Book Title: King’s Warrior
Series: The Owerd Chronicles, Book #3
Author: James Gault
Publication Date: 18 July 2023
Page Length: 294 pages
Genre: Historical fiction
The Owerd Chronicles
In 11th Century England, King William has achieved almost total domination of the English and turns his attention to Scotland. Owerd, possibly the last of the Britons to be deemed ‘lord’, faces powerful enemies from all quarters. He seems to hold the king’s favour by a thread, which only serves to encourage others to try and bring him down.
Treachery abounds as he tries to juggle multiple roles and prove himself and his men worthy warriors for the Norman king. But will his lust for a woman finally prove his undoing?
Note from the author:
11th Century men and women were just as complex beings as we are today. Owerd, the main character in these chronicles is no different. In “King’s Warrior”, the third book of the series, he goes from violence (“…the air was filled with the clash of swords, angry shouts, and screams of the injured”) to compassion (“… Owerd had rarely, if ever, made love as tenderly as he did with Runa that night”) in the space of a day.
Happiness, fear, disgust, anger, pride and jealousy all play their part in Owerd’s character but what comes to the fore is courage, with perhaps a helping hand from fate – “wyrd” if you will.
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James is a semi-retired Naval Captain with an abiding interest in storytelling and history. He has written a few contemporary fiction stories and a history text but lately has concentrated on historical fiction. He lives in a small coastal town in SE Australia – which provides quite a challenge when addressing medieval England with the aid of an old school atlas.
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/jgault
‘That not be so simple my lord’.
The Cog “la Katerine” had been safely beached with the rest of the fleet and Owerd was now having difficulty with Godfrey, the Port Reeve. He had tracked him down merely to explain the movement of the vessel up the river and shown him the king’s letter of appointment as “Master of Mariners” which allowed him to seize goods or vessels as he saw fit.
‘The problem my lord, is that we Londoners have a charter from his majesty that states that there will be no royal interference in succession to property. This confiscation as you put it amounts to just that. We do not know who properly succeeds to ownership of the ship now that the Master and crew have disappeared. We will have to consult Bishop William’.
‘But the vessel is French, not of London’, claimed Owerd. He was becoming increasingly frustrated by the officialdom of London, which in any other place would simply be matters for the sheriff to resolve. London had no sheriff, but was administered by a powerful group of two dozen burgesses, with whom the local bishop seemed to hold sway.
The meeting with Bishop William was even worse.
‘I know that vessel’, the bishop said. He was an older Norman who looked very frail but was mentally alert. ‘Only this past week she delivered to me a consignment of wine from France. What happened to the master and crew?’
‘Three were killed in the attack on my compound, lord bishop; the master and two others found onboard were let go. I know not their present whereabouts’. Owerd was not about to complicate matters by clarifying exactly what he meant by “let go”.
‘You say a crime has been committed, Lord Owerd, and that crime occurred in London. A court will need to be convened to determine that matter. We could perhaps have that court sit in judgement next month. As the vessel and her owners are a party to that matter then the vessel must remain under the control of the city until the issue is resolved’.
‘But bishop we are under the king’s orders to be ready to sail north’. Owerd was internally fuming at what he saw as deliberate frustration of his intentions but trying, only partly successfully, to hide it.
‘You must appreciate, Lord Owerd that London town is reliant on trade and any disruption to that trade could have serious consequences’. The bishop began to look sly. ‘I suppose you could lease her from the town authority until we achieve a resolution’.
This was all boiling down to money and power thought Owerd, who had had enough of it. He knew exactly where most of any lease moneys would end up and that was with the bishop.
‘Thank you for your advice, lord bishop. I shall need to consult his majesty’s exchequer’, he said as politely as he could manage and departed for Westminster in a foul mood. His suspicion that Bishop William was “the bishop” that the vessel’s master Jacques had threatened him with was strong.
A short hard ride had his temper more contained as he entered the palace in search of Lord Richard to obtain instructions. He was waylaid by Brother John as he passed his sword to a page.
‘A few moments of you time, Owerd, if I may have a word. I thought it best to let you have the full picture myself as I doubt others will’.
John, as one of the king’s more senior Intelligencers, had access to details of national concerns that few others did. He explained that King William was increasingly worried about the intentions of King Malcolm of Scotland. In particular, the links he had formed with Edgar the Atheling (‘though never call him “atheling” in William’s hearing,’ he said) through marriage to Edgar’s sister Margaret.
‘There are already a host of Englisc nobles from Northumbria who have sought asylum in Scotland and doubtless Margaret is whispering to her bedmate about what a wonderful fellow king Edgar would make. Malcom has already been authorizing regular raids into Northumbria, at least in part to appease Edgar and his own warlike nobles who are thus distracted from fighting each other. Malcom almost certainly has his eye on control of Northumbria itself and discontent up there after Odo’s harrying does not help William. He will take his army north but you must appreciate from the start that he cannot afford a major battle. His army is not that strong and, were he to lose a battle he could possibly lose England, but if Malcolm lost then the Scot’s army would simply vanish into the hills like the Waelisc. Our king will seek to have Malcom cowed but without resort to a major battle. I trust that will help in any decisions you need to make’.
‘Thank you, John; you have always been a source of sage advice. I am having difficulties enough here with the complexities of authority in London town’.
Having explained the issue over the French Cog, Owerd was pointed in the direction of a good-looking young clerk named Ranulf who worked directly for Bishop Odo. Having been waved over by Brother John, that man listened attentively to Owerd’s story and thought the problem through for a few moments.
‘My lord, you will doubtless be aware that your name is not popular amongst my lord bishop’s company. He is, however, presently acting temporarily as his majesty’s justiciar and he can be a fair man. If he sees this as I do, as originating in an attack on the king’s own forces then I expect that he will likely take your part. May I ask who has possession of this vessel presently?’
‘I do,’ replied Owerd.
‘Then that is already a strong position to be in my lord. I suggest that you continue treating the vessel as a lawful confiscation and if my lord bishop takes a different view then I will notify you as a matter of urgency.