PW #103: Adult Historical Fiction: THE LAND BETWEEN KINGS
Manuscript Status: FINISHED
Mentor Name: Carrie Callaghan
Mentee Name: Eileen Haas
Title: THE LAND BETWEEN KINGS
Genre: Historical Fiction
Word Count: 94,000
In Viking-occupied Ireland, outcast jurist Cathal investigates a murder for the Irish king, unbeknownst to his Norse employer. Meanwhile, Norsewoman Ragna guards a dangerous secret that will entangle her in Cathal’s inquiry. As war looms, Cathal must play both sides or end up dead—and Ragna’s freedom depends on his silence.
Cathal rubbed his eyes with one ink-stained hand and adjusted the two law books on the trestle table in front of him. The air inside King Ivar’s hall clogged his nose with heat and wood-smoke. All day Cathal had been hearing cases, and one remained. Against the far wall, Ivar sat in his high seat speaking with one of his men. The Norse king came when Cathal heard cases so he could be seen—and feared—by his Irish subjects.
“Who’s next?” Cathal said in Norse, which he had learned as a boy in the monastery. Still, the slight catch of his accent betrayed his native Irish.
A few people yet remained in the hall, mostly traders lingering to exchange gossip after paying their taxes. In the corner a young man shepherded a woman and a small child. At the authoritative clip of Cathal’s voice, the man glanced around, flummoxed. He wore a cloak in the Irish style, the colorful wool pinned to one shoulder, and the woman had a cross around her neck.
“Are you here for a case?” Cathal said in the Munster dialect of Irish.
“Are you the jurist?” the man said. “Cathal mac Finn?”
Cathal’s eyes stung and his back was sore from the backless bench. He tapped his fingers on the table-top, casting a purposeful glance at his books.
“Yes,” he said. “I am.”
The young man took a step forward. “I have a case to bring against one of the foreigners.”