As the papal wars of the Western Schism rage across Europe, a young man takes his first step on the journey of a lifetime. Geoffrey Hotspur dreams of knighthood. As an English orphan-squire bonded to the court of Sir John of Gaunt, uncle of the English King Richard II, his prospects are few. An inveterate gambler already deep in debt, young Geoffrey accepts an invitation to participate in a raid on French lands. His plans go awry, however, after a deadly street brawl results in his banishment from court. As further punishment, he is ordered to join a royal commission bound for Florence. Accompanied by Jean Lagoustine, a mysterious Frenchman whose intentions towards the young squire are t all they appear to be, the ship upon which they journey is waylaid by corsairs. Barely escaping with their lives, Geoffrey and Jean find themselves forming part of a company of Catalonian crossbowmen en route to enlist with the Roman papal army. Intrigue and betrayal dominate the war between the two popes, and the young squire's understanding of faith and fidelity are soon challenged. The need to do right inspires Geoffrey to take a personal stake in the outcome of the conflict. With little more than his wits and a sword, the young squire must find a way to fulfill his duty to his lord, to his faith and to himself. As the war culminates in the final battle for the throne of St. Peter, will Geoffrey find that a knighthood is worth the risk to his hor?
Evan Ostryzniuk grew up in Canada and was educated in both Canada and the United Kingdom. He currently works and writes in Kiev, Ukraine. He earned several academic degrees in history and modern languages, which culminated in doctoral research at Cambridge University that resulted in a thesis about rural insurgency during the Russian Revolution. He is currently employed at a financial services company in the varied role of editor, translator and researcher. Before that, he was a lecturer in history at a private university.