Prue Batten was the first writer from the Armitage fandom that I interacted with, during FanstRAvaganza2. She posted chapters of a fic to her blog, at the time called Mesmered, during that year’s celebration of fan creativity that retold the story of Guy of Gisborne through the eyes of a woman named Ysabel. It was completely addicting and I was a bit bereft when it was over because I had to know what became of them. Eventually that story became this series, The Gisborne Saga, and it’s still addicting. This was supposed to be up yesterday but I was again caught up in Prue’s beautifully told tale and I lost track of time.
The phrase “sweeping epic romance” is frequently used to describe books that aren’t really but in this case it’s perfect. Ysabel de Moncrieff is living with cousins in France when her mother dies and her father sends his steward, Guy of Gisborne, to bring her home to England. They forge an uneasy bond on the journey that is strengthened when Ysabel saves Gisborne’s life. He spends the remainder of this book and the other two repaying that debt, and a few others of a different nature.
This Gisborne is inspired by Armitage’s but he is as far from the slightly ridiculous BBC henchman as he possibly can be. He tells her stories to pass the time and Ysabel finds herself both fascinated and infuriated by this man who her father trusts with her safety. Guy sees no need to explain everything to her and so we find out when she does that his ambition is animated by a broken and bitter heart. This is not a “bad boy saved by the love of a good woman” story, though. The world they live in is far more complicated and they endanger each other as often as they save each other.
Prue is also the author of the fantasy series The Chronicles of Eirie and she brings the lush world building from that setting to this one, a place we think we should know if we read Medieval romances. From the atmosphere in Le Mans after Henry II fled to the rough passage of a small vessel in the Mediterranean the world we see through Ysabel’s eyes is incredibly vivid if confounding. The political intrigue is tightly woven with the reality of being a woman who is seen as a commodity, something this woman won’t accept. Ysabel de Moncrieff is one of my favorite Gisborne heroines and spending time in her world, with the Gisborne that she loves, is absolutely worth it.
Prue Batten’s Gisborne Saga is archived here. Her four book cycle The Chronicles of Eirie is archived here. Miniature tales from the worlds in these books are available through Bo Press Books here. You can follow Prue Batten at her blog or on her Facebook page.