The Maid of the White Hands
Isolde’s day has come. In Ireland, her mother, the Queen, lies
dying. The throne of the Emerald Isle, one of the last
strongholds of the Goddess, awaits her. But while Ireland is her
destiny, Isolde is already Queen of Cornwall, trapped in a
loveless marriage to its mean-spirited King Mark.
Mark sends Tristan to
France to be healed by Blanche, who makes the most of the
opportunity. Tristan's letters to Isolde are intercepted, and he
is told that she has given him up. Near death from his wounds,
Tristan sends one last, desperate letter to Isolde by a trusted
servant. He is dying, he tells her, and asks for one final sign of
their love. If she can forgive him, she must come to France in a
ship set with white sails.
If the ship's sails
are black, however, he will know that she no longer loves him.
Isolde immediately leaves for France, but when Blanche sees the
white-sailed ship from the castle window, she pulls the curtains
and tells Tristan that the sails are black. To her horror, he
turns his face to the wall, and dies.
There ends the
traditional medieval story of Tristan and Isolde--with betrayal,
death and grief. But the original Irish legend ends differently,
and so does this book, with magic and drama as only Rosalind Miles
can write it.
ROSALIND MILES is the
author of the best-selling Guenevere trilogy, as well as Isolde,
Queen of the Western Isle, the first book of the Tristan and
Isolde trilogy, and the novel I, Elizabeth. A well-known and
critically acclaimed novelist, essayist and broadcaster, she
divides her time between homes in England and California.
Her true love is
his nephew, Tristan of Lyonesse, who has never married,
remaining faithful only to Isolde.
Across the sea in
France, a young princess who shares Isolde's name enters the
story. King Hoel named his daughter in honor of Isolde of
Ireland, and young Isolde of France has always been determined
to outdo her beautiful older namesake. She is a physician too,
and is called "Blanche Mains", for her white hands and
healing touch. Blanche is of age to be married, and she has
chosen her husband--Tristan of Lyonesse.
Her father objects,
but fate favors Blanche. King Mark has become suspicious of his
wife and nephew, and when Tristan is wounded in battle, he sees
a chance to separate them for good.