The first in my coming-of-age historical romance/ action-adventure series from Nepenthe Press.
What's it about?
Here's the blurb:
A barracks full of beautiful boys. A girl in disguise, living among them.
It’s the 14thcentury, and the longbow is king. But in the northern European principality of Ardennes, archery isn’t just the nation’s defense. It’s the national obsession.
MEET THE JOURNEYS
12 young Journeyman archers, the best in the country
2 years of public competitions, in which looks count almost as much as ability
6 will win a coveted membership in the Archers’ Guild of St. Sebastian
1 will become the prince’s new Guardsman
15-year-old Marieke is as obsessed with St. Sebastian’s as everyone else in Ardennes. Only it’s the middle ages, and girls just don’t become elite archers. Except Marieke's prospects as a girl aren't promising either, after a well-timed kick from a mule has left her with a face that’s badly scarred and ruined for marriage. But when circumstances force her to leave her old life behind and flee to the guild for refuge, there are only two things Marieke really knows about the place. One is that a mysterious accident ended her own father’s time as a Journey. The other?
There are no women allowed inside St. Sebastian’s.
Marieke knows disguising herself as a boy and infiltrating the guild means embarking on a dangerous deception. But it may be her only chance to find out the truth about her father’s past, and to stop a murderous plot from coming to fruition. When one of the dashing young Journeymen Tristan takes her under his wing as his squire, she’s got to stay – at least long enough to help him beat out his brutal arch-rival to win the competitions.
Keeping her identity a secret will be hard. Living in close quarters with a pack of gorgeous boys? That will be harder still. But the hardest thing of all will be keeping the vow she ma
kes for herself: to see Tristan become the next Guardsman, without ever letting him find out she’s a girl - a girl, who loves him.
Two parts Robin Hoodand one part Princess Bride, with a pinch of Mulan and a dash of Cyrano de Bergerac mixed in, The Archers of St. Sebastian I: Journeysis an atmospheric action-adventure inspired by late medieval Belgium and packed with romance, wit, and longbow archery.
Detail of the spectacular painting in the Montpellier museum, France. The painting is in the public domain; this image (cropped) is courtesy of Wikicommons, shared by Finoskov under the creative commons Attribution-Share alike 4.0 international license.
This book is a coming-of-age, escapist historical action/ adventure romance. It's for anyone who is young at heart, and who loves immersive but lighthearted historical fantasy - since this reads like fantasy, but with no magic. It doesn't fit easily into any one genre: it's young adult in theme, and it is written in the first person from the prospective of a teenage girl. However, it wasn't written expressly for teens, and becasue of the morally grey characters, the lack of "lessons," and the need to be able to read not through a modern lens but with a sense of historical perspective, it's probably better for older teens (let's call it PG-13). It's perfect for adults who love young adult coming of age stories, and for teens who are looking for an immersive, character-driven story.
coming of age, coming to terms with one's limitations, and learning to love yourself even if you feel that you don't fit society's expectations. It's a story about inventing yourself, but also of facing harsh realities. However, at heart the book is an escapist romance. The central trope is girl-disguised-as-boy.
Long ago I visited the glorious Belgian city of Bruges, and the archers' guild of Saint Sebastian there really fired my imagination. It, too, was "men only," except for the queen of England. The romanticism of being a girl in disguise in such a place stayed with me, as did a beautiful painting of the saint that was hanging in the guild hall. My story is set in a ficitonal medieval Belgian principality, in an entirely fictional guild of archers. However, my fake location and institutions were inspired by that long-ago trip to Bruges, a trip which was idyllic. I highly recommend it!
My Journeys are based on swashbuckling heroes from classic movies: Ronald Coleman in Prisoner of Zenda, Errol Flynn in Robin Hood, Stewart Granger in Scaramouche, Doughlas Fairbanks Jr as Rupert of Hentzau - all the charming, great action-adventure swoonworthy figures. I purposely don't describe my characters' physical appearance in detail, so that everyone can imagine their own ideal version of their favroites, but it truth be told, I personally imagine Tristan as a looking like a young Robert Taylor - check him out on youtube in posts from others, here (with a fun Elvis score!) and here (doing comedy!) And for me, Taran looks like a young Franco Corelli (click here to watch him in action). Do you have other ideas? Suggestions for a "dream cast"? Let me know, and I'll post your suggestions!
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FOR LINKS TO JOURNEYS in INTERNATIONAL AMAZON STORES, CLICK HERE
Want a quick idea of what Journeys is about? Watch this ...
WARNING! THIS VIDEO CONTAINS FLASHING LIGHT EFFECTS, COLORS, AND RAPID MOTION WHICH MA'Y BE TRIGGERING TO SOME VIEWERS. VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED. DO NOT WATCH IF STROBING OR FLASHING LIGHTS AND COLORS AFFECTS YOU!
Oh, the characters! Our main character Marek/Marieke has her fair share of self-doubt, but she is still so bold and defiant that she doesn’t fall victim to being a blank canvas like so many main characters. And the Journeys—the Journeys! They feel larger than life but still human, and despite the large cast, we come to care about each one. I cannot overstate how much I love these characters: Gilles (my personal favorite) with his outlandish ermine outfit and William Tell shot; Falko, a big, lewd teddy bear; Jerome and his lute; Taran, who I really hope will learn effective communication one of these days. And of course, Tristan, who is charming and over the top, and everything he does he does with style.
This is one of these books That makes you eager to turn the pages to find out what's going to happen next, and at the same time you feel dreadful because you're running out of pages to read, I'm like a clingy girlfriend with this book, I don't want to let it go, please Jeanne Roland make haste with the next one
So I work and I have a family, but I couldn't stop reading. The characters are so fun to read. I think this is a great book and I can't wait to read the next one.
This is a remarkable read. I received my copy on Xmas day, and wIthin the first twenty pages Roland managed to move me deep into another world.
This was a fabulous book! As other reviewers have said, I couldn’t put it down. All of the characters were so well-drawn and distinctive, and likeable in an imperfect way. This story has it all--a heroine to root for, intrigue, romance, humor, archery, and swoon-worthy boys. What more could you ask for, besides more from Jeanne Roland?
I am purchasing a physical copy of the book to loan to my friends! I cannot wait for the next installment in the series! Definitely a modern tale worthy of reading for both sports fans and historical fans, almost a modern Camelot, Canterbury Tales, or other similar story.
Read the full text of the reviews above and more at Goodreads and Amazon
Why not get in the mood for Journeys by revisiting this video?
Journeys is now out, but this video's still fun to watch, for all the images of Belgium