About Honour and the Sword

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A man without honour is no man at all…




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1636 - the height of the Thirty Years War, one of the bloodiest and most destructive conflicts Europe has ever seen. As the campaigning season begins, the Spanish armies swell out of the Artois region of the Netherlands – flooding into Louis XIII’s France.

The sleepy border village of Dax-en-roi stands in their way. Facing the overwhelming might of the Spanish forces, the Chevalier de Roland rallies a valiant defence, but his household guard are no match for the invaders. There is only one survivor as the Roland estate is razed to the ground, one soul who escapes the Spanish brutality: the lone heir to the Roland name, the Chevalier’s son André de Roland, the new Sieur of Dax…

Upon this young nobleman’s shoulders all hope lies. He alone must bear the honour of the Roland name and, with it, the fate of his people.

Honour and the Sword is unique in its field, in that the story is presented entirely through the actual historical documents preserved by the Abbé Fleuriot, which I have translated into modern English without any further commentary of my own.

We thus follow André’s adventures through the memoirs of Père Gérard, the parish priest, the diary of Anne du Pré, a young female hostage, and the transcripts of interviews conducted by the Abbé himself, the different voices providing a whole cast of characters with each their own light to shed on the story. These include Jacques the stable boy, Stefan the aggressive tanner, Jean-Marie the timid merchant’s son, Colin the pompous blacksmith, and Carlos the Spanish soldier who may or may not be telling all he knows...

I have deliberately adopted a modern, idiomatic approach to the translation so that the reader can follow the story with as much immediacy as André’s own contemporaries would have done. Anyone familiar with court records of the time will know that the beautifully written memoirs and letters of the period are no more an accurate reflection of how people actually spoke in everyday life than their equivalents would be today. They used slang and verbal tics just as much as we do, and in many ways their language was more graphic than our own. Honour and the Sword is therefore offered as history in the raw, with neither a commentator’s voice to tell the reader what to think, nor language difficulties to distance him from the characters. The reader is invited to become part of the world himself, and to make his own judgments on what happens there. Given the extraordinary unreliability of some of the narrators, this may not always be as easy as it seems.

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