I had no idea, when I was offered this book for review, of what was in store for me while reading it. But it was a medieval, my favourite period, and it was about the Black Prince, about whom I've had a long lasting curiosity, so it really was inevitable that I should start it as soon as it arrived.
The story opens with Sir John Potenhale on a quest to find a woman, the widow of a man he fought in battle, whith whom he shared some time and who teached quite a few things. And it is at he request that he starts telling his story and how his life crossed with her dead husbands.
Potenhale was a young squire following the english army during the Hundred Year war. His actions bring him to the attention of the Prince of Wales, the Black Prince, and he becomes part of the prince's household. As they follow the path of war Potenhale grows in experience and in wisdom both in the battlefied and out of them. Through the Prince's interest in the Fair Maid of Kent, Potenhale becomes acquainted with Margery, one of her ladies, and while the interest seems mutual a previous marriage to Lord Thomas Holland puts a both in both the Prince's and Potenhale's aspirations.
For the next few years, actually not that few, they will fight for England in french soil, they will learn strategy, when to make alliances and when to punish traitors. They will attend happy tourneys and they will face the black death, the plague. What could have been a dry read becomes a tale of an age of honour and chivalry, of being steadfast in the face of adversity and of pondering matters of life and death, when faced with your perceived destiny. In one of the battles Potenhale makes a prisoner of the french leader, Geoffroi de Charni. he returns to England with them till his ransom is payed and it is immediately apparent that he is the man whose widow he is telling the story to. Charny, who wrote a book on the Art of Chivalry is a very interesting character, in the end the one I was most fascinated with. It is a gift from the author that she writes her tale so well that when he was telling Potenhale and the Prince the story of the Templars I felt I was right beside them listening.