From the critically-acclaimed author of The Fionavar Tapestry comes an epic fantasy novel of love, both courtly and forbidden, and two kingdoms endlessly opposed...
Blaise of Gorhaut is a warrior. He fought for his king and country, until the king died with an arrow in his eye at the battle of Iersen Bridge, and a dishonorable treaty ceded a good part of his country to foreign hands. He has broken relations with his father, adviser to the king of Gorhaut, and abandoned the use of his family name.
Now, Blaise is a mercenary. He never expected to work for the lords of Arbonne, the warm, fertile lands south of Gorhaut, whose people praise the love of women—they even worship a goddess, instead of the god. They are a soft people, or so he thought. But for all their nonsense about love, their troubadours and songs, they will fight for their country, when invasion comes from the north.
Based on the troubadour culture that rose in Provence during the High Middle Ages, this panoramic, absorbing novel beautifully creates an alternate version of the medieval world. As in Tigana , it is a world with two moons. The matriarchal, cultured land of Arbonne is rent by a feud between its two most powerful dukes, the noble troubador Bertran de Talair and Urte de Miraval, over long-dead Aelis, lover of one, wife of the other and once heir to the country's throne. To the north lies militaristic Gorhaut, whose inhabitants worship the militant god Corannos and are ruled by corrupt, womanizing King Ademar. His chief advisor, the high priest of Corannos, is bent on wiping out the worship of a female deity, whose followers live to the south. Into this cauldron of brewing disaster comes the mysterious Gorhaut mercenary Blaise, who takes service with Bertran and averts an attempt on his life. The revelation of Blaise's lineage and a claim for sanctuary by his sister-in-law set the stage for a brutal clash between the two cultures. Intertwined is the tale of a young woman troubadour whose role suggests the sweep of the drama to come. Kay creates a vivid world of love and music, magic and death in a realm that resembles ours but is just different enough to enrich the fantasy genre. 25,000 first printing; major ad/promo.