King Arthur … The man, the myth, the actor who played him

I thought I’d have a little fun with this week’s blog and talk about the man at the forefront of the Arthurian legend, King Arthur Pendragon, and the men who have played him on the silver screen. King Arthur has appeared on ever known media, from Broadway to Saturday Morning Cartoons. His dashing figure has wooed audiences with actors, both young and old.

There are some, though, that have really owned the role of King Arthur, whether it’s in style or looks, these men have commanded Camelot with the presence of a monarch. These are my top five actors who have portrayed King Arthur.

091cd0aa592b0fbd0300b2a711136056 #5 – Sir Richard Harris in Camelot (1967) – Sir Richard Harris is an actor’s actor, with dozens of award-winning roles under his belt, from stage to screen, but he played King Arthur in the musical Camelot on stage, screen and television. The film won three Academy Awards and three Golden Globes. The musical was not the best adaptation of T.H. White’s “Once and Future King” but Sir Richard Harris was brilliant as Arthur, especially when he tried to tell us “how to handle a woman!” With Vanessa Redgrave as Guinevere and Franco Nero as Lancelot, the story played up the love triangle of the story, so I give it an “A+” on the romance meter.  Richard Burton also played this role in a TV presentation of Camelot, but his singing is nowhere near as good as Sir Richard Harris. He made this role his own, at least for musicals.

chapman grail#4 – Graham Chapman in Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) – Many people may not consider Graham Chapman as a household name when it comes to actors, but you cannot and will not EVER forget his performance in Monty Python’s hilarious look at the Arthurian legend. There are too many highlights to mention, but let’s raise a glass to Graham Chapman, whose performance as Arthur brings all the mayhem together into one tight-knit package. From coconuts for horses to fighting a Black Knight, his straight-faced, deadpan performance makes him King Arthur, but I’d stay away from Camelot, “it is a silly place!”

nigel-terry#3 – Nigel Terry in Excalibur (1981) – To be honest, this was my first exposure to the legend of King Arthur. I was enthralled by this movie, from the Wagner-esque soundtrack to the bulky platemail armor and the kinky medieval sex scattered throughout the film. Again, Nigel Terry is not a household name in America when it comes to British actors, but his performance as Arthur was so spot on. He went from the awkward young boy who drew the sword to the king that united a nation. I really think his portrayal of King Arthur is the standard that all other actors should be judged against. Even though I have him in third (and you will realize that once you see the top two), it was perfection.

281d0397151a85577c5ab6650ad95ad5#2 – Sir Sean Connery in First Knight (1995) – Even though this movie was panned by critics, it’s Sean friggin’ Connery people! He is the epitome of kingly virtue. His presence alone as King Arthur makes him stand head-and-shoulders above the rest. He literally carried the movie on his back. It had a good story, beautiful costumes and set design and the only time you’ll see an entire army disguised as a flock of sheep. But did I mention Sean Connery as King Arthur? ‘Nuff said!

king-arthur#1 – Clive Owen in King Arthur (2004) – I’ve spoken on this blog many times about my love for this version of the Arthurian legend. Bringing together the Roman occupation of Britain as the basis for the medieval legend was enthralling, and Clive Owen’s performance was matched in its brilliance. He was a leader, a warrior, a loyal soldier and Christian and he was a lover as well. All this came through the outstanding performance by Clive Owen. This movie surrounded him with a stellar cast and great storytelling to bring the legend to life. The way they explained everything from the sword in stone to Merlin’s magical power tied the whole movie together, but on top of it all was an actor who truly became King Arthur.

If I had to give one honorable mention, it would be to Pierce Brosnan as King Arthur in the animated film Quest for Camelot (1998). Though he wasn’t on for a lot of the movie, his voice was unmistakable and he gave that presence to King Arthur in this movie.

Did I miss a favorite of yours? Let me know in the comments below.

Editing your novel can lead to harsh cuts – A deleted excerpt from “The Dark Tides”

SKU-000941753I hate to admit it but it took me almost six months to edit The Dark Tides. I was hard because, I got a little out-of-hand as I was writing it and it reached almost 228,000 words. I had to get it down to a little more manageable size, and that called for extreme editing. I found some places where I repeated myself and, in other places, I found sections of my novel that really didn’t add to the overall story.

This is one of those parts as I give you a glimpse into part of the story that would’ve been in this deleted excerpt from The Dark Tides. I like to call it “Ambush at Merlin’s Pinnacle” so, here you go!

***

The Avenger glided through the air around Merlin’s Pinnacle. The crew was on their toes during this part of the passage, as the air currents around the peak could be quite treacherous. The Gil-Gamesh watched his crew move like a well-oiled machine during the flight. Even Hunter and Andrew were pitching in, to not only be helpful but to learn more about the operation of the airships of Avalon.

From the bridge, Bryan looked down at the fog covered Arkengarth Vale and reflected back on that epic battle, his torture and recovery afterwards in Alfheimer. It’s moments like this that the Gil-Gamesh couldn’t help but feel his age. Though 60 was considered middle-aged for someone from Avalon, in Bryan’s “Outlander-way” of thinking, it’s near retirement age for most people. And with everything that happened over the past month, he was beginning to wonder how much longer he could keep doing this.

His 20 years on Avalon had been nothing but non-stop since he arrived. It wasn’t like it was unfamiliar territory to him. Working on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier was no different — fast paced, focused attention-to-detail, non-stop action-packed work for days on end. But the question remained, when this is all over, could he finally take a break from the fast-paced life he led as the Gil-Gamesh? Only time would tell.

Suddenly Bryan noticed a shadow falling across the ship’s deck. He turned to look skyward to see what could be casting it. High in the sky behind them, flying right in the sun, another airship closed in on the Avenger. Because of its position, Bryan couldn’t see who it was or why Captain O’Brien hadn’t acknowledged its presence.

“Captain, what’s that ship following us?” the Gil-Gamesh asked.

“It’s the Intrepid milord. Our lookouts spotted her about an hour ago, just before you came on deck. She appears to be following us into Idlehorn.”

“Has Captain Oldman signaled his course and intentions per protocol?”

Edan thought for a moment before answering. “No milord, he hasn’t. I assumed with the beatings our ships have taken over the past few weeks, it might have slipped his mind.”

“Never assumed anything Edan,” Bryan said as he reaches into his cloak and pulled out his spyglass lens. “Video Visum!” he chanted as the lens zoomed in on the airship. The decks were empty, even in the rigging. This was very disturbing to the Gil-Gamesh, especially for running this close to Merlin’s Pinnacle.

“Have the crow’s nest attempt to signal them,” Bryan ordered. Captain O’Brien relayed the command and the sailor manning the crow’s nest pulled out a pair of flags and started to signal the airship through a series of motions and signals. No response ever came from the Intrepid.

Bryan contemplated his next move. “Shall we fly up alongside her Gil-Gamesh?” Edan inquired.

“No, we’d be too exposed to an attack as we maneuvered into position. He’s got the wind in his favor. I have a better idea.” Lord MoonDrake raised his fingers to his mouth and whistled. “Maverick!” he shouted. From below decks, a tiny dragon whizzed past all the sailors until he reached the Gil-Gamesh. Faerie Dragons were quite small, less than two feet in length, but they’re also the fastest creatures on Avalon. Their wings resembled dragonfly wings, beating as fast as a hummingbird.

Bryan held up his hand and the little dragon landed on it like a falconer would. He stroked it under the chin, causing the beast to purr like a kitten. Bryan spoke to Maverick in the ancient tongue of the dragons. The Faerie Dragon growled and took off toward the Intrepid. It didn’t take long for it to come back and land on Bryan’s shoulder. The little creature grunted and growled to the Gil-Gamesh, garbled to everyone else but Bryan understood it perfectly.

“No one is on deck save for a single Brood manning the helm,” Bryan relayed. “He’s got to be planning a kamikaze run on us. He’s probably waiting until we get closer to Idlehorn.”

“A ‘kamikaze’ milord?” Edan asked.

“In the outside world, there was a world war,” Bryan explained. “When the enemy realized they were losing the war, they decided to take out as many of our ships as they could by flying into them, sacrificing themselves to severely damage us. They were called Kamikazes. It means ‘divine wind’ hoping their sacrifice would earn them a place of honor in Heaven.”

“Shall we beat to quarters?” Edan asked.

Bryan thought for a minute then decided against it. “No, if he sees any real change on deck, he may dive at us sooner than expected. He would cut us in half before we could change course or fire any shot off at him. This calls for something with a little more subtlety.”

The Gil-Gamesh got an idea and walked over to the rail. “Hunter, Andrew … Get your Lancers and get up here!” he ordered. The two young men stopped what they’re doing and headed below decks. Within minutes, they returned to the bridge with their Lancers in hand.

“Alright, time for a battle test of your new weapon,” Bryan began. “Behind us is the Intrepid, but its crew is missing and it’s being piloted by a single Brood. From the position they’re in, if we do anything to show aggression, she’ll dive right at us and we won’t be able to respond.”

“You think they’re going to ram us?” Hunter asked.

“More than likely, which is where you and your Lancers come in,” the Gil-Gamesh explained. “I need you to shoot some explosive dragonfire rounds into that ship, preferably up forward where the ammunition is stored. That should be able to blow it right out of the sky.”

“Just out of curiosity sir, why don’t you cast a spell to do the same thing? I mean, your spells seem to be more powerful than these spell shots could ever be.”

“That’s true Andrew, they are, but to cast a spell to travel that distance and be effective, it takes some time in conjuring. If he sees me performing any kind of enchantment, he would more than likely dive right at us. That’s why you built these Lancers, remember … Stealth with precision. To him, it’ll probably look like you’re looking at them through a spyglass. Now, get to it!”

Hunter and Andrew loaded the spell shots into their Lancers. They took position on the aft end of the bridge. “You want to aim about ten feet back from the bow ornament Andy, about halfway down the hull,” Hunter told him.

“Got it …” Andy retorted.

“Remember to adjust your second shot if and when he starts to react,” Bryan reminded them. The two men just nodded their head.

“On three …” Hunter said as he counted down, “One, two, three …” The two men fired simultaneously as the Lancers exploded with a loud “whoosh”, almost like a musket firing, as the dragonfire spat out, launching fireballs that grew incrementally as they travelled through the air. Almost immediately, the two men fired a second volley at the airship. The first two fireballs impacted right on target on the bow, causing a massive explosion as the Intrepid started to dive. Then the second fireballs hit, causing the ammunition to detonate, and the airship was reduced to burning embers.

Bryan steps up and patted his son and son-in-law on the shoulders. “Well done gentlemen, well done. I hate losing another ship but we can’t let them take any advantage over us.”

“The Lancers are more powerful than we ever hoped,” Hunter added. “Great job Andy.”

“Thanks … I just hope it will help in the coming battle,” Andrew said with due humility.

“Well, we may be losing battles like this, but in the end, we’re going to win the war. Morgana won’t know what hit her,” Bryan replied. “In the meantime, I suggest you start planning a training regime to teach our forces how to use them. You won’t have a lot of time to get them up to speed on the Lancers.”

“Don’t worry father. I’m putting together the best shooters from the Knights of the Round Table. These men are already quite skilled with the GunStars, so teaching them how to use the Lancers should be child’s play.”

“You might want to include Captain McLoughlin in your training,” the Gil-Gamesh added. “The Shield Maidens paired with those knights will have to be ready to adjust their tactics.”

“How much time will we have?” Andrew asked.

“Less than a week, a few days at most … I don’t expect Morgana to attack before the new moon, but I need her too. So, I’ll just have to give her a little nudge.”

“Is that a smart thing to do Dad?” Hunter inquired. “We should take all the time we need to get ready for this fight.”

“The problem is that if I give Morgana more time, it brings us closer and closer to the new moon, when the Dark Tides will be at its peak. That’s one advantage I don’t want her to have.”

Before he departed the bridge, Captain O’Brien stopped the Gil-Gamesh. “My apologies Gil-Gamesh, it won’t happen again.”

“Edan, I don’t expect you to be perfect. People make mistakes,” Bryan explained. “Just learn from those mistakes and don’t make the same one again. You get one chance from me, but do it again and you’ll be sacked so fast, I might not land the ship before kicking you overboard.”

Bryan walked right by Edan as he got a lump in his throat from the very ominous threat by the Gil-Gamesh. Hunter tried to reassure the young Captain about his father’s overzealous attack.

“Don’t worry Edan. Jupiter Antilles once told me my father threatened him on more than one occasion to toss him overboard. I’d say you were in good company.”

“I hope so Hunter. It’s just … I’d hate to be the first.”

***

The Dark Tides is now available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iUniverse.

Game of Thrones began the upward spiral of medieval fantasy today – My 50th blog post!

Best-Fiction-TV-Series-Game-of-Thrones

This is my 50th blog post since I started writing it over six months ago. I can’t think of a better topic than my favorite subject to write about, medieval fantasy!

You have to admit that since Game of Thrones became so popular on television, there has been a gradual uptick of medieval-styled shows appearing on virtually every cable channel. As a fantasy writer and longtime Dungeons and Dragons geek, I have no problem with this. The more the merrier I say; but what I’m afraid of is it turning into the same old, blasé, run of the mill television.

There have been great diversity in storylines, using fairy tales (Once Upon a Time, Grimm) to historical renditions (Vikings, Tudors, Reign) to all out fantasy from GoT and Merlin to the upcoming Shannara Chronicles .

These shows have made superstars out of great actors and actresses like Peter Dinklage, Emilia Clarke, Colin Morgan and Ginnifer Goodwin to name a few. Almost all of these shows have multiple nominations across the board in acting, writing, best series, etc., in everything from BAFTA, Emmy to Golden Globes.

The trend is even building on Broadway where Wicked and Spamalot have garnered cult-like followings. Movies, YouTube fan films, graphic novels … I could go on and on. As I said, it has been building to this.

This growing trend is beneficial to me and others like me, who are inspired by flights of fancy in the realm of magic. As a writer, this is a blessing that could lead my novels (Forever Avalon, The Dark Tides) to maybe, one day find its way to  the airwaves; but it’s not something that will happen overnight.

As I noted in a previous blog posting, it took over 40 years for someone to finally bring Terry Brooks’ amazing Shannara Chronicles to television, and it looks like it will be worth the wait. The age of CGI and motion-capture, blending actors and actresses into these fantasy worlds so seamlessly, has made virtually anything possible in television and film.

I will be going to a great event coming in October. iUniverse is having self-published authors, like myself, work with producers and writers to develop a two-minute pitch of our novel. The top two selected with be able to pitch their idea to a Hollywood producer and have the chance of thier book being made into a film.

This is really my chance to sell someone on my passion for my story and the characters I have cultivated in my novels. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity so I can’t wait. I want you to see, flying ships, dragons, the Gil-Gamesh and his family up there, like you do when you read my novels. Wish me luck!

51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ SKU-000941753Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is now available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iUniverse.

When part of a story just doesn’t work – A deleted excerpt from “The Dark Tides”

goblins_by_daroz-d5bww72When your writing a story, sometimes it can just get away from you. That’s what happened to me when I wrote my first draft of The Dark Tides. It really got away from me to the tune of 228,000 words. It was way too long and it took me months to edit it down to the still unimaginable 190,000 words.

As a writer, you sometimes state the obvious and sometimes you take really long stating the obvious. Here is a deleted excerpt from The Dark Tides to shed some light on how hard it is to edit what some writers consider their “baby” and don’t want to make another cut.

***

“Has any human ever been to see the Goblin King?” Bryan asked Eonis.

“No, never; not unless they were dinner,” Dinius quipped. “And I mean the meal, not as guests.”

Bryan gulped and wondered if he’d bitten off more than he can chew. He moved in close behind Ragnar as the other goblins closed ranks around him. They started their march through the dark, dank woods towards Idlehorn Mountain. They walked in silence, not a sound from the goblins or Bryan except for the rustling of the leaves beneath their feet.

After nearly an hour of forced march, they reached the base of Idlehorn Mountain. Bryan looked up at the jagged peak. It was an ominous and imposing sight. No trails or paths could be seen leading up the mountain anywhere. The only thing he could make out was the shape of a castle jutting out of the cliff … Lord Kraven Darkholm’s castle. Eonis said Lord Darkholm lived there to keep the goblins and other dark creatures under foot, or so he told King Gregor as to why he stayed in this God-awful place.

Ragnar walked up to the mountain face. He scratched across the rock with his claws in a strange pattern. Then he banged on the stone wall three times and stepped back. Bryan could feel the earth around him begin to rumble. Suddenly, an opening appeared at the base as the mountain seemed to literally fold in on itself, pulling the rock apart to reveal a cave descending downward.

“This is your last chance to back away … You sure you want to do this?” Ragnar joked.

Bryan nodded his head. “A friend of mine once said, ‘The Chief knows there is a time and place for everything; a time to act and a time to react; a time to speak and a time to be silent; and a time to unite or act alone.’ This is one of those times.”

Ragnar looked confused then decided to ignore it and press on. “As you wish Gil-Gamesh, follow me!”

As the frustrated goblin headed down into the mountain, Bryan’s cockiness faded quickly as he walked in the dark bowels of Idlehorn. Dimly lit by the embers of burnt torches, the cave continued to wind downward. Bryan felt the dank, musty air … The smell of death and decay permeated from the stone. The deeper they went, the worse the smell.

“I’ve smelled septic tanks better than this,” Bryan said, rubbing his gloved hand across his nose, hoping the oiled leather would help mask the awful stench.

The cave began to level off and widen. The stalactites became more prominent in the cave, decorated with the pierced skulls of their enemies. A bright light beckoned them ahead.

“Is it me or is it getting hotter?” Bryan asked himself as he wiped the sweat off his brow.

Bryan thought they must had an enormous fire burning up ahead. As the passage opened into an enormous cavern, the Gil-Gamesh realized that it wasn’t a fire burning … It was something else.

The cavern seemed to encompass the entire center of Idlehorn Mountain. A huge pocket, like a magma dome, underneath the mountain, as lava flowed like water from the walls. It fell and circulated in streams and pools throughout the cave interior. Not only did the lava provide light and warmth for the goblins, it made it easier for them to forge a constant supply of weapons for their massive army. Goblins had nowhere to call home except for the cave itself. They climbed along its walls like spiders in a web, able to move anywhere and everywhere in the cavern. They ate, slept and worked wherever they could find a rock to lean against or a piece of meat to gnaw on.

As Ragnar took them deeper into the voluminous cavern, Bryan got a sense of the social structure of the goblins. It was a society of “survival of the fittest.” The stronger, more powerful goblins bullied the smaller, weaker ones; an inbred form of slave labor. They were forced to carry heavy loads in the belief that it would make them stronger. The intense labor culled out the weaker goblins from the rest. Those that survived either continue their toll as slaves or they volunteered for experiments conducted by goblin warlocks and alchemists as they strived to make a goblin warrior that’s unbeatable. They were a collective, striving for the betterment of the goblins and the defeat of their enemies.

At the heart of the cavern sat a throne of iron and stone. It was a monument to the machine that was the goblin empire. The twisted metal frame and jagged rock reminded all who stood before it of the pain and suffering that is the life of a goblin.

In the throne sits a brute of a beast … The Goblin King P’tah Mnenok. His skin was black and scarred, ripped and torn by battle. His face was long and twisted, yellow eyes pierced out from dark slits. His fangs were so long that they pierced from beneath his lower lip, giving him a constant scowl, even with his mouth closed. On his head sat a crown of braided iron; a cold reminder of his black heart.

Ragnar approached King Mnenok as goblins came down from the around the cavern and surrounded the throne, trapping Bryan. For the first time since he arrived on Avalon, Bryan feared he may not live to see tomorrow.

Ragnar knelt before the King, bowing his head in submission before stepping up to the Goblin King, whispering in his ear. Bryan stepped up as goblins of all shapes and sizes moved in behind the Gil-Gamesh. King Mnenok looked at Bryan, growling under his breath.

“Does the courtesy of Avalon end at Idlehorn Mountain Gil-Gamesh?” he asked, his voice sharp and hollow.

Bryan realized his mistake and acted to rectify it by bowing slightly. “I apologize King Mnenok, but I am unfamiliar with goblin customs, as most humans are,” he explained. “I wager it is a rare sight for a human to be welcome inside Idlehorn Mountain that wasn’t a captive or a meal.”

“It is rare indeed. I must admit, what Ragnar told me of his encounter with you in Blackbriar Forest, I don’t see what all the fuss is about … About you that is, the new Gil-Gamesh.

“I must say, I’m not at all impressed but I do find it rather curious that you even asked to come to Idlehorn Mountain. This is quite a bold move on your part; courageous and yet stupid at the same time.”

The goblins all laughed at the insult the Goblin King levels at the Gil-Gamesh.

“With all due respect King Mnenock, I disagree. Is it stupid to understand your enemy? Knowledge is key to defeating any foe, something that goblins lack or so I’ve been told. Wouldn’t you agree? “

Mnenok snarled as the goblins were quieted. “Give me one good reason why I should not have you flayed alive right where you stand?”

“Gladly,” Bryan said as he reached into his shirt and pulled out the dragon stone Nihala gave him. The stone glowed bright in his hand. Mnenok and the other goblins, repulsed by its glow, cowered in fear.

“This is a dragon stone, given to me by Nihala, Queen of the Dragons. With a single word, I can cause it to explode, killing every goblin in here. A cavern of this size would contain the blast rather nicely. Your entire race would be wiped out in an instant.”

Now fear gripped Mnenok for the first time. He knew how powerful dragon stones were, but he also knew a bluff when he sees it.

“Are you impressed now?” Bryan joked, almost goading Mnenok to attack him.

Mnenok has had enough of his insults. “You would not sacrifice yourself? Avalon needs you to survive.” He raised his hand, ready to give the order to attack, as the goblins howled, raising their weapons to strike.

“You’re right they do need me,” Bryan interjected quickly. “But if I die, taking the entire goblin race with me, Avalon will be a whole lot safer. Surely that is a death worthy of the Gil-Gamesh of Avalon. They will write stories and sing songs of this day for years to come, knowing that the goblins have been wiped off the face of the Avalon forever. The only place people will ever see a goblin again is in story books. You will be remembered only as a thing of myth and legend that never really existed,” Bryan countered, stoic and determined. Mnenok slowly lowered his hand. He knew he wasn’t bluffing now.

Mnenok sat back in his throne and laughed a deep, throaty cackle. The goblins lowered their weapons and retreated away from the Gil-Gamesh. “As I said Gil-Gamesh, bold … Very bold!

***

 The Dark Tides is now available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iUniverse.

Combat is sometimes easier to visualize than write – An excerpt from “The Dark Tides”

itpickD_01.17624.widea.0Catapults, arrows, swords, axes and magic spells … I have found medieval combat to be one of the most difficult aspects of fantasy writing. Today’s modern warfare is nothing compared to the various sword-wielding maneuvers and medieval combat positions possible during a battle with Knights, wizards and other mythical creatures.

You not only have to study and understand how a sword, axe or other medieval weaponry is used, but you also have to make it exciting and believable for the reader. Here is a sample of such combat from my novel, The Dark Tides, as the Gil-Gamesh and his forces take on an army of Goblins at the Battle of Arkengarth Vale.

***

“Well done Captain,” Bryan said as he drew Twilight and Dusk . He turned to his assembled men.

“Remember, don’t hesitate for an instant! Your enemy will show you no quarter so give none in return! Cut them down until we are walking on their bodies instead of the muddy ground!”
A battle cry rose up from the men as they dug in, ready to fight. The goblins moved faster along the wall toward them.

“Remember my friends, there’s only farmers and small towns from here to New Camelot! They will be slaughtered by this goblin horde unless we stop them here and now! So let’s show them what it means to be a Knight of Avalon!”

Another cry of grit and determination bellowed from the assembled warriors as the crawling swarm of goblins moved closer toward them. Sarafina bowed her head, evoking a warrior’s prayer she learned at the convent.

“Blessed be the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war and my fingers for battle. My fortress, my high tower, my deliverer, my shield; and the One in whom I take refuge. In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit … Amen.”

“Amen!” they all said in unison as the goblins attacked. The first wave hit the defenses hard, their shrieks and howls cried out as untamed beasts slicing and cutting through the defenders of Avalon.

The Knights and Shield Maidens pushed back, working in tandem to cut through the goblins. Shield Maidens protected their knights with shields in front and either spear or sword to push back while the knights cut a swath through the creatures. The black blood of the goblins stained the muddy the ground as more are brought down, one after the other.

Sarafina protected the Gil-Gamesh while he dispatched the goblins by either slicing through them with Twilight or dispatching their souls with Dusk . As more goblins rushed in, Sir Thomas and the Knights of the Round Table charged in to help the Dragon Guard push back, trying to flank the attacking goblins and cut them off from the rest.

Thomas took position next to Bryan, fighting side-by-side as they have done religiously with Sarafina poised between them. Nevan fought next to his father with Sir Thomas’ Shield Maiden, Isolde, between them. Isolde was one of the oldest Shield Maidens in the service, nearly the same age as Thomas. Her black hair was peppered with a streak of gray under her helm. She could have retired to the Glennish Hills convent years ago, but her lust for battle kept her in the field.

“I hope you’re saving some for me Gil-Gamesh,” Thomas said as he hacked at the goblins with his broad sword.

“I think there’s plenty to go around Thomas,” Bryan joked.

“Less talking, more fighting!” Sarafina yelled at the two men, something she normally wouldn’t do, but in the heat of battle, courtesy went out the window. She pushed back a charging goblin with her shield before stabbing it between the eyes with her long sword; but as many as they killed, more just keep on coming.

As the battle progressed, it almost seemed as if this small force of knights was turning the tide against them. That changed as the howls of wolves cried out from the Vale.

Thomas knew immediately what it was. “Dire Wolves!” he said, sending a chill down the spines of Sarafina and Nevan, for these were the nightmares told to children on Avalon.

Dire Wolves were giant gray wolves that stood nearly five feet tall at the shoulder. Amongst the creatures of Avalon, they were on top of the food chain, predators to all manner of man or beast. It took a special breed of monster to tame Dire Wolves and that honor belonged to Hobgoblins.
Smarter and more cunning than their goblin cousins, Hobgoblins lived in the darkest parts of the forests, finding refuge in dead trees. They learned how to tame the Dire Wolves to help them hunt for food and harass humans. Their evil was only outdone by their savagery on the backs of Dire Wolves.

The Hobgoblins rode the Dire Wolves through the thick brush along the opposite side of the Vale. The Gil-Gamesh thought that was impassable because of the thick, thorny overgrowth that grew there, but the Dire Wolves were quick on their feet, jumping over the thorny bushes toward the frontline defenses.

More than thirty riders charged, cutting down both Knights and Shield Maidens with fang and claw. Over half of the Knights of the Round Table were killed instantly, causing part of the defensive flank to collapse. Bryan raised Twilight into the air.

Lumina Incandesco! ” he chanted, causing his sword to burst with brilliant light. That signaled Captain Godfrey and the Elves to move in to protect their flank. The Elves fired arrows into the Dire Wolves, but it took more than a dozen arrows to bring one down.

One of the Hobgoblins charged straight toward Sir Thomas and Nevan. Isolde stepped up to block the charging beast, shield in one hand and a glaive in the other. She crouched down low as the beast charged then came up under its chin with the point of the glaive, slicing into it from its throat to its snout.

The Dire Wolf fell on its side, trapping the Hobgoblin’s leg under the weight of the creature. Nevan rushed forward and cut down the Hobgoblin with his sword. Isolde pulled her pole arm out of the wolf’s head.

“That’s how you kill a Dire Wolf, Sir Nevan,” she told him. “Those beasties can’t see you if you’re low to the ground and come up from underneath …” Isolde didn’t finish her sentence as she’s run through by a goblin spear, piercing her through the neck. She fell to her knees, clutching her throat before dying.

“Isolde!” Thomas yelled as he lunged at her attacker, slicing him wide open. But that momentary distraction was enough as another Dire Wolf charged in and snapped down on Thomas’ arm, biting it clean off.
Bryan leaped and thrusts Dusk into the beast, taking whatever dark soul that the monster might have had. The Hobgoblin fell off, allowing Sarafina to kill it with one blow.

Nevan rushed to his father’s side, trying to stem the flow of blood with his father’s cloak. “Father please, stay with me!” Nevan pleaded as Thomas clung on to him, but Thomas could barely speak as he hovered in and out of consciousness.

“It’s alright lad, it’s alright … I’ve lived a good life,” Thomas mumbled. “I’ve gotten to see my son grow into a man. That’s more than any father could ask.” Nevan broke down into tears as Bryan and Sarafina tried to protect them from the goblins.

“Sarafina, you and Nevan take Thomas back to the rear …” Bryan ordered. The two lifted Thomas up and carried him off while the Gil-Gamesh pressed on with the battle.

“Come on ladies! What’re you waiting for?” he yelled as they continued to fight. A sudden rush of goblins knocked the Gil-Gamesh down, swarming over him like ants on an anthill. Bryan fought back, swinging aimlessly at the onslaught of monsters, resolute and defiant. He already lost one friend to these monsters; he would not lose another.

As his mind wandered from the battle, the unthinkable happened. A goblin jumped on his back and reached around, stabbing the Gil-Gamesh in the chest right above the clavicle, missing his armor altogether. Bryan was immediately brought down by the goblin horde as they pounced on him.

Captain Godfrey and Eonis could only watch as the Gil-Gamesh fell. They pushed forward to come to his aid but by the time they got there, the goblins started to fall back down the vale, taking the Gil-Gamesh with them. All that was left behind were his swords, Twilight and Dusk , lying over the bodies of hundreds of dead goblins.

“They took him,” Captain Godfrey exclaimed. “This was never about enemies marching on New Camelot. This was about the Gil-Gamesh. They wanted to capture him when he was the most vulnerable.”

“We’ve got to go after them,” Eonis said as he took off down the hill. “We’ve got to save him!”

Captain Godfrey grabbed him before he took a single step. “You’ll be slaughtered down there,” Godfrey said. “They still outnumber us and now, we’re without the Gil-Gamesh.”

Eonis thought for a moment then realized that Captain Godfrey was right. At that moment, Sarafina returned to the front while Nevan tended to Sir Thomas. She ran up and looked around for the Gil-Gamesh but he was nowhere to be seen.

“What happened? Where’s the Gil-Gamesh?” she shouted.

Eonis walked over and placed his hand on her shoulder. “He’s gone Sarafina. The enemy has him.”

***

 The Dark Tides is now available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iUniverse.

Fantasy is the great escape that everyone can find their way to

fantasy_city-982958What is it about fantasy that attracts so many into it? I believe it’s a natural escape mechanism that allows people to avoid the sometimes harsh realities of life. Author Llyod Alexander said, “Fantasy is hardly an escape from reality. It’s a way of understanding it.”

Both of those sentiments are correct. Fantasy is the one genre that encompasses anything and everything, from historical drama to science fiction, all of these can be defined as some form of fantasy. James Cameron’s Avatar is a great example of that as he combined the futuristic science fiction of space travel, genetic manipulation and scientific exploration to tribal mysticism and spirituality.

The late Terry Prachett said, “Humans need fantasy to be human. To be the place where the falling angel meets the rising ape.” Just reading that quote brings so many images to mind of stories I’ve read over the years. It speaks volumes about how fantasy stories have evolved over time.

When man first started to explore beyond their normal boundaries, their minds started to see things and explain them in terms of what, today, we would call fantasy. Strange fish in the water were called sea monsters and  ominous sounds from the woods were made by goblins or faeries.

I think that’s why Dungeons and Dragons and World of Warcraft are such popular games. They take the heart of fantasy and bring it to life by immersing the people into the story. Sometimes you’re part of the story, sometimes you create the story yourself. In either case, it is the fantasy that makes it all possible, in your mind and your dreams.

Alexandre Dumas wrote, “When you compare the sorrows of real life to the pleasures of the imaginary one, you will never want to live again, only to dream forever.” Throughout human history, we try to explain both good things and bad by blaming them on gods, monsters or otherworldly creatures. We escaped the horrors of the real world by putting the responsibility on something we couldn’t  explain.

These unexplained phenomenon fell into myth and legend in the stories we know them as today; and today, authors take those stories and turn them into something new and exciting. I took that approach with the Forever Avalon series. I took the legend of King Arthur legend and combined it with all the magical tales of faeries, dragons, wizards and Elves.

This is why I love to use fantasy as the medium for my storytelling. By bringing together these myths and legends into the modern world of today, I’m able to tell these stories for a mew generation. As long as we keep telling these stories, they will go on and on forever.

Professor Jack Zipes from the University of Minnesota said, “Fairy tales, since the beginning of recorded time and perhaps earlier, have been a means to conquer the terrors of mankind through metaphor.” That’s what makes them legendary. That’s what makes them fantasy.

Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is now available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iUniverse.

Great leaders making great speeches – An Excerpt from “The Dark Tides”

wallpaper-2856211There are many great speeches, made by some of the greatest leaders of this and past generations, that history will always remember. These were speeches made at times of great turmoil, unrelenting conflict and glorious celebration. Martin Luther King at the Lincoln Memorial; President Franklin D. Roosevelt after the attack at Pearl Harbor; and President Lincoln and the Gettysburg Address just to name a few.

There have also been many great speeches in pop culture, from books, movies and the like. I will always remember the speech actor Bill Pullman made in Independence Day for its emotion and inspiration; or the speech by King Theodin before the charge of the Rohirrim at Gondor in Return of the King for its brevity yet fiery passion.

I knew that to inspire the army of Avalon, outnumbered in its fight against the forces of Morgana le Fay, the Gil-Gamesh needed such a speech. Here is that speech in an excerpt from The Dark Tides.

***

The Gil-Gamesh looked around and was amazed at what he saw; an army of all the races of Avalon, together as one. This was his last chance to say anything before the battle began. He climbed up on a large rock formation just off to the side so he could address everyone. “Vox Vocis!” he chanted, using magic to project his voice.

“Avalon! Hear me Avalon!” he shouted. “I know what you are feeling! I know when you look across the field of battle, you will look into the eyes of death and fear will fill your heart! But we must take our fears and put them aside, for you are not fighting for a track of land or against an enemy invader … You are fighting for our very lives; for our right to exist!

“Morgana le Fay doesn’t want to just conquer us; she wants to destroy us! She wants to rule Avalon from atop a mountain of the dead. She wants to unleash the Dark Tides to destroy all magic except for her own. She has nothing to lose and everything to gain while we have everything to lose.

“Look around you my friends and what do you see? Humans and Elves, Dwarves and Jotunn, Dragons and Centaurs, all standing together like never before. From majestic New Camelot to the rolling fields of Eldonshire and the vaulted shores of the North Highlands; from the shining coast of South Essex, Eastward toward noble Nottinghamshire, from Merlin’s Pinnacle and the mighty Fenris Mountains to the distant islands of Togo and Emmyr; we stand united in our love for our home and for our people and no one … NO ONE can destroy that!”

The masses cheered loudly, inspired by the Gil-Gamesh’s rousing speech.

“We are all that stands between Morgana le Fay and total victory and I say to you now my brothers and sisters, we will not let her have that victory! We will meet evil on the field of battle and beat them back with sword and shield, with might and magic, with honor and justice. She will know that we are Avalon! Now I say to you, come with me and stand by my side so together, we can fight! We fight for our King! We fight for our country! We fight for our families! We fight so that the evil of Morgana le Fay ends today! We fight for Avalon!”

The army sent up another rousing cheer as the Gil-Gamesh got down from the rock and moved back to his position in the front.

***

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The Dark Tides is now available for purchase at AmazonBarnes and Noble and iUniverse.

The story of the Technocrats — An excerpt from “Forever Avalon”

49cf002f2e0be8dc329cf7ec458bdb77What strikes more fear into a medieval society, a dragon the size of an aircraft carrier or a gun-toting, technology-driven medieval knight? I explored those very premises in my first novel, Forever Avalon. How would a society of based on a medieval hierarchy, guided by the laws of magic, deal with a group of Outlanders who, not wanting to conform to the rest of their society, formed a “home-away-from-home” using outlawed technology?

Here is an excerpt from Forever Avalon which tells the story of the “Technocrats” and Uther’s Folly”.

***

“Over five hundred years ago, shortly after the last Gil-Gamesh was killed, there was a large influx of Outlanders arriving on Avalon. This would be around the 50’s and 60’s, when planes and ships were disappearing regularly in the Bermuda Triangle. Unlike previous Outlanders, these people refused to conform to Avalon society. They did not accept the reign of the monarchy nor were they willing to live a medieval lifestyle. These Outlanders formed their own community on the southwest shores. They separated themselves from Avalon as much as possible and called themselves the Technocrats.

“The single advantage they had, over the rest of Avalon, was gunpowder. They were the first to master the manufacture of gunpowder, cannons and even simple flintlock guns. They used these hi-tech weapons as protection from the evils of Avalon.

“Soon they discovered a large vein of gold under the land they built their community on and things went from bad to worse. They thought this discovery would permit them to buy their way into Avalon society and its good graces. They planned to trade for goods, food, and other items they needed for survival, but they were wrong.

“King Uther XV would not negotiate with the Technocrats under any circumstances. He informed them that the gold, as everything on Avalon, belonged to him. He set up a blockade around the Technocrats and gave them a choice … Surrender or die.”

Stephanie and the children listened intently as Bryan continued the tale. His words did little to comfort them and Stephanie knew it. Like Bryan, she realized that though the truth may be brutal, it’s important they hear it.

“The Outlanders fought back,” Bryan continued. “They made a valiant stand—the stuff legends are made of; but King Uther would not be swayed. To defeat the Outlanders, he forced the wizard’s council to summon the most ferocious beast imaginable … Tiamat, the Dragon God.

“Imagine a dragon the size of an aircraft carrier with five heads, each one with a breath more noxious and deadly than the next. Tiamat destroyed the Technocrats, their entire community, along with every last man, woman and child. King Uther considered this a great victory, but he never realized the cost and boy, did it cost him dearly.

“The wizard’s council warned him that summoning Tiamat came with a price, but Uther didn’t care. When the smoke cleared, Tiamat was gone and so was all the gold. The Dragon God took the gold as payment for services rendered. Everything represented in battle that day was lost in the blink of an eye.

“Needless to say, Uther was not happy. But he didn’t blame himself or the wizard’s council or even Tiamat … He blamed the Technocrats, the Outlanders. He made a decree which stated that, henceforth, any Outlander who came through the barrier shall be killed on sight.”

Those words left Stephanie speechless. The girls clutched their mouths in disbelief. Sarafina hugged them, offering some comfort. Hunter held on to his mother tightly.

Bryan neared the end of his story. “Since any surviving Outlanders were presumed dead by the outside world, King Uther had no qualms about executing them the moment they arrived on Avalon. Some Outlanders were spared, captured and used as slaves, which meant a sentence of instant death for both the Outlander and the person who held him or her captive.

“Candletop Lighthouse,” Bryan explained grimly, “wasn’t built to pick up wayward Outlanders and help them. It was a place to lure Outlanders to their deaths.”

***

Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Shield Maidens of Avalon: Creating a new mythology

tumblr_static_branwyn-shieldmaidenI know I’ve written extensively about the Shield Maidens of Avalon before, but I never really put together the entire mythos to go with their story. They are an integral part of the Forever Avalon series so they need to have as detailed a back story as the Arthurian legend.

They are a class of warriors unto themselves, without equal. Shield Maidens demonstrate that women should be treated as equals in all things. So, here goes …

The Shield Maidens of Avalon came to be after the dawn of the first age of Avalon. After the death of King Arthur at the Battle of Camlann, Merlin cast a spell that brought all things magical from the outside world to Avalon. This included many men and women touch by magic.

Queen Guinevere and Sir Percival—the last of the Knights of the Round Table—rallied the people together to start their new life on Avalon. As the people came together, Morgana le Fay saw this as an opportunity to gather her forces and destroy the last of the Pendragon’s so she may rule Avalon.

Percival was given the command by the Queen to reform the Knights of the Round Table to protect the people of Avalon. He knew their numbers were limited and no match for the forces of Morgana le Fay; but he saw a solution. There were many women amongst the people of Avalon—widows of knights lost in battle—who were capable fighters, trained by their husbands to protect themselves in time of need.

Percival took these women and paired them with knights, calling them Shield Maidens. Their charge was to fight alongside their knight as a team, forging a bond in battle. The two fought side-by-side, protecting each other and their fellow knights. The strategy worked and the forces of Morgana le Fay were driven back to the darkness from whence they came.

Queen Guinevere saw the strength, courage and valor of the Shield Maidens. She command their leader, Dame Louisa, to continue to build their ranks and support the Knights of the Round Table in defense of Avalon. Thus, the Order of the Shield Maidens of Avalon was formed.

Their patrons saints are the three women revered by the order … Queen Guinevere, the Lady of the Lake and the Virgin Mary. They live by the same code of chivalry as the Knights of the Round Table:  To protect the weak and the defenseless; to keep faith and always speak the truth; to obey the laws of Avalon; to fight for the welfare of all and to guard the honour of the Knights of the Round Table.

Shield Maidens take a vow a chastity to demonstrate their fidelity to God and to their monarch. This gives the Shield Maiden’s a warrior heart. However, if a Shield Maiden should fall in love, they are permitted to leave the order in peace with the blessing of all.

These are the Shield Maidens of Avalon, fierce and battle-hardended, loyal and honour-driven. Their code of faith, charity, justice, truth, diligence, hope and valor are more than just words. For them, it is a way of life.

Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is now available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iUniverse.

Forging the love between a father and child, Knight and Shield Maiden – An Excerpt from “The Dark Tides”

Knights_zps02364200The love between a parent and a child is a force to be reckoned with and, make no mistake, that love extends to adopted children too. I never meant to touch on the relationship between a parent and an adopted child when I was writing Forever Avalon or The Dark Tides, but it presented itself quite plainly.

Imagine if you were separated from your family and, during that time, you came across a child that was alone, lost and without anyone to care for them. What would you do? This is exactly what happened to Bryan MoonDrake during his Grand Tour of Avalon.

In this excerpt from The Dark Tides, you’ll see how the relationship between the Gil-Gamesh and Sarafina, his adopted daughter and Shield Maiden, came to be. It was a relationship forged in tragedy but strengthened by the love between a father and child.

***

The Convent at Glennish Hills was a holy place for both worship and battle. It was home to the Shield Maidens of Avalon. The sounds of song and prayer could be heard from inside the church while the clanging of steel resonated just outside in the courtyard. It was a dichotomy in both sight and sound but its purpose was singular … To provide the knights of Avalon with the finest warriors to fight alongside them in battle.

In a small courtyard away from the main training area, the Gil- Gamesh raised a practice sword over his head, waiting for the next attack. His opponent was a 15- year- old girl. Sarafina gripped her practice sword tightly with both hands, watching Bryan’s every movement, waiting for an opening to strike.

Her small frame looked bigger than it was, covered in leather armor for protection. Her long, blonde hair was braided up to keep it out of her face. She had a strong, determined look on her face. The Gil- Gamesh took a step back and Sarafina seized the moment to strike.

She lunged forward at Bryan, hoping to catch him off-balance. He swung downward to block her thrust, knocking her sword away. He spun and tried to catch her from behind, but as he swung his blade down, she countered his attack before she elbowed him in the stomach and shoved him back.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa … Time out! Where’d you learn that one from?” Bryan asked his young charge.

“No one, I was improvising,” Sarafina fired back, still ready to continue her sparring practice. Bryan couldn’t believe how much Sarafina had learned in three years at the convent. She was definitely on her way to becoming a Shield Maiden.

“Alright then, have it your way,” he said, sword at the ready as the sparring continued. Sarafina didn’t hesitate and lashed out as soon as he was set. She swung fiercely, back- and- forth, throwing everything she had at the Gil- Gamesh. Bryan countered every blow, letting her think she was winning.

“Eo Ire Itum! ” he chanted quietly, under his breath and he suddenly teleported behind Sarafina. When she turned around, his sword was on her throat.

“Hey, that’s not fair!” she complained. “No magic!”

“It’s called improvising, remember?” he retorted. “Besides, do you think any wizard won’t use magic because it’s not fair? You have to be ready to adapt to any situation and be prepared for any possibility.”

“Well … Captain McLoughlin says I one of the best students she’s ever had,” Sarafina proclaimed proudly.

“From what I’ve heard of Captain McLoughlin, I would take that as a compliment. She rarely gives them out but it is definitely well deserved.” Sarafina enjoyed the praise from the Gil- Gamesh and rushed over to hug him. Once she did, Sarafina realized her error in protocol and let go.

“I’m sorry Sir Bryan, I forget my place sometimes,” she apologized, regaining her composure. Bryan knew the limits on contact with the young girls in training, but he ignored it as he leaned down close to whisper to her.

“Well, when we’re alone like this, I don’t think a hug is totally out-of-place,” he confided in her. Sarafina was happy to hear that and hugged him again.

Bryan felt an overwhelming surge of love and pride. Sarafina filled a void in his life since his arrival on Avalon, that of family. She was like a daughter to him and he treated her like one of his own.

The two started walking back toward the main compound, enjoying this time they have together. The conversation varied from her training as a Shield Maiden to her relationships with the other girls and, of course, the Gil- Gamesh’s latest adventure.

“So, how did you escape from the Swamp Witches of Durley? I mean, they had your weapons and you and Sir Thomas all tied up, ready to be cooked in the pot!”

“Ah but you see, there is a dragon that lives in the Durley Swamp called a Naga,” Bryan explained. “It looks more like a giant two- headed cobra but it’s still considered a dragon. I was able to befriended one when we entered the swamp, as kind of a back- up plan; you know, just in case something went wrong.”

“That seems to happen to you a lot, doesn’t it?” Sarafina zinged back at him sarcastically.

“Do you want to hear the rest of the story or not?” Bryan cajoled. Sarafina quieted down and listened. “Anyway, unfortunately, the Naga are rather slow-moving, so it was taking quite a while for it to get there, so we had to stall for time.

“When it looked like one of us was going to go into the pot, Thomas and I started arguing about who they should cook first. You know, who would taste better, who was meatier, etc.; and this lasted a good fifteen minutes. By that time, the Naga showed up and attacked the witches while we got ourselves free,” he concluded. “Not my best plan, but it worked out in the end.”

Sarafina loved hearing his stories of adventure and looked forward to the day when she would share in them as his Shield Maiden. “Can you tell me some more about your family in the outside world?” she asked.

Bryan’s heart sank and his eyes sullen. He tried not to think about Stephanie and the kids that much, though they do come to his mind each and every day. It’s as if somehow he was still connected to them, across time and space, beyond the magical barrier that surrounded Avalon.

Sarafina saw the heartache in his face and back pedaled quickly. “No, never mind, I’m sorry for bringing it up,” she said.

“No Sarafina, it’s alright,” Bryan interrupted. “I don’t get to talk about them that often and it’s nice to have someone so interested in them.” Bryan sat down with Sarafina along on the steps outside the main training area. He took out his pocket watch and opened it up. Though it didn’t work anymore, the picture inside still held the memory of his family.

“You never told me about this picture,” she asked, pointing to the watch. “Why are you all wearing funny hats?”

“Well, it was Christmas and Stephanie, my wife, she loves Christmas. She listens to Christmas music all year round, watches Christmas movies too.”

“Movies?” Sarafina thought for a moment, trying to remember what he told her about movies. “Oh, I remember. Those are they plays you watch inside a little box, right?”

Bryan couldn’t believe how she remembered that. She seemed to be a sponge when it came to stories about the outside world. “Yes, that’s right. Anyway, we all dressed up and went down to the photographers and Stephanie pulled out these hats for us to wear. Now at first, I refused. I mean, I wouldn’t be caught dead in that hat, but she always had a way of convincing me to go along with whatever scheme she had.

“It’s funny, I hated this picture at first but it grew on me and I consider it one of my favorite pictures now,” he said, staring at the picture in his watch.

“It reminds me of a special moment when we were so happy together.” Sarafina looked at the watch and imagined herself as a part of that happy family. It made her feel so good inside but sad at the same time. It was something she never had nor ever will. Bryan noticed the change in her demeanor.

“What’s the matter Sarafina?”

Sarafina hesitated at first, not sure if what she wanted to ask him was appropriate or not. “Sir Bryan, may I ask a favor of you?”

“Of course Sarafina, anything …” The young girl gathered the courage to ask him.

“Most of the girls here either have parents or some kind of relative to call on, but I have neither. I know you visit me as often as you can and I can’t tell you how much that means to me, but …”

She hesitated for a moment, but Bryan pressed her to continue. “Yes, go on …”

“Would you mind if, in private moments like these, would you mind if I called you father?”

Bryan was taken aback by her request but couldn’t help feel honored and humbled being asked by this young girl to be her father. He had lost his own children and Sarafina helped fill that particular void in his life. A tear rolled down his cheek as he is overcome with emotion. How could he say no to her?

“Sarafina, I would love for you to call me father and I hope and pray I can live up to your high expectations of me,” he said.

Now it was Sarafina’s turn to start crying as she jumped up into Bryan’s arms to hug him. For the first time since he arrived on Avalon, Bryan felt completely at home. “I will speak with Mother Superior about visiting you more often and even about the possibility of you coming to visit me on Emmyr.”

SKU-000941753The Dark Tides is now available for purchase at AmazonBarnes and Noble and iUniverse.