Photo courtesy of Rijkdienst voor het Culturel Erfsgoed
My mediaeval historical novella, One Knight In Muiden, gets its full release from Tirgearr Publishing today, and I’m really excited about my first serious foray into the world of knights, ladies and court intrigue. Like its parent series, the City Nights contemporary romances, each of these stories takes place in a different city, but there’s the added restriction that only one city per country is allowed. So why did I choose Muiden and its beautiful castle, the Muiderslot?
The Netherlands isn’t a country you immediately think of when it comes to castles. The British Isles is an obvious choice. England has many settings that are well known in myth and legends, from Nottingham, in prime Robin Hood country, to Tintagel, believed to be the home of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. Wales and Scotland have their fair share of amazing fortified buildings too (indeed, Stirling was the setting for the first City Knights book). France has its romantic chateaux, Germany its Schlösser, with their mountainous locations and fairy tale turrets. But the Muiderslot is as beautiful in design as any of those, and at the time when my story is set, the 14th century, it was of real strategic importance.
The route through North Holland played a vital part in trade across Europe, and whoever owned the castle at Muiden was able to extract hefty tolls from merchants who wanted to travel on the local roads. In the novella, this makes Swaneke, the daughter of Count Jonas of Muiden, a very eligible woman. Her father wishes to marry her to Count Reynold of Utrecht, and seal an alliance that will keep them both wealthy. Of course, at the time, someone like Swaneke would have had very little say in her choice of husband, but it doesn’t prevent her from having doubts about Reynold’s suitability as a husband. Throw in her attraction to a handsome knight who, unlike his master, lives by the concept of ‘courtly love’ and is obliged to act nobly and bravely in the service of the woman he loves, whether or not she can ever be his, and the resulting tale is a mixture of desire and deception that will change the lives of everyone living in the Muiderslot forever.
Muiden Castle has been rebuilt in recent centuries, though it’s retained its original mediaeval design, and it’s become a popular tourist attraction. You can find out more about visiting the castle here. And to read an extract from One Knight In Muiden and get details of the various online retailers where the book is for sale, check out its page on the Tirgearr website.