Set in France during the reign of King Charles and his mother, Catherine de’ Medici, this is the story of a young musician, Melisande who not only witnesses Nostradamus’ prophecy of massacre and death, but becomes caught up in court politics and espionage.
Melisande is the youngest of two daughters who travel with their father, a talented itinerant minstrel, who spends time with the French Court during King Charles’ his Royal Procession through the countryside. She is very close to her father and particularly her sister Chantelle, spending most of her spare time playing her mandolin and helping to embroider her trousseau.
Nostradamus is largely ignored, however he chances to meet Melisande and allows himself to be pressured into a personal prophecy of doom and connection, telling her to seek him out in her hour of need. Her need comes sooner than she expected, however she is not without friends.
One of the King’s courtiers has ‘lent’ him a leopard and his handler, a boy called Malchior. When Malchior is whipped by the evil Count de Ferignay, she helps him and in return, when her sister is murdered by Ferignay and she herself is under threat, Melchior helps her to escape.
This is just the first quarter of the book!
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Melisande is a feisty yet vulnerable character who is largely unaware of her own charms and also just happens to be a dedicated and talented musician. Melchior is only present for a small part of the story, however he definitely caught my imagination.
I know that the intrigues of the French Court are only vaguely covered in the book, but I don’t think any more time or detail needed to be spent on the machinations of the courtiers and especially the King’s mother, a member of the famous de’ Medici family – famous for their use of poison to dispose of their rivals…
A great read!