childrens books

The Making of The Eldridge Conspiracy: A Special Pre-release Preview

04 Kaye cover 72ppi 250w 386hIt’s finally here! The fourth and final installment in the Sir Kaye the Boy Knight series, The Eldridge Conspiracy, is now available for preorder on Amazon.com and other online retailers. Can’t wait? Read a sneak peek of Sir Kaye Book 4: The Eldridge Conspiracy by Don Winn.

So what can you expect from book 4 in the Sir Kaye series? In this exciting finale, the young knight, Kaye, and his friends Reggie and Beau enter Eldridge in search of the only man who can save Kaye’s father. During their journey, they encounter and make a powerful enemy of Baron Thomas—the self-proclaimed heir to the throne of Eldridge—who also has his sights set on ruling the country of Knox. Together, the boys dodge the baron’s henchmen and race against time to stop an assassination that would plunge the two kingdoms into war. At the end of this post is an early review of The Eldridge Conspiracy from the UK Wishing Shelf Awards.

At the Abbey from The Eldridge Conspiracy by Don WinnI’ve mentioned in previous blogs that there are elements of the story that are inspired by actual historical events. Without giving too much of the story away, I thought I would share one of the historical accounts, and that is a story about John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster.

Parliament had assembled on January 27, 1377, with Crown Prince Richard of Bordeaux and his uncle, John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, presiding. Disturbing rumors spread throughout Parliament that John of Gaunt was a changeling (not born of noble blood, but substituted as a baby for the real royal infant, who had died). These rumors were causing “great noise and great clamor” throughout the assembly.

The rumors were not true. They appear to have been spread by the banished Bishop William of Wykeham in an attempt to discredit and topple the duke. The duke was a target because of his power over the young prince.

john of gaunt dines with king of portugal
John of Gaunt dines with John I of Portugal, from Jean de Wavrin’s Chronique d’Angleterre

The bishop asserted (falsely) that John of Gaunt’s mother, Queen Philippa, actually gave birth to a daughter but “overlaid and suffocated” her. Fearful of confessing this to King Edward, she had another infant smuggled into St. Bavoon’s Abbey and replaced her dead daughter with this living child, the son of a Ghent laborer, butcher, or porter. She named the child John and brought him up as her own. Philippa was said to have admitted this in confession to Bishop William of Wykeham on her deathbed in 1369, insisting that should there ever arise any prospect of John succeeding to the throne, the bishop must break the seal of the confessional and publicly reveal the truth.

As you read The Eldridge Conspiracy, keep on the lookout for how aspects of the account of John of Gaunt are interwoven in the story.

Check out the About the Sir Kaye series page for a preview of the first three books in the award-winning Sir Kaye series and links to purchase.

The Sir Kaye titles are available for significant discounts to schools, libraries, non-profits, retailers, and vendors through Progressive Rising Phoenix Press or Ingram/LSI.

The Eldridge Conspiracy Early Review from The Wishing Shelf Book Review

This set of books just gets better and better. Yes, it’s a non-stop adventure, packed full of nasty barons and battling knights. But it’s also a story which is strongly-themed and where the bond between the characters is highly prized.

I very much enjoyed the fourth installment of the Sir Kaye Knight books. I have enjoyed all of them over the last few years and, I must say, I think they get better and better. They tick almost every box for a ‘good children’s book’: a strong hero, a thoroughly exciting adventure, a light, accessible writing style and even a strong moral to keep parents happy!

Let’s start with pacing, a very important aspect of any adventure book. Well, this has it; lots of it. There’s a little bit too much ‘telling’ and not ‘showing’ in the first chapter. But, other than that, there’s plenty happening and, most importantly, it is happening to plenty of interesting characters. This book, like all of them in the set, should keep any 7 – 10 year old thoroughly absorbed.

All in all, the writing style is perfect for a children’s adventure novel. It’s not Hemingway – thankfully – but it has plenty of speech, short paragraphs and short chapters. Best of all, it’s not full of adverbs – which can kill any story – and the author knows when to ‘get things moving’.

A Rescue from The Eldridge Conspiracy by Don WinnThe author works particularly well with setting. He understands how important it is not to just simply describe the ‘historical’ setting but, rather, have the characters interact with it in a natural and unobtrusive way. Many authors who set a book in a different century seem determined to describe every silver spoon and every woolen tunic. Thankfully, this author has not fallen into that trap.

But I have kept the best bit for last. And that’s the theme. The bond between the characters, Kaye, his father, the king, Beau and, of course, the narrator, seem to be a very important aspect to this set of books. The nobility of the knight, in the author’s mind, seems to be the important message he wants to send to his readers. And it is this, not the crusade itself, which helps it stand up above many other sword-type novels for boys.

To sum up, this is a thinking-boy’s book. There’s an adventure, yes, but it’s not full of war and blood. It’s a story where the author seems determined that the readers get to know the characters and want to be like them. And for me, being a parent, that results in a pretty big THUMBS-UP!

A ‘Wishing Shelf’ Book Review

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