker grabbed John by the throat of his hauberk with his left hand and swung him about, using John as his shield against Lord Aimery’s sword. John felt him draw back his right hand for a second stab. In his mind he registered that at this range his chain mail wouldn’t save him.

Suddenly his assailant was screaming in pain and terror as Barry sank his fangs deep into the man’s buttocks and dragged him away from John. Immediately Lord Aimery spurred past a dazed John and, leaning down from his saddle, swung his sword in a blow strong enough to nearly decapitate the would-be murderer.

As the man collapsed in a spume of his own blood, Lord Aimery turned his horse again, shouting to his still-dazed squire: “Mount!”

John turned, grabbed the near stirrup, and pulled himself up into the saddle. Lord Aimery spurred toward the exit to the stable yard with his destrier on the lead. Centurion leapt forward without awaiting any human instructions, and the pack horse followed out of habit. Barry brought up the rear at a lope, his tail in the air and his ears up -- as if he were enjoying himself for the first time since he’d acquired a new master.


Friday, January 19, 2018

Characters in the "Last Crusasder Kingdom": Barry

For the last entry in this series on the characters in the Last Crusader Kingdom, I want to look at John’s dog, Barry.

Barry doesn’t exactly have a “speaking” role in this novel, but he is an important character nevertheless. 

As explained in the novel, John had not been allowed a dog when a boy because he has spent most of his youth a refugee, living in cramped, urban housing rather than growing up in his father’s castle.  As a squire, he is at last allowed to have a dog. Barry therefore symbolizes his new-found independence from his parents, particularly his mother.

Significantly, Barry is a stray. John adopts him not for his beauty or prowess, but for his loyalty. Barry returns the favor by saving John’s life very early in the novel. Thereafter they are inseparable, sharing all adventures in their new life ― to the brink of causing a diplomatic incident.

It is, therefore, the moment when John -- of his own accord -- leaves Barry behind that the reader knows John has grown-up. In this coming-of-age novel that is a significant moment. 

Next week's entry, an excerpt from The Last Crusader Kingdom will feature Barry.