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THE ROSE OF SHARON (Mariana de la Mar prequel)

The journey of the “little mermaid” in the Mar Menor (the Little Sea) in the Moorish south of Spain to medieval Paris, via a bordel in Cuenca and a harem in Granada, then north to Avignon-of-the-Popes and so to Paris.

This is the story of Mariana de la Mar, Mariana la Loca, of her early years in the still very Moorish south of Spain, and of her impossible dream of one day becoming a student at the great university in Paris. It is also the story of Ferchard, Sir Farquhar de Dyngvale, her father’s old friend, and of the little “lost princess” whom Mariana was tasked with restoring to her home and family …

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​Her twentieth year sees Mariana arrive in Paris, at last able to pursue the studies she began as a child (though that means dressing as a boy – no women are admitted to the lectures). However, at Christmas of that year (1377), a fellow-student of hers, is accused of murdering his uncle, an elderly alchemist, and in order to save him she sets out to discover what really happened.

These investigations bring her into contact with the highest and lowest in the land. She meets and discusses the case and her situation with the Holy Roman Emperor, (in Paris on a Christmas state visit) and becomes friends with his daughter, Princess Anna, who a couple of years later marries the boy-king Richard II and becomes Queen of England. At the opposite end of the social spectrum, Mariana is soon on familiar terms with the feared Albanian king of the Paris underworld and the abbesses of two of the city’s most notorious brothels – where, of course, she naturally feels at home. In the course of her investigations, though, she falls foul of the Church …
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