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Headmaster writes raunchy novel
A flamboyant former headmaster of a Gloucestershire prep school has turned his hand to writing a novel, published just before Christmas and currently selling at market stalls in the north of England with such success that the cape-wearing author has recently been featured on Yorkshire television.
Parents around Gloucestershire and Wiltshire, however, will be more familiar with the writer, Richard de Methley, as Richard Lyne-Pirkis, for more than a decade the headmaster of Rose Hill School, near Wotton-under-Edge, where one year his annual fireworks display famously blew out all the windows of the main school building.
Now living in York, Richard has adopted the nom de plume de Methley, after the Yorkshire town from where his family originated at the time of the Conquest.
I might not bother to mention this historical nugget were it not for the fact that Richard is a Medieval history specialist and this book, The Lion and the Rose, his first published work, is a historical novel from first word to last.
Set in the New Forest in 1190, on the eve of the Third Crusade to the Holy Land, this boy's-own adventure follows the fortunes of Sir Gui de Malwood (the lion) and his great love Alicia (the rose) as they battle the evils of King Richard the Lionheart's scheming brother Prince John and his fearsome French henchman the Baron Roger de Brocas.
The tale is liberally laced with feasts and fighting, sex (including incest) and suspense and, if taken superficially, is a rowdy romp through the period, with the good guys all square-jawed and barrel-chested and the baddies all dark-eyed and short of stature.
This is far from a superficial novel, however. Mr de Methley certainly knows his stuff and is able to relate it so well that the reader is truly transported to the Middle Ages, can smell the earth of the castle bailey, see the colours of the lilies floating on the surface of the water of the moat surrounding it and taste each one of the numerous courses served at the Lord's banquet. We become experts at ancient herbalism and learned in the skills of the swordsmanship of the day, all the while not realising we are being educated.
The writing is unsophisticated but the story rattles along at a good pace and before you know it you are at the end, not of the story but of the writing, for this is the first of a trilogy and on the back cover we are promised "The Boar's Head Erased is on its way."
Presumably that is the title of the second in the trilogy and, almost despite myself, for I am not a lover of tales of derring-do, I will probably buy it.
The Lion and the Rose is published by White Boar Publishing; ISBN 978 9557480-0-4; Price £9.99
* Richard de Methley will be in Cirencester on Friday, January 18 for the Gloucestershire launch of his book at The Gallery, Bingham House, Dyer Street from 6.30pm. All history enthusiasts welcome.
The following day, Saturday, he will be signing copies of his book at Waterstones, Cricklade Street, from 9am.