Warning: The book takes takes place during the Sack of Rome in 1527. Then, as unfortunately now, torture was used both for personal pleasure as well as government policy. There are vivid descriptions of rape; torture; brutal battle scenes; and even consensual sex! In short, this is a book only for the mature reader. [...]
Once upon a time, in the year of our Lord eleven hundred and ninety-four, there lived a lady of the English court who was known as Elaine the Fair. On this the twelfth of May, a Tuesday night, a night no different from so many others, she woke up screaming. She thrust her hands out violently—and the surprise that her arms worked broke the spell of the dream. It hadn’t touched her-no, it hadn’t touched her—just that one small prick and ribbon of blood-she reached up with an unerring finger to feel the tiny white scar an inch below her left eye. In five years time it had never gone away—she knew she would bear it forever, like a brand. Elaine didn’t know that the slight jar of this imperfection was the only thing that made her beauty bearable to mortal man.