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  1. In the Company of the Courtesan
  2. The Dark Days Club – Official website of author Alison Goodman
  3. The Courtesan's Wager
  4. A Valentine’s Message from Lord Carlston…
  5. Latest From Books

The moaning rolled like a slow wind through the night, the sound of an army joined in prayer or talking to itself in its sleep. Until then I think even I had colluded in the myth of our invincibility.

Now I knew how the Trojans must have felt as they looked down from their walls and saw the Greeks camped before them, the promise of revenge glinting off their polished shields in the moonlight. Fear spiked my gut as I scrambled back down onto the battlement, and in a fury I went to kick the sleeping sentries awake. Close to, their hoods became cowls, and I made out two young monks, barely old enough to tie their own tassels, their faces pasty and drawn. I drew myself to my full height and squared up to the first, pushing my face into his.

He opened his eyes and yelled, thinking that the enemy had sent a fatheaded, smiling devil out of Hell for him early. His panic roused his companion. I put my fingers to my lips and grinned again. This time they both squealed. A hungry Lutheran would have had them split on his bayonet before they might say Dominus vobiscum. They crossed themselves frantically and, when I questioned them, waved me on toward the gate at San Spirito, where, they said, the defense was stronger. Our army, such as it was when I found it, was huddled in clumps around the building. A couple of makeshift sentries tried to stop me, but I told them I was there to join the fight, and they laughed so hard they let me through, one of them aiding me along with a kick that missed my rear by a mile.

In the camp, half the men were stupid with terror, the other half stupid with drink.

In the Company of the Courtesan

Back home, I found my mistress awake in her bedroom, and I told her all I had seen. She listened carefully, as she always did. We talked for a while, and then, as the night folded around us, we fell silent, our minds slipping away from our present life, filled with the warmth of wealth and security, toward the horrors of a future that we could barely imagine. By the time the attack came, at first light, we were already at work.

I had roused the servants before dawn, and my lady had instructed them to lay the great table in the gold room, giving orders to the cook to slaughter the fattest of the pigs and start preparing a banquet the likes of which were usually reserved for cardinals or bankers. While there were mutterings of dissent, such was her authority—or possibly their desperation—that any plan seemed comforting at the moment, even one that appeared to make no sense. The house had already been stripped of its more ostentatious wealth: the great agate vases, the silver plates, the majolica dishes, the gilded crystal Murano drinking glasses, and the best linens had all been stowed away three or four days before, wrapped first inside the embroidered silk hangings, then the heavy Flemish tapestries, and packed into two chests.

The smaller one was so ornate with gilt and wood marquetry that it had to be covered again with burlap to save it from the damp. When they were buried and covered with a blanket of fresh feces fear is an excellent loosener of the bowels , we let out the five pigs, bought at a greatly inflated price a few days earlier, and they rolled and kicked their way around, grunting their delight as only pigs can do in shit.

With all trace of the valuables gone, my lady had taken her great necklace—the one she had worn to the party at the Strozzi house, where the rooms had been lit by skeletons with candles in their ribs and the wine, many swore afterward, had been as rich and thick as blood—and to every servant she had given two fat pearls. The remaining ones she told them were theirs for the dividing if the chests were found unopened when the worst was over.

Loyalty is a commodity that grows more expensive when times get bloody, and as an employer Fiammetta Bianchini was as much loved as she was feared, and in this way she cleverly pitted each man as much against himself as against her. As to where she had hidden the rest of her jewelry, well, that she did not reveal.

Indeed, a few hours later, as a great cry went up and the church bells began to chime, each one coming fast on the other, telling us that our defenses had been penetrated, the only aroma from our house was that of slow-roasting pig, growing succulent in its own juices. After that, whatever courage we might have found was no match for the numbers they could launch. To lessen our shame, we did take one prize off them, when a shot from an arquebus blew a hole the size of the Eucharist in the chest of their leader, the great Charles de Bourbon.

Later, the goldsmith Benvenuto Cellini boasted to anyone who would listen of his miraculous aim. But then, Cellini boasted of everything. To hear him speak—as he never stopped doing, from the houses of nobles to the taverns in the slums—you would have thought the defense of the city was down to him alone. In which case it is him we should blame, for with no leader, the enemy now had nothing to stop their madness. From that first opening, they flowed up and over into the city like a great wave of cockroaches.

The Dark Days Club – Official website of author Alison Goodman

Had the bridges across the Tiber been destroyed, as the head of the defense force, de Ceri, had advised, we might have trapped them in the Trastevere and held them off for long enough to regroup into some kind of fighting force. But Rome had chosen comfort over common sense, and with the Ponte Sisto taken early, there was nothing to stop them. And thus, on the sixth day of the month of May in the year of our Lord , did the second sack of Rome begin. It is commonly said now that it was the Lutheran lansquenets troops who did the worst.

For them Rome was sweet pickings, the very home of the Antichrist, and as mercenaries whom the emperor had conveniently forgotten to pay, they were as much in a frenzy to line their pockets as they were to shine their souls. Every church was a cesspool of corruption, every nunnery the repository for whores of Christ, every orphan skewered on a bayonet their bodies too small to waste their shot on a soul saved from heresy.

But while all that may be true, I should say that I also heard as many Spanish as German oaths mixed in with the screaming, and I wager that when the carts and the mules finally rode out of Rome, laden with gold plate and tapestries, as much of it was heading for Spain as for Germany.

The Courtesan's Wager

Had they moved faster and stolen less in that first attack, they might have captured the greatest prize of all: the Holy Father himself. With death so close, those still living fell into a panic over the state of their souls. Some clerics, seeing the hour of their own judgment before them, gave confessions and indulgences for free, but there were others who made small fortunes selling forgiveness at exorbitant rates.

Perhaps God was watching as they worked: certainly when the Lutherans found them, huddled like rats in the darkest corners of the churches, their bulging robes clutched around them, the wrath visited upon them was all the more righteous, as they were disemboweled, first for their wealth and then for their guts. Meanwhile, in our house, as the clamor of violence grew in the distance, we were busy polishing the forks and wiping clean the second-best glasses.

In her bedroom, my lady, who had been scrupulous as ever in the business of her beauty, put the finishing touches to her toilette, and came downstairs. The view from her bedroom window now showed the occasional figure skidding and hurtling through the streets, his head twisting backward as he ran, as if fearful of the wave that was to overwhelm him.

It would not be long before the screams got close enough for us to distinguish individual agonies. It was time to rally our own defense force.

A Valentine’s Message from Lord Carlston…

In one, an attractive young woman, dressed only in her hair, lies languidly on a bed, a sleeping dog curled up at her feet. She stares directly out at the viewer; the invitation she offers is coyly explicit. There is no pretending here. The model was almost certainly a Venetian courtesan. Courtesans were the answer. Women of lower birth but high wit, beauty and the cunning to keep their patrons well entertained and satfistied. I spent a year researching these formidable women, half my time on the canals and back streets of Venice, the other half in the British Library.

There was gold in that history. This was Venice at its most powerful, the church at its most corrupt and sin at its most deliciously profitable. What more could a novelist ask for? The only question was, through whose eyes did I tell the story? Not the woman on the bed.


Every time I tried to imagine inside her head she came out too modern. The truth was more complex. The men were all too self absorbed or besotted.

Latest From Books

I needed someone with a clearer head and a eye for the absurd as well as the romantic. Their accounts, laced with vivid anecdotes about Persian and Greek leaders, have inspired many historical novels. Alexander the Great, the fourth century Macedonian warrior-king who conquered most of the world known to the Greeks of his day, is still recalled in the Middle East and beyond with tales praising him as an ancestor or reviling him as a devil. Historians from the first century B.

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Click on the title for more information from Powell's Books or another online source, or if you're outside the U. Brian Aldiss, Jocasta , a retelling of the Oedipus story from the perspective of his mother. Margaret Atwood, The Penelopiad , a literary novel about the experiences of Odysseus' wife, Penelope, while he was away fighting the Trojan War and voyaging home.

Alessandro Baricco, An Iliad , a retelling of the Iliad which focuses on the human characters and leaves out the appearances of the gods and goddesses. Pat Barker, The Silence of the Girls , about the fall of Troy from the perspective of Briseis, once a queen, now an enslaved captive of Achilles in the Greek army camp. Henry Bauchau, Oedipus on the Road in the original French; first English edition , about Oedipus during his years of wandering, the period Sophocles left out of his plays. Katharine Beutner, Alcestis , a literary novel based on the myth of Alcestis, who agreed to die in place of her husband.

Review or Author Interview. Nancy Bogen, Klytaimnestra, Who Stayed at Home , a retelling of the Trojan War story from the perspective of Agamemnon's wife, which turns the tale on its head by presenting Odysseus as a villain; self-published. Gillian Bradshaw, The Beacon at Alexandria , about a fourth century Greek woman who disguises herself as a eunuch in order to study medicine in Alexandria. Gillian Bradshaw, The Sun's Bride , about the helmsman of a third-century Rhodian ship whose mission is to hunt and destroy pirates. Brock, King of the Storm , historical fantasy set in an alternative ancient Greece about a man prophesied to become a demigod hero and king; 1 in the planned Godhead Epoch series.

What Are the Books of 1 and 2 Chronicles All About?

Bryher, Gate to the Sea , about a priestess in a community of enslaved Greeks in Poseidonia and her efforts to help her people escape; Bryher was the name adopted by author Annie Winnifred Ellerman. Grant Buday, Dragonflies , about Odysseus and his scheme to end the Trojan War with a Greek victory by building a gigantic, hollow, wooden horse. Christian Cameron, Tyrant , about an Athenian soldier who must become a mercenary after he is exiled from Athens; 1 in the Tyrant series.

bbmpay.veritrans.co.id/benala-dating-apps.php Christian Cameron, Storm of Arrows , about an Athenian in love with a Scythian warrior-princess, who leads his band of mercenary soldiers against Alexander's army; 2 in the Tyrant series. Christian Cameron, Funeral Games , about the brother-sister twins, heirs to a rich Black Sea kingdom, who become fugitives after their mother is killed and must journey west to take shelter with their father's old friend Diodorus, himself in the midst of a violent struggle for power after the death of Alexander the Great; 3 in the Tyrant series.

Christian Cameron, King of the Bosporus , about twin brothers who set out to win vengeance against the man who stole the kingdom that is rightfully theirs; 4 in the Tyrant series.