In a violent age when enemies besiege Brydein and alliances shift as swiftly as the wind, stand two remarkable leaders: the Caledonian warrior-queen Gyanhumara and her consort, Arthur the Pendragon. Their fiery love is tempered only by their conviction to forge unity between their disparate peoples. Arthur and Gyan must create an impenetrable front to protect Brydein and Caledonia from land-lusting Saxons and the marauding Angli raiders who may be massing forces in the east, near Arthur’s sister and those he has sworn to protect.
But their biggest threat is an enemy within: Urien, Arthur’s rival and the man Gyan was treaty-bound to marry until she broke that promise for Arthur’s love. When Urien becomes chieftain of his clan, his increase in wealth and power is matched only by the magnitude of his hatred of Arthur and Gyan—and his threat to their infant son.
Morning’s Journey, sequel to the critically acclaimed Dawnflight, propels the reader from the heights of triumph to the depths of despair, through the struggles of some of the most fascinating characters in all of Arthurian literature. Those struggles are exacerbated by the characters’ own flawed choices. Gyan and Arthur must learn that while extending forgiveness to others may be difficult, forgiveness of self is the most excruciating—yet ultimately the most healing—step of the entire journey.
Changing the Legend
One of the oldest forms of storytelling is the legend: tales of heroes and their deeds, their defeats and victories, their enemies and allies, their lives and their loves. Legends caution us and inspire us. Legends have fascinated us for millennia.
Once a fact has transitioned into legend, it enters into the domain of the storyteller, whose number one job is to entertain his audience by keeping the legend fresh and relevant.
The evolution of the Arthurian Legends offers a prime example of this process. Though contemporary historical records are scant, very few scholars today dispute the fact that a warlord arose out of the chaos of the British political landscape left in the wake of the Romans’ departure, and that this warlord united his people for a generation. His name remains in dispute; some scholars call him Ambrosius, Riothamus, Artorius, Arturus, or Artos. Tradition has named him Arthur.
Arguably the earliest appearance of Arthur is in the ancient Welsh literature known as “triads” – poetry developed and retold by the Celtic bards to commemorate heroes and deeds. The original bards were druidic initiates. Since it was a capital crime for these men to commit triads to writing, their poetry did not achieve written form until the twelfth century, many generations after the druids had ceased to be a religious and political influence. In the Welsh triads, Arthur is presented as a war leader… and a cattle thief.
And yet Arthur’s “once and future” memory must have thrived in folk memory, for his story jumped the English Channel into France and beyond, thanks to late 12th-century troubadour Chrétien de Troyes, who added a Frenchman named Lancelot to Arthur’s court and made other knights’ deeds appear to be more heroic to his audience than cattle thievery would suggest.
In more recent times, Mark Twain changed the legend with the introduction of his famous Yankee from Connecticut—and in the killing off of Arthur and thousands of other knights as a direct result of the Yankee’s meddling. Twentieth-century author T.H. White gave Arthur cannons to use against Lancelot in their final battle, as a veiled commentary about the horrors of World War II.
My approach in The Dragon’s Dove Chronicles (Dawnflight, Morning’s Journey, etc.) seeks not so much to change the legend as to strip off centuries of embellishments to bare the roots of what might have really happened to Arthur and his world. It remains fresh and relevant today because, although technology changes throughout the millennia, human beings do not. We live, we laugh, we fight, we love, we mourn, we triumph, we struggle.
And we learn from the journey, the more so when we have legends to help us.
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About the author:
Kim Headlee lives on a farm in southwestern Virginia with her family, cats, goats, and assorted wildlife. People & creatures come and go, but the cave and the 250-year-old house ruins—the latter having been occupied as recently as the mid-20th century—seem to be sticking around for a while yet.
Kim is a Seattle native (when she used to live in the Metro DC area, she loved telling people she was from "the other Washington") and a direct descendent of twentieth-century Russian nobility. Her grandmother was a childhood friend of the doomed Grand Duchess Anastasia, and the romantic yet tragic story of how Lydia escaped Communist Russia with the aid of her American husband will most certainly one day fuel one of Kim's novels. Another novel in the queue will involve her husband's ancestor, the seventh-century proto-Viking king of the Swedish colony in Russia.
For the time being, however, Kim has plenty of work to do in creating her projected 8-book Arthurian series, The Dragon's Dove Chronicles, and other novels under her new imprint, Pendragon Cove Press.
Thank you for featuring Morning's Journey and my guest post on your blog!
Stories make us greater.
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