Barnabus Mupatch is a street urchin who grew up on the dirty back streets of the great medieval city of Waxminster.
Daily life is a struggle for survival. Both the City Watch and the criminal Deadhand gang have no time or sympathy for the children who live in the streets, so they are forced to fend for themselves.
Barnabus has always been lucky in his life – at least, so far. This leads him to take risks that others wouldn’t dare to.
Like creeping onto the tournament field, and sneaking inside a knight’s pavilion.
Like trying on the suit of armour he finds there, and being mistaken for a real knight.
Like sitting on a warhorse, and having to fight the greatest knight in the land…….
Whether by luck or destiny, Barnabus is transported on a whirlwind adventure that takes him away from his Waxminster home, and into hair-raising confrontations with deadly demons and the most powerful wizard in the kingdom!
Join him as he makes new friends and becomes the unlikeliest of heroes!
His life will never be the same again……..
Targeted Age Group:: Children aged 8-12
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I’ve always been fascinated by the legends of King Arthur, and tales of knights, wizards and chivalry. I thought that the best way to get into a magical world such as this was to create one! I straight away identified with my hero, Barnabus, and felt I was accompanying him on his journey. Naturally, that then meant that it should be as exciting as possible!
I found the medieval world so interesting to write about that the story just wrote itself, and when it was over I was left with many interesting threads that pointed to new books about Barnabus and the great city of Waxminster. They will follow in due course!
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
I never really felt that I was creating the characters in the book. They came to me and said – don’t forget to include us! We are part of Barnabus’s story too, so don’t you dare leave us out!
Gaps arose in the story, gaps which were filled by personalities that just stepped into them. They belonged there. All I did was record what they told me to write!
An Irresistible Temptation
Barnabus Mudpatch crept cautiously along the outside of the pavilion. As far as he could tell, there was no-one around to see him. The tall, striped, bell-shaped, tents were all quite close together, and arranged in long rows. The knights and squires were attending to their horses somewhere round the front, so there was no-one at all at the back, no-one to see him slipping inside this particular pavilion. He crouched down, crawled under the flap, and lay flat on the carpet, listening. There was no noise. No noise at all. He put his hand inside his loose-fitting tunic, and gripped his medallion.
“Thanks, mum,” he whispered.
He slowly stood up and looked around.
He was inside a knight’s pavilion, luxuriously fitted out with elegant furniture, including a huge wooden four-poster bed. But none of these things really held his attention. He’d seen expensive furniture before, when robbing the houses of the rich. No, what he couldn’t tear his eyes away from was the suit of armour standing right in the middle of the tent.
“Whew,” he whistled softly to himself. “What a beauty!”
He listened carefully. The silence was broken by someone talking far away, but there was no sound of anyone nearby. He stepped up to the armour, and stretched out his hand.
Barnabus had seen knights all of his life – from a distance – but he’d never been near enough to a suit of armour to touch it with his own hands. This was his opportunity at last!
He felt the cold steel of the breastplate. An involuntary shiver ran up his arm. He couldn’t believe he was really touching it! He reached out with his other hand, and stroked the smooth metal. Then, unable to stop himself, he began to explore.
He leaned closer to the breastplate and sniffed. There was a cold, clear, tangy aroma of polished metal.
He could see his own reflection in it! His brown eyes were almost covered by a long fringe of thick black hair. He didn’t like to see his dirty clothes reflected in the shiny metal, so he pressed his cheek against it and closed his eyes. It was cold, and incredibly smooth. Opening his eyes he stood back and looked at the whole wonderful construction. Every child knew the names of the parts of a suit of armour, and Barnabus was no exception.
The breastplate was joined to the backplate to form the cuirass. The gorget protected the neck. The pauldrons protected the shoulders and uppers arms, the couters the elbows, the bracers the fore-arms, and the gauntlets the hands and wrists. The faulds covered the upper thighs and the cuisses the lower thighs, connecting to the poleyns, which covered the knees. The greaves protected the lower legs and the sabatons the feet.
Barnabus could tell this was a suit of armour designed for jousting because of the roundels, the large circular plates of metal hanging from the shoulder guards, meant to protect the armpits from an opponent’s lance.
The finest part, though, was the helmet. It was round, with a magnificent plume of red and gold feathers on top. It had a hinged visor which slid up and down, and which had vertical slits in so that the wearer could see out of it.
All of these components were held together by leather straps and buckles, cunningly concealed so that the whole collection of separate parts looked like a smooth, flexible shell of shining steel!
Barnabus Mudpatch was so enthralled that he’d forgotten where he was, and that he wasn’t supposed to be there at all. Coming to his senses, he looked around the tent once more. He saw cupboards, chairs, a tall mirror, a table piled high with food, and a huge bed. Everything was the same as before, but he felt as if he’d been in another world for a while, a world where dreams come true. He let out a long, deep sigh. He’d never been so happy in all his life.
But, by rights, he really shouldn’t have been there at all.
Barnabus was one of the Mudpatches – the children who live on the streets of Waxminster. But he was more than that – he was a Street Knight as well, an urchin who lived by a code of honour, modelled on the chivalrous knights he’d sneaked into the tournament to watch. Like them, the Street Knights were brave, but none of them were braver than Barnabus. He had a seemingly endless supply of good luck, and would never shy away from a bet or a dare. This time, though, he’d made the bet with himself. Not content with watching the tournament from the city walls, he’d bet himself that he wasn’t brave enough to creep out of the city and sneak into the tournament grounds to take a closer look. Of course, he’d both won and lost the bet, so here he was, risking danger and punishment inside a knight’s pavilion!
It wasn’t easy to get out of the city because the officers of the Gate Watch saw themselves as the natural enemies of the Mudpatches, whom they considered to be beggars and thieves. So Barnabus hadn’t gone anywhere near the gates, but had crept out of the sewers. That meant risking the Deadhand gang of course, but the east sewer was only guarded by Spider and Wagsnatch, whom Barnabus had fooled many times before. He knew how to get past them.
Once out of the sewer, he’d crept through the long grass until he reached the outskirts of the tournament ground. Everyone was so busy that no-one noticed him creeping around between the pavilions, and so he’d safely arrived at where he was now – all alone inside a sumptuous tent with a glorious suit of armour!
“You shouldn’t be by yourself, my friend,” whispered Barnabus to the armour, as though it was a fellow conspirator. “You need company, you do.”
It was unusual to see a suit of armour not being used at tournament time. This was its busiest period. Either a knight was putting it on or taking it off, or a squire was polishing it, or it was seated on a horse with a knight inside it.
“You must be a spare one,” whispered Barnabus to the armour. “Your owner’s left you behind, just for me!” He had fallen in love with it. “You’re beautiful,” he whispered, and then slapped his hand over his mouth. He hadn’t meant to speak. If anyone found him, he would be in enormous trouble. He whispered as quietly as possible. “A real beauty, that’s what you are! And you’re about my size! You must belong to the son of a knight!”
An idea entered his head. At first he ignored it because it was so ridiculous, but it refused to go away. The idea grew rapidly until he could think of nothing else. At last, it took him over completely. “There’s no-one here, just you and me,” he whispered. “Wouldn’t you like a little bit of exercise? Of course you would! I know just the thing for you!”
Barnabus’s keen eyes had worked out how the suit of armour was held together, and without pausing to think he started unbuckling the buckles and carefully laying the sections of precious metal onto the carpeted floor. It took several minutes to complete this process, and when it was done, the armour looked like the pieces of a giant jigsaw puzzle laid out on the carpet. The wooden frame it had been mounted on stood alone and forlorn, like the dried-up skeleton of a long-dead knight.
Barnabus had fallen under the armour’s spell, and there was no way he was going to leave the pavilion without trying it on.
He looked behind the frame. There, on a table, were the underthings, the items of clothing designed to be worn underneath the armour. There was the gambeson, the quilted tunic worn as an undershirt. He picked it up, threw it over his head, and wriggled into it. The fit was perfect. Then he put on the quilted coif, the soft cap designed to protect his head from the hard edges of the helmet. Next was the hauberk, the shirt made entirely out of chain mail. That was really heavy! He put it on over the gambeson, and then put on the the chain-mail coif, a sort of flexible metal hood to go over the quilted coif.
He looked at himself in the tall mirror. If it wasn’t for his dirty brown linen leggings and his old leather shoes, he’d look the perfect picture of a knight!
“You’d be proud of me, mother,” he said quietly, raising his hand to his chest. The medallion was buried under the hauberk, the gambeson, and his own tunic, but he could feel it against the skin of his chest. He always felt happier when he could hold it in his hand, but that would have to wait until he took the underthings off again.
“Now for the rest!” he whispered to himself. “You first,” he said, bending down and tying the sabatons over his shoes. The greaves were next, then the faulds, cuisses, and poleyns. His feet and legs were armoured. That should prove useful if a scorpion attacked him!
He wasn’t sure what to put on next. If he covered his arms and hands he wouldn’t be able to fasten on the breastplate and backplate, but if he put them on first then they’d restrict his ability to dress his arms and hands. What he needed was some help.
Up until this point he’d been concentrating so hard on putting on the armour that he’d blanked out all extraneous sounds. Now, however, something forced itself upon his attention.
He could hear sounds of activity coming from outside the pavilion. A voice of command was shouting something from a distance, and an old man’s voice was replying from nearby.
“Yes, yes, I know. I’m going to get my master now. He’ll be there, don’t worry!”
Barnabus’ sense of tranquillity disappeared in a flash, and was replaced by sheer panic. He was about to be caught! Him, a Mudpatch, not only in the tournament grounds – which was forbidden – but wearing a suit of armour as well! They might think he was trying to steal it, and then he would really be in trouble! The footsteps were just outside the tent. There was no way he could hide, as the pieces of armour he was wearing were just too bulky. Anyway, it was impossible to move fast while wearing them. He couldn’t dive under the bed, and he couldn’t creep out of the pavilion the way he’d come in. There was only one place left to hide. He bent down stiffly, picked up the helmet, and placed it carefully over his head. He stood up just as the owner of the voice he’d heard came through the tent entrance, muttering to himself.
Now Barnabus was really trapped. Trapped inside a cage of his own making.
About the Author:
I can remember looking at picture books when I was a very small child. Anything colourful captured my imagination. I also loved to look at Rupert the Bear and Noddy books, although I couldn’t read the text.
Then, one day, I asked my older brother – who already knew how to read – if he would read me a bedtime story. Not surprisingly – knowing older brothers – his reply was a resounding “No,” followed by “Why don’t you learn to read yourself?”
I was only four, so this was quite a challenge! Nevertheless, this was the goal I set myself.
When I finally achieved it – and I couldn’t tell you when it was – I started my own reading journey, which continues to this day.
I can remember when we lived next door to the local public library. In those days we were allowed to take out only two books at a time, so, on a Saturday morning, I would go and take out two books. I would sit down and read them all morning, so that at lunch time I could go back and change them for two more. Then I would sit down and read these all afternoon, so that I could go back and change them for two more just before the library closed at 5.30pm. Then, at least, I would have two new books to keep me occupied on Sunday!
My fascination with books has never faded, and I always have one with me – sometimes two or more! I love the world of imagination they open up to me.
I love it so much that I decided to cross the bridge from reader to author so that I could create my own worlds of imagination, and share them with you!
And so here I am!
The stories I like to live in are ideal for children in the age range of 8 years to 12 years, and for those who love children’s stories, whatever age they may be!
I hope you enjoy reading my books as much as I enjoy writing them!
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