‘And fair knight, and well proved knight, thou shalt well wit I may not forsake thee in this quarrel, for I am for thy sake made and gotten upon a queen; and such promise I have made at my uncle’s request and mine own seeking that I shall fight with thee unto the uttermost, and deliver Cornwall from the old truage.’
Beautiful; but would a book set in the Middle Ages (or an alternative Middle Ages, as mine are) get away with its characters talking like this? I think the reader would find it hard going. I took the decision to have my characters speak in contemporary language, and sometimes get told off for it. Some readers want what they are used to from films and historical romances; a sort of pastiche, which bears little resemblance to the language used by Malory or Chaucer, but which they feel comfortable with. It's no more authentic than modern speech, of course.
I had a go at writing a bit:
‘Prithee, fair maid…’
‘Unhand me, my lord! Fie, for shame, I am promised to another, as well you know!’
‘Nay, lady, be not so intemperate. What lies, I wonder, beneath that haughty mien? Perchance you are not as cold as you seem…’
‘Sir, if this be jest tis an unseemly one! Take care; my brother rides hither apace, and will wreak vengeance for any affront.’
Hey, that was easy – I wonder if there’s a market for a medieval bodice-ripper?