Today I am pleased to host an extract from “Defiant Unto Death” by David Gilman as part of the blog tour.
About the book:
The Black Prince has launched a devastating raid deep into France, laying waste to everything in his path. In response, the French have mustered an army that outnumbers the English forces 10 to 1 and and are determined to drive their hated foe from the land after years of bloody conquest.
Sir Thomas Blackstone, the British archer knighted on the field of Crecy, has used the intervening years to forge his own war band and has hacked out his own fiefdom in central France. He knows the English are outnumbered, outmanoeuvred and exhausted… but that will not stop him from fighting his way to one of history’s greatest military victories.
But the field of battle is not only arena in which Blackstone will have to fight for his life… Although Poitiers was a great victory for the English its aftermath will cost Blackstone dear.
Here is a taster for you:
‘Throw!’ Blackstone hissed.
Ropes snaked up into the darkness, their iron claws biting into the top of the wooden wall. Twenty men, six ropes. Blackstone put his weight against one of them and tested its strength and then without another word began to climb hand over hand as his feet tried to find some grip on the slimy wood. Others were scrambling on either side of him, grunting with effort, overcoming the protests of stiff muscles and chilled bodies. Blackstone was first over the wall, crouching, lowering the outline of his body against the dark sky. The dull glow of flickering torches came from the four corners of the courtyard. The stronghold was little more than a glorified earthwork that had been fortified over the years, a piecemeal strengthening as demands dictated. Across the open expanse on the far side from where Blackstone and his men now stood the gatehouse silhouette reared up. A horse whinnied from a stable block. The men froze. Had the breeze carried their scent? A few muted voices came from one of the buildings below the wall. A dormitory door opened; torchlight flickered as a soldier stepped out and walked a few yards to another building – the latrines.
Light up the night, boy! Now!
When the soldier returned he would be facing directly where Blackstone and his men now crouched. No matter how low they tried to keep below the rampart, the shape of the wall would change and living in a garrison gave a man an animal sense of something altered.
The door opened. They could see the man’s face plainly now.
Burn it, Guillaume! Don’t wait for the damned bell! Light the oil!
Coiled in tension the men dared not move. Blackstone sensed Meulon turn to face him, waiting for his lord’s command. Better to get down into the courtyard than be caught on the wall. Was there a chance they could run for the gatehouse and seize it? Blackstone wondered, his mind weighing the odds of survival rather than the chance of success.
Better to fight and find out.
And then the night sky flared into a curtain of fire.
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