Saxon barbarians threaten to destroy medieval Wales. Lady Branwen becomes Wales’ last hope to unite their divided kingdoms when her father betroths her to a powerful Welsh warlord, the Hammer King.
But this fledgling alliance is fraught with enemies from within and without as Branwen herself becomes the target of assassinations and courtly intrigue. A young woman in a world of fierce warriors, she seeks to assert her own authority and preserve Wales against the barbarians. But when she falls for a young hedge knight named Artagan her world threatens to tear itself apart. Caught between her duty to her people and her love of a man she cannot have, Branwen must choose whether to preserve her royal marriage or to follow her heart. Somehow she must save her people and remain true to herself, before Saxon invaders and a mysterious traitor try to destroy her.
“A spirited ride through a turbulent slice of Welsh history!” – Paula Brackston, NYT Bestselling author of The Witch’s Daughter
“A fast-paced read that has a wonderfully visual style and some memorable characters. Mark Noce combines Welsh history with a touch of folkloric magic in this promising debut novel. Lady Branwen is a strong and engaging narrator and the turbulent setting of early medieval Wales makes a fine backdrop for an action-packed story.” – Juliet Marillier, Bestselling author of Daughter of the Forest and Wolfskin
Release Date: August 23, 2016
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Mark Noce writes historical fiction with a passion, and eagerly reads everything from fantasy to literature. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, he’s an avid traveler and backpacker, particularly in Europe and North America. He earned his BA and MA from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, where he also met his beautiful wife. By day, he works as a Technical Writer, having spent much of his career at places like Google and Facebook. In addition to writing novels, he also writes short fiction online. When not reading or writing, he’s probably listening to U2, sailing his dad’s boat, or gardening with his family.
His debut novel, Between Two Fires, is being published by Thomas Dunne Books (an imprint of St. Martin's Press and Macmillan). It is the first in a series of historical fiction novels set in medieval Wales.
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I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of Mark's Between Two Fires. Here is my review:
Lady Branwen may often feel like a pawn, but even a pawn may stop a king in Mark Noce's Between Two Fires. The time of King Arthur may have passed, but the time of Lady Branwen has come. Branwen exudes a wisdom beyond her years and balances the traditions of the Old Tribes with the new Christian religion. She still makes plenty of mistakes, but she blossoms into a strong woman worthy of the Welsh people. The romance between her and Artagan is a bright spot in the novel. I couldn't help but want Branwen to be happy. Noce's lush descriptions transported me to the late sixth century Wales. An intriguing mystery of who wants Branwen dead weaves throughout the scenes and kept me guessing. Between Two Fires by Mark Noce combines complex political intrigue of sixth century Wales with sweet romance and a page-turning mystery.