The Twelve Children of Paris
Paris, 1572: Knight of St John, veteran of the Siege of Malta, janissary-trained in war and weapons – Mattias Tannhauser is a very dangerous man who is looking for his wife and stepson. Orlandu is a student amongst thousands in the city. Pregnant Carla has been summoned to play with the musicians celebrating a Catholic-Huguenot royal marriage. With the fatal shooting of Coligny, the King’s friend, wedding celebrations are replaced by wholesale killing in a city overflowing with hostility and blood lust. Tannhauser, frustrated, deceived and provoked into lethal duelling, finds Orlandu badly wounded. In the house where Carla stayed, there are slaughtered men, women and children, mutilated almost beyond recognition.
The ensuing extraordinary events take place over a night and a day amidst unforgettable horrors. These must be acceptable to readers on two counts. Firstly: Tannhauser, a Knight Hospitaller, is familiar with human anatomy. When he kills he can give a quick death or lingering agony, and it is fascinating to be with him throughout. Secondly, the people, especially the inhabitants of the Paris underworld; there he finds loyalty and courage, even in Cockaigne, where the monstrous and terrifying Grymonde rules. Not to be forgotten in Tannhauser’s frantic search for Carla – now mother of a baby girl – are the nobility of Clementine the carthorse and the valuable street-wisdom of Lucifer the dog. And Tannhauser’s ragtag Twelve Children: how many will survive the voyage down the Seine to safety? A brilliant novel, thrilling and mysterious with a suspense hard to bear.