Friday, March 30, 2018

Blog Tour Excerpt: Lords of the Greenwood by Chris Thorndycroft

Lords of the Greenwood by Chris Thorndycroft

Publication Date: January 16, 2018
eBook; 469 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction/Medieval

Nottinghamshire, 1264.

England is on the brink of civil war. The barons are in revolt against King Henry III. Such times suit Roger Godberd, sergeant in the garrison at Nottingham Castle. After throwing in their lot with the barons who embark on a bloody campaign for control of England, Roger and his companions are betrayed and seek refuge in Sherwood Forest. There they begin their new lives as outlaws evading their old enemy, the High Sheriff of Nottinghamshire.

Yorkshire, 1320.

Wrongfully accused of murder, young Robert Hood of Wakefield finds himself outlawed with only his bitter enemy Will Shacklock for company. Taking to the woods of Barnsdale, Robert and Will agree on an uneasy truce and begin recruiting a band of robbers fleeing the chaos of the Earl of Lancaster’s rebellion against King Edward II. Eventually drawing the attention of the king himself, Robert and his band are given a choice; be hanged as common criminals or enter the king’s service as agents of the crown…

Blending real history with medieval ballads this is the entwined saga of two men, separated by a generation, united by legend, who inspired the tales of England’s famous hooded outlaw.

Amazon | Smashwords


     The sheriff thought the potter’s reek had been bad. That was as roses to the stench of the man who sat on the edge of the table in his Great Hall. It was a rotten smell; of fungus and tree sap and mouldering leaves with a hint of carcasses. He was popping grapes into his mouth and washing them down with wine which he managed to spill with frequency down the front of his already soiled shirt.
     He was the most extraordinary man the sheriff had ever seen. He wore no maille or armour of any sort. Simple yeoman’s garments long overdue a soak served as his underlayer and a patchwork hide cloak hung from his shoulders. It was crudely stitched and poorly cured and the occasional tufts of black hair suggested that it had originally come from a horse. This assumption was confirmed by its hood which had two long ears that hung down the man’s back, shrivelled and twisted.
     By far the most bizarre part of the rogue’s attire was his helmet which he had removed upon entering the hall and placed on the table where its unblinking gaze kept catching the sheriff’s eye. It was a battered old thing crested with the skull of a young foal. The bottom tip of it pointed down and formed part of the nasal and, when it was placed on its owner’s head, it gave the man a nightmarish appearance that smacked uncomfortably of the pagan.
     “I must say, you come highly recommended,” the sheriff told the man, not knowing why he felt the urge to flatter him. There was something unnerving about the man that suggested he should be kept on good terms.
     “I’m a hunter,” said the man, wiping his mouth on a dirty sleeve, “and I keep hunting until I get my kill.” He set the wine goblet down on the table and grinned wide. His blackened teeth were not a sight for a weak stomach. “But my services are at a premium, sheriff.”
     “Yes, as to that, what figure were you considering?”
     “Two hundred pounds for Hood’s head, body and soul.”
     The sheriff snorted. “Two hundred pounds? For a simple bounty hunting job?”
     “Simple jobs are for simple men. And you have those by the score. No, this hobhood is something special. The name is bestowed upon every fool who finds himself on the wrong side of the law with nothing but the forest to keep him from a hanging but, every once in a while, one comes along truly deserving of the name. I understand he caused you some considerable personal inconvenience.”
     There was a half-smile on those ugly lips and the sheriff stiffened. He didn’t care how much this bounty hunter unnerved him, he would take no cheek from a yeoman-turned-thief taker. The memory of his ransoming still burned his pride sorely. Half the shire was privy to it and his name was accompanied by a chuckle whenever it was spoken from tavern to tannery. But by God, he would rectify that soon enough. There would be precious few chuckles once Robert Hood and his band were dangling in York’s marketplace.
     “Fifty pounds,” he said. “For the whole band.”

     The bounty hunter sighed and slid down from the table. He was a short man but stout and swarthy. He set down his wine goblet. “I’ll come back when you are a little more serious.”
     “Very well, I’ll pay twenty pounds for him dead and fifty for him alive. Plus ten for each of his band, dead or alive, your choice. That’s a hundred and fifty for the whole band if all goes to plan.”
     The bounty hunter considered this. “Done. I’ll need men.”
     “How many?”
     “Six should do it. They shall be my hounds to flush out the game bird for my arrow. Their salaries will be paid by you and not subtracted from my bounty.”
     “Fine. I expect quick work from you, sir. My acquaintance in York says that you apprehended that rogue money lender with a certain degree of finesse and efficiency.”
     “He was still in the city, it has to be said,” the man replied. “And an old Jew does not provide so much sport as a fully-grown hobhood. This chase promises to be most entertaining.” 
     “Just as long as it doesn’t take too long. I want Hood hanged as soon as humanly possible. Go now, and wait in my guest quarters. I will have my sergeant Oderic select six men suited to the task. And then you are to be on your way, bounty hunter.”
     The man grinned wide, retrieved his extraordinary helmet and slunk out of the hall without a word. The sheriff frowned. It was not so much that the man was disrespectful; rather he was indifferent to authority. He clearly saw no reason to bow or ‘sire’ the sheriff and the whole exchange had been as of one between two equals. That kind of confidence in a yeoman unsettled the sheriff but not half so much as his own reluctance to chastise the man for it.
     “Saints preserve us, what a reek your new friend carries with him!” Constance said as she entered the hall.
     The sheriff entertained the thought that she had been listening from the screens passage. Sly wench! How many times has she played that game?
     “I’ll have the servants burn some incense if it distresses you, my sweet,” he replied.
     “No matter, I am riding out shortly with Bess to give alms to the poor at the chapel at Yeadon. Have you your bounty hunter?”
     “I believe I have. If he is as good as his reputation he will bring Hood to me by the end of the month.”
     “Are you so sure that outlaws are your primary concern, husband? After all, your friend William de Aune is in dire need of reinforcements at Tickhill if he is to rebuff Lancaster.”
     The sheriff grimaced. Under pressure from the barons, the king had reluctantly banished the Despensers last August. In January the king had rescinded their banishment and they had returned, enraging Marcher Lords such as Roger de Mortimer and the northern barons. Lancaster had moved on Tickhill Castle and the sheriff had received orders to stop any Marcher Lords who might lend their aid to Lancaster from entering Yorkshire.
     “The stalemate at Tickhill shows no sign of breaking,” he said. “There is little I can do to help de Aune. I need men to uphold the law and I have few enough to spare as it is. The best I can do is to keep the king’s peace in Yorkshire. Civil war is breaking out in our midst and we can’t allow criminals to take advantage of the situation.”
     “Well, not common criminals, of course,” Constance replied. “Just the likes of John de Mowbray, Roger de Clifford and their ilk. William de Aune too, for that matter. He has all but stripped Doncaster of supplies.”
     “Supplies intended to help him withstand the siege,” the sheriff replied irritably. “Really, Constance, I sometimes wonder where your allegiances lie. To even mention de Aune in the same breath as those dogs should be punishable as treason.”
     “And yet I see very little difference in their actions other than in whose name they do them.”
     “And if I didn’t know better, I could swear that you think to turn my mind from hunting down those vile outlaws. Are you sure the presence of that oaf, John of Holderness, in their ranks has not softened you to them? He did cripple my old steward in defence of your name, after all. Or so you would have me believe. Do you feel you owe the man a debt?”
     “Husband, you let your injured pride speak instead of your sense. Would you be so insistent on hunting these creatures had they not held you for ransom?”
     “My pride is never better, I assure you. Outlaws should be hanged, that has always been my mind on the matter.”
     “Well, we had better hope that this bounty hunter of yours makes good on his promise. For the safety of the shire, of course. What did you say his name was?”
     “Gisburn. Guy de Gisburn.”

About the Author:

Chris Thorndycroft is a British writer of historical fiction, horror and fantasy. His early short stories appeared in magazines and anthologies such as Dark Moon Digest and American Nightmare. His first novel under his own name was A Brother's Oath; the first book in the Hengest and Horsa Trilogy. He also writes under the pseudonym P. J. Thorndyke. For more information, please visit Chris Thorndycroft's website. You can also find him on Twitter and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Friday, March 30
Excerpt at Let Them Read Books
Saturday, March 31
Feature at Passages to the Past
Monday, April 2
Guest Post at What Cathy Read Next
Tuesday, April 3
Review at 100 Pages a Day
Wednesday, April 4
Review at Pursuing Stacie
Friday, April 6
Guest Post at Katie’s Book Cave
Monday, April 9
Excerpt at What Is That Book About
Wednesday, April 11
Interview at Donna’s Book Blog
Friday, April 13
Excerpt at Teaser Addicts Book Blog
Monday, April 16
Review at Katie’s Book Cave
Wednesday, April 18
Review at WS Momma Readers Nook
Friday, April 20
Review at Historical Fiction with Spirit


During the Blog Tour we will be giving away two eBooks of Lords of the Greenwood! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules:

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on April 20th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
–Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
  Lords of the Greenwood


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