Saturday, August 2, 2014

Nothing is More Busy and Wittier Than a Hound

And so begins the Legend.  This book plate from a medieval royal manuscript (British Library, Royal MS 12 F. xiii, Folio 30v)  is drawn to represent King Garamantus with his noble Hounds as depicted in the eighteenth chapter of  'De Proprietatibus', a collection of the works of Pliny and Aristotle and of the medieval physicians and romancers.


Nothing is more busy and wittier than a hound, for he hath more wit than other beasts. And hounds know their own names, and love their masters, and defend the houses of their masters, and put themselves wilfully in peril of death for their masters, and run to take prey for their masters, and forsake not the dead bodies of their masters. We have known that hounds fought for their lords against thieves, and were sore wounded, and that they kept away beasts and fowls from their masters' bodies dead. And that a hound compelled the slayer of his master with barking and biting to acknowledge his trespass and guilt.  Also we read that Garamantus the king came out of exile, and brought with him two hundred hounds, and fought against his enemies with wondrous hardiness.

In Legend of Three Crowns, King Francis cultivates his 'Hounds', three gentlemen of his bedchamber, who do his every bidding.  Amusing, witty, and very busy annoying  Francis' court and bedding the lords' wives, they yet have a greater purpose, which the King's daughter, Aramanda, discovers in her quest to be named her father's heir. 

Book One of the trilogy focuses on this fairy tale existence King Francis has built for his country and the stability for his dynasty, centred around the mystical birthmark of his daughter's in the shape of three crowns.  But like any good medieval fairy tale, the plot soon becomes dark. 

To protect a family secret and preserve an illicit operation, Francis orders the murder of his minister, Wyerly, a man who has befriended Princess Aramanda for political gain.  The mystical forces of her family's dark past begin to invade Aramanda's seemingly idyllic life, and she sees a graphic premonition of Wyler's murder.  Her brother, Edourd, ruthlessly allied with the lords, is determined to best her and replace her in her father's affections, securing the crown for himself.  But the hounds, led by the King's favourite, Milton, ally with Aramanda, and their mischief proves effective in staunching the lords' advantage.

Aramanda's belief in loyalty and honour tie the hounds irretrievably to her, and Milton, desperately in love with her, struggles to serve her, even as she is tied irretrievably to the Legend of Three Crowns.