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Lord of the Eyrie

A Heart-pounding Medieval Adventure

Katerina Dunne

Transylvania, Kingdom of Hungary, 1440:

Finally home after five years away, warrior-nobleman Sándor Szilágyi is met by a dying father, a resentful younger brother, his child-bride all grown up and the family estate raided by the Ottomans. As he struggles to adjust to life as a landlord, Sándor's authority is challenged by two strong-minded and fearless women: Margit, his faithful and righteous wife, determined to keep him on the straight and narrow; and Anna, his sister-in-law, a scheming temptress bent on ruining him in order to take his land.

After committing a mortal sin and desperate to win back the woman he loves, Sándor seeks absolution by accepting his overlord's summons to fight the Ottomans. But his obsession with war will lead him down a perilous path.

Loyalties are tested, danger lurks around every corner, and Sándor's struggle to balance his duty to protect his land and family from his relatives' greedy hands, as well as his duty to defend his country on the battlefield, will come at a terrible cost.

Book Excerpt or Article

August 1440
Hunyad County, Southwestern Transylvania,
Kingdom of Hungary

Sándor wiped the sweat from his sunburnt face. The midday heat made the horses pant and the knights curse under their breaths. But they were almost home now. He pressed his legs against the palfrey’s flanks, urging him to go faster.

Halfway down the mountain pass, the horse shied. “What is it, boy?” Sándor said, stroking the animal’s neck. The iron smell of blood hit his nose. He peered ahead. About twenty paces away, in the middle of the path, a body lay splayed on the rocky ground. Flies swarmed about it, their buzzing amplified by the stony silence.

His knights approached from behind. “Sir!” one called.

Sándor halted them with a raised arm. “Shh!”

Was it a trap? He lifted his gaze. Covered with large rocks and thick bushes, the sloping sides of the pass made the perfect spot for an ambush.

He signalled to the men to spread out and search while he warily drove his palfrey forward. He leaned over to survey the body.

The dead man’s colourful clothes and leopard-skin jacket were drenched in blood. An Akinji, an Ottoman border raider. His horse was nowhere to be seen, but his band could still be in the area.

Sándor sat back in the saddle and waited. He twitched at the slightest of sounds – a bird flapping its wings and flying away, a squirrel scuttling in the bushes, a dislodged pebble rolling down the slope. If only he had not left his armour with the baggage train, a long way behind. The Akinjis were keen archers. His light surcoat would not protect him from their arrows. At least, he had his trusted horseman’s axe in his hand. The curved, sharp edge of its blade and the long spike on its other side had made many an enemy suffer. His fingers clenched around the haft. After years of fighting and an arduous journey in the height of summer, the last thing he wished for was another skirmish with the Ottomans. But if he had to protect his land, he was ready for the challenge.

The knights returned. No sign of the enemy.

“They must have raided already,” Sándor whispered. His face went cold as if drained of its blood. Had he arrived too late? There was only one way to find out. He re-sheathed the axe and took hold of the reins. “Go!” He spurred on his horse so hard that the animal jerked into a frantic gallop, sending small stones and clumps of earth into the air.

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Katerina Dunne is the pen-name of Katerina Vavoulidou. Originally from Athens, Greece, Katerina has been living in Ireland since 1999. She has a degree in English Language and Literature, an MA in Film Studies and an MPhil in Medieval History. While she used to write short stories for family and friends in her teenage years, she only took up writing seriously in 2016-17, when she started work on her first novel.

Katerina’s day job is in financial services, but in her free time she enjoys watching historically-themed movies and TV series. She is passionate about history, especially medieval history, and her main area of interest is 13th to 15th century Hungary. When it comes to historical fiction, her favourite authors include Elizabeth Chadwick, Kate Innes, Christian Cameron and Bán Mór (the Hungarian author of the Hunyadi series of books) Although the main characters of her stories are fictional, Katerina uses real events and personalities as part of her narrative in order to bring to life the fascinating history of the medieval Kingdom of Hungary, a location and time period not so well-known to English-speaking readers.

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