Amy Maroney in 'Exile'

I’m delighted to welcome Amy Maroney back to the blog to talk about being in ‘Exile’. Amy studied English Literature at Boston University and worked for many years as a writer and editor of nonfiction. She lives in Oregon, U.S.A. with her family. When she’s not diving down research rabbit holes, she enjoys hiking, dancing, traveling, and reading.

Amy is the author of The Miramonde Series, an award-winning historical fiction trilogy about a Renaissance-era female artist and the modern-day scholar on her trail. Her new historical suspense series, Sea and Stone Chronicles, is set in medieval Rhodes and Cyprus.

Amy is one of the contributors to the recently released Historical Stories of Exile. She knows a thing or two about writing captivating and lyrical historical fiction! Let yourself be entranced by a  queen’s story of mistrust, exile and hope. 

As is often the case with women in history, very little is known about the medieval Queen Charlotta of Cyprus (she is also known as ‘Charlotte’ and ‘Carlotta’). Born around 1444, Charlotta was the only surviving child of King Jean II of Lusignan and his wife Eleni Palaeologina, princess of Morea.

King Jean was a genial and ineffective ruler who loved hunting, hawking, and entertaining. The French Lusignan dynasty’s glory days had ended with his grandfather King Janus and grandmother Queen Charlotte I. By Jean’s era, three centuries of lavish living coupled with a weak military presence had taken a drastic toll. The Genoese seized control of the main port city, Famagusta; the Mamluks of Egypt only paused their attacks on Cyprus thanks to tribute payments to their sultan; and the Venetians underwrote many of King Jean’s expenses, miring the kingdom in crippling debt.

Banner for Historical Stories of Exile

Meanwhile, animosity simmered within the court. Queen Eleni was a proud Greek and a dominating personality. She purportedly bit (or cut off) her rival Marietta’s nose when she found the woman in bed with her husband. Jean and Marietta’s son, Jacques (also known as Jacco the Bastard) was a handsome, charismatic bully with a thirst for power.

Princess Charlotta lived with her mother and various Greek attendants; her understanding of French was rudimentary at best. At about 13, she was married to Prince João of Coimbra (Portugal). The young couple moved from the royal palace to a house elsewhere in the Cyprus capital of Nicosia, angering Queen Eleni.

Tensions grew until Prince João died under mysterious circumstances; the queen’s chamberlain was blamed. In a royal tit-for-tat, the queen’s chamberlain was then murdered. Palace gossips said Charlotta had asked Jacco to arrange the killing.

Before he could be punished, Jacco fled for the island of Rhodes and the hospitality of the Knights Hospitaller. Meanwhile, Charlotta grieved her dead husband and awaited a new betrothal, this time with her first cousin Louis of Savoy.

Queen Eleni fought the betrothal fiercely, for in the Greek Orthodox tradition, marrying a first cousin was an unforgivable sin. In 1458, both Queen Eleni and King Jean died. Charlotta became queen, though she’d had no training for the job.

Jacco sailed to Egypt and charmed the Mamluk Sultanate; by the time Charlotta married Louis of Savoy, a groundswell of popular support for Jacco as king was sweeping over the island of Cyprus.

The powerful barons who had served her father as council members now whispered in Charlotta’s ear. Her husband Louis proved to be a weak leader. When Charlotta was 16, she moved her court into the massive coastal fortress of Kyrenia, bracing for a siege.

Kyrenia Castle in Cyprus, where Charlotta was blockaded for three years (Photo A.Savin, WikiCommons)

Jacco and his army of Mamluk warriors sailed to Cyprus in 1460, determined to seize power. Unfortunately, Charlotta’s husband, Louis, was more interested in finding a source for his beloved milk-fed veal than making plans for war.

The fate of the kingdom of Cyprus balanced on a knife-point, and Charlotta took it upon herself to save the day. She begged allies all over the West to help fund her war chest. She readied the fortress of Kyrenia for a siege. She ransomed her own jewelry and her kingdom’s treasures, desperate to keep her throne.

When all seemed lost, she set sail on the Mediterranean Sea, traveling through wind and waves in search of aid, pleading with men of power for help.

The story I wrote for the Exile anthology captures a critical moment near the end of her reign, when Queen Charlotta asks her allies the Knights Hospitaller to give her wise counsel. Then, when all seems lost, she heads back to sea for one last-ditch effort to preserve her throne—no matter the cost.

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Read Amy’s latest story in the Sea and Stone Chronicles.

The Queen’s Scribe

A broken promise. A bitter conflict. And a woman’s elusive chance to love or die.

1458. Young Frenchwoman Estelle de Montavon sails to Cyprus imagining a bright future as tutor to a princess. Instead, she is betrayed by those she loves most—and forced into a dangerous new world of scheming courtiers, vicious power struggles, and the terrifying threat of war.

Determined to flee, Estelle enlists the help of an attractive and mysterious falconer. But on the eve of her escape, fortune’s wheel turns again. She gains entry to Queen Charlotta’s inner circle as a trusted scribe and interpreter, fighting her way to dizzying heights of influence.

Enemies old and new rise from the shadows as Estelle navigates a royal game of cat and mouse between the queen and her powerful half-brother, who wants the throne for himself.

When war comes to the island, she faces a brutal reckoning for her loyalty to the queen. Will the impossible choice looming ahead be Estelle’s doom—or her salvation?

With this richly-told story of courage, loyalty, and the sustaining power of love, Amy Maroney brings a mesmerising and forgotten world to vivid life. The Queen’s Scribe is a stand-alone novel in the Sea and Stone Chronicles collection.

Buy Amy’s book here: (Goes to your local Amazon store and other retailers) and is also available on Kindle Unlimited.


Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers –  INCEPTIO, CARINA (novella), PERFIDITAS, SUCCESSIO,  AURELIA, NEXUS (novella), INSURRECTIO  and RETALIO,  and ROMA NOVA EXTRA, a collection of short stories.  Audiobooks are available for four of the series. Double Identity, a contemporary conspiracy, starts a new series of thrillers. JULIA PRIMA,  Roma Nova story set in the late 4th century, starts the Foundation stories. The sequel, EXSILIUM, will be out in January 2024.

Find out more about Roma Nova, its origins, stories and heroines and taste world the latest contemporary thriller Double Identity… Download ‘Welcome to Alison Morton’s Thriller Worlds’, a FREE eBook, as a thank you gift when you sign up to Alison’s monthly email update. You’ll also be among the first to know about news and book progress before everybody else, and take part in giveaways.

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