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Spain, 974. Gonzalo, a brave but hotheaded knight, unwittingly provokes tragedy at his uncle’s wedding to beautiful young noblewoman Lambra: the adored cousin of the bride dead, his teeth scattered across the riverbank. Coveting his family’s wealth and power, Lambra sends Gonzalo’s father into enemy territory to be beheaded, unleashing a revenge that devastates Castile for a generation.
A new hero, Mudarra, rises out of the ashes of Gonzalo’s once great family. Raised as a warrior in the opulence of Muslim Córdoba, Mudarra must make a grueling journey and change his religion, then chooses to take his jeweled sword to the throats of his family’s betrayers. But only when he strays from the path set for him does he find his true purpose in life.
Inspired by a lost medieval epic poem, Seven Noble Knights draws from history and legend to bring a brutal yet beautiful world to life in a gripping story of family, betrayal, and love.
Praise for Seven Noble Knights
“This appealing novel seems a bit of Romeo and Juliet overlaid with Spanish Christians and Moorish Muslims. It is a story of vengeance and young love set in a uniquely fascinating setting within medieval Europe. …there are several very well-done short combat scenes.The contrast between the technically advanced but decadent opulence of Córdoba and the relatively simple but proud character of Christian Spain is fascinating. I look forward to the sequel and will happily recommend this book.”
—Thomas J. Howley, Historical Novel Review (full review)
“Let Seven Noble Knights welcome you to historical fiction! …it’s a rich saga populated with characters you will grow to love (and a few you will love to hate). The ancient empires of Spain are a beautiful backdrop to the struggles of humankind across all generations of all lands: romance, revenge, war, and adventure.”
—Pushcart Prize nominee Reneé Bibby, The Writers Studio
“According to Seven Noble Knights, medieval family values were not to be trifled with. … Knauss’s writing gets us involved with her characters, despite their extremely bloody behaviour. …puts us into the time, place and social mores so that we see the action from the point of view of someone of that era. …at times cinematic, her descriptions are convincing.”
—Author Seymour Hamilton (full review)
Enjoy a prequel short story, “Shrouds and Stones,” in your choice of three formats, free.
Part One, Chapter I: The Siege of Zamora
Gonzalo González peered between the wild grasses where once had grown someone’s grain. He had lain in the dampness for so long that his boiled leather back plate and metal mail were weighing him down. He measured each fingerwidth of sunlight that revealed the golden stone walls of Zamora before him while the stars faded overhead. He had long since lost his sense of amazement at the Moors’ audacity. Three hundred of them had set up their camp and war machines before the city’s main gate, which remained barricaded.
He turned his face to see his uncle through the dewy stalks and whispered. “Why can’t we charge the Moors now, while they’re still asleep in their tents?”
“It’s not the right time,” Ruy Blásquez said through his teeth.
A groan escaped Gonzalo’s mouth. It never seemed to be the right time for Ruy Blásquez. Gonzalo, his six brothers, and a hundred other knights had arrived at their vantage point in the dark, but they’d made no fire, set up no tents, done nothing to break the silence or the monotony for those hours. Even the birds that morning withheld their songs, waiting along with Gonzalo for something, anything, to happen.
Gonzalo pulled at the tufts of grass and wrapped leaves around his fingers, then plucked them out again, counting: it had been a summer, a winter, and most of a springtime since the city gates had opened. His stomach clenched to think of the innocent Christian people inside the walls. Had they roasted their dogs and horses or gnawed on their boot leather? Had the rain been enough to heal their parched lips?
“Why didn’t the King of León ask for Count García’s help earlier? We Castilians could’ve saved Zamora and gone home months ago.”
“The King of León has concerns with Navarra and Barcelona and within León. He can’t be concerned with Zamora and the Moors all the time. But I would’ve liked to be here months ago.” Ruy Blásquez let out a snigger that caused a stir in the soldiers a few paces behind them with their swords, daggers, and bows. “This is your first foray for Count García. Months ago, you wouldn’t have been here asking stupid questions.”
“I’ve been into Andalusia with my brothers lots of times.”
“Gonzalico, breaking a siege is not like your happy little raids, where your brothers protected you from Moorish sheep and chickens.”
Gonzalo scowled. “Let me in there, uncle, and I’ll show you how prepared I am.”
“Hush!” Ruy Blásquez hissed.
Shifting his weight among the lumps in the earth, Gonzalo glimpsed a small figure creeping along the outside of the city wall. As the sky brightened, he estimated from his bare feet and the way his tunic fit that the blond boy had not completed ten years. He must have climbed through a hole in the barricades of a gate on the other side of the city. Gonzalo glanced at his uncle, whose older eyes hadn’t caught the movement.
He smiled to see the boy reach inside one of the enemy tents and pull out a steel scimitar. The young Zamoran carried it to the foot of a wooden siege tower, where he pulled something out of his rope belt. When he struck it against the blade in a flurry of sparks, Gonzalo let out a chuckle. Apparently, the boy intended to free Zamora by setting the enemy camp ablaze. He would make a brave knight in a few more years.
A warrior emerged from the tent where the boy had taken the scimitar. A dagger glinted in the nascent sunlight behind the boy.
This was the time to attack, whether Ruy Blásquez willed it or not. Taking his first deep breath since sundown, Gonzalo rose up and covered the ground faster than his uncle could say “Wait,” yet again. He thrust his sword into the infidel’s unprotected back. The enemy fell, but it was too late. The boy lay contorted and blood flowed from his neck and seeped into the soil.
Gonzalo cursed and spat. Pausing to catch his breath, he turned in the direction of his battalion and channeled his rage. “Our patron, Santiago, is with us! Death to the Moorish devils!”
His uncle came howling toward the enemy camp, sword aloft, and Gonzalo’s six brothers and the rest of the soldiers followed close behind, shouting “Santiago!”
When the murderer gurgled at his feet, Gonzalo hacked beneath his jawbone so that he bled as brutally as his last victim.
He picked up the boy and carried him, supporting his neck with care, to the cover of the siege tower while his cohort rushed past. The boy’s eyes had already glazed over. Gonzalo cursed again. Why would God allow the Moors to take such a young soldier from the world? He shut the eyelids and folded the arms across the still chest. He made the sign of the cross on the boy’s forehead. As soon as they had the Moors under control, he would make sure a priest blessed the boy.
“I will tell your mother how brave you were,” he said. He unsheathed his sword again and leapt into the shouting, shoving mass of warriors. He would chase the enemy away for good.