The untitled synopsis “Blades for France” outlines a historical adventure set on the western coast of France between 1515 and 1521. The story revolves around the intertwined fates of nobility, regents, and adventurers during a period of political intrigue and personal vendettas.

Featuring Dark Agnes de la Fere (also known as Agnes de Chastillon, Dark Agnes, and The Sword Woman) is a fictional character created by Robert E. Howard and the protagonist of three stories set in 16th Century France, which were not printed until long after the author’s death.

“Blades for France” presents a layered narrative, showcasing Howard’s ability to merge historical accuracy with thrilling adventure. It highlights themes of empowerment, loyalty, and cunning, with characters who are willing to fight for honor and justice against a backdrop of political machinations.

The story

Louise of Savoy, the lady-regent infatuated with Charles, Duc d’Bourbon, seeks vengeance after he spurns her affections. Her schemes lead to Charles’s removal as the Governor of Milan, with Vicomte de Lautrec taking his place. Meanwhile, Francoise de Foix, who is King Francis’s mistress and a pawn of Louise, is coerced into writing a letter to lure the Duke to an inn near the coast.

Unbeknownst to Louise, her tool Gaston is negotiating with the English pirate Roger Hawksley to assassinate the Duke. However, their plan is threatened when Cardinal Wolsey, sensing an opportunity to manipulate the political balance between France and Spain, dispatches English knights to intercept and kidnap the Duke before he reaches the pirates.

During this turmoil, a fiercely independent woman named Agnes La Fere crosses paths with Etienne Villiers at a tavern. Agnes, mistaken for a man by a swaggering brute due to her attire, defends her honor and subsequently assumes the brute’s identity by donning his cloak. At the tavern, Agnes is approached by Jehan, known as La Balafre, who is involved in the plot against the Duke. Agnes, under disguise, joins the conspirators led by Renault d’Valence, an old foe unaware of her true identity.

On their journey, Agnes recognizes the voice of Etienne during a scuffle in the forest and comes to his aid, defeating his assailants. Together, they encounter Francoise de Foix, who reveals her regret in trapping Charles, Duc d’Bourbon. Agnes and Etienne hurry to the inn, only to find that Charles has already been captured.

In a climactic confrontation, Agnes and Etienne launch a rescue mission aboard Hawksley’s ship, now commandeered by English knights. Agnes injures Cardinal Wolsey in the process, and although Renault d’Valence participates in the melee, he ultimately flees from Agnes.


  • Louise of Savoy: Lady-regent of France, enamored with and vengeful towards Charles, Duc d’Bourbon.
  • Charles, Duc d’Bourbon: The nobleman who spurns Louise and becomes the target of various intrigues.
  • Vicomte de Lautrec: Successor to Charles as Governor of Milan.
  • Francoise de Foix: Mistress of King Francis and unwilling participant in Louise’s schemes against Charles.
  • Gaston: A tool of Louise who deals with pirates to eliminate the Duke.
  • Roger Hawksley: English pirate contracted to assassinate the Duke.
  • Cardinal Wolsey: The English cardinal who plans to use the Duke as a political pawn.
  • Agnes La Fere: A courageous and skilled woman who gets entangled in the web of deception.
  • Etienne Villiers: Agnes’s companion, who assists her in her endeavors.
  • Jehan (La Balafre): An accomplice in the plot against the Duke who unknowingly recruits Agnes to their cause.
  • Renault d’Valence: Hired muscle and an old enemy of Agnes, involved in the conspiracy against the Duke.

Published in: