The Summer King has come to the Wode...
18 May 2017
Excerpt Thursday: SUMMERWODE by J Tullos Hennig
This week, we're pleased to welcome author J TULLOS HENNIG with SUMMERWODE, from the Books of the Wode series. One lucky winner will receive a copy of the novel in e-book format. Join us again on Sunday for an author interview, with more details about the story behind the series. Here's the blurb about the novel.
The Summer King has come to the Wode...
The Summer King has come to the Wode...
Yet to which oath, head or heart, shall he hold?
Once known as the Templar assassin Guy de Gisbourne, dispossessed noble Gamelyn Boundys has come to Sherwood Forest with conflicted oaths. One is of duty: demanding he tame the forest’s druidic secrets and bring them back to his Templar Masters. The other oath is of heat and heart: given to the outlaw Robyn Hood, avatar of the Horned Lord, and the Maiden Marion, embodiment of the Lady Huntress. The three of them—Summerlord, Winter King, and Maiden of the Spring—are bound by yet another promise, that of fate: to wield the covenant of the Shire Wode and the power of the Ceugant, the magical trine of all worlds. In this last, also, is Gamelyn conflicted; spectres of sacrifice and death haunt him.
Uneasy oaths begin a collision course when not only Gamelyn, but Robyn and Marion are summoned to the siege of Nottingham by the Queen. Her promise is that Gamelyn will regain his noble family’s honour of Tickhill, and the outlaws of the Shire Wode will have a royal pardon.
But King Richard has returned to England, and the price of his mercy might well be more than any of them can afford...
**An Excerpt from SUMMERWODE**
Someone shouldered hard into him, nearly sending him sprawling. Quick as a ferret, Robyn recovered and danced sideways, hand to knife and a ready snarl upon his lips.
He faced a small brace of soldiers. The one who’d nearly plowed him over hadn’t so much as stopped, but his two companions recognized a threat when they saw it. Hands on sword hilts, one with yellow chevrons emblazoned on his tunic raised a mailed fist and a voice tinged of the shire as Robyn’s own. “Gerrout, bloody fool—!”
“Is there some problem?” Gamelyn appeared at Robyn’s right, voice soft, nearly too reasonable. Deceptive as always, were one not paying attention to the steel beneath the velvet—and most didn’t.
Robyn fingered his dagger into a better position.
These soldiers, however, eyed the red sigil upon Gamelyn’s gray cloak. “Your pardon, Brother Templar,” the one in yellow offered, with a conciliatory spread of hands. His companions muttered like apologies, ducking their heads: hounds threatened with the whip. One even crossed himself as they retreated.
Robyn watched them go rather stupidly, ears still heated, heart pounding. A hand snatched his sleeve and pulled him out of the main path, close by the roar and clang of a smith’s furnace; for a half breath Robyn almost went for Gamelyn, too, stifled it just in time.
The flame was at forging heat, and they were closer than was comfortable; that and the clang-ti-tink-clang of the smith’s hammer against iron and anvil struck Robyn back into his senses. Both hands were gripping his arms, now, and hard enough to make him wince. Robyn tossed the forelock from his eyes and let a smile curve his mouth, jerking his chin at Gamelyn’s tabard. “I keep forgettin’ how handy yon sign bides in a tussle.”
The disquiet knit upon those gilt brows melted. One arched, familiar vexation. “I can’t take you anywhere, you daft pillock.”
“And here I thought I were taking you.”
“Hardly.” Gamelyn gave him a tiny shake, an unspoken You’re all right, then? and at Robyn’s shrug, released him. “We’ve too long been in the forest.”
Nay, hardly long enough by my reckoning. But Robyn followed, gritted teeth and muscles against the beckon and lure of sensation.
Gamelyn was right; what made up the purest of survival instincts in the forest could prove ruinous in this teeming, dangerous place. Even the silent, careful pace of a forest dweller would be nowt to the likes of these but the cant of a hesitant villein… easy prey to the road-filthy men who were still arriving, marking territory with swagger and weaponry.
It was a lesson hard-learned in boyhood, long since shucked away in his own place. But this now, here?
Aye, here. What villeins bided in the camp were blending into the scenery, busy at the drudge work. Not walking the muddy, main paths as broad-shouldered and accoutered—entitled—as nobleman in whose wake Robyn ambled. No question Gamelyn had the way of it; not just because of the cloak he wore, but the manner of his wearing it. People unconsciously gave way… and twisted a curious brow at the lanky fellow keeping pace with the Templar Knight: a proper wild man dressed in furs and leathers with a monster of a longbow strapped to his back.
One foot faltered and skittered sideways in a particularly wet patch; Robyn heaved his balance back and nearly ran into another soldier stinking of mud, blood, and balls. Again, Gamelyn had to yank him out of the way.
Bloody damn, but it was a sad case when he couldn’t even walk straight, and him proper sober!
And bloody damn but Gamelyn was sounding as Shall we wrap you in a wool basket, pet? as Will Scathelock! “Aye, but ’m fair enough to skelp you one, see if I waint.”
“Fine.” Gamelyn’s nose took a decided noble’s tilt. “I’ll just let the bastards knock you sideways next time, shall I?”
“You’re saying that like I’m all up for letting ’em knock me si—!” It rattled up into a yip as Gamelyn grabbed his arm and dragged him between two hobbled sumpters.
“I’m saying we’ve no room for pride!”
“Lessen it’s yours, milord?”
“ Putain de…!” It was a barely stoppered growl between bared teeth, those green eyes gone to gilt… and bloody sodding damn but it stood every bit Robyn had to attention when Gamelyn transformed into dangerous, knife-edge Templar.
With the added mercy of blocking every other sensation, at that.
Abrupt exasperation filled Gamelyn’s gaze. Robyn’s lip twitched sideways, and he leaned in, head cocked. “So that’s the secret to doin’ battle, then. Haver away t’ noise by having a proper rod in your pouch and no way to ease it?”
Another Frank curse; even fouler, Robyn would warrant, the way it burst from between curled lips and gritted teeth. “In case you’ve forgotten, you’ve a price on your head to make any man here wealthy.”
“Ah, but your Master would see me safe.”
“Safe.” A snort. “That depends on which Master you mean.”
Robyn snorted back. “You and Marion both, thinkin’ that bloody Temple sorcerer more’n he is.” Robyn leaned closer. “I never forget what I am, even here. ’Tis you as ent believing in what you are—“”
“My lord Confanonier?”
Gamelyn lurched back as if he’d been caught with his hand down Robyn’s breeks. No such luck, Robyn mourned.
“Ah,” Gamelyn said, prim. “Stephen.”
“Commander sent me to find you.” Young Stephen was fair-haired, flushed, and rather buggy-eyed at finding his superior surrounded by a pair of horse’s arses.
And no doubt, given the look Gamelyn flicked his way, Robyn was being considered as a matched third of the pair.
But Stephen’s attention was fastened, not on Gamelyn, but Robyn. The lad tried to speak several times, then finally stammered out, “M-my lord, is that him? Robyn Hood?”
Gamelyn rolled his eyes, and Robyn started to laugh.
E-books 1 & 2 in the series are currently on sale through most retailers until the 16 May release: GREENWODE is free, and SHIREWODE is $2.95!
About the Author
J Tullos Hennig has always possessed inveterate fascination in the myths and histories of other worlds and times. Despite having maintained a few professions in this world—equestrian, dancer, teacher, artist—Jen has never successfully managed to not be a writer. Ever.
Her most recent work is a darkly magical & award-winning historical fantasy series re-imagining the legends of Robin Hood, in which both pagan and queer viewpoints are given respectful voice.
Musings blog (You can subscribe to my newsletter at either the Musing blog or main site—you’ll receive the first and earliest notification on all updates and news, plus a gift: several short stories seldom seen in the wild.)