Prue Battaon’s Gisborne: Book of Pawns is set in 12th Century England. The heroine, Ysabel Moncrrieff, has lived in Cazenay, Aquitaine, for eight years, enjoying dancing, singing, hunting and gaming – all the typical high society events. She has not seen her home in Moncrieff, England, during this time. Her mother visited yearly. The last time Ysabel sees her mother alive is 2 years previous. Her fairytale life comes to abrupt ruination with a letter from her father informing her that her mother has passed on. Ysabel is devastated.
Guy of Gisborne, her father’s steward, arrives to escort Ysabel back to Moncrieff immediately. They set out on their journey the next day. Ysabel is uncertain what will greet her upon her return home. Her father has been largely absent from her life, but she longs to be close to her mother’s spirit and her presence in the castle through her mother’s belongings.
Guy of Gisborne is an enigma. A man of knowledge but servant. Ysabel and Guy have differing opinions on issues, such as the Crusades, and spend much time debating. As quickly as he is willing to converse with her, he is just as apt to ignore her. Ysabel is confused yet feels there is a thread between them. Confusion turns to anger and discord.
I pushed past my father’s steward but could not avoid the last word. “Lady Ysabel, Gisborne. Lady Gisborne”
But the point was his as the velvet voice rumbled behind me.
“You spoiled little bitch.”
Gisborne’s past intrigues Ysabel and she is determined to discover his secrets. Her bantering with familiar Moncrieff escorts is shattered when their group is attacked by felons and 2 of her escort are slain. During the scuffle Ysabel warns Guy of impending death and slays his assailant. Gisborne nows considers he owes Ysabel a life debt.
Gisborne and Ysabel must carry on with their journey, devoid of an escort or the supplies stolen by the bandits. With just the two of them, Ysabel is determined to pry Gisborne’s past out of him.
On a rest stop in LeMans to recuperate and purchase new supplies, Ysabel spys Gisborne conversing with a man who Ysabel instantly distrusts, a man who persistently turns up in unlikely places. A man who appears to have dishonest intents and Gisborne seems to be in cohorts with him. This convinces Ysabel Gisborne does not have her best interests at heart at crucial times.
On the next portion of their journey Ysabel learns from Gisborne the true state of affairs at Moncrieff; circumstances are dire and difficult choices have to be made.
Gisborne: Book of Pawns does have the label historical romance attached. This is not a true romance where boy and girl meet and dislike turns to love. This is a fabulous novel where Batton creates non-stop adventures and gripping dangers. Yes, there is a dash of romance, but it is not central to the story. I was utterly entralled with this book and thoroughly impressed with the author’s ability to invent a story world peopled with believable characters set within a genuine era.
My jaw dropped in disappointment when I read “To be continued…” on the last page. Now I have to wait for the next installment, which is apparently in the works. Patience is not one of my virtues.
MY RATING: 4/5 Stars (Excellent)
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