THIS EDWARD IS NOT MY KING.
His father, the first Edward, whom my father fought beside in Scotland, was a king a man could be proud to follow. A man to cow the Scot, crush the Welsh and knock the Irish to their knees. His were great days to be English, so different from the times we suffer through now. Edward the Elder has been dead these twenty years, likewise his friend my father. My father left a milksop to succeed him as lord of Ashby. King Edward left a sodomite.
I am not a sodomite but have no bias against them that are. The late Gaveston, whom many despised, I did not. He was a sodomite and where should he find refuge if not with a sodomite of greater standing? But the Despensers who hold sway now Gaveston is dead are a foul crew. The father conspired to bring down Gaveston, then played pander to have his own son replace him. Hugh the Younger is no more sodomite than I. The price of his arse is the land and honours of honest men.
I make no claim to be an honest man and as a second son have neither land nor honour. But I consider myself a straight man. Where I mislike a man I oppose him. He may outwit me, he may outfight me, but I will not mitigate my mislike until he has mended his ways. Likewise when I take to a man, and his actions seem to me proper, that man may command such power as I possess. Poor and landless as I am, I am not wholly lacking power. There are men in Leicestershire and Rutlandshire who will always follow a Folville.
“My name is Eustace Folville. I stand seven feet tall and carry a sword only a hand’s breadth shorter.”
SAVAGE COMPANY, my new novella
Out now on Kindle
I’ve always loved novellas. Some of the best writers of the Twentieth Century wrote some of their best material in novella form. D H Lawrence was a master. Then, of course, there’s Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice. But come the Millennium, you couldn’t publish them except in collections, which leaves you with a book of long short stories, which rather defeats the object. Then along came Amazon Kindle, Nook and other e-book publishers. Now you can make your story just as long as it needs to be. No padding, no waffle. Well, anyway, this is my first attempt. Three years of refinement and polishing. It costs 77p – so, really, what have either of us got to lose?
[The original cover art]