The King’s Champion: Coffee Pot Book Club Blog Tour.
Caught up in the desperate evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from France in the summer of 1940, photojournalist Kate Shaw witnesses death and destruction that trigger disturbing visions. She doesn’t believe in magic and tries to pass them off as survivor guilt or an overactive imagination, but the increasingly intense visions force her to accept that she is not only magically Gifted but a seer.
In Dover, she meets her distant cousin Sebastian Mainwaring, Earl of Hawkstowe and an officer in the British Army. He’s also a seer and is desperate to recruit her rare Gift for the war effort. The fall of France leaves Britain standing alone as the full weight of Nazi military might threatens. Kate’s untrained Gift flares out of control, forcing her to accept Sebastian’s help in conquering it as her ethics compel her to use her ability for the cause that is right.
As this fledgling wizard comes into her own, her visions warn of an impending German invasion, Operation Sealion, which British intelligence confirms. At the same time, desire to help Sebastian, who’s doomed by a family curse arising from a centuries-old murder, leads Kate to a shadowy afterworld between life and death and the trapped, fading souls who are the roots of her family’s story. From the bloody battlefields of France to the salons of London, Kate and Sebastian race against time to free his family’s cursed souls and to stop an invasion that could doom the Allied cause.
The King’s Champion concludes Nancy’s Northcott’s exciting Boar King’s Honor Trilogy.
The Dunkirk Perimeter, France
May 31, 1940
Weary, dirty men in stained, sometimes bloody brown battledress streamed north along the Dunkirk road. Stone walls abutting the road on both sides kept the mass from spreading out. Lorries, as the British called their trucks, held spots here and there in the ragged procession. No one seemed to notice the sporadic gunfire coming from Coldstream Guards’ line in the woods to the east. The Guards would deal with that, holding off the Germans so these men could escape to the Dunkirk beaches. From there, the Royal Navy would evacuate them to England.
If they made it.
Reporter Kate Shaw also ignored the gunfire as she snapped photos of the bedraggled mass. She was used to it after weeks in the field. Despite being outgunned and outnumbered by the German Wehrmacht, the British Expeditionary Force and the French Army had fought valiantly. But they hadn’t been able to stem the Nazi tide.
The sound jolted Kate. She snapped the shutter on reflex before turning toward the stone wall. She could scramble over it, as the soldiers were doing—
The shout carried over the thunder of artillery and the staccato cacophony of firing rifles. A man in dirty brown battledress and a battered helmet leaped at her.
He’s diving the wrong way.
They collided. She locked her arms around him and wrenched left, out of the inbound shell’s path, with all her might. They slammed into the stone wall bordering the road, teetered atop it for a second that seemed eternal, and fell behind it, the soldier on top. The impact knocked her breath out.
Another deafening BOOM! rocked the world and showered dirt over Kate, her companion, and his fellow soldiers behind the wall. By some miracle, she still had her camera—and hadn’t landed on it. She hunched over it and her pack as the soldier hunched over her. If she died here, maybe someone would take the pack to her bosses in London. Her photos of the British Expeditionary Force’s heroic retreat had to make it back.
The shelling and the thundering and the shaking went on. And on. Trying to shatter the guards’ line so the Wehrmacht infantry could advance. The infantry wouldn’t move, though, until the shelling stopped.
At last, the shelling ended.
Kate’s ears rang. The guy on top of her sat up. Staring across the road, he scowled. His lips moved, but she couldn’t hear him. He must’ve known that, for he held up one hand palm out and motioned for her to stay down.
“Thank you,” she said, the sound oddly muted in her head.
With a nod, he vaulted the wall, as his comrades did. He scooped up a rifle, likely his, from the roadway. Around it lay groaning, wounded men and bits of men. Kate’s stomach did a slow roll, and she blinked back tears at the heart-wrenching carnage.
She took a quick look into her pack. Her other Zeiss Ikon camera and the two spare lenses looked okay, but if they weren’t, she couldn’t do anything about it now.
At least she could document the sacrifices made and the pain endured by these soldiers trying to stop the Nazi advance. She took several quick photos before closing the camera and shoving it into her pack.
As she did so, gunfire to the east resumed, not desultory now but heavy and steady.
Lew Barnes, her boss back in London, would have a fit if he knew she wasn’t taking more photos of the men in the road. The choice between photos and lives, however, was no choice in her book.
Scrambling over the wall, she hurried to the nearest man, who lay writhing in the road. Blood flowed from a gaping hole in his shoulder, and the outside of his upper arm was in shreds.
Her stomach revolted. Setting her jaw and breathing hard, she dug in her pack and came out with her spare shirt. Hearing loss mercifully muted his cries of pain and those of the others around her.
For a moment, she saw him sitting on a tractor, calling to a young, brunette woman coming across the plowed field with a bag in her hand. Mom had brought Dad his lunch like that so many times. Would this man live to go back to that?
Kate swallowed hard. Her overactive imagination was tormenting her. For all she knew, he was a banker before he joined up.
The end of the bombardment meant the German infantry would advance. She would have to hope the British guardsmen could hold their line.
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The Herald of Day
The Steel Rose
The King’s Champion
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Nancy Northcott’s childhood ambition was to grow up and become Wonder Woman. Around fourth grade, she realized it was too late to acquire Amazon genes, but she still loved comic books, science fiction, fantasy, history, and romance.
Nancy earned her undergraduate degree in history and particularly enjoyed a summer spent studying Tudor and Stuart England at the University of Oxford. She has given presentations on the Wars of the Roses and Richard III to university classes studying Shakespeare’s play about that king. In addition, she has taught college courses on science fiction, fantasy, and society.
The Boar King’s Honor historical fantasy trilogy combines Nancy’s love of history and magic with her interest in Richard III. She also writes traditional romantic suspense, romantic spy adventures, and two other speculative fiction series, the Light Mage Wars paranormal romances and, with Jeanne Adams, the Outcast Station space mystery series.
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Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/stores/Nancy-Northcott/author/B00ITY5KLS