What an amazing book - it takes alternative history to a new and totally convincing dimension and what better story to retell than that of Joan of Arc - the Maid of Orleans. The dual narrative dovetails perfectly with equally compelling characters and actions in both time-zones. It delivers the fast and furious pace of a thriller coupled with elegant prose and intelligent historical detail. Authentic through and through - I loved it!
In the late afternoon, with the sun sliding for shame behind the horizon, the Maid and her train ride back, disgusted. In the dark, like the craven he is, Bedford marches his men away.
If the French were to follow him now, they could turn them at bay, at the very least, and have the battle they want. To assault a retreating army is almost always a victory. and if England loses Bedford they lose France; everyone knows this.
But the king is afraid. There is no other way to look at it. Charles VII, by the grace of God King of France, most badly does not wish to fight. And so he will not let anyone else fight. Harsh words are exchanged between Maid and her king, in the unprivacy of his tent, but Regnault de Chartres is in there making sure he will not change his mind.
Thus Bedford escapes.
Bedford, who is also afraid.