Chronicling the characters from this title without giving spoilers was particularly tricky. I’ve excluded some information deliberately.
“No! I won’t go! I won’t let you trade me to our enemies like a prize horse! I won’t marry some prince I’ve never met!”
Some wars play out like a game of chess, and pieces are sacrificed to benefit their king. But if a pawn stands up for itself and refuses to play the moves decreed, entire kingdoms might fall.
Birthdate: June 26, 1582
Date of Death: 1649
Age at the time of this story: 19/20
Physical Characteristics: 5’8” tall, 130 lbs, wavy blond hair, blue eyes, strikingly pretty
Titles: Her Royal Highness/Princess
Nickname: The Caledon Rose (which she despises)
Katherine, or Kate, as she is commonly called, is the second child of King Edward and Queen Marguerite. Her older brother, James, is heir to Caledon’s throne. After losing their mother in 1587, the siblings became particularly close, since their father is completely disinterested in them. The children are primarily raised by governesses and tutors.
Kate is a strikingly pretty child who acquires the nickname “The Caledon Rose” at the age of six. She doesn’t like it and occasionally has physically retaliated against those who use it. She is headstrong, independent, and determined to do everything her brother can do. Sometimes James struggles to keep up with Kate!
Kate loves horses and has taken riding lessons since the age of three from some of the finest instructors in Caledon. She is fond of music and singing, particularly Caledonian folk tunes. Kate is fluent in the old language, despite her declarations to the contrary. She loves dancing and enjoys being with others—an unusually extroverted member of a very introverted family. Life at the castle is lonely for Kate, who takes to following the servants around and chatting to them while they work, for want of other friends.
As Kate grows, her father determines to use her beauty to better the nation and seeks an advantageous match for his daughter. When an offer of marriage and a peace treaty come from Langdon, King Edward determines that Kate will marry a stranger for the sake of her war-stricken nation.
Edward did not reckon on his daughter’s headstrong independence, however, and Kate is not about to abandon her romantic notions. Armed with a small sack of coins, Kate flees the castle.
"‘The Caledon Rose.’ Ugh! I swore I would smack the next person who called me that. Then Father did. Can't smack him, unfortunately. Wish I could. Who does he think he is?
The king of Caledon, I suppose. All my life, he's pounded it into my head that I must marry well for the sake of the nation. A prince. A duke, at least. I always thought I would have some say in which one.
But no! I'll be packed off to sworn enemies to marry the crown prince of Langdon without so much as a "how do you do?" Goodness knows how old the man is. And he probably looks like a wart on a toad.
Father doesn't care about any of that. He expects me to pack my things and prepare for the journey to Langdon City. I'll pack, all right! But I'm not going to marry some nitwit prince just because Father says I shall! I haven't played my last card yet…”
Background Information—the Caledonian language:
In the early thirteenth century, Zandor started using English as its preferred language for trade and commerce. Langdon followed their lead shortly after that. Caledon was slower to adopt new ways and continued using Caledonian into the fifteenth century.
By the mid-sixteenth century, English was in everyday use throughout the island, with Langdon and Zandor having abandoned the old language two hundred years earlier. Many Caledonians, though, still understood Caledonian and could speak it when necessary.
By the eighteenth century, Caledonian was no longer in use on the island. By the nineteenth, all but the most dedicated linguists had forgotten it. By the twenty-first century, Caledonian ranked with Latin as a “dead” language, and very few people could comprehend or translate it without the aid of books and apps.
The Mystics held onto Caledonian the longest, but even they ceased speaking it in the eighteenth century. They continued to use Caledonian ceremonially—ritual chanting rather than knowledge of syntax and grammar.
“If you wake me up to kill a spider, it had better be a huge one.”
Hard-working Andrew wasn’t looking for a life-changing night at a folk dance in Salt Flats. But things have a way of slapping a man in the face to get his attention, and they aren’t always what they seem.
Birthdate: November 1577
Age at the time of this story: 24
Physical Characteristics: 6’0” tall, 180 lbs, brown hair, blue eyes
Andrew, a jack-of-all-trades, is working on a sheep farm with his cousin in Salt Flats for the summer. The rest of the year, he is employed in Langdon City. He spent three years in the military, where he learned to ride, and he is a skilled violinist.
“My cousin's place near Salt Flats is boring. My aunt is stuffy, and there's nothing exciting to do. I don't know why I still bother coming up here.
So when I heard about the dance in town on Saturday night, I was eager to try something new. John didn't want to go, so I dressed up and went on my own.
Who'd have thought I'd meet HER there? She's spunky, witty, intelligent, and by the gods, she's the most beautiful creature I've ever laid eyes on. She takes no nonsense from anyone; she's very capable of taking care of herself. I'm slightly afraid of her.
She's a farm girl from Caledon, but some things about her just don't add up. Nothing like a bit of mystery coupled with danger to keep a guy coming back for more...
She looks at me funny sometimes, as though she suspects that I'm not being entirely truthful with her either…”
I wanted to include four characters from this book, but the post got too long, so next month, Part Two will detail Prince Albert and Mrs. Hadley. See you then!
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