Britain is a place of myths and legends. There are many stories of men and women who were exceptionally heroic. But none has captured the imagination quite like Arthur Pendragon.
I was blessed to grow up near Glastonbury ~ or if you prefer, The Ancient Isle of Avalon. I knew the story of Arthur from an early age, and I have been enchanted ever since.
However, I always felt slightly deflated by the ending of Arthur’s story. There is a terrible battle at Camlann where Arthur is mortally wounded. He is whisked away to Avalon, and that is the last that we hear of him. Likewise, his knights, if they have not already died, give up the sword enter the church and/or become hermits. I love the stories of Arthur and his knights, but I’m sorry, the ending sucks! Why would the Knights become hermits?
This motivated me to write The Du Lac Chronicles. I was determined to carry on the story and write about what happens next.
I wanted to keep the story as historically accurate as I could, but at the same time, I didn’t want to take away the legend that we love. So I studied the work of Monmouth and Malory as well as all those brilliant French poets. I wanted to know the legend inside out, and then I would bring the history of the period into the tale.
You cannot ignore the Saxons when you look at this era. This is their time. I needed to know about them to make this book authentic in the telling. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles was a good starting point. I spent hours cross-referencing this book with other sources and trying to figure out what was real and what was fictitious.
I became fascinated with Cerdic of Wessex, the first Saxon King of Britain, and I was staggered by how much he achieved. He came over and conquered the south of Britain and by AD 519 he declared himself King. He was the perfect antagonist for my knights. I had to include him in the story.
The Du Lac Chronicles is also set in Brittany and in fact, The Du Lac Devil, which is book 2 of the Chronicles (and will be out later on this year), is set primarily in Brittany. I needed to get a handle on Dark Age Brittany as well as Dark Age Britain. I have to admit there was a moment where I wavered. I started to think that maybe I could work around Brittany and not include it in the story. I was reading the most fantastic myths about Brittany, but not so many facts. However, in the legend, Lancelot comes from Brittany. So it made sense for his sons to come from there as well. I waded through the myths as best as I could, and I came across a fascinating king called Budic and as I read about him, I realised he was exactly what I had been looking for. Budic is often associated with the legendary King Ban of Benwick. I wanted Budic and his castle in my story. So he is!
I also discovered that the trade links that the Romans had initiated, for the most part, remained in place. Brittany continued to have strong ties to Britain. The Breton language has striking similarities to the Celtic and Gaelic language of the mainland. One can assume that not only did the British trade with Brittany, but they also moved there and in some instances took control of parts of the country. Cornouaille, which was the kingdom that Budic ruled, seemed to have had direct trade links with Cornwall, maybe he had family there as well?
I talk a great deal about Cornwall – or Cerniw as it was known then – in The Du Lac Chronicles. Cornwall has a long association with Arthurian Legend and with the apparent links to Brittany I felt it needed to be included, which is why Budic’s brother Alden, ruled this beautiful kingdom.
The Du Lac Chronicles is set a generation after the fall of King Arthur, and I wanted to create a story where the knights did not end up in monasteries and then disappeared into the shadows of history. I wanted to write about what happened after Arthur died. In particular, I wanted to write about the changing ‘Saxon’ world that these knights now found themselves in.
The Du Lac Chronicles follows – through the eyes of Lancelot du Lac’s sons – Cerdic of Wessex’s campaign to become High King. The world the du Lac’s had known was to be changed forever by this one man’s determination to enslave the kingdoms under the Saxon yolk. In my story, these men, these knights, do not die easily, and they certainly do not become hermits!
Title: The Du Lac Chronicles
Author: Mary Anne Yarde
Genre: Young Adult Medieval Fiction
“It is dangerous to become attached to a du Lac. He will break your heart, and you will not recover.”
So prophesies a wizened healer to Annis, daughter of King Cerdic of Wessex. If there is truth in the old crone’s words, they come far too late for Annis, who defies father, king, and country to save the man she loves.
Alden du Lac, once king of Cerniw, has nothing. Betrayed by Cerdic, Alden’s kingdom lies in rubble, his fort razed to the ground and his brother Merton missing, presumably dead. He has only one possession left worth saving: his heart. And to the horror of his few remaining allies, he gives that to the daughter of his enemy. They see Annis, at best, as a bargaining chip to avoid war with her powerful father. At worst, they see a Saxon whore with her claws in a broken, wounded king.
Alden has one hope: When you war with one du Lac, you war with them all. His brother Budic, King of Brittany, could offer the deposed young king sanctuary—but whether he will offer the same courtesy to Annis is far less certain.
It was a poor meal, Alden thought as he broke off the meat and handed some to Annis. They would need something more filling than a small bird if they were to survive. He wondered if they dared try and find a village to stock up on supplies, not that they had any coins to buy anything with. It was a bad idea, really, for nobody liked beggars, and they would probably be hounded out of the village by pitchforks. Still, he had to think of something. He frowned as he chewed. Kent was an option. It was close and he was on good terms with the king. They would be safe in Kent and it wasn’t that far away. Yes, Kent. He had wanted to reach Cerniw, but Kent was a better option, especially if Cerdic’s men were raping the place, as Bors had suggested.
“We are heading for Kent,” Alden announced, his mind made up. It was a logical plan.
Annis lowered the meat she was about to put in her mouth and looked at him.
Alden popped some more meat into his mouth and chewed slowly.
“Kent?” Annis asked. To her, Kent was as far away as the moon. She had never stepped foot out of the lands that surrounded her father’s castle.
“I need to know what is going on. King Oeric has always been an ally and he has a good fleet of boats.”
“But you could be caught. My father will have placed men at the border. Surely he will guess you will head that way,” Annis argued.
“I was caught last time because I surrendered. I can promise you, I will not be caught again. And as for your father, he knows as well as I that there are several places I could go. I do not doubt that Kent has crossed his mind. But this time, I am looking for him, so the way I see it, I have the advantage.” He frowned. “Eat,” he ordered, popping some more of the meat into his mouth. “I will not have it said that I starved you.”
She brought the meat halfway to her mouth again and stopped. “How long will it take to get to Kent?”
“A day, maybe less, depending on the weather.”
“And if the weather isn’t kind?”
Alden laughed. “Forever the pessimist,” he mocked gently. “If the weather isn’t kind then I am guessing it will take longer.”
Annis blushed. “I know that,” she mumbled. “I’m sorry for being…” Her words faded into nothing as she sat and stared at the flames.
“For being what?” Alden queried.
“Oh nothing, forget I said anything. It was a stupid question and…”
“And?” he encouraged, noting her change of tone and the way she would not look at him.
“And I know I am not very good company and I slow you down, and if it wasn’t for me you would probably be in Kent by now.” He tried to interrupt, but she would not let him for she had too much to say. “I cannot cook to save my life. I have no idea how to look after myself. If anything happened to you, I would die within days. My father is a monster. My body feels like it has been trampled on by a herd of raging horses. I am dirty. I smell. And I hate my knees,” she huffed.
“Your knees?” Alden asked, bemused, for he had not expected such a torrent of words from her and being a mere man, he did not really understand her point.
“Never mind my knees. You are right. I am a pessimist. I learned very early on not to look forward to things, because then, I would not be disappointed if they did not happen. And I have had a great many disappointments. I hate my hair. I hate curls. I hate the fact that I am a Saxon. Sometimes I hate myself. And now I am rambling, and no doubt making a fool of myself. I am completely useless, am I not?”
“You lost me with the knee thing. Can you repeat the rest again?”
Born in Bath, England, Mary Anne Yarde grew up in the southwest of England, surrounded and influenced by centuries of history and mythology. Glastonbury–the fabled Isle of Avalon–was a mere fifteen-minute drive from her home, and tales of King Arthur and his knights were part of her childhood.
At nineteen, Yarde married her childhood sweetheart and began a bachelor of arts in history at Cardiff University, only to have her studies interrupted by the arrival of her first child. She would later return to higher education, studying equine science at Warwickshire College. Horses and history remain two of her major passions.
Yarde keeps busy raising four children and helping run a successful family business. She has many skills but has never mastered cooking–so if you ever drop by, she (and her family) would appreciate some tasty treats or a meal out!
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Amazon Author’s page http://www.amazon.com/Mary-Anne-Yarde/e/B01C1WFATA/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0