It’s 1097 AD and a battle is brewing for control of the Holy Land of Jerusalem after Pope Urban II decreed it to be in the hands of the Moslems.
It is believed that anyone who visits the land will be blessed in the afterlife, and many leave Europe to make a pilgrimage to the area.
Prince Robert of Normandy leaves Brindisi, Italy, headed for Jerusalem, bringing both knights and soldiers and pilgrims to Jerusalem.
Travelling with him are his brother in law Stephen of Blois, a rich man who Robert’s sister Adela made go to secure her afterlife, Robert of Flanders and Duke Allen of Brittany.
Fulcher of Chartres has been sent along by his bishop to record events of the passage.
Prince Robert is 45 years old. He has children with a woman named Tegwin, but her Welsh heritage makes her unsuitable for marriage.
Robert’s brother is King William Rufus, and Robert wants to marry to secure the future of both himself and his children with Tegwin.
Robert’s father had tried to marry him off to Mathilda, but although they had a strong connection, Mathilda would not marry him, thinking their union not advantageous to her.
Matilda has Normans to the south, Germans to the north, and a reputation to keep inviolate with the Church.
There is much passion between the two.
On the three year journey they visit Mathilda, who tells Robert she thinks he should marry a maiden named Sybil, who is sixteen and very beautiful.
A union between Robert and Sibyl will strengthen the Norman Empire.
He meets Sibyl in Conversano, and indeed she is beautiful.
But will she wait for him, an old man setting off on battle?
The voyage is hard.
Half way to Jerusalem the Turks attack, and battle is waged with many lost, but Robert and his men help defend the eastern empire from the Turks.
They continue on, reaching Jerusalem and laying siege to the city, wanting to get to the final prize, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Jesus died.
As the purpose of the journey plays out, Robert thinks about the problems he faces when he returns.
He loves Tegwin, the mother of his children, and he loves Mathilda.
Seeing his reflection one day he has no idea if Sibyl will still want the battle hardened old man he has become.
As Robert deals with the issues in Palestine, he can’t help but wonder what awaits him in Normandy, if he lives to tell the tale.
Set during the time of the First Crusade, The Wayward Prince is an energetic saga filled with historical details, political intrigue and romance.
Austin Hernon was born on Tyneside in 1941 and enjoyed a military career. Already a Royal Navy trained diver, he joined the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers as a recovery mechanic before specialising in underwater recovery with the Royal Engineers and Royal Marines. After retiring from the army he worked in British Telecom and Post Office Group, developing information systems for distribution, before retirement when he took up writing. Disappointed that his autobiography failed to impress publishers, Austin chose Robert, Duke of Normandy as his subject, a man to whom he believes history has been unkind.