From the historical fiction series by Witcher author Andrzej Sapkowski

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Andrzej Sapkowski, the author of The witcher series, is sitting pretty these days. His fantastic books have not only been turned into a blockbuster video game series, but a hugely popular Netflix show as well. AND he resolved the legal dispute he had with the creators of those games. Everything happens Sapkowski!

And now Orbit Books and Gollancz are publishing The mad tower, Sapkowski’s first book Hussite trilogy. This is a historical fictional series set in 15th-century Silesia – a historic region of Central Europe located primarily in present-day Poland – during the Hussite Wars of Religion. The trilogy tells the story of Reinmar de Bielawa (or Reynevan), who flees the city after being caught sleeping with a knight’s wife and hides in a Narrenturm, a medieval asylum that accommodates both people with rare diseases and those who do not comply. to the oppressive status quo. Apparently, the great mathematician Nicolaus Copernicus is a patient.

Gizmodo look at the cover of the US version of the book, which was translated by David French:

Image: Orbit Books

They also have an extract. If you read the whole thing, be warned: it contains sexual violence. Here is an excerpt from the excerpt below. It is a horse chase that takes place after Reynevan is discovered sleeping with Adele, the knight’s wife. He rides like hell to escape Adele’s brothers, desperate for revenge:

Reynevan’s first thought was to head for St. Mary’s Gate and out of town into the woods, but the stretch of Cattle Street leading to the gate was totally cluttered with wagons. In addition, the horse, pushed and frightened by the cries of an unknown rider, was showing great individual initiative, so before he knew it, Reynevan was galloping towards the town square, splashing mud and scattering passers-by. He didn’t have to turn around to know the others were on his heels given the thud of hooves, the neighing of the horses, the angry roars of the Stercza and the furious howls of the rushed people.

He galloped the horse with his heels, hitting and knocking down a baker carrying a basket. A rain of breads and pastries flew into the mud, soon trampled by the hooves of the Stercza horses. Reynevan didn’t even turn around, more concerned with what was in front of him than behind. A cart filled with bundles of brush stood before his eyes. The cart blocked most of the street, the rest of which was occupied by a group of half-dressed kids, kneeling and busy digging something extremely absorbent out of the mud.

“We have you, Bielawa! Wolfher thundered from behind, also seeing the obstruction.

Reynevan’s horse was running so fast that there was no way to stop it. He leaned against his mane and closed his eyes. As a result, he didn’t see the half-naked children scatter with the speed and grace of rats. He didn’t turn around, nor did he see a peasant in a sheepskin doublet turn around, a little stunned, as he pulled a cart down the road. Nor did he see the Stercza boarding the cart. Ni Jentsch of Knobelsdorf leaping from the saddle and sweeping half the queers in the cart with his body.

Reynevan galloped down Rue Saint-Jean, between the town hall and the burgermeister’s house, rushing at full speed to the huge and crowded town square in Oleśnica. The pandemonium has broken out. Aiming at the southern facade and the squat, squat tower of the Oława Gate visible above, Reynevan galloped through the crowd, leaving havoc behind him. Townspeople were screaming and pigs squealing, as overturned stalls and benches rained down on household items and foodstuffs of all kinds in all directions. Clouds of feathers flew everywhere as the Stercza – on Reynevan’s heels – added to the destruction.

Reynevan’s horse, startled by a goose passing in front of his nose, backed up and rushed into a fish stall, smashing crates and shattering barrels. The enraged fishmonger lashed out with a dip net, missing Reynevan but hitting the horse’s rump. The horse neighed and turned sideways, knocking over a stall selling yarn and ribbons, and only a miracle kept Reynevan from falling. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the merchant running after him brandishing a huge cleaver (in the service of God only knew what the haberdashery was for). Spitting a few goose feathers stuck to his lips, he overpowered the horse and galloped through the ruins, knowing that the Oława Gate was very close.

“I’m going to rip your balls off, Bielawa!” Wolfher de Stercza roared from behind. “I’m going to rip them off and stick them down my throat!” “

“Kiss my ass!” “

Only four men were chasing him now – Rotkirch had been pulled from his horse and being manhandled by angry market traders.

Reynevan darted like an arrow down an alley of dead animals suspended by their paws. Most of the butchers jumped back in alarm, but one carrying a big beef thigh on one shoulder tumbled under the hooves of Wittich’s horse, who got scared, reared up and was knocked down by Wolfher’s horse. . Wittich flew from the saddle directly onto the meat stall, nose first into the livers, lumens, and kidneys, and then was landed by Wolfher. His foot was stuck in the stirrup and before he could free himself he had destroyed a large number of stalls and covered himself in mud and blood.

At the last moment, Reynevan quickly lowered his head to the horse’s neck to hide under a wooden panel with a piglet’s head painted on it. Dieter Haxt, who was rushing at him, was not fast enough and the cheerful smiling piglet slammed his forehead. Dieter flew out of the saddle and crashed into a pile of garbage, scaring some cats. Reynevan turned around. From now on, only Nicolas de Stercza followed him.

Reynevan galloped out of the chaos and headed for a small square where tanners were working. As a frame covered in wet skins stood in front of him, he urged his horse to jump. It made. And Reynevan did not fall. Still a marvel.

Nicolas was not so lucky. His horse skidded and came to a stop in front of the frame and collided with him, sliding over the mud and the remains of meat and fat. The younger Stercza shot over the head of his horse, with very unfortunate results. He flew stomach first to the right on a scythe used to scrape the leather that the tanners had left resting against the frame.

Ooh, I don’t like the chances of this guy.

I think it’s a pretty well-written medieval chase scene, and it’s definitely written in the familiar and somewhat irreverent voice of Sapkowski. If you are interested in historical fiction this might be worth checking out.

The mad tower releases October 27, but you can pre-order a copy here for the USA and here for UK.

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