The second swaggering instalment of Fortunes of France, the first volume of which, The Brethren, took the UK by storm last yearMontpellier in 1566-only fools walk the streets at night unarmed, while a profession of faith in the wrong company can lead to a knife in the back. Not even this proud city of philosophers is safe from the menaces that endanger the peace of France. The city militia are struggling to contend with the lawlessness and religious hatred that threaten to tear the whole country in two.Now an adult, Pierre de Siorac must travel south on dangerous roads to the great university town, accompanied by his strapping but naive brother Samson and the crafty Miroul. Well-armoured, with swords and pistols at their belts, the trio are confident of repelling any bandits who cross their path, but their new life away from the safety of their Perigord home will bring with it many new dangers and delights.Continuing the colourful story that began with The Brethren, City of Wisdom and Blood is the second book in the sweeping saga, Fortunes of France.Robert Merle (1908-2004) was born in French Algeria, before moving to mainland France in 1918. Originally an English teacher, Merle served as an interpreter with British Expeditionary Force during the Second World War, and was captured by the German army at Dunkirk, the experience of which served as the basis for his Goncourt-prize-winning Weekend at Zuydcoote. He published the 13 volumes of his hugely popular Fortunes of France series over four decades, from 1977 to 2003, the final volume appearing just a year before his death in 2004.