Please welcome Helen Hollick my Guest Blogger and author of Shadow of the King.
I had never been particularly found of the traditional Medieval legends of King Arthur – the Holy Grail, knights in armour, round table stuff, they never seemed to feel real; I could never believe in the characters or the stories. Then I discovered, in an author’s note by Mary Stewart in her Crystal Cave and Hollow Hills novels, that if Arthur had existed he would not have lived in the 12th – 13th century, but way back at the period when Rome had abandoned Britain to the mercy of the encroaching Saxons. That was it, I had found the reality of King Arthur – I was hooked.
I worked as a library assistant at the time, so had access to countless books, but the more I researched and gathered notes and ideas, the more I became disillusioned with various novels. All wonderful books, yes, but they did not portray my idea of Arthur. In the end, getting particularly grumpy with one version of Guinevere (I call her Gwenhwyfar) I made up my mind to write my own.
There were to be no knights in armour, no stone castles, round tables, holy grails or chivalric deeds. No Lancelot, Gawain, Galahad – and no Merlin. Instead, I decided to use the early Welsh legends of Arthur – which show him in a very different light to what we are used to. I wanted to make him a down-to-earth, rough, tough king who had to fight hard for his kingdom and fight even harder to keep it. I also wanted my Gwenhwyfar to be a woman who knew how to look after herself, and a woman of loyalty and honour. There would be no running off with Lancelot for her! She meets Arthur when he is a boy – and hates him at first sight, but soon realises her mistake and falls in love. Theirs is a tempestuous marriage between two people who love each other with a fierce passion, but who have their own opinions and agendas. The result is often a blazing row, but never would Gwenhwyfar betray Arthur, despite the several tragedies that befall their years together.
For the third part of the Trilogy, Shadow of the King, I again wanted to do something different to the familiar legends, but stay within the bounds of possible fact.
I discovered that Arthur very possibly was also King of Brittany, known there as Riothamus (there is evidence for Riothamus existing, but nothing to prove he actually was Arthur) Riothamus fought in what is now France to keep the various warring tribes at bay, which fitted nicely with the familiar legends of Arthur leaving Britain to go on a ‘quest’.
And what if, I thought, he doesn’t come back to Britain? What if he is wounded in battle, believed dead? How would those he left behind react? What would happen to his Kingdom – and how would Gwenhwyfar, who loves him to the shadow of her soul, react? Especially when, by chance, she discovers he is not dead after all?
Ah well, to answer those questions, sorry, I am afraid you will have to read the book!
Thank you for your interest, and thank you for inviting me onto your blog! Tell me, what legends or myths out there would you like to see written about more?
SHADOW OF THE KING BY HELEN HOLLICK—IN STORES MARCH 2010
They knew what was coming.
Man and beast knew what lay ahead.
After the war cry.
Bitter the grave.
At long last, the peace King Arthur was born to usher in has settled over the realm. But Arthur was also born to be a warrior… and all true warriors are restless without a fight. Yearning for battle and ever-loyal, Arthur is easily deceived into setting sail for Gaul to defend its territories—leaving his country vulnerable and leaderless.
A beacon of hope in a land of desolation, he was to be the Lord of the Summer Land for now and forever. But first, the Pendragon must face the ultimate test, one that will take all his courage, strength of will, and honor to survive.
Because once destiny is fulfilled, can you ever truly win again?
About the Author: Helen Hollick lives in northeast London with her husband, daughter and a variety of pets, which include several horses, cats and two dogs. She has two major interests: Roman / Saxon Britain and the Golden Age of Piracy--the early eighteenth century. You can Find Helen at the following places:
Main Website: www.helenhollick.net
Blog profiles: www.acorne.blogspot.com
Muse and Views Blog: www.helenhollick.blogspot.com
My Picture Diary Blog: http://helenhollicksdiarydates.blogspot.com
Monthly Journal: http://www.helenhollick.net/journal.html
Thank you to Helen Hollick and Danielle at Sourcebooks for this wonderful guest author blog post. My review of Shadow of the King by Helen Hollick will be posted tomorrow.