On my blog today, I am delighted to be hosting AMY MARONEY on her Coffee Pot Book Club book tour to celebrate the very recent publication of The Queen’s Scribe, the third book in her historical fiction series, The Sea and Stone Chronicles.
Here you can find out more about the book, and read both an excerpt and my thoughts on it as a reader.
What is the book about?
A broken promise. A bitter conflict. And a woman’s elusive chance to love or die.
1458. Young Frenchwoman Estelle de Montavon sails to Cyprus imagining a bright future as tutor to a princess. Instead, she is betrayed by those she loves most—and forced into a dangerous new world of scheming courtiers, vicious power struggles, and the terrifying threat of war.
Determined to flee, Estelle enlists the help of an attractive and mysterious falconer. But on the eve of her escape, fortune’s wheel turns again. She gains entry to Queen Charlotta’s inner circle as a trusted scribe and interpreter, fighting her way to dizzying heights of influence.
Enemies old and new rise from the shadows as Estelle navigates a royal game of cat and mouse between the queen and her powerful half-brother, who wants the throne for himself.
When war comes to the island, Estelle faces a brutal reckoning for her loyalty to the queen. Will the impossible choice looming ahead be her doom—or her salvation?
With this richly-told story of courage, loyalty, and the sustaining power of love, Amy Maroney brings a mesmerizing and forgotten world to vivid life. The Queen’s Scribe is a stand-alone novel in the Sea and Stone Chronicles collection.
Read an excerpt
Off the Coast of Cyprus
The merchant galley teetered on a cresting wave and pitched forward with a sickening lurch. Estelle’s heart battered her ribs like a leashed falcon desperate to take flight. She drew in a breath, then regretted it. The air in this cramped cabin smelled of sweat and seawater, and her chest felt weighted by stones.
Each time she opened her eyes, there was nothing but blackness, thick and cloying as syrup. Signora Rosso snored lightly beside her, oblivious to Estelle’s suffering. Surely, a night had never passed so slowly. When would dawn come? When could she wake her chaperone and escape the galley’s hold?
The anxious thoughts came faster and faster, goading her pulse into a wild rhythm. She pressed her hands over her heart, willing it to slow.
Calm yourself. Find the thread of a memory and pull.
She hurtled back in time a dozen years, imagining the oak-studded hills of Auvergne, land of her birth. In her mind’s eye, she saw a young girl picking daisies in a lush meadow.
There I am. But where’s Étienne?
She conjured up her brother’s figure emerging from the shadow of an oak tree, racing through the waist-high grasses.
“Come! The mare’s had her foal!”
Estelle smiled in the dark, remembering the joyous exuberance of his shout. She made a circle of her hands, weaving together imaginary daisies. On that long-ago day, had she placed the crown of flowers upon Étienne’s head? Kept it for herself? Abandoned it in her excitement to see the newborn foal? Sleepiness crept into her mind like mist, stealthy and silent, ready to claim her.
Then the wavering blare of a horn tore the memory into shreds. She dragged her eyelids open, anticipating the second trumpet blast, the signal that dawn had arrived.
When it came, she said a silent prayer.
A day’s voyage left to Cyprus, the captain said last night. Santa Maria, I beg you, protect us on these seas today.
“Signora Rosso,” she said. “It’s dawn. The trumpeter gave the signal. We can go above decks.”
The widow groaned. “Do you ever sleep, child?”
“Not trapped in a ship’s cabin, as I’ve told you each day since we left Rhodes.”
Estelle stood, smoothed her wrinkled skirts, straightened her cloak. She longed for a bath.
“Please, signora. You say yourself it’s better up there. You can breathe. You can think. The saints hear your prayers—”
“Give me a moment.” Signora Rosso’s voice was roughened by sleep. “You may be able to spring out of bed light as a feather, girl, but not all of us are seventeen anymore.”
Estelle bounced on her toes while the widow hauled herself out of bed, checked the placement of the rosary beads around her neck, and adjusted the folds of her long black cloak.
“I think I’ve finally got my sea legs. My head’s stopped spinning for the first time since we boarded this galley, God be praised.” Signora Rosso shuffled to the door and unlatched it. “Carry my cushion, will you?”
“It’s already under my arm.” Estelle fought an urge to push past her chaperone and take the steps two at a time.
Above decks, the wind had died down to a soft breeze. The ship rolled gently in barely perceptible swells. Crewmen gathered in the bow, receiving orders from their commander for the morning’s tasks. The oil lamps lashed to the masts still burned, for fog blurred the horizon in every direction. Soon, though, the sun’s rays would warm Estelle’s skin, chase away the last tight bands of dread constricting her chest.
She offered her free arm to Signora Rosso. They made their way to the stern, to their usual spot under a waxed canvas shelter. Estelle plopped the cushion on the low box that served as Signora Rosso’s seat. Then she sank down on the well-scrubbed oak planks between a neatly coiled flax rope and an unarmed crossbow mounted to the gunwale.
While Signora Rosso closed her eyes and said her prayers, Estelle tipped her head back and took greedy gulps of salt air. A sensation of calm seeped through her body, banishing the agitation she’d been plagued by all night.
The stifling cabin below decks was nothing more than a prison cell. The terror that descended upon her there consumed every fiber of her being—set her heart racing, her limbs trembling, her mind on fire.
“Did you pray to Santa Maria yet?” the widow asked abruptly, her eyes fixed upon Estelle in an accusing stare.
“I was likely the first person aboard to pray to her. Before the crew was up, even.”
Signora Rosso snorted. “I doubt that. The holy lady is never far from a sailor’s mind.”
“Anyone on the sea is at her mercy,” Estelle pointed out.
“Especially those who suffer from seasickness, like you and me.”
Estelle did not respond. Though she’d never admitted it to Signora Rosso, her problem was not seasickness. But the truth was complicated, and she was a private person.
This material is protected by copyright.
Praise for the Sea and Stone Chronicles:
“Island of Gold is a nimbly told story with impeccable pacing.”
—Historical Novel Society, Editor’s Choice Review
“Sea of Shadows is stunning. A compelling tale of love, honor, and conviction.”
—Reader’s Favorite Review
Amy Maroney is the author of the award-winning Miramonde Series, the story of a Renaissance-era female artist and the modern day scholar on her trail.
My thoughts on The Queen’s Scribe
This is the first book by Amy Maroney that I have read, and I found it an excellent read. I have visited Cyprus many times but knew nothing of its history, so it was fascinating to fill this particular gap in my knowledge. Refreshing, too, for this is an unusual combination of location and period, one that seems to be Ms Maroney’s speciality.
I enjoyed her skilful blend of historical figures and fictional characters, all of whom were drawn in an entirely convincing way. The two principal female characters, the historical Queen Charlotta and fictional Estelle, were both excellent, strong characters. Of course I don’t know how “true to life” Charlotta’s character was, but I really enjoyed the way she was shown as growing from a stroppy teenager, dismissing the help Estelle had been hired to give her, into a determined queen, still not trusting Estelle but eventually coming to recognise her worth. Estelle herself was a lively young woman – “feisty”, perhaps? I did wonder if she was a bit too feisty for the times, but she made a appealing and convincing heroine, as she too grew from uncertainty about her role at the royal court of Cyprus into determination to help Charlotta try to overcome the forces ranged against her, as well as find er own way hoe to France.
Among the other characters, Charlotta’s rogue of a brother, Jacco, and her second husband, the useless Louis, were both wonderfully loathsome, whilst the fictional falconer, Gabriel, was somewhat enigmatic… I shall say no more.
The story itself – a medieval romantic adventure – was very well told, moving along with pace and excitement, but with well-written descriptive passages and authentic historical detail that brought the world of the medieval Cypriot court to vivid life.
This is the third in the series of Sea and Stone Chronicles. Although the books are linked by some of the characters, it is not necessary (nor, I think, required) to read them as a sequence. Anyway, The Queen’s Scribe worked very well as a standalone. Having said that, I enjoyed the book so much that I shall certainly be reading more of Amy Maroney’s work. Recommended.
The Queen’s Scribe was published on April 23rd 2023 by Artelan Press.
It is available to read on Kindle Unlimited.
Amazon UK | Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon AU
About the author
Amy Maroney studied English Literature at Boston University and worked for many years as a writer and editor of nonfiction. She lives in Oregon, U.S.A. with her family. When she’s not diving down research rabbit holes, she enjoys hiking, dancing, traveling, and reading.
Amy is the author of The Miramonde Series, an Amazon-bestselling historical mystery trilogy about a Renaissance-era female artist and the modern-day scholar on her trail. Amy’s award-winning historical adventure/romance series, Sea and Stone Chronicles, is set in medieval Rhodes and Cyprus.
An enthusiastic advocate for independent publishing, Amy is a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors and the Historical Novel Society.
You can connect with Amy and follow her on Social Media:
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Book Bub | Amazon Author Page | Goodreads
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3 thoughts on “Amy Maroney: The Queen’s Scribe”
Thank you so very much for hosting Amy Maroney today, and for sharing your lovely review and an excerpt of The Queen’s Scribe. I’m delighted you enjoyed the novel.
The Coffee Pot Book Club
Thanks so much for hosting me today, Carolyn, and for the fabulous review of The Queen’s Scribe. I’m so happy you enjoyed the book.
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