Maria Iskra is a Boyar’s daughter at the heart of a cosmopolitan Danube port. Gilles Guiton is a crusader knight of St John, sworn to chastity. They meet on the battlefield of Nikopol, where a badly led international army has been destroyed by the Ottoman Turks. She retrieves his near lifeless body and nurses him back to health. With her father dead and her inheritance seized by the new invaders, she decides to accompany Gilles across Europe to his home in Normandy.
It proves a colourful journey of discovery for both of them, as love conflicts with duty. Dark moments of danger bring unexpected kindness from total strangers.
In Normandy Maria Iskra faces a dubious welcome from Gilles’ family. Then England’s Henry V invades and destroys the French army at Agincourt. Maria must survive years of privation and guerrilla war on the Normandy border. In order to ensure her family’s rights, she must find the courage to seek an audience with Henry V himself.
Christopher Buxton tells his story in a way that brings the past to an immediate present. He conveys the experience of every emigrant, who has to struggle with new dangers and whose way home is barred.
“In Maria Iskra, Buxton has created a prototype worthy of Yovkov”
“In Maria Iskra Christopher Buxton has given flesh to a woman who has lost her land of birth forever. Although a debut novel this is the work of a mature writer.”
“In describing the violent and troubled years of the early fifteenth century with their bloodshed, coercion, enslavement, displacement and trampling of human dignity the author throws a bridge towards the present–day -while affirming simple but often forgotten truths.”
“Far from the Danube – a fictional story based on real life characters, Christopher Buxton’s tale of a Bulgarian woman who falls in love with a French Crusader has got all the making of a Hollywood blockbuster”
Essex County Standard