Welcome to the virtual stall for The Cross and the Dragon at the Historical Novelists 4-Day Book Fair, April 12-15. As of this writing, about 60 authors are participating in the fair, and I am thankful to have this opportunity to join them.
Musings on Genre for The Cross and the Dragon
I understand why we have labels, I mean genres, for fiction. In the bookstore, this helps readers decide where to go to find books that appeal to them. But it present a challenge to an author who has written a love story in the days of Charlemagne, one that includes elements of magic.
So, is this novel a romance?
Depends on how you define romance. If it’s “Oh, when will these people realize they love each other,” The Cross and the Dragon isn’t that. But if you’re looking for a story where the characters are motivated by love, even when it goes against their own self-interest, you likely will enjoy this book.
You mention a magical dragon amulet in the blurb below. Is this a fantasy?
Well, there isn’t spell casting like you’d see in the Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings series, but the characters believed in magic, along with prayers, as a way for them shape the events that affected them, and they act accordingly.
The strong belief in magic will appeal to readers who enjoy fantasy. So will the sword fights.
Why do you usually call The Cross and the Dragon historical?
It’s simpler that way. I invite you to read the blurb and excerpt below and decide for yourself which genre this fits in.
What is The Cross and the Dragon about?
A tale of love in an era of war and blood feuds.
Francia, 778: Alda has never forgotten Ganelon’s vow of vengeance when she married his rival, Hruodland. Yet the jilted suitor’s malice is nothing compared to Alda’s premonition of disaster for her beloved, battle-scarred husband.
Although the army invading Hispania is the largest ever and King Charles has never lost a war, Alda cannot shake her anxiety. Determined to keep Hruodland from harm, even if it exposes her to danger, Alda gives him a charmed dragon amulet.
Is its magic enough to keep Alda’s worst fears from coming true—and protect her from Ganelon?
Inspired by legend and painstakingly researched, The Cross and the Dragon is a story of tenderness, sacrifice, lies, and revenge in the early years of Charlemagne’s reign, told by a fresh, new voice in historical fiction.
Interested? Visit kimrendfeld.com to find out where you can get your copy of The Cross and the Dragon, whether you live in the U.S., Canada, or the U.K. Or read excerpts of the reviews.
Want to read more before deciding? Check out this excerpt from the book.
Late August 773, King Charles’s assembly in Geneva
Alda wished she did not loathe the man her brother wanted her to marry.
She glanced at Count Ganelon of Dormagen, sitting to her left at dinner. When she had met him two months before at Drachenhaus, her home many leagues to the north, she had thought him the handsomest man in Francia. Muscular, with broad shoulders and well-formed legs, he had a face that could have been chiseled from marble, topped by a cap of pale blond hair. In the castle’s great hall, his silver medallions gleamed in the light from the walnut-oil lamps and midday sun.
A movement caught Alda’s eye. A cupbearer, head down and shoulders hunched, shuffled toward Ganelon. No older than ten winters, the boy was stick thin and clothed in rags.
How can anyone so mistreat his servants? she thought, wincing.
His face a mosaic of bruises, the boy sipped from the cup and placed it in front of Ganelon. Alda looked away, disgusted with Ganelon and still seething over this morning’s argument with her brother, Count Alfihar of Drachenhaus. Alfihar had ignored her protests, insisting that she did not need to like Ganelon to marry him. No, she didn’t, she admitted to herself, but she wanted to be able to suffer her husband’s company.
She turned her head toward the roasted venison, steaming in front of her on the slab of stale bread that served as a plate. Enticed by the aroma, she tore into the meat with her eating knife.
Ganelon sneered. “I never would have guessed a frail-looking girl like you would have such an appetite.”
Alda’s pale cheeks flushed. She wished she could think of a cutting reply. Any mention of her weight vexed her. She had tried to make herself plump, but no matter how much she ate, she could not add to her hips or breasts. Finally, her words came out in a grumble. “Obviously, I am not frail.”
“You are lucky anyone would wish to marry you. You are so thin you look like a peasant in disguise. Even that servant beside you has more flesh than you.”
The heat of a blush spread over Alda’s face and down her neck. Veronica, her servant and companion, had a fuller figure, but no man with manners would point it out. Why would Ganelon insult her? Baring her teeth, Alda stabbed the meat, wishing it could be Ganelon’s face.
To her right, Veronica nudged Alda. “A pity God blessed Count Ganelon with good looks instead of a good brain,” she whispered. “Most men flatter women they want to marry.”
Alda covered her mouth to suppress a giggle.
“Why do you allow your servants to eat with you?” Ganelon asked contemptuously.
“Her name is Veronica.” Alda’s forest green eyes flashed. “She is my foster sister and my dearest friend.”
Laying aside her knife, Alda squeezed Veronica’s hand under the table. How could Ganelon say such a thing about the young woman whose mother had nursed both of them?
“My servants stay away from the table,” Ganelon said. “I cannot bear to watch them eat like beasts.”
“Perhaps you should give them more food,” Alda snapped. Her gaze fell to the jeweled hilt of his eating knife. “My brother says you can afford it.”
“That is not your concern,” he retorted.
Alda’s nostrils flared. She did not know how she was going to endure Ganelon through dinner, let alone the rest of her life. She gazed to her right. Alfihar was dining five paces away with their uncles and the man she wanted, Prince Hruodland, heir to the March of Brittany and King Charles’s kinsman.
Hruodland’s features were plainer than Ganelon’s but still pleasing. At perhaps twenty-one winters, slightly older than Alfihar, Hruodland was a tall man with the warrior’s build that came from wearing armor and wielding a sword. He had dark brown, almost black, piercing eyes, a long nose, a square jaw, and dark hair that fell to his shoulders. She smiled as she remembered meeting him in the castle’s courtyard yesterday morning and later talking with him long into the night.
Veronica’s whisper broke into her thoughts. “Stop gawking at Hruodland! It will provoke Count Ganelon.”
Alda’s lips drew into a thin line, but she followed Veronica’s advice and turned her head. This meal was difficult enough without Ganelon’s jealousy. Glancing at Ganelon, she shuddered. His icy blue eyes were full of malice.
Want to add The Cross and the Dragon to your library? Find out where you can get a print edition or e-book in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K.
If you’d like to check out more authors writing about a variety of historical periods, see the links below.
Historical Book Fair