Take it away Carol!
The character of Sir William Bradfer, an Apulian knight, is not based on a celebrity or anyone I’ve met. He is one of those heroes who appeared out of nowhere and forced his way into print!
William is the hero of the second novel in the Palace Brides trilogy, and he was as much a surprise to my long-suffering editor as he was to me. (Originally we had agreed that the Palace Brides mini-series would be a duo.) You know how it goes, you have everything planned out and then…wham!...you are faced with a new hero, one who’s completely irresistible. William first appeared in a very unlikely and dark place. An Italian knight, he was standing on the slave-block in Constantinople. He was up for sale. To a Byzantine, Sir William was a barbarian simply because of his birth. All foreigners were thought of as barbarians and he was born outside the Empire. Here’s the book blurb:
HER WARRIOR SLAVE
Bound in chains, enslaved barbarian Sir William Bradfer stands proud in the Constantinople slave market. As a warrior, he’s trained in the art of survival. Lady-in-waiting Anna of Heraklea is betrothed to be married—against her will. Catching sight of the magnificent William, she finds a rebellious half plan forming in her mind. Anna can offer this captured knight freedom in return for his hand in marriage!
Beauties of Byzantium—claimed by warriors!
Medieval Byzantium is a fabulous place to set a story. The capital, Constantinople, now Istanbul was renowned for its wonders, some of which still can be seen today. In the eleventh century, the Imperial Palace was walled off from the rest of Constantinople, a large area containing many, many buildings. Walk through the gates and what would you find? There are glittering palaces where the walls gleam with gold mosaics. There are chambers and stairways lined with marble; there are bathhouses and any number of great halls, some of which have fallen into disuse at the time of William’s story. In the plan below there’s a hall known as the Hall of the Nineteen Couches. (It’s a long building just below the Hippodrome – marked as ’19 Accubita’.) Emperors had given banquets in the Hall of the Nineteen Couches, where everyone ate in the Roman manner, lying on couches. As mentioned, at the time of the novel, the Hall of the Nineteen Couches has fallen into disuse, but my hero finds a new use for it…
When we visited Istanbul, we couldn’t find any traces of the Hall of the Nineteen Couches, but here’s a section of the wall of the Boukoleon Palace, the Imperial seaside residence at the centre of the trilogy. The Boukoleon Palace had its own harbour and, from the upper stories, views over the Sea of Marmara. Might William and Anna have looked out over just such a window?
For more about Carol’s Byzantine trilogy and her other medieval romances, please see her blog site: