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Heart of a Falcon — a story of medieval Rhodes and Cyprus
While researching my first novels (the Miramonde trilogy), I indulged a lifelong fascination with Western Europe’s medieval and Renaissance eras. When I began developing ideas for a new series this year, I stayed true to that time period. But my eye strayed to the East. Before too long, I succumbed to the siren call of Greece. I just could not resist writing about the island of Rhodes during the era of the Knights Hospitaller.
My passion for Rhodes stems back nearly a decade. During travels with my family in 2012, I spent three weeks on the island and became captivated by the layers of history there. The wild beauty of the sea and the coast, the mysterious forested interior, the ancient Greek ruins crumbling into dust...and to top it off, the medieval beauty of Rhodes Town, filled with traces of the knights. At the time, I vowed to return to the island eventually, and now I have (virtually!) with the new world I’m creating for my next series.
It’s fascinating how research leads us down paths we never dreamed of taking. After stumbling across references to falconers for the knights during the two centuries of their rule on the island, I was hooked. Soon I decided to create a character who voyages from France to Rhodes to take the job of master falconer for Grand Master Jacques de Milly in the 1450s.
|Hospital - Rhodes
As I dug into research about the knights, I discovered their far-reaching influence throughout the Aegean, including the island of Cyprus. During the medieval era, I learned, Cyprus was a kingdom ruled by French royalty and also an important outpost of Hospitaller business (their sugar plantation on Cyprus, powered by Muslim slaves, was a cash cow). When I delved into the treachery and opulence of the Lusignan kings, I knew I could not ignore this treasure-trove of fiction fodder. I quickly expanded my story universe to include Cyprus and its dynasty of scheming, backstabbing kings. Then I jumped at the chance to connect the two worlds of Rhodes and Cyprus in a story for the Betrayal anthology.
In my story, Heart of a Falcon, the falconer’s daughter Estelle is invited by the king of Cyprus to join his court. Though she is reluctant, Estelle accepts the invitation at her parents’ urging. Soon after she sets sail for Cyprus, though, she realizes she has been the victim of a great deception.
Ultimately the series will feature an entire novel about Estelle and her fate in Cyprus. Like the other characters in this new series, Estelle is an ordinary person caught up in some of the most dramatic events in history—while taking huge risks to achieve her own dreams.
There are many surprises ahead both for me and my characters as history guides us through the twists and turns of a long-forgotten world. Mercenaries, slaves, pirates, princesses…I’ve encountered all of these and more in my research, and none will escape their star turn in the new series (which will launch in 2021).
Amy Maroney lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family, and spent many years as a writer and editor of nonfiction before turning her hand to historical fiction. When she's not diving down research rabbit holes, she enjoys hiking, drawing, dancing, traveling, and reading. To receive a free prequel novella to the Miramonde series, join Amy's readers' group at www.amymaroney.com.
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