Act I Exposition

The information from the bare bones plan will now be reorganised to compare it with the 18 step Hero’s Journey And the Five Act Structure. This is complementary to the Bare Bones Plan,and is by no means a duplicate of it. Much additional information and significant plot points are flushed out by this exercise.

In the five act, structure Act I covers the exposition and thus introduces the main characters.

Start of Ximene’s Journey

Ordinary World

  • Ximene Trencavel is a “Noble”.
  • She has a sexual relationship with her friend Phillipa (Pippa) de Roet
  • She is about to be sold into marriage by her guardian.
  • She is virtually a Prisoner in Château Foix. 

Call to Adventure

  • Ximene decides she must escape from the influence of her Guardian Gaston de Foix.

Refusing the Call

  • Ximene escapes from Château Foix, but meekly returns.

Gatekeepers and Mentors

  •  Ximene’s grandmother Lady Eleanor de Pedilla, acts as gatekeeper, inhibiting Ximene’s plans to escape. 
  • Lady Eleanor’s lover, Guillam de Clermont provides support.

Crossing the Threshold

  • Ximene takes total responsibility for her future.
  • She commences a process of obtaining a better understanding of herself and the world in which she lives.

Start of John’s Journey

Ordinary World

  • John Stanley is a shepherd. 
  • His future is altered at the merest whim of the Black Prince after helping the Prince during a hunt.

Call to Adventure

  • John is appointed as squire to his relative “Lord” James Audley. 
  • Because of this appointment he becomes part of the expeditionary force to Aquitaine

Refusing the Call

  • John is bullied by his fellow squires and contemplates running away.

Gatekeepers and Mentors

  • Lord James proves to be the catalyst for the first stage of John’s progression.
  • His martial arts instructor and the mate of the ship during the journey to Aquitaine also provide support and guidance at a critical time.

Crossing the Threshold

  • John accepts he has leadership potential and defeats his tormentors.

Threats and Tensions

Ordinary World

  • It is a brutal world. Both Bertrand du Guesclin and The Holy Inquisition show themselves capable of unspeakable cruelty.
  • The inquisition has terrorised Occitan for nearly one hundred years in an attempt to eradicate the Cathar religion.
  • Du Guesclin has designs  to kidnap and rape Joan of Kent. 
  • He has been beaten off in the past by William Montacute, Earl of Salisbury who at one time was Joan’s husband and still acts as her champion.

Gatekeepers and Mentors

  • When he is asked by the King of the Franks to kill Ximene if she does not marry his own son he sees the opportunity to attack both the prince and more importantly Montacute who is commander of the King’s bodyguard.
  • In the meantime, the Pope who for his own reasons is supportive of the Marriage between the Prince and Ximene orders the Inquisition to execute Ximene if she does not Marry the Prince.

Crossing the Threshold

  • Du Guesclin discovers the Prince’s plan is to marry Ximene and then to tolerate the Cathar religion in Occitan. He reveals this to the Inquisition and they make joint plans to kill Ximene.

Start of the Prince’s Journey

Ordinary World

  • In what Lady Eleanor describes as that “Most noble of menage a trois”,the Black Prince shares the affections of Joan of Kent – the Fair Maid, with his best friend William Montacute – The Earl of Salisbury.
  • The states of England and Aquitaine are bankrupt and Aquitaine is under continual attack by the Franks

Call to Adventure

  • The Prince’s Father King Edward, orders the Prince to break off his relationship with Joan and use a marriage with Ximene to stabilise Aquitaine.

Refusing the Call

  • The Prince is ordered to meet Ximene to agree a marriage contract. The Prince decides to see Joan, one last time.

Gatekeepers and Mentors

  • Joan has her own plans – to become the next Queen of England and sets about using her relationship with Salisbury to influence the Prince to marry her, not Ximene.
  • She also plans to introduce Ximene to one of her many lovers, Thierry d’Arques, who in her opinion has the most beautiful body she has ever seen.

Crossing the Threshold

  • Though there are plans to take an army to Aquitaine later in the year the Prince decides to make a totally separate, secret, journey to meet Ximene. 
  • This means that Joan has an opportunity to thwart his mission and divert Ximene.

The Chapters

Because of the self imposed constraints on Point of View this chapter listing was developed in conjunction with my editor Rebekah Jennings so that there was a document which told her what I was trying to do.

It was then possible as a separate discussion to establish whether I had succeeded in my intent.

A convenient cut point for Act I remains the completion of the exposition conveniently defined as the completion of the introduction of the major characters.

Some of these chapters have now being eliminated and others added but this list has been left as it was at the time of the discussion with Rebeckah.

1 The Ambassador

Introduces the main antagonist Du Guesclin and shows what a despicable man he is. Also introduces the legend of Ximene.

POV 3rd person personal (Frankish ambassador Georges d’Orlones) Flash forward.  Georges is a minor character (he does not appear again but he is the only person available to look at Du Guesclin therefore the point of view is justified.

2 The Inquisition

The start of the Linear story. Introduces the secondary antagonist albeit an organisation not a person (the Holy Inquisition) and makes it graphically clear how far from “Holy” their activities are.

POV 3rd person personal (Cardinal Amaud Littorale) plus some third person ommniscient.

3 The Prisoner

Introduces Ximene The main protagonist,and Lady Eleanor.  Ximene is virtually a prisoner in the Château de Foix. This chapter sets  the “Story Question” “What is freedom?” and introduces the background theme of the Cathar culture.

POV Commences with contempory omniscient one switch to 3rd person personal (Ximene)

4 The Rebel

Introduces the tertiary antagonist Gaston, Compte de Foix and shows him to be misguided rather than wicked. Starts the Main story thread which is “The quest for feedom” and also the Ximene story thread. Gaston has arranged for Ximene to meet King Edwards of England’s son, Edward of Aquitaine, the Black Prince during his annual summer hunt.

POV Commences with contempory omniscient one switch to 3rd person personal (Ximene)but then finishes with contemporary omniscient.

5 The Heiress

Uses Jean de Froissart to introduce King Edward III of England. King Edward is a minor antagonist (gatekeeper) but is one of the primary initiators of the inciting incident. He decides his son should marry Ximene.

POV Commences with contempory omniscient one switch to 3rd person personal (Jean de Froissart)but then finishes with contemport omniscient- one line

6 The Goddess

Introduces the second dramatic situation for Ximene (Ximenes sexuality)

POV Third Person personal (Lady Eleanor)

7 The Forester

Introduces John Stanley the secondary protaganist. Starts John Stanley story thread. Also introduces The Black Prince , who we discover is fond of hunting. Note this is not john’s inciting incident it is an accident of fate.

POV Commences with contempory omniscient switches to Multiple Third person objective(Lord James then James Stanley) then mid point contempory omniscient  before returning to Third person personal (John Stanley) and the closing with Contempory omniscient This is considered too short to sub divided into chapters.

8 King Edward

Exposes one of the driving forces influencing the King’s decision making – a lack of finances.

POV Third Party personal(Queen Phillipa, ( Edward’s Wife)

9 The Black Prince

Sets up two addition conflicts-The conflict with the Franks and the Prince’s relationship with Joan of Kent. King Edward orders his son to marry Ximene and to separate from Joan of Kent

POV Third Party personal (The Prince)

10 The Commitment

The Inciting Moment for Ximene.It occurs however when Lady Eleanor decides to confront the issues instead of avoiding them.The forthcoming summer hunt is chosen as the time for Ximene’s escape

POV 3rd person personal (Ximene) brief switch to 3rd Person Objective (Lady Eleanor) and then back to Ximene to conclude

11 Lord James

The inciting moment for John when he accepts he has leadership potential. Introduces minor antagonist (Ewan Fitzrobert) who bullys John.

POV 3rd person personal (John)

12 The Mass

The inquisition makes threats. If Ximene does not marry the Prince she will be killed.

POV 3rd person personal (Ximene)

13 The Secret journey

Introduces a major character the Earl of Salisbury who will become John’s Mentor. To meet Ximene’s demands for her involvement in the marriage contract, the Prince must travel to see Ximene in advance of his main army. He conspires to keep the journey a secret.

POV 3rd person personal (Earl of Salisbury)

14 Joan of Kent

Introduces the final two major characters.  Joan of Kent and Du Guesclin. We already know Du Guesclin is horrible and this merely confirms that, but makes it very personal.Now we meet Joan face to face an learn her side of the story of her relationship with the Royal Family. It is by no means clear whether Joan will be an ally or an opponent

POV First half is contempory omniscient but switches to 3rd person personal (Joan of Kent) at the mid point of the chapter.


The most dangerous woman in the world

The Treasure of Trencavel

List of Characters

Table Of Contents



List of Places

Table of Contents

Pseudo History


Extract from The Prisoner of Foix--Chapter 43 -The EntranceNo need to buy a Kindle. Read it on your computer or tablet

John Stanley-26th April 1355


'Looks like we are going to see a bit of excitement, John. The Captain tried to get an agreement from the Prince that if there is surf running across the channel to Arcachon we will turn back to Bordeaux, but the Prince would hear none of it. Instead, he has offered to provide insurance for all three ships. If they are damaged or sunk, the owners will be compensated and every sailor who makes the passage will be given a bounty payment. What none of this seems to take into account is that if we sink in rough, fast-flowing waters we might all drown.'

John raised his eyebrows. 'But that is what we are going to do?'

'Yes, despite the fact that surf running accross the entrance is not uncommon and the deep water channel moves continually. In the end, the Prince attacked their captains on their weakest point, their professional pride! He threw down the gauntlet. He offered to take the Sally first through the channel, and to take control during the passage.' He raised his brow. 'We are going into the Bay of Arcachon, come what may! '

Extract from The Eagle of Carcassone -- Chapter 24-- A Real GoddessNo need to buy a Kindle. Read it on your computer or tablet

John Stanley - 22 July 1355

An hour later John walked with Ximene close to the river along the valley below St Feriole. It was the very essence of a summer’s day. The sun was fierce but in the shadow of the trees, it was cool and fragrant. The trees and shrubs along the riverbank hid their progress, from the Château, from St Feriole.

Eventually they reached a point where John thought it was safe to emerge from cover. To his satisfaction the stream extended into a pool with a sandy beach, shaded by trees. Where the stream entered the pool there was a flat grassy area, almost circular. Behind this, the bulk of two mountain ridges provided a splendid backdrop. He looked around once more ‘Not just a good training ground but a great training ground. If the Greek heroes knew about this they might be tempted to join me, to train with me’

Ximene laughed out loud. He turned to look at her. She had removed her outer clothes and was wearing a white chemise, cut short so that it barely reached her knees. Around her waist, she wore a plaited leather belt, obviously fashioned from the multitude of leather straps to be found in the tackle room.

She ran her hands down over her breasts. ‘When you were unconscious I heard you muttering about gods and goddesses, so  I have decided that from now on, for you, I will be the goddess.’

The Prisoner of FoixVol 1 of the series—The Treasure of Trencavel

Aquitaine, an English possession, is in crisis. It is under threat from neighbouring nations and internal dissension.

The Black Prince, King Edward III’s eldest son has been given the task of taking command in Aquitaine.

Suddenly there is an opportunity. Ximene Trencavel is the heiress to the lands of Occitan, to the east of Aquitaine: lands controlled by the Franks. Ximene wants independence, both for herself and for Occitan.

A union between Aquitaine and Occitan would be mutually beneficial. The Black Prince undertakes a secret journey to meet Ximene to negotiate a marriage contract. It is, however, a marriage neither of them really wants.

Meanwhile, the  Franks plot to murder Ximene to prevent ,not just the marriage, but any kind of union between England and Occitan.

The Eagle Of CarcassonneVol II of the series—The Treasure of Trencavel

The loose alliance between Ximene Trencavel and the Black Prince is under threat.

The Prince invades Occitan, to show his support for Ximene but it becomes an invasion which creates more problems than it solves.

The Prince has fallen hopelessly in love with Joan of Kent and Joan is now determined to marry him and become the next Queen of England.

Joan is therefore  determined to convince Ximene that she should not marry the Prince.

Part of her strategy is to encourage Ximene’s relationship with John Stanley—one of the Princes bodyguards—not an easy task as both John and Ximene have doubts about their compatibility.

However, John is grievously injured in a battle and Ximene commits herself to nurse him back to health.