Thursday, 22 June 2017

The Land Of Merlin ~ Dinas Emrys #FolkloreThursday #Arthurian #Britain #legend

The search for King Arthur continues...

As I said, I am back on with my search for Arthur. Now, I am sure you are aware that Arthur is an elusive King. He is like a phantom or a wisp of smoke. You think you have caught him and then... Nothing. He disappears into thin air.

I could easily run with a theory as to who he was, but I am not going to do that. I want to stick with the legend because that is what fascinates me. I love folklore. I also love how there always seems to be a ring of truth in it, as I am going to demonstrate today!

Geoffrey of Monmouth and King Arthur

It cannot be disputed that Geoffrey of Monmouth gave us the Arthur we know and love. It is easy to mock his work, but for hundreds of years, Monmouth's Arthur was considered to be factually correct. So for the sake of this post, I am going to pretend that what Monmouth said is historically true — you will see where I am going with this in a minute!

Let's begin...


The story of King Arthur does not start, surprisingly, with Arthur. The story begins with Merlin.

It was Merlin that prophesied the coming of Arthur, and it was Merlin and his magic that made sure the rightful king of Britain pulled the sword from the stone. If it had not been for Merlin, there would be no Arthur.

Merlin, it is said, first came to the attention of Vortigern — King of the Britons — when he was a child. Vortigern, in his wisdom, had invited some Saxon mercenaries to Briton to fight with him against the troublesome Picts and Scots. But the problem with Saxon mercenaries is that they couldn't be trusted. Vortigern soon found himself running for his life from the very men he had paid to defend it.

To cut a long story short, Vortigern ended up in Gwynedd, North Wales. More precisely, he ended up on a hill, in which he decided to build a fortress on. Unfortunately, what ever he built, collapsed. Vortigern's magicians told him that he needed to spill the blood of a child without a father, onto the stones. Once he did this, then the fortress would stand.

There was a child, Myrddin Emrys, who seemed a likely candidate. But Emrys was no ordinary child, and he was quite attached to his life and didn't want to die. Nevertheless, he was brought to the usurped King...

"Why have my mother and I been brought into your presence?"

"My magicians have advised me," answered Vortigern, "That I shall look for a fatherless man, so that my building can be sprinkled with blood and thus stand firm."

"Tell your magicians to appear in front of me," answered Merlin, "and I will prove that they have lied."

The History Of The Kings Of Briton.

Emrys challenged the King's magicians and instead gave a plausible reason why the fortress would not stand. He said that two dragons were imprisoned at the bottom of an underground lake beneath the hill. If they set the dragons free, then the foundations of the fort would stand. All they had to do was release the dragons, which they did.

Vortigern built his fort and out of respect, he named the fort after Emrys. He called it Dinas Emrys

But here is where it gets interesting. In 1945 the hill was excavated by archaeologists, and they found an unground lake. So maybe there is a little bit of truth in Monmouth's story after all.

Dians Emrys is now under the care of The National Trust, and they welcome visitors. But walkers are warned to tread softly on the hill, for a dragon sleeps beneath it.

If you fancy finding out what happened after the death of King Arthur then why not check out my historical fantasy series — The Du Lac Chronicles...

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Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Author’s Inspiration ~ Lily Baldwin #HistFic #Romance #Scotland @Lily_Baldwin

It is with the greatest of pleasures that I welcome Historical Romance author, Lily Baldwin, onto the blog today. Lilly writes the most amazing historical romance set in Scotland and today, Lily is going to share with us her inspirations behind her fabulous Scottish Outlaws series.

Jack: A Scottish Outlaw

Jack MacVie is a Scottish rebel, robbing English nobles on the road north into Scotland alongside his four brothers. But the MacVie brothers are not hell bent on riches. They became highwaymen to fight against the tyranny of King Edward of England.

In the aftermath of the Berwick massacre, Lady Isabella Redesdale is risking it all, journeying north into war-torn Scotland to be with her sister. But when her carriage is attacked by a band of villains, another gang descends to steal her away. 

Although they come from different worlds, Jack and Isabella are more alike than they first realize. They both crave freedom from war and despair, but in a world where kings reign and birth dictates one’s station, freedom is not won, it is stolen.

Author’s Inspiration

Hi everyone 😊. Thank you, Mary, for inviting me to guest post on Myths, Legends, Books, and Coffee Pots. My name is Lily Baldwin, and I write Scottish historical romance.
My latest series is the Scottish Outlaws. The first book in the series is a novella that I wrote as part of an anthology of original stories with other authors. The rest of the books are all full-length novels. The first glimmer of an idea was inspired by the poem The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes, which has long been one of my favorites. I loved the idea of writing a medieval series with a braw Scottish highwayman leading a gang of outlaws who rob English nobles on the road north into Scotland.
So I envisioned Jack MacVie—the Scottish Outlaw.
But I realized I needed a reason for him being a highwayman—why was he a robber? He couldn’t just be a robber because he wanted to be rich—that doesn’t make a very romantic story.
I returned to a compelling and horrific event in Scottish/English history, which is featured in the second book of a different series of mine—the Isle of Mull Series. This event was the Berwick Massacre. In the late 13th century, Berwick was the center of trade and commerce in Scotland. In 1296, Edward of England sacked Berwick, slaughtering thousands of men, women, and children. In the end, Edward claimed the city for England. When building my highwayman’s back story, I envisioned Jack being from Berwick. I pictured him as a commoner and the eldest brother of a big family torn apart by the massacre. Quickly it became a story about Scottish Independence. Then all of the sudden Jack’s brothers became his fellow outlaws, and together they robbed English nobles and gave their stolen gains back to the Scottish people. As the stories progress each brother has a different role to play for the cause—whether protecting an Englishwoman wrongfully accused of murder, pulling off a seemingly impossible heist of the king’s palace in London, or posing as a wealthy English merchant to infiltrate the king’s court. 
Like true brothers, the MacVie men are all very different from one another; subsequently, so, too, are their stories. The common threads connecting all the brothers is that they are outlaws to the crown but heroes to the Scottish people and to the women who capture their hearts.
So far, I have chatted quite a bit about the MacVie brothers, but the Scottish Outlaws are not just men—Jack, Quinn, Rory, Alec and Ian (whose story will be Book 6 in the series) have a sister named, Rose. She is the next Scottish Outlaw and my current WIP. Rose’s life has been marked by great tragedy. During the massacre, her three daughters and husband were murdered. She is strong and perseveres, and despite her suffering, she always tries to remain positive. But inside she hides a sadness so heavy and consuming she could sink beneath the waves of the ocean she loves to gaze upon.
I do not want to give anything away, but after all Rose has been through my mission as author of her story is to give her the absolute time of her life and a love that will heal her heart and raise her so high she will be able to touch the stars.
I want to thank my readers so very much for coming along on the passionate, adventurous and often treacherous journeys of the MacVie family.

Before I sign off, I wanted to share something fabulous with everyone. The Scottish Outlaws are published by Duncurra LLC. You can listen to the audiobook of Jack on the Duncurra Youtube channel for free. This version of Jack has dual narrators (James McCreadie and his lovely wife, Debbie May). Plus, it totally has sound effects—how much fun is that?! What’s more, Duncurra Youtube also has complete audiobooks by Scottish historical romance authors Ceci Giltenan and L.L. Muir—also free to enjoy. Here is the link for Duncurra Youtube. Happy Listening!

Links for Purchase
Jack: A Scottish Outlaw

For the Scottish Outlaws series

About the author

Award-winning Historical Romance author Lily Baldwin loves writing, Scotland, her wonderful husband and beautiful young daughter—though not necessarily in that order. She has a BA in anthropology from the University of New Hampshire, and an MA in International Studies from Birmingham University in the UK. She daydreams constantly, and gets her best story ideas while running; she is even training for a half-marathon. She also finds inspiration in Nature, a quality revealed through the powerful description and drama in her books. She lives in New England with her cherished husband and daughter.
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