In his fifteenth year of rule, King Uther Pendragon - High King of all the Celtic Tribes - is set on a quest by Merlyn and the druids of Mona, to brave the winter seas and set sail for the Isle of Erin. The quest placed upon the king, despite the tribal lands being at war with Saxon invaders, is to take a war party and return with a prize that will lay to rest the ghosts of the past and allow the Celts to reclaim their lands. But none of those who set sail realize what this quest will release within their king, and what events will unfold.
I started writing because I was bored, brutally honest but true! I always loved to read, but I had never ever thought about writing anything myself, but then, back in 2010 I got bored… television was my undoing. I realised that I was returning home from work every night and allowing my brain to be entertained in front of the ‘idiot box’ - I couldn’t even remember what I had been watching most of the time!
So I sat at my laptop and stared at a blank screen for a while until a line came to me… - ‘The floorboard creaked under the sole of his felt boot – a calculated risk when entering a sleeping man’s room uninvited.’ – I was hooked by the writing bug! That first line became my first book, The Flight of the Griffin, a fantasy that was ‘longlisted’ for the 2013 Times/ChickenHouse Children’s literary awards. I have since written a sequel to this called Chaos Storm and both have a good following of readers, young and old, who enjoy fantasy adventure.
It wasn’t until I got to my third book that I discovered my real love, which is for the Dark ages and medieval times. Especially legends surrounding the main Arthurian legend. Much has been written about King Arthur, Merlin the Druid and the Lady of the Lake. There are some wonderful characters within this legend that we can really relate to and we all love the story, the romance and the clash of steel.
However, when I started writing the Shadowland books I decided that the story of Arthur and his Knights had been too well told by some amazing authors and it had almost all been said. I could have invented a story around the legends and given a slightly different take which would have been entertaining and fun to do, but I decided to look for a lesser told story within the Arthurian theme.
My tale from the Dark Ages starts with an old storyteller who gathers an audience of villagers around him, by a village Inn’s log fire, one midwinter’s eve. He is persuaded to tell a story from his own youth rather than a tale of fancy, and it becomes a retelling of the rise of Uther Pendragon.
Uther was the father of Arthur. He was the man who rose from a humble beginning within the Isceni tribe to unite all the tribes of Britain against a common foe - the Saxon invaders. Under Roman rule, the tribes had lived a simple, relatively untroubled life, but around AD 410 the Romans realised their empire was in peril and departed, packing everything of value they headed to their ships and sailed away. This happened relatively quickly and left a power vacuum in Britain that the Saxon’s, Jutes and Angles immediately took advantage of – the tribes of Britain needed to unite if they were ever going to claim Britain as their own, they needed a strong leader.
In my first book, Shadowland, I tell of the rise of Uther. How as a boy he met Merlyn and how he discovered he was destined to lead the Britons against the Saxon invaders after his brother Ambrosius died. As much as possible I have kept faith with all the old legends and stories told of Uther and the early years of Merlyn, but because this was the dark ages and so little is factually known, I’ve thrown a bunch of fantasy and a little Druid madness into the mix to make it more interesting.
Shadowland has been really well received with over 250 Amazon reviews and although I intended it to be a stand-alone story, I have been getting so many requests to follow up with another Uther story that almost two years ago I began to write a sequel.
The Shadow of a King was published in May 2016. It tells a very different tale from the first, but still taken from the legends of Uther. Persuaded on his deathbed to tell the story of how he accepted a Druid’s quest to journey to the Isle of Erin and there to bring back the ring of stones known as the
Giant’s Dance and then upon his return how he met his love, Igraine.
If you enjoy Arthurian Legend, I hope you will try Shadowland and The Shadow of a King. Neither are written to be factual books of history, very little fact remains from those times leaving the interpretation of legend open to an author’s imagination. These are merely accounts of how it might have been…
C. M. Gray
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About the Author
Born in Essex England, C.M.Gray has travelled and lived in many different places in our world, from Hong Kong and India, to a farm in Burgundy France and now a house in the hills outside of Barcelona, Spain. He has been a carpenter, a stockbroker and grower of wines, life is an ongoing adventure! Writing is a passion that has so far produced four books, all of which have been Amazon bestsellers, The Flight of the Griffin, Chaos Storm, Shadowland and The Shadow of a King. Learn more about C.M.Gray and his books on his website www.author-cmgray.com and find him on Twitter @cgray129.