Tour: The Queen's Scribe (Sea and Stone Chronicles) by Amy Maroney
Book Title: The Queen’s Scribe
Series: Sea and Stone Chronicles
Author: Amy Maroney
Publication Date: April 25, 2023
Publisher: Artelan Press
Page Length: 388
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A broken promise. A bitter conflict. And a woman’s elusive chance to love or die.
1458. Young Frenchwoman Estelle de Montavon sails to Cyprus imagining a bright future as tutor to a princess. Instead, she is betrayed by those she loves most—and forced into a dangerous new world of scheming courtiers, vicious power struggles, and the terrifying threat of war.
Determined to flee, Estelle enlists the help of an attractive and mysterious falconer. But on the eve of her escape, fortune’s wheel turns again. She gains entry to Queen Charlotta’s inner circle as a trusted scribe and interpreter, fighting her way to dizzying heights of influence.
Enemies old and new rise from the shadows as Estelle navigates a royal game of cat and mouse between the queen and her powerful half-brother, who wants the throne for himself.
When war comes to the island, Estelle faces a brutal reckoning for her loyalty to the queen. Will the impossible choice looming ahead be her doom—or her salvation?
With this richly-told story of courage, loyalty, and the sustaining power of love, Amy Maroney brings a mesmerizing and forgotten world to vivid life. The Queen’s Scribe is a stand-alone novel in the Sea and Stone Chronicles collection.
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Estelle’s eye was drawn by a spice purveyor’s stall. The merchant hawked his wares in the Cypriot dialect. Estelle understood many of his words, but one phrase he used made no sense to her. He pointed to a ceramic dish of red powder and cried its name again. She moved closer still, peering at the substance.
Dragon’s blood, she realized with a start. Of course. It was a mainstay of her father’s recipes, proven to cure a variety of raptor ailments.
Her mind went to the princess’s pet merlin. Perhaps she could buy a small measure of dragon’s blood and concoct one of her father’s remedies for it. If it brought the falcon back to health, she might find favor with the princess.
“Kalimera, kyrie,” she greeted the merchant in her most polite Greek. “I wish to buy a measure of dragon’s blood.”
“This is the last of it.” He reached for the dish. “You’re in luck. One measure. Eighty cartzias.”
She shook her head, frowning. “I’ll give you thirty and no more.”
As she spoke, something behind her distracted the merchant.
“Kalimera, kyrie!” he sang out, his face breaking into a huge grin.
Estelle turned her head to see a young man approach, his hand raised in greeting.
The merchant bowed. “By the Holy Virgin,” he exclaimed. “It’s been an age. What can I do for you today?”
The newcomer smiled. His teeth were startlingly white against his copper-brown skin, and his prominent cheekbones and strong jaw could have been chiseled by a stone mason. Estelle studied him with open curiosity. He was dressed in a doublet and hose, like a Latin man, but his curly black hair was partially covered by a Cypriot-style cap.
“We’re in need of dragon’s blood.” The young man drew abreast of Estelle. “Give me all you can spare, if you would.”
The merchant showed him the dish of red powder. “It will be my pleasure.”
“But I asked for it first!” Estelle gave the spice purveyor an indignant glare.
“You said you’d only pay thirty.” The merchant did not meet her eyes, but poured the entire dish’s contents into a flax cloth pouch and bound it tightly. “That’s insulting.”
“It’s the custom to haggle,” she protested. “Only a fool would accept the first stated price.”
The young man turned to her. “What use does a Latin woman have for dragon’s blood?” he asked, a hint of amusement in his voice.
He regarded her in silence, a half-smile quirking his mouth, his eyes glowing at her with startling intensity. Were they green or gray? The light in the stall was shadowy; it was impossible to tell.
She finally managed to speak. “Women find the herb as useful as men, no matter where we come from.”
Memories of Maman navigating crowded marketplace stalls flooded her mind. Estelle had learned to barter in Rhodes Town at her mother’s side, watching Maman purchase fine cloth from merchants in Rhodes Town for shipment to various ports in Western Europe. She did not possess her mother’s fiery temperament or golden-haired beauty, but she could be bold when she needed to.
“Kyrie,” she said sharply to the merchant, the word ringing out above the buzz of the marketplace crowd. “I was first, remember?”
He ignored her.
Estelle rapped her knuckles against the table holding his wares. “From now on, I’ll see to it that Princess Charlotta’s spices come from some other merchant!”
He looked up, startled. “What do you mean by this?”
“I mean that if you had not been so rude, you would have become known as the spice purveyor who saved Princess Charlotta’s pet falcon from certain death.”
The men exchanged a bemused glance as if they had a private joke between them.
“That’s quite a claim to make.” The young man chuckled. “You sound like someone who can spin a tale, though. Impressive powers of exaggeration.”
“How dare you mock me?” she demanded.
Without responding, he removed his purse from his belt and tipped a few silver coins into the merchant’s palm. The merchant passed the pouch to him and bowed. Estelle watched the exchange with rising frustration. She could have been invisible for all they cared.
“May you melt like wax, both of you!” she snapped in French, hastening from the spice stall directly into the path of several armed men dressed in purple-and-black livery. One of them pushed her roughly out of the way in his haste to follow his companions.
She tumbled back, losing her balance. But someone arrested her fall with strong arms, his voice quiet in her ear.
“Careful, mademoiselle. These streets are full of surprises.” The young man from the spice stall steadied her, grinning. “Lucky for you, I’m quick on my feet.”
She wrenched free of his grasp. “I don’t think you heard me in there. I told you to melt like wax!”
The French words exploded from her like cannon shot. They would have little impact on a Cypriot, but it felt good to unleash them.
He threw back his head and laughed. To her astonishment, he said in beautiful French, “I’ve lived in Cyprus my whole life. If I were in danger of melting, I’d have done it long ago, mademoiselle.”
891 word excerpt from
The Queen's Scribe
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Amy Maroney studied English Literature at Boston University and worked for many years as a writer and editor of nonfiction. She lives in Oregon, U.S.A. with her family. When she’s not diving down research rabbit holes, she enjoys hiking, dancing, traveling, and reading.
Amy is the author of The Miramonde Series, an Amazon-bestselling historical mystery trilogy about a Renaissance-era female artist and the modern-day scholar on her trail. Amy’s award-winning historical adventure/romance series, Sea and Stone Chronicles, is set in medieval Rhodes and Cyprus.
An enthusiastic advocate for independent publishing, Amy is a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors and the Historical Novel Society.
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Amazon Author Page:https://www.amazon.com/stores/Amy-Maroney/author/B01LYHPXEO