Sword in Her Hand, A Share this with a friend

by Jean-Claude van Rijckeghem and Pat van Beirs
translated by John Nieuwenhuizen

As the murmur of prayers fills the icy room, mother and baby seem doomed. When the newborn finally struggles into the world, the Count of Flanders flees in a rage. The child is not the expected male heir—but a girl.

Growing up under the disapproving eye of her heartless father, the strong-willed Marguerite instinctively learns to survive in the fierce and violent male world of the Middle Ages, with its pagan rituals and bloody fights to the death.

When her father demands that she wed a man she detests, the young countess uses all her cunning to stop the marriage. The only thing she cannot conquer is the plague, which marches across the land killing thousands, including the man she loves.

Based on a real character, this colorful story is told with sharp humor and is filled with dramatic intensity. The final scene in the book, in which Marguerite and her father engage in a savage sword fight, will remain engrained in readers’ memories.


“Winner of six major European awards, this is a brilliantly written book, with a feisty narrator and sharp sense of humour — the medieval world was seldom more alive.”

“Dramatic in … a masterly way. Power and temperament givethe tale conviction, far away from mere medieval setting andbrave historical obligingness.”
—Die Zeit

“This one has it all: romance, adventure, excitement. It’s a very special book.”
—January Magazine, 03/13/11

“… masterful storytelling, rich in historic detail, and fast-paced … the dialog is lively and colorful.”
—booksbypamelathompson.blogspot.com, 03/15/11

“Marguerite’s fearless spirit, the fast pace, and the setting’s gritty authenticity all elevate this noble historical novel above the rabble.”
—Kirkus Reviews, 05/15/11

“… an engaging, well-paced story that also gives a vivid picture of life in the Middle Ages …”
—Foreword Reviews, 03/11

“Annick Press is to be commended for bringing this novel, first published in Flemish, to an English speaking audience. Highly recommended”
—CM Reviews, 06/11

“… good for females who want to read about a different type of royal princess.”
—Resource Links, 06/11

“Although the book is primarily geared towards teens, the author’s message … is applicable to adult readers as well. Both age groups will relish joining Marguerite as she strives to become comfortable in her own skin.”
—edwardsmagazinebookclub.com, 08/28/11

“… hooks readers from the first vividly described … scene to the final pages … Highly recommended.”
—keenreaders.org, 10/11

“… the deft characterization of Marguerite and the sumptuous details woven throughout this captivating novel will engage readers.”
—School Library Journal, 11/11

“… there is plenty of tension and gripping moments that had me flipping through pages furiously to see what would happen next.”
—Gagging on Sexism, 05/20/12