1454. A noble French falconer. A spirited merchant’s daughter. And a fateful decision that changes their destiny forever.
When Cédric is recruited by the Knights Hospitaller to the Greek island of Rhodes, his wife Sophie jumps at the chance to improve their fortunes. After a harrowing journey to Rhodes, Cédric plunges into the world of the knights—while Sophie is tempted by the endless riches that flow into the bustling harbor. But their dazzling new home has a dark side.
Slaves toil endlessly to fortify the city walls, and rumors of a coming attack by the Ottoman Turks swirl in the streets. Desperate to gain favor with the knights and secure his position, Cédric navigates a treacherous world of shadowy alliances. Meanwhile, Sophie secretly engineers a bold plan to keep their children safe. As the trust between them frays, enemies close in—and when disaster strikes the island, the dangers of their new world become terrifyingly real.
With this richly-told story of adventure, treachery, and the redeeming power of love, Amy Maroney brings a mesmerizing and forgotten world to vivid life.
The setting for Island of Gold
Island of Gold, the first book in my Sea and Stone Chronicles series, was inspired by a visit to the Greek island of Rhodes back in 2012 with my family. I was struck by the kindness of the people there, and by the layers of history stretching back thousands of years. The island’s coastline was breathtaking, with white-washed little villages clinging to hillsides overlooking sparkling bays. The forested, hilly interior was a world unto itself, clothed in pine and cypress forests. Everywhere we went, ancient temples and crumbling statues of Greek goddesses existed alongside walls and forts built by the medieval Knights Hospitaller of the Order of St. John.
During our stay, I was fascinated to learn that Rhodes Town, the largest community on the island, has been a thriving port for millennia. In the medieval era, the Knights Hospitaller ruled Rhodes and the surrounding islands from a palace overlooking the bustling harbor. The knights were few in number—about three hundred knights lived in Rhodes Town during the mid-fifteenth century, when Island of Gold takes place—but they were supplemented by thousands of mercenary soldiers and bolstered by their powerful naval fleet. Their primary goal was to defend Christendom from Muslim forces in the East, both the Ottoman Turks and the Mamluks who ruled Egypt.
In Rhodes Town one day, we followed traces of the knights through Rhodes Town. Echoes of them lingered in the vaulted corridors of the hospital that once served local people, pilgrims en route to Jerusalem, and the knights themselves. Exiting the hospital, we followed a narrow cobbled lane up a hill. Known as the Street of the Knights, it’s lined with lovely medieval structures that once served as inns housing knights, pilgrims, and travelers.
At the top of the hill, we entered the reconstructed palace of the Order and wandered through vast, formal chambers. We peeked into dim corridors where stone tablets carved with European knights’ coats-of-arms leaned against the walls. Staring at those dusty slabs of stone, I wondered who the knights had been. Where had they come from? How did they die? I imagined their militarized world existing alongside the merchants, ship-captains, and local Greeks who made up the population of Rhodes Town. What had it been like for ordinary people living in the knights’ shadow? For women, especially?
We strolled down the hill from the palace to the harbor, where seawalls stretch out from stone quays to embrace the waves. I watched sailboats cruise in from the sapphire-blue waters of the Aegean and imagined the past. Would merchant galleys six hundred years ago be powered by sails, by oars, maybe by both? Did the merchants and the knights get along? Did the locals resent the knights? Who benefited from the Order’s presence? Who suffered? The questions burrowed into my brain and never left. Eventually, I explored them all during my research for Island of Gold and the other books in the Sea and Stone Chronicles.
The truth is, Rhodes cast a spell on me a decade ago that only grew deeper as the years wore on. When I decided to write about the island and its history, I had no idea what an incredible journey of research lay ahead. The secrets of history I’ve shared in Island of Gold are just the beginning…there are many more voices and stories of the past waiting for their turn in the spotlight. And, in time, the Sea and Stone Chronicles will reveal them all.
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Island-Gold-Amy-Maroney-ebook/dp/B098DHYCPK
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B098DHYCPK
Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/Island-Gold-Amy-Maroney-ebook/dp/B098DHYCPK/
Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/Island-Gold-Amy-Maroney-ebook/dp/B098DHYCPK/
Meet Amy Maroney
Amy Maroney lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family, and spent many years as a writer and editor of nonfiction before turning her hand to historical fiction. When she’s not diving down research rabbit holes, she enjoys hiking, dancing, traveling, and reading. Amy is the author of the Miramonde Series, a trilogy about a Renaissance-era female artist and the modern-day scholar on her trail. To receive a free prequel novella to the Miramonde Series, join Amy’s readers’ group at www.amymaroney.com.
Connect with Amy
Book Bub: www.bookbub.com/profile/amy-maroney