Cover image for The shadow of Albion : Carolus Rex : book 1
The shadow of Albion : Carolus Rex : book 1
Norton, Andre.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : TOR, 1999.
Physical Description:
350 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
"A Tom Doherty Associates book."
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X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Thrust into a volatile world where King Henry IX rules over the English Empire, America never revolted, and Napoleon Bonaparte marches unchecked across Europe, is young Sarah Cunningham, ripped from our history by magic and the machinations of the dying Duchess of Roxbury.Magically coerced into believing she is Roxbury, Sarah finds herself caught up with the Duke of Wessex, the King's most trusted spy. A perilous adventure takes them into the black heart of Imperial France to rescue a missing princess before the last chance for peace dissolves and the world is left at the mercy of Napoleon....

Author Notes

Born Alice Mary Norton on February 17, 1912 in Cleveland, Ohio, she legally changed her name to Andre Alice Norton in 1934. She attended the Flora Stone Mather College of Western Reserve University (now Case Western Reserve) for a year then took evening courses in journalism and writing that were offered by Cleveland College, the adult division of the same university. Norton was a librarian for the Cleveland Library System then a reader at Gnome Press. After that position, she became a full-time writer.

She is most noted for writing fantasy, in particular the Witch World series. Her first book The Prince of Commands was published in 1934. Other titles include Ralestone Luck, Magic in Ithkar, Voorloper, Uncharted Stars, The Gifts of Asti and All Cats are Gray. She also wrote under the pen names Andre Norton, Andrew North and Allen Weston

She was the first woman to receive the Gandalf Grand Master of Fantasy and the Nebula Grand Master Award. She has also received a Phoenix Award for overall writing achievement, a Jules Verne Award, and a Science Fiction Book Club Book of the Year Award for her title The Elvenbane. In 1997 she was inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame. She died on March 17, 2005.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Norton and her latest collaborator (Edghill is a pen name of the accomplished Eluki Bes Shahar) live up to their reputations in this combination thriller, alternate history, and fantasy romance. The last act of the dying sorceress the duchess of Roxbury draws young Sarah Cunningham from our time into the duchess' period, the early-nineteenth-century Regency. The duke of Monmouth having won the crown in the seventeenth century, the Stuarts still reign, and there has been a French Revolution, complete with Napoleon, but not an American one. Sarah, magically coerced into believing that she is the duchess, must survive London society, French plots, and the duchess' fiance, the duke of Wessex. The book has the proper amount of action and the spritely pacing of a good Regency romance. It is quite the best effort in its composite subgenre since Wrede and Stevermer's fine Sorcery and Cecilia (1988). --Roland Green

Publisher's Weekly Review

Norton (Scent of Magic) and Edghill's (Book of Moons) collaboration shows how British history might have developed had the heirless Charles II been succeeded by his eldest bastard, the Duke of Monmouth, instead of by his unpopular brother James. Three generations after the change, in the early 19th century, the French have had their revolution, but America remains a colony (governed by Lord Protector Thomas Jefferson). Magic and faerie exist, but are even more covert than the numerous political factions and plots that enliven this action-packed novel. The story starts when the dying Marchioness of Roxbury gives her body to the consciousness of an alternate self: Sarah Cunningham, a poor orphan. Sarah must fulfill the marchioness's neglected promises: to protect King Henry IX's throne from the machinations of the spurned James's descendants and the designs of Napoleon, while helping the magical Old People of her estate fight off a Terror-beast that wants them destroyed. Sarah humorously adjusts to her new identity, encounters her dashing but (apparently) cold husband by an arranged marriage and ultimately proves her bravery. The archaic language might test some readers ("a slightly old-fashioned dress of sprig muslin" with "a ruffled lawn fichu") but the ton atmosphere and arch manners are richly described. Fans of the period and certainly of historical fantasy will be pleased by the amusing characters and elaborately plotted intrigue. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

A magical summons draws a destitute Sarah Cunningham from her own world into an alternate Earth where she becomes Lady Sarah, Marchioness of Roxbury, and finds herself caught in the midst of a deadly web of intrigue and unexpected romance. Coauthors Norton and Edghill combine their considerable expertise and skill to create a light-hearted excursion into romantic fantasy, featuring a heroine determined to transform herself from unwitting pawn into active player in the games of politics, love, and magic. With strong appeal for fans of alternate historical fantasy and Regency romances, this title belongs in most fantasy collections. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



The Shadow of Albion 1 A Lady Bought with Magic (Wiltshire, April 1805) T he house had always been called Mooncoign, though it had passed through several families before becoming King Charles III's gift to the first Marchioness of Roxbury over a century ago. The Roxburys had reigned at Mooncoign for longer than living memory ran, and to those within their domain, it seemed they always would. Even in that bygone generation there had been no one left who could say how the house had come to be so named--or if there were, they deemed it wiser, in a climate of uncertain political and theological tolerance, to keep the knowledge to themselves. For while Charles II, that merry monarch, had often said that the witches of England should be left in peace, the temper of his son, the once-Earl of Monmouth, was a chancier--and far more Protestant--thing. But the time of both merry father and ambitious son was long past now. It was early in April, on a morning of no particular note in the calendars of alchemists and philosophers: a day much likeany other day on the Wiltshire downs for every inhabitant of the great house save one. The room's furnishings were opulent and old; heavy walnut pieces that might have occupied this very chamber when Charles Stuart had used it to shelter from his Roundhead persecutors some one hundred fifty years before. The oak wainscoting glowed golden with long and loving application of beeswax and turpentine even in this pallid early spring sunlight, while higher upon those same walls fanciful plasterwork ornamentation spread its delicate lacelike tracery against the darker cream of the limewashed background. The room was oven hot, heated by the blazing fire of sea-coals upon the hearth and by the tall bronze braziers the doctor had prescribed. Now that same physician regarded the luxurious scene with disapproval, although it was not the elegant Jacobean room itself which had earned his censure. He turned to the waiting servant and, reluctantly, said what he must say. "You ought to have called me earlier. Her Ladyship's condition is very grave. In fact--" He hesitated, choosing how best to break the hateful news. "Speak louder, Dr. Falconer; I cannot quite hear you." The mocking young voice was hoarse with coughing and breathless with its owner's affliction, but it still held arresting power. Dr. Falconer straightened from his colloquy with Lady Roxbury's formidably-correct dresser and returned to the ornately-caparisoned bed of state. Pulling back the bedcurtains with one well-manicured hand, he gazed down at the bed's occupant. His patient stared back with brilliant unflinching eyes. Sarah, Marchioness of Roxbury, had never been a beauty--her eyes (quite her best feature) were grey, her hair was silk-straight rather than fashionably curled (and light brown rather than guinea-gold or raven-black or any of the other unlikely hues so beloved of the romancers ), and she was tall and slender--but she had always carried herself with the arrogance and style of the Conynghams. Now, however, even the animal vitality that had lent her passableplainness an aura of glamour was gone: the Marchioness of Roxbury looked exactly like what she was. A plain woman, and a dying one. "As bad as that, is it?" she whispered. "You had best tell me, you know; Knoyle is a treasure with hair, but she will only cry." The Marchioness's mother, the second Marchioness of Roxbury and illegitimate daughter of James the Second, the present king's grandfather, had died in childbed along with the babe who would, had he lived, have been the two-year-old Sarah's younger brother and heir to the Marchionate. Now mother and son slept in the small family burial ground at Mooncoign, and from the moment of their deaths, Sarah Marie Eloise Aradia Dowsabelle Conyngham had become Lady Roxbury, Marchioness of Roxbury in her own right. And each year, since her presentation to the Polite World at the early age of sixteen, the young Marchioness of Roxbury had anticipated the Season with a houseparty at Mooncoign. The entertainment was lavish and theatrical, and in this year of Our Lord 1805, ten days since, during an enactment of the Battle of the Nile upon Mooncoign's ornamental water, her ladyship's craft had accidentally been sunk, even though it was meant to represent Admiral Nelson's flagship, the Victory . She had been rescued by the Vicomte Saint-Lazarre and, though her crew had deserted to the house to repair their soaked toilettes, Lady Roxbury had remained to fight the engagement to an English triumph. She had ignored a steadily-worsening cough to mastermind the entertainment of her guests all the following week; the cost of that mock sea-battle was something she had not counted until today. Outside the windows, pale April daffodils pushed up through the rich loam of the downs. Dr. Falconer studied Lady Roxbury for some moments before he spoke. "It is a galloping consumption, Your Ladyship. You will not see out the month." Lady Roxbury's mouth tightened and the teasing light vanishedfrom her eyes. She had suspected as much; only a fool would not, once the blood began to appear on her lawn kerchiefs. There was a strangled sob from Knoyle. "Hush your howling," Lady Roxbury rasped hoarsely. "Anyone would think you were to be turned out without a character! It was only a chill," she said to Dr. Falconer, hating the note of pleading she heard in her voice. "It has settled on the lungs." His voice was gentle, but her ladyship heard the death sentence in it. Dr. Falconer was no country horse-leech after all, but King Henry's own physician. His skill was preeminent; there were few he would have left Town for, but the Marchioness of Roxbury was one. "I ... see," she said. Each breath was a struggle. A greater struggle was to resist the feathery unsoundness in her throat and chest that brought the wracking spasms of bloody coughing. "Thank you for coming, Doctor," Lady Roxbury said. She held out one slender jeweled hand, and Dr. Falconer bent over it with courtly punctilio. "Please consider yourself my guest for as long as you care to--and assure my other guests I will be joining them soon," she said. Dr. Falconer hesitated a moment before replying. "Of course, Your Ladyship. I shall carry out your wishes to the letter." He hesitated over her hand a moment longer, as if there were something he would say, then turned and left. Lady Roxbury turned to her abigail. "Knoyle." The one word was all she could manage; the tainted brittleness in her chest was rising into her throat, choking her. She reached out blindly, grabbing the abigail's broad warm hand with chill fingers of surprising strength. "No one! Tell--no one!" she gasped. Then the treacherous creature in her chest woke to willful life and spasm after spasm shook her slender body, until she lay weak and trembling beneath a coverlet starred with her life's blood. It is not fair, she thought to herself some hours later. The pop and hiss of the burning coals and the measured ticking of the long-caseclock in the dressing room were the loudest sounds in Lady Roxbury's world. She did not doubt that all was being done within Mooncoign's walls just as she would have it done, but she realized unwillingly that the time was coming when she would no longer be able to enforce her wishes--when, in fact, she would have no wishes at all. And then Mooncoign and the Marchionate, which was entailed upon the heirs of her body, male or female, would revert to the Crown, and someone not of her blood would walk Mooncoign's galleries of age-mellowed stone. It is not fair! Though the side-curtains of the bed were closed, Lady Roxbury had ordered the curtains at the foot drawn back so that she could see the portrait over the fire. Within its frame of gilded plaster, the painted visage of Lady Roxbury's grandmother Panthea, the first Marchioness, gazed mischievously down at her descendent, magnificent in satin and lace. Panthea's bejeweled hands toyed with a key, a dagger, and a rose, in sly allusion to the Roxbury arms and their motto: "I open every door." Oh, if there were only a door for this, away from the cruel weakness of her body and the knowledge of duties unfulfilled--! "A visitor for you, my lady." Knoyle's voice trembled--as well it might, since she was acting against her mistress's express orders to admit no one. Lady Roxbury struggled upright against her pillows, anger deepening the hectic color in her cheeks. "Who--" she began, before the inevitable spasm of coughing took her. As she clutched her handkerchief to her lips, she felt strong cool hands against her back, supporting her and pressing the worst of the pain away. "Who dares?" she demanded at last, when the paroxysm passed. "I dare," a voice said calmly. "As Your Ladyship knows, there is little I do not." Lady Roxbury's eyes widened fractionally as she caught sight of her visitor for the first time. Dame Alecto Kennet had been a great beauty in her day, and was still a woman of commanding and formidable presence. In her time she had been actress and confidential agent, mistress to two Kings, and more. In later life she had chosen obscurity as the companionof the Dowager Duchess of Wessex, herself a woman who shunned the limelight. Even so, only the veriest of greenheads would hold Dame Alecto at naught. "I had thought you in Bath with Her Grace of Wessex," Lady Roxbury managed to say. She lay back against the mounded lace-trimmed pillows, trembling with the effort of showing an untroubled countenance to her visitor. "And so I might yet be, did you not need me more," Dame Alecto replied. She unpinned her wide, plume-trimmed scarlet bonnet and set it upon the bench at the foot of the bed next to a slightly-battered hatbox done up in coarse string. Her hair, titian in her youth, had faded almost to pink with age, but was still elaborately dressed beneath its rich lace cap. She studied Lady Roxbury intently through eyes that Time had washed to silver as she unclasped her wool traveling cape and laid it beside the bonnet. Lady Roxbury managed a bleak smile. "I shall soon need nothing at all," she said wryly, "or so my physicians tell me. I wonder who shall have Mooncoign when I am gone?" "You would be better employed in wondering who will do that which you ought to have done, when you are not here to do it," Dame Alecto snapped. "Who will take your place, Lady Roxbury?" Such plain speaking was not something her ladyship cared for at any time, and still less at a time like this. Ignoring the effort it cost her, she forced arch indifference into her voice as she replied. "I dare say Wessex will find someone. But you have not come to tease me because my dying releases your mistress's grandson from his betrothal?" It suddenly occurred to Lady Roxbury that, though Bath was a day's journey away, she had received her death-sentence from Dr. Falconer only hours before. Even if the doctor had talked, there was no way that the Dowager Duchess could have known of it and dispatched her henchwoman hither. Lady Roxbury struggled upright against her pillows, groping for the tasseled cord that would summon Knoyle to her. "Your betrothal is a minor matter, beside the Great Work that you have left undone. Or do you forget who you truly hold these lands of, Lady Roxbury?" Dame Alecto's gaze was silver and ice; aformidable thing to face. But it was a formidable woman who faced it. "I hold them of the King. I am Roxbury," the bed's occupant replied. But the bellpull slipped unrung from her pale jeweled fingers. Whatever was afoot, she would face it herself, and not spread gossip to the servants' hall. "And have you sworn no other oath?" Dame Alecto demanded, still standing at the foot of the great bed as if she would summon Lady Roxbury from it. It was on the tip of her ladyship's tongue to end this wearisome interview when sudden images rose up unbidden behind her eyes: Midsummer's Eve four years ago. She had been one-and-twenty, and Mooncoign's steward had summoned her from Town--had brought her, over her protests, to the Sarcen Stones that lay at the edge of her land, to show her to the Oldest People, and to take her promise that Roxbury and Mooncoign would always do what must be done for the People and the Land. She came back to herself to meet Dame Alecto's gaze. There in the moonlight she had promised, but who would take care of her people and her land once she had gone? For the first time Lady Roxbury regretted her death as more than her own loss. It was a mystery no longer as to why Dame Alecto was here or how she had known to come. The Oldest People had avenues of information unknown to the human world--but even they could not change the appointed time of one's dying. "If you can tell me how I may fulfill that oath, I shall be indebted to you," Lady Roxbury said dryly. "You must summon another to take your place," Dame Alecto answered. She moved from the foot of the bed to its side, to fling back the heavy velvet coverlet and draw Lady Roxbury from her deathbed. She tottered and would have fallen without Dame Alecto's strong support. The room spun and reeled about Mooncoign's mistress, and the young Marchioness trembled as if in the grip of an arctic chill. The edges of her vision darkened and curled like the edges of a painting thrown upon a fire to burn. She barely noticed as Dame Alecto half-led, half-carried her to a chair before the fireand seated her in it, wrapping her in her heavy winter chamberrobe, its silk velvet folds still smelling faintly of cedar and lavender from its months in the clothes press. "Mooncoign is not in my gift," Lady Roxbury protested. Dame Alecto had poured out a cup of the cordial that Dr. Falconer had left her; now Lady Roxbury held it to her lips and breathed in the strong scents of brandy and laudanum. She sipped at it and felt the pain in her chest recede. "Nevertheless, you may choose your successor--if you dare. Look into the fire," Dame Alecto commanded, "and tell me what you see." Gypsy foolishness, Lady Roxbury thought scornfully, but spellbound by the force of the older woman's personality, made no overt demurral. She stared obediently into the pale translucent flames on the hearth. At last she was warm, no, more than warm, hot, burning, a creature of fire-- " Creature of fire, this charge I lay--" There were others in the room, standing about them in a circle, chanting, their voices blending into the thin music of the flames-- "Tell me what you see," Dame Alecto repeated. The fire shimmered before Lady Roxbury's eyes, and to her feverish mind the flames became a portal, a window, the curtains a stage upon which fire-phantoms capered-- The tumbrel lurched and swayed, moving slowly through the streets of Paris. All about the cart the mobile surged, jeering and catcalling, come to see the Marquise de Rochberré brought low at last. Sarah gazed out at them icily, as if she wore silks and jewels instead of a filthy calico shift; as if her head were elegantly dressed with feathers and lace instead of shorn nakedly bare-- "We can do nothing for her, whose pride was greater even than yours. Look again," Dame Alecto commanded. White Bird Dancing, a warrior of the Cree, gazed down at the paleskin village from which her father had stolen her as a babe. Around her a dozen of her brother warriors lay concealed, awaiting the signal that would commence the raid-- "That one has the spirit that we need, but we cannot reach her--nor do I think she would help us if we could. Again." The deck of a ship, the wooden railing salt-harsh and slick beneath her hands. She was Sarah Cunningham of Maryland, and in a few moments the ship that bore her would dock in Bristol Harbor. There was no one she could turn to, no one who could help her-- "That one," said Dame Alecto decisively, and the fire-pictures dissolved, leaving Lady Roxbury blinking dizzily, the jumbled memories of half-a-hundred Sarahs inhabiting all the worlds of What Might Be capering through her brain. "What have you done to me?" she demanded at last. "You have bewitched me! Pictures in the fire--I do not have time for such shabby hoaxes!" That other Sarah's life lay like a shadow in her brain; the unimaginable childhood in an independent America that was not a Protectorate of the Crown; the self so like Sarah's own and the temperament so different. "As much a hoax as the oath you swore among the stones," Dame Alecto said imperturbably. "You must summon this other Sarah to you, Lady Roxbury. She rides not to fortune, but to Death, do we not interfere--and so we may take her without breaking the Great Law. You, child, will take her death, and she--" "Will have my life? Her? That Puritan churchmouse?" Lady Roxbury demanded indignantly. She gasped for air, choking on the struggle and then surrendering to another spasm of coughing. It seemed to her that she could feel her life ebbing with every wracking spasm--and with her life, all the things that she might have done, ought to have done; the things that needed desperately to be done ... . "That child ? She will never do what I might have done!" Lady Roxbury cried breathlessly. "She will do all that you could have--and more. She will save England--if you have the courage to bring her to us," Dame Alecto said. Lady Roxbury lay back against the ornate brocade of the chair. Behind her closed eyes the room seemed to spin; she could feel Grandmere Panthea's painted gaze upon her, and felt the weakness pulling her on a blood-dimmed tide toward an eternal starlit ocean. Eternal peace, eternal rest, but not yet, not yet ... She raised her head proudly. "Say what you want of my life, madame, but never say I lacked courage!" It was madness to follow this madwoman, but fate had left her no choice. She was Roxbury; her death would leave no promises unkept. Dame Alecto nodded approvingly. "You must go at once, and alone. Take your fastest chaise and drive like Jehu to that place where you swore your oath. You must reach it by sunset. Can you find it again?" Lady Roxbury was a notable whipster, audacious to the point of suicide. Her cattle were prime blood-and-bone, the best to be had--by money or favor--in all of Europe. Yet such a race with the sun as Dame Alecto proposed was a wager even she would have hesitated to accept. Miles of narrow country lanes separated her from the Sarcen Stones, and the day was far advanced. "I could--did I have the strength to hold the ribbons." The admission of weakness was made with bitter reluctance. "If that is what you wish, madame, then you have come too late." "Would you have listened had I come earlier?" Dame Alecto said. Lady Roxbury did not answer, but she knew Dame Alecto's accusation was just; until Dr. Falconer's visit this morning she had still believed, deep in her heart, that some special providence would allow her to escape her death sentence. She watched as Dame Alecto turned away and undid the strings of the hatbox she had brought with her. From among its contents Dame Alecto selected a small silver flask. It glittered in the pale afternoon sunlight. "This will give you your health again for sufficient time to do what must be done. There is a price, as for all such tampering; the drink will consume all the hours left to you and distill them into this brief span. When it is over, there will be nothing left. Do you understand?" "Give it to me." Lady Roxbury's voice was steady as she held out her hand. She closed her fingers about the flask's fluted body, and seemed to feel the power of what it contained burning against her palm. She closed her eyes again, fighting the veils of darkness that danced across her sight. "I will leave you now. And I trust Your Ladyship will pass a pleasant afternoon." Alecto Kennet's voice was neutral. Lady Roxbury did not answer. From behind closed eyes she listened to the sounds of fabric upon fabric as Dame Alecto donned cloak and cape. After a moment Lady Roxbury heard the door to her room open, then close, as the woman took her leave. Whatever came next, Dame Alecto had no part in it. She does not care for me at all. The unexpected revelation gave Lady Roxbury momentary pause. The Marchioness of Roxbury was not one used to considering the feelings of others, and never had been in all the brief quarter-century of her life. But soon she would be Roxbury no longer, and the title would pass, not to her child, nor even to the Crown, but to a stranger snatched from Might-Have-Been--or so Dame Alecto said. And I am fool enough to believe her. To believe--or simply to snatch at anything that offered escape. Lady Roxbury lifted the brandy decanter from the side table and splashed a half-inch of dark amber liquid into the glass in her hand. Before she could change her mind, she uncapped the flask and upended it, discharging its contents into her glass. The fluid was dark and syrupy. It swirled slowly through the brandy, turning the liquor blood-red and faintly iridescent. With only a moment's hesitation, Lady Roxbury raised the glass and gulped its contents down. It was as though she had drunk the flames of the hearth. A hot bright fire beat through her blood, driving out the heavy giddiness and fever-chill of her illness. She gasped at the strangeness of it, and then drew a deep breath for the first time in a fortnight. Her chest was clear. Her lungs were whole. "The drink will consume all the hours left to you and distill them into this brief span. When it is over, there will be nothing left." Lady Roxbury got to her feet, and the half-expected dizziness did not come. So this much, at least, of Dame Alecto's promise was true. She wondered if all the rest was. She glanced out the window and measured the progress of the sun. If it is true, you will never know. Lady Roxbury's lips curved in a reckless smile. To bring that other Sarah to Mooncoign, she must reach the Sarcen Stones by sunset. If this was her fate, so be it--and she wished Dame Alecto much joy of her successor. "Knoyle!" she shouted, jerking vigorously at the bellpull. In an instant the abigail appeared, fear and astonishment vying for pride of place upon her face. "I wish to go out," the Marchioness of Roxbury said to her maid. "Lay out my driving dress--and tell Risolm to harness the match bays to my phaeton and bring it around. Well?" she added, as Knoyle stood there goggling. The abigail dropped a stupefied curtsy and fled. Lady Roxbury shrugged off the now-too-warm chamber robe and let it fall to the floor in a puddle of fur and velvet. She turned back to the fire, and for a moment she seemed to see that other Sarah's face within the flames: plain and young, unadorned by paint and jewel ... . "Milk-toast-miss!" Lady Roxbury jeered, turning away. Copyright © 1999 by Andre Norton, Ltd. & Rosemary Edghill Excerpted from The Shadow of Albion by Rosemary Edghill, Andre Norton All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.