A Boy of Castles
Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund of Luxembourg can no longer avoid the truth that Wallachia, the backward state north of the Danube, will be the key ground in deciding Europe's fate and future. In a damp Hungarian castle he appoints Wallachia's new viovode, its prince - and it isn't Vlad: instead, he is left to guard the borders of Transylvania to the north...and definitely not to begin raids against the growing Moslem presence in Wallachia.
The people whispered his name across Wallachia, the name they had given him, and where a Moslem might be in earshot they said it a little louder: Vlad Drakul. Vlad the Dragon; Vlad the Devil.
When Vlad's time to rule finally comes his reputation as the "Terror of the Turks" pales over years of compromise and backtracking. His three sons are steered towards their allotted roles. His wife, the lady Cnejna, works silently in the background. Eliza the serving girl works endlessly.
In her final hours, Cnejna will turn to the middle son, Ladislav. His mother's death will begin the reorientation of Ladislav's whole life; the tutelage of Trovato diVelli will guide it; war and invasion will seal it.