Wednesday, July 23, 2014

"Cup of Blood"

Jeri Westerson's first six books featuring Crispin Guest are Veil of Lies, Serpent in the Thorns, The Demon's Parchment, Troubled Bones, Blood Lance, and Shadow of the Alchemist.

Westerson applied the Page 69 Test to Cup of Blood, a prequel to the series, and reported the following:
Here we are in the middle of the protagonist, Crispin Guest's, thoughts. He has just run into his former fiance seven years after his fall from grace and the end of that betrothal. Crispin has always been a man to wear his heart on his sleeve, and in this prequel to the acclaimed series, he is no different. Sour about life, about his situation (banished from court, and bereft of his title, lands, wealth--all that defined him) he goes on, finding a kind of penance in his new occupation of "Tracker," the medieval equivalent of a private detective. In Cup of Blood, Crispin finds a dead man in his favorite tavern who turns out to be a Knight Templar, guarding a most precious relic which has vanished. Hired by more Templar knights to find the object, he runs afoul of minions of the French anti-pope who also seek it. In the midst of his troubles, a good turn is done him by an unlikely source; an orphaned cutpurse by the name of Jack Tucker, who insists on being Crispin's servant.

From page 69:
She never even fought it. She never stood up to Stephen and came to me. I thought she might. But what woman would have done? Willingly become a pauper and the laughing stock of court, all for him? How could he blame her? Yet he did. A year earlier they had both signed the betrothal contracts and the families thought it a fine match. But something happened between the contracts and the courtship: Crispin fell in love.

How could I not? She was so beautiful. There were many days they would steal away, leaving her maidservants behind. They would kiss and touch and whisper those silly phrases only spoken in romances and love songs. And though he loved and desired her, often raining kisses along her throat, he would go no further. A proper courtier was he.

A proper fool!

Only a mere fortnight after his disgrace, another man conquered that virginity which should have been his. It was that pain that pierced him the most, that could not be undone.

He looked at Jack standing in the tinker’s doorway, waiting for orders. What was he to do with the boy? Jack was like a stray dog that would not leave, even when kicked. “Tucker, I appreciate your loyalty, but this has to end. Now. When I get back, I do not expect to find you here.”

“But Master…”

“I am not your master. You must leave.” He turned on his heel, uncertain where he was going. Did it matter? He needed to think, but it was difficult with a headache pounding between his temples.

He turned up the street to Gutter Lane—walking toward the Boar’s Tusk—when he saw it. A man in a long, dark robe, hood up over his head, standing under the eave of a shop across the way. He merely looked in Crispin’s direction, or at least his covered head and shadowed face was turned toward him.

A fleeting sense of recognition propelled Crispin toward the man, but the man abruptly turned and dashed up the lane.

Crispin paused before he leaped forward, sprinting after the man.
Learn more about the author and her work at Jeri Westerson's website and her "Getting Medieval" blog.

The Page 69 Test: Veil of Lies.

The Page 69 Test: Serpent in the Thorns.

The Page 69 Test: The Demon's Parchment.

My Book, The Movie: The Demon's Parchment.

The Page 69 Test: Troubled Bones.

The Page 69 Test: Blood Lance.

The Page 69 Test: Shadow of the Alchemist.

--Marshal Zeringue