Tuesday 5 May 2009

Slave To No Man – The First Bristol Chronicle – Synopsis

A tortured prisoner, waiting for death and an heir to an estate become unlikely allies in this story of betrayal and redemption, corruption and truth, based in and around the City of Bristol in the mid 1190s.

King Richard The Lionheart is in the Holy Land and Prince John is ignoring his promise to stay out of England, causing uncertainty amongst the law abiding citizens of England. The port of Bristol is an important and strategic place for him to plan a new assault on Ireland, a local baronet is keen to cement himself to the Prince and strives to impress him. Lord Richard De Kenton comes from a family whose wealth is derived from the worst of all trades – slaves!

Bristol is a centre for selling men, women and children. De Kenton's estate is landlocked between Bristol and the Vale of Blakeney, a larger and more fertile demesne with access to the River Avon. The Blakeneys are vociferous anti-slavers and have extensive legal trading connections with Wales, Ireland, Devon, Cornwall and France. Their family is well liked and respected, something that De Kenton despises as he feels his trade is just as respectable and worthy of acknowledgement.

The heir to Blakeney Vale is to be declared dead and as his widowed mother has no other heir, De Kenton is scheming to ensure Prince John gives him Lady Blakeney's hand in marriage and make him Lord of Blakeney. Samson Blakeney was sent to Outremer to fight as part of a penance by his father and not one word has been heard from him since the day he left.

In Outremer, Samson knows nothing of his mother's plight and is making plans with his squire to return home. They have been away for nearly five years and not heard any news from home in all that time. Samson does not realise that he is being searched out by Richard De Kenton's cousin - Hugh De Gilles – who has been tasked with making sure Samson does not leave the shores of the Holy Land alive. De Gilles has looked for Samson for many months, using discreet enquiries and bribery, yet by chance he enters the port of Acre to get passage back to England.

De Gilles considers his options and sends a letter to his cousin informing him that the man has been found and despatched as ordered. This news allows De Kenton to begin allying himself with John by forming a private army formed by slaves and conscripts, that will form the invasion force of Ireland. By using the Blakeneys trading ships and moorings he reduces his costs and increases the amount of people he can trade in. However, being as successful in the family business as his English cousin, De Gilles kidnaps Samson and sells him, therefore giving him two incomes from one task.

Three months later, a Templar arrives in Acre and learns of the disappearance of a Bristol man who had white hair. Normally when people go missing at night, a body is found the next morning but this young man who was staying at an inn vanished without a trace. After talking to a serving girl who provides him with some startling information, he discards his Templar mantle and goes off in search of the missing knight. Over the next six months our story takes us from Outremer, through the Mediterranean to France, England and Ireland. Family secrets, moral dilemmas and a vicious feud stretching back a generation that resulted in a murder come to the fore.

Will good triumph over evil and will the Blakeney lands stay with it's rightful owners? All will be revealed in “Slave To No Man” – a work in progress, the first novel in the Bristol Chronicles series.

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