Joan of Arc, in Notre Dame Cathedral.

Joan of Arc, in Notre Dame Cathedral.

Here’s what I wanted to know about Joan of Arc. My most successful work is always born out of the question, How come?

With A Prayer for Captain La Hire, I wanted to know why none of the champions who fought by Joan’s side, who followed her into battle, who used her as a weapon in the war for France’s identity and soul, none of them tried to ransom her when she was captured by the Burgundians and turned over to the English.

The answer was the Church; Joan made it clear she answered to the Church in Heaven, not the Church here on Earth. And the Church hierarchy didn’t like that.

So the King still so precariously perched on his throne dared not try to ransom her, and none of the other knights could do so either. Maybe, as my Captain La Hire says, they thought that because she was the Maid she would win.

But I couldn’t get over what that had to have done to the men who were her staunchest allies, including the men who later testified at her third trial, after her death.

This story was wildly successful. It was published in Black Gate Magazine in 2002, and later in Year’s Best Fantasy 3. It remains my favorite story to this day.


Christi Sharkey · December 7, 2013 at 9:13 am

My friend, that may have been a little too well written for me. I could feel their pain, and it took awhile for the tears to stop running down my face. Still, I will probably read it again, if I can. Sometimes the soul needs such a story as this.

Patrice Sarath · December 7, 2013 at 9:30 am

Thank you. I immersed myself in research for many months, and La Hire, de Metz, and de Poulengy became good friends. With the latter two, their love for Joan came through in their testimony at Joan’s trial of rehabilitation, when she was acquitted of heresy and witchcraft after her death. When I came upon Joan’s statue in Notre Dame I cried a little.

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