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Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. Sort order. Readers also enjoyed. About Robert Merle. Robert Merle. Born in Tebessa located in ,what was then, the French colony of Algeria. Robert Merle and his family moved to France in He has also written a 13 book series of historical novels, Fortune de France.

Recreating 16th and 17th century France through the eyes of a fictitious Protestant doctor turned spy, he w Born in Tebessa located in ,what was then, the French colony of Algeria. He'd scarcely had time to enjoy all the attention his younger son's military successes had brought to the family.

He had been announcing to all his friends in Rouen the upcoming visit of his son, the "Chevalier de Siorac", when he was overcome with a terrible intestinal pain — a miserere, or appendicitis, according to what I heard. He died, sweating and in terrible pain, before he could see his son, his sole surviving male heir and the only one of his children he had ever really loved, since, as I have said, he considered his daughters worthless. Jean, Chevalier de Siorac, collected his part of the inheritance, which amounted to 7, livres, and, upon his return to camp, sequestered himself in his tent with Jean de Sauveterre to do their accounts.


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Since both had been careful with their expenses, addicted neither to wine nor to gambling, they had managed to save most of their pay and the greater part of their booty. Moreover, having entrusted the greater part of their savings to an honest Jew in Rouen, each had prospered through his usury and now found that together they possessed some 35, livres — a sum large enough to permit them to purchase a farm together, from which they agreed to share all profits and losses. With the reluctant permission of the lieutenant general, the two Jeans left the Norman legion, taking with them their arms, their horses, their booty and three good foot soldiers in their service.

One of these drove a cart bearing all their worldly goods, including an assortment of loaded pistols, blunderbusses and firearms confiscated from their enemies.

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After each band of these scoundrels was dispatched, they were relieved of arms and treasure, a part of the booty going to each of the three soldiers and the rest into the coffers of the two leaders. On the road to Bergerac, just beyond Bordeaux, their troop overtook a gentle covey of nuns, each on her pony, preceded by a proud abbess in a carriage. At the sight of these five tanned, well-armed and bearded soldiers bearing down on them from the dusty road behind, the nuns began shrieking, thinking, perhaps, to have reached the end of their vows.

But Jean de Siorac, riding up alongside the carriage, greeted the abbess with great civility, presented his respects and reassured her of their good intentions. She turned out to be a young woman of noble birth, far from diffident, whose sweetly fluttering eyelashes held out a certain promise, and who asked for escort as far as Sarlat.

Now, my father was by reputation easy prey for all the enchantresses of this world, even those in nun's clothing, and was just about to agree when Jean de Sauveterre intervened. Polite, but stern, fixing his black eyes on the abbess, he pointed out that, at the rate the ponies were going, an escort would necessarily slow down their troop and expose them to many dangers of the road.

In short, it was a service that couldn't be enjoyed for less than fifty livres.

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The Brethren: Fortunes Of France: Volume 1

Abandoning her charms, the abbess haggled bitterly over this price, but Jean de Sauveterre stood his ground, and she ended up paying this sum right down to the last sol — and in advance. I remember hearing this story told more than a hundred times when I was still a child, by Cabusse, one of our three soldiers the other two were known as Marsal and Coulondre. And even though I loved this tale, I found it hard to understand the humour of Cabusse's closing words, inevitably accompanied by a great belly laugh: "One Jean handled the money and the other Jean handled the rest, God bless 'im!

He received his nephew hospitably, though he was secretly terrified at the sight of five booted, bearded and well-armed men invading his house.

The Brethren: Fortunes of France. - Free Online Library

But Jean paid his way, both room and board, and, since it was harvest time, the three soldiers rolled up their sleeves and pitched in. They were brave lads and though they served in the Norman legion, two of the three were natives of Quercy and the third — Cabusse — was Gascon. Before deciding where or how to establish themselves, the two Jeans, astride their best horses and clad in their finest costumes, went from chateau to chateau to present their respects to the Sarlat nobility. Jean de Siorac was then twenty-nine, and with his blue eyes, blond hair and military bearing, he appeared to be in the bloom of his youth, but for a swipe on his left cheek which had scarred but not disfigured him — the rest of his wounds being hidden beneath his clothing.

Jean de Sauveterre, at thirty-four, seemed almost old enough to be Siorac's father, as much because of his already greying, stiffly combed hair and deep-set, jet-black eyes as because of his battle-scarred face. He limped, yet was still nimble, and his large shoulders suggested his great strength. Their openness on this matter was the surest sign of their sense of self-worth.

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The Brethren

The Perigord of sixteenth-century France is a wild region on the edge of the reaches of royal authority-its steep, forested valleys roamed by bands of brigands and gypsies, its communities divided by conflict between Catholics and converts to the new Protestant faith, the Huguenots. They make their home in the formidable chateau of Mespech, and the community they found prospers, but they are far from secure-religious civil war looms on the horizon, famine and plague stalk the land, and The Brethren must use all their wits to protect those they love from the chaos that threatens to sweep them away.

The Brethren is the first volume in the epic historical drama Fortunes of France-a lusty, exhilarating blend of adventure and romance set against the backdrop of a critical period in European history.