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Wayward Prince: Vengeful Son

By Austin Hernon

Robert Curthose, Duke of Normandy, is the eldest son of William the Conqueror, yet it’s his younger brother, Henry, who is now king of England.

This after another younger sibling, William Rufus, who succeeded the Conqueror ahead of Robert, was mysteriously killed by an arrow while hunting in the New Forest…

Robert is returning from Palestine as the hero of the First Crusade, mounted in answer to Pope Urban II’s plea to Christendom to rescue Jerusalem from the infidel. In an age of dynastic marriages of convenience and royal mistresses galore, Robert’s travels take him to Italy where he claims as his prize Sibyl, the nubile nineteen-year-old daughter of Geoffrey, Count of Conversano.

The newly-weds set off to install the lady as Duchess of Normandy – and potentially, Queen of England. There was also a substantial dowry sufficient, together with the riches bestowed upon Robert by Byzantine emperor Alexios Comnenus, to reclaim his duchy from his brother.

Thus began a journey filled with love, anticipation and expectation – and soon the couple have a child, a son they name William. But after Sibyl dies shortly after delivering the child. Then, Robert is reunited in England with an earlier lover, Tegwin, the mother of his other children, one of who, Richard, was killed in the same mysterious circumstances in the new Forest only a few weeks before William Rufus met his fate.

After an act of treachery by the distrustful and scheming Henry has Robert and his Welsh noble lady kept under a sort of house arrest while young William is spirited away to Flanders. Meanwhile Normandy is the prize that the greedy Henry has set his sights on – and he will stop at nothing.

As the years roll by, can Robert ever escape his brothers’ clutches and protect his birthright? Will William grow into a warrior strong enough to help fight his father’s battles on his behalf. What further tragic events will befall the blood-soaked Norman dynasty as the balance of power in Europe shifts and alliances swing one way then another? Who else is lurking in the shadowy forests with death at their fingertips?

Austin Hermon’s The Vengeful Son is the final book of a trilogy, and another illuminating, earthy and warm-hearted depiction of how the English have been shaped. It challenges again the myths by shining a spotlight on a man he believes history has short-changed.

Austin Hernon was born on Tyneside in 1941 and enjoyed a military career. Already a Royal Navy trained diver, he joined the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers as a recovery mechanic before specialising in underwater recovery with the Royal Engineers and Royal Marines before ending his service as a Regimental Sergeant Major. After retiring from the army he worked in British Telecom and Post Office Group, developing information systems for distribution, before retirement when he took up writing.

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