Category Archives: Isolde and Trystan

>Giveaway and Guest Post: Dark Moon of Avalon by Anna Elliott

>Author Anna Elliott has just released her second novel in her Isolde and Trystan trilogy, this one called Dark Moon of Avalon. I recently read this book and reviewed it here, and I have found that she breathes magical creativity into an ancient Arthurian-inspired tale. Book one was Twilight of Avalon, and I reviewed that here last year and enjoyed it so much that I named it one of my favorites of 2009. Anna also visited The Burton Review last year with a guest post, which you can read here.

She is a healer, a storyteller, and a warrior. She has fought to preserve Britain’s throne. Now she faces her greatest challenge in turning bitter enemies into allies, saving the life of the man she loves..  and mending her own wounded heart.

It is with honor that I welcome Anna Elliott to The Burton Review with the following guest post. Read further for your chance to win your own copy of Dark Moon of Avalon.

Healing Hearts
Anna Elliott

Dark Moon of Avalon takes place in the shadow of King Arthur’s Britain, during the mid 6th century, when invading Saxon armies were increasingly defeating Britain’s forces and taking over Britain’s lands. My Isolde is the daughter of Modred, great villain of the Arthurian cycle of tales. And she has lost everything, her old life, her family, her home, have all been destroyed by the constant battles and political intrigue.

My Isolde is also a healer, working with Britain’s wounded soldiers. She doesn’t yet know how she herself can find the healing she offers others every day. But she desperately needs to believe that recovery from trauma is possible, and so she throws herself passionately into her mission as a healer.

As you might expect, Isolde’s passion for the healing craft sent me scurrying for the research books. I read medieval herbals and compilations of the folk remedies common to the British isles; I pored over Roman surgical texts. And I was absolutely fascinated to discover just how sophisticated a Dark Age healer like Isolde could have been.

Certainly our modern knowledge of germs and bacteria revolutionized the medical profession, as has anesthesia and modern surgical theaters. But for all that, medical practice in the Dark Ages was not as crude or as brutal as one might imagine. One ancient surgical technique–that Isolde herself uses to conduct an amputation in Dark Moon of Avalon–was a device called a ‘soporific sponge.’ Texts on the soporific sponge survive from as early as the 9th century, and direct the healer to soak a pad or sponge with black nightshade, hyoscyamus (henbane), the juice of hemlock, the juice of leaves of mandragora, and several other mild narcotics. The sponge was then held beneath the patient’s nose during surgery, so that breathing its fumes would keep the patient unconscious.

In Dark Moon of Avalon, Isolde and Trystan are dispatched on a diplomatic mission through unstable and warring lands to persuade rulers of the smaller kingdoms surrounding Britain to join forces to protect the throne. Isolde’s skills as a healer are more than once all that stands between success and failure of their mission. Isolde’s greatest test as a healer, though, comes when she is faced with the fear that she may not be able to save the wounded man who matters to her most of all. And the most rewarding part of writing Dark Moon of Avalon for me was watching her find the courage to face that fear, and through it find the courage to also heal her own wounded heart.

Brought together under dire circumstances, Trystan and Isolde must confront their growing love for each other and face a battle that will test the strength of their will, their hearts, and the lives of all those in Britain.

To celebrate the release of Dark Moon of Avalon, I’m offering a free prequel short story, Dawn of Avalon, available for free download on my website here: http://www.annaelliottbooks.com/dawn.php

He would become the most powerful wizard in the history of Britain—Merlin. She would become Britain’s most storied sorceress—Morgan le Fay. But before they were legends, they were young. And they were lovers. Together, in the sunlight of one day long ago, they saved a kingdom.

Dawn of Avalon.

A stand-alone story from the universe of Anna Elliott’s Twilight of Avalon.

Please visit Anna’s website here.

To enter for your own copy of Dark Moon of Avalon, please comment here telling me what Arthurian-styled stories you have heard, seen or read. Do you have a favorite telling? Please leave me your email address.

USA Only.
Giveaway ends 10/2/2010
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Filed under 2010 Releases, Anna Elliott, Arthurian, Dark Ages, Guinevere/Guenevere, Isolde and Trystan

>Book Review: Dark Moon of Avalon by Anna Elliott

> Happy Release Day to Anna!

Dark Moon of Avalon: A Novel of Trystan and Isolde by Anna Elliott
(Book #2 in the Twilight of Avalon Trilogy series, Twilight of Avalon: Book One released May 5, 2009)
Touchstone Simon and Schuster, September 14, 2010
Review copy generously provided by the author, thank you!
The Burton Review Rating:Big 4 stars!

She is a healer, a storyteller, and a warrior. She has fought to preserve Britain’s throne. Now she faces her greatest challenge in turning bitter enemies into allies, saving the life of the man she loves . . . and mending her own wounded heart.

The young former High Queen, Isolde, and her friend and protector, Trystan, are reunited in a new and dangerous quest to keep the usurper, Lord Marche, and his Saxon allies from the throne of Britain. Using Isolde’s cunning wit and talent for healing and Trystan’s strength and bravery, they must act as diplomats, persuading the rulers of the smaller kingdoms, from Ireland to Cornwall, that their allegiance to the High King is needed to keep Britain from a despot’s hands.

Their admissions of love hang in the air, but neither wants to put the other at risk by openly declaring a deeper alliance. When their situation is at its most desperate, Trystan and Isolde must finally confront their true feelings toward each other, in time for a battle that will test the strength of their will and their love.

Steeped in the magic and lore of Arthurian legend, Elliott paints a moving portrait of a timeless romance, fraught with danger, yet with the power to inspire heroism and transcend even the darkest age.

In May of 2009, I read Anna Elliott’s debut novel (which was a favorite of the year for me) Twilight of Avalon and I found myself immersed in Arthurian legend that was told with intoxicating ease that drew me into Dark Ages Britain. I was eager to read book two, Dark Moon of Avalon, but once I finally received it I had to put it aside in the priorities list. Which was unfortunate because upon opening Dark Moon I was struggling to see where we were in the time line, as over a year had passed since I read the first book in the trilogy (review is here). Soon enough I was beguiled by the storytelling and I was once again falling in love with Anna Elliott’s story of the two star-crossed lovers. Anna’s writing is deeply and thickly rooted within its story that you have to pace yourself with her writing so that you do not miss anything. This is not the love story you would think it would be at first glance, it is the author’s reimagined history of a very early Britain as it struggles to become the kingdom that its leaders know it can be.

 

Dark Moon of Avalon begins as Isolde is asked by King Madoc to go to the council meeting to visit with the Irish King Goram, with hopes of uniting certain leaders with those that would be beneficial for the salvation of Britain. What follows is a long journey to meet with these leaders which is fraught with peril along the path. Lord Marche is the enemy that Isolde was once married to from Book one who now haunts her dreams with visions of Marche and Trystan locked in a fierce sword fight.  Isolde is lucky to have trustworthy allies at her side as she makes her journey, and she finally meets up with Trystan who agrees to guide her towards a meeting King Cerdic, someone who is of doubtful character, but can help turn the tide of war in a positive turn for Britain if he agrees to her courageous plan.

Not a story that is told to be an action-packed adventure, this is a character-driven heroic tale of good vs. evil, with strong tones of true love and honor. Enchanting, intriguing and powerful writing makes this a story to be savored as we get into Isolde’s head and heart along her journey, making us thoroughly respect and admire Isolde’s strength of character and bravery. We witness Isolde struggling with romantic feelings for her childhood friend as she keeps the distance between them just enough to be laced with tension. The reader is treated to the author’s reimagined Dark Ages setting that evokes the magical Arthurian theme but also offers a whole new twist to the traditional Tristan and Iseult tale. Anna Elliott’s love story of Trystan and Isolde is virtuous and sweet,with the wonderful ending in book two which leaves us on tenterhooks awaiting the final installment in the trilogy.

For those of you who read Book one and remember Dera from the story, Anna has shared with her readers a free short story titled The Witch Queen’s Secret which can be found here. And coming soon is Morgan & Merlin—The Beginning, another short story offered as a free download from the author; and this is a prequel to book one that looks incredibly amazing!

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Filed under 2010 Releases, 2010 Review, Anna Elliott, Dark Ages, Isolde and Trystan

>The Witch Queen’s Secret: Anna Elliott Freebie!

>Last year, I read my very first Arthurian-style read when I reviewed Anna Elliott’s Twilight of Avalon. It was one of my favorite reads last year because of the intelligent writing that entertained me with an entirely new story for me which was that of Isolde and Trystan. You can read my review and get more background here.

In honor of Anna’s release date of September 14 for book two in her Avalon series, Dark Moon of Avalon, (which I am looking forward to reading soon!) she is offering a couple of freebie short stories as a gift to readers!

The first, titled The Witch Queen’s Secret, is available now; you can download it for free in various e-reader and printer compatible forms on Anna’s website here. Or (because of Amazon policy) it’s available for 99 cents on the Kindle store here.

The Witch Queen’s Secret
Between Books I and II in the Twilight of Avalon Trilogy

Dera owes Britain’s former High Queen Isolde her life. But as an army harlot, the life she leads is one of degradation and often desperate danger, with small hope for the future either for Dera or for her small son.

Through a Britain torn by war with Saxon invaders, Dera makes her way to Dinas Emrys, last stronghold of Britain’s army, to beg Queen Isolde’s help once more. Isolde offers Dera a new life, both for herself and for her child. But when Dera and Isolde uncover a treasonous plot, Dera must leave her little boy and undertake a dangerous mission, the outcome of which comes to her as a stunning, but wonderful, surprise.

And as she risks her life, Dera also draws nearer to Queen Isolde’s most closely-guarded secret: one that Britain’s courageous witch-queen may be hiding even from herself.

Anna also explains that this “middle” story is self-contained; you don’t have to have read any of the Trystan and Isolde books to understand The Witch Queen’s Secret.

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Filed under Anna Elliott, FREE, Isolde and Trystan

>Giveaway: Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table: Tragic Romance in Literature

>

O, Juliet by Robin Maxwell
After reading O, Juliet by Robin Maxwell (my book review), I had a wonderful feeling of love and romance that enveloped me. The story of Romeo and Juliet created by Shakespeare is very familiar, with the sudden and fervent love that blossomed between the two doomed teens, but of course their tragedy is not unique. What is it that makes their love a tragedy? Social forces tried to push Romeo and Juliet away from each other, but their love had hope to overcome society’s boundaries. Juliet by John William WaterhouseThe reader has trusted their hearts to the story, blindly hoping for a blissful ending. But, in the end, the couple didn’t live to enjoy their love and the reader is left with a sense of loss and we are bereft because of it. Here I chose several stories that are either true stories or the stuff of legend. Both types have inspired works of literature and artwork, such as this painting shown by John William Waterhouse, titled Juliet.

Paolo and Francesca is a true tale made famous by Dante’s Inferno, Book One of the Divine Comedy, and is mentioned in Robin Maxwell’s novel O, Juliet as well. Francesca da Rimini (1255 – 1285) was tricked into marrying someone else, which made the intended Paolo to be Francesca’s brother-in-law instead of the husband she wanted him to be. They are reading the love story of Lancelot and Guenevere (pic at right) Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882) and become intimate and when they are caught, they are killed by Francesca’s husband. Francesca thought Paolo had escaped the room but he was stuck by his jacket, yet Francesca let her husband through the door thinking he had safely escaped. Francesca was killed by the rapier as she tried to stop her husband from harming her precious Paolo. She died in vain.
Paolo & Francesca: A Tragedy in Four Acts was written by Stephen Phillips and was first performed in 1902.

Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle MoranLiterature has brought us several stories such as this, although perhaps none so widely known as Romeo and Juliet. A true story is Egypt’s Cleopatra and Marc Antony, and is highlighted in Michelle Moran’s recent novel, Cleopatra’s Daughter.
It is stated somewhat simply that when the couple were fleeing the Roman Octavian, they committed suicide once they realized that they could never escape. Michelle Moran took this a step further and created a dramatic death scene in front of their twin children, and this was at the beginning of Moran’s gripping novel which continued through the eyes of their daughter Selene which never did quite let go of your heart. What was so tragic between Cleopatra and Marc Antony? Marc was a Roman himself, Cleopatra was the Egyptian Queen, making quite a pair of attempting to unite countries and build a prosperous empire. As the author puts it, once Cleopatra learned that Marc was losing the battle, she sent word that they themselves were killed. She wanted Marc to save himself, and not risk his life any further by coming for his family. Of course Marc is heartbroken when he hears this news, and he stabs himself. The soldiers bring him back to his family where Selene watches her father die, and then her mother the Queen makes one last important decision as she poisons herself with an asp (poisonous reptile). A wonderfully told story and I doubt one will ever compare to Michelle’s telling of this tragic and true story.

Arthurian legend is focused on the story of King Arthur and Guenevere, which was seemingly a love match. Author Rosalind Miles has written a series with these characters that begins with Guenevere: Queen of the Summer Country. The image of Arthur evokes images of knights in shining armor, and undying love. Yet, his lovely wife, Queen Guenevere, falls in love with Sir Lancelot and they were caught in the act, much like the previously mentioned Paolo and Francesca. Arthur condemns Guenevere to burn at the stake. In Miles’ book, Morgan is Arthur’s half-sister who has returned to claim her rights, which forces Arthur to make the choice between Morgan and Guenevere.

Twilight of Avalon, Book One, by Anna Elliott
A story that I have only just begun is the trilogy that is in the works by Anna Elliott. Her debut novel, Twilight of Avalon, (May 2009) focuses on the love that is forged between Tristan and Isolde. The second in the series releases May 2010 and is called Dark Moon of Avalon. An earlier telling of the love story is Tristan and Iseult by Joseph Bedier who retold the story as he contrived it through earlier French poems. How Elliott’s telling will relate to the accepted legendary story remains to be seen, but the first story impressed me greatly so that I have purchased another author’s trilogy regarding the couple of Tristan and Isolde, by Rosalind Miles.
In Anna Elliott’s first book, the setting is much more understated and is not made to be a tragic romance from the start. Isolde is Modred and Guenevere’s daughter; Modred being Arthur’s son, and Guenevere being the same woman who was in love with Lancelot as depicted above. Elliott’s story does have a thread of romantic undertones in the first book but it is just a factor of respect rather than the reknowned unrequited love between Isolde and Tristan. It definitely has the chivalric tones and the added magical elements with Morgan’s scenes while it leaves out the legend of Lancelot. As the thing of legend goes, the very legend changes from source to source..Dark Moon of Avalon, Book Two

One is that Tristan and Isolde fall in love, but Isolde is wed to Mark of Cornwall. Tristan is banished, Isolde pines for him, and she is eventually sent for by Tristan because he is deathly ill. Tristan is married to Iseult by this time, who lies to Tristan and tells him that Isolde is not coming to him. He dies, and Isolde indeed comes. They both die of grief, yearning for the other.

The rumor is that Meaney Dee Morrison has written Iseult’s story in its truest form in her case, although includes more sorcery. There was the movie (the heart stopping gorgeous James Franco is perfect in this as Tristan) that has Iseult married to Mark, and Tristan and Mark are close friends.

Tristan and Isolde, 2006 movie
Heloise & Abelard: A New Biography by James BurgeA true story comes to us via Heloise & Abelard: A New Biography by James Burge. Pierre (Peter) Abelard, (1079-1142) heard of the great beauty and wisdom of Heloise (1101-1164), whose uncle was Canon Fulbert. A story of religion and love, and tragic consequences, the two fell in love despite the 20 year age difference. The two have a son. The uncle was incensed when he discovered the affair, forced them apart, and ended up castrating Peter Abelard. The lovers corresponded through letters, and were forever after separated after being married to the church. Heloise gave up her son and was forced into a convent, although she did eventually become successful there. Author James Burge published his biography on the couple in 2004 using just recently translated letters between the two. There were a few letters throughout time that existed which kept the story alive, but with the 113 letters now released the legend came alive again. Among religion, duty, reproach and regret, the letters relate the hold of the power of love had on Heloise even at moments she was worshipping God.Abelard and Heloise French Scholar and Nun Embracing in the Scriptorium by Eleanor Fortescue Brickdale The once separated couple now rest eternally together, and even though they were buried together initially, they were moved several times throughout history until Josephine Bonaparte had their remains moved to a cemetery in Paris where their tomb is now an attraction for modern day lovers.

Love is what makes the world go round. It also makes it tremble, weep, and jump for joy. It inspires. The tragedies that come with love should teach us to never take anything for granted. And unfortunately, some of the tragic love stories cited above became tragic only because someone else said they should not love each other. The feuding family, the angry uncle.. but sometimes, it is just not in the stars for some. Romeo and Juliet shall always be here to inspire lovers, readers.. romantics.. along with these other lovers mentioned. And for that, I am grateful, as we also now have the first ever fictionalized account of the traditional Romeo & Juliet, with Robin Maxwell’s newest novel, O, Juliet. All the world needs is love, love, love. Ford Madox Brown: Romeo and Juliet, 1867.
This week has been the O, Juliet Tour.. please visit the main website for the Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table to see the other reviews and related posts for this event. There has also been some fabulous giveaways, so be sure to check out the calendar of events at the main HFBRT site.

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=E1D950&IS2=1&bg1=E1D950&fc1=E90000&lc1=FF0085&t=theburrev-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&m=amazon&f=ifr&md=10FE9736YVPPT7A0FBG2&asins=0451229150

Do you want your own copy of the book O, Juliet by Robin Maxwell?
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Giveaway ends February 12th. OPEN WORLDWIDE!!!!

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Filed under Anna Elliott, HF Bloggers Round Table, Isolde and Trystan, Michelle Moran, Robin Maxwell, Rosalind Miles

>Anna Elliott, author of ‘Twilight of Avalon’ Guest Post

>The Burton Review welcomes Anna Elliott, author of the newly released “Twilight of Avalon”. See my review beneath this post with some helpful links to Arthurian sites. Anna will also be by later to check on comments and questions, so please feel free to correspond through here! And a big thank you to Anna for allowing me to host this on my blog, I truly appreciate it.

Writing Historical Fantasy:
A Magical Balance

– By Anna Elliott

Ever since I wrote Twilight of Avalon, based on the Trystan and Isolde legend in the larger cycle of Arthurian tales, I’ve often been asked for thoughts on the enduring appeal of the King Arthur story. Why should that legend, perhaps more than any other in Western culture, have captured our imaginations for more than a millennium, have engendered countless retellings and reworkings of the old tale?

The answers are legion, of course. But for me, the unique enchantment of the Arthurian legends lies in their blend of fantasy and history.
The world of the legends is a recognizably historical one, part of our own past. Many scholars have explored the possibility of a real, historic Arthur–who, if he existed, was most likely a Celtic warlord of the mid fifth century, a warrior who led a triumphant stand against the incursions of Saxons onto British shores. Trystan, whose existence as a real historic figure is suggested by a memorial stone in Cornwall, was likely a roughly contemporary warrior, possibly the son of a Cornish petty king, whose cycle of tales were eventually absorbed into the legends growing up around Arthur and his war band.
And yet the world of the Arthur tales is one steeped in magic, as well. It’s a world filled with the voices of prophecy, with enchanted swords and Otherworldly maidens and the magical Isle of Avalon, where Arthur lies in eternal sleep, healing of his wounds, waiting to ride once more in Britain’s greatest hour of need.
That combination of historical truth with the wonderful potential for magic was what most of all drew me to the Arthur stories when I first studied them in college. And it was what delighted me about living in my own version of the Arthurian world while writing Twilight of Avalon and the next two books in the trilogy.
The fifth century, when scholars agree a historic Arthur might have lived, was a brutal, chaotic time in Britain. Roman Britain had crumbled; Rome’s legions had been withdrawn from this far-flung outpost of the empire, leaving the country prey to invading Pictish and Irish tribes from the west and north and to Saxon invasions from the east. It was in many ways also a crucible in which the British identity and sense of place was forged. And it is against this backdrop that Arthur appears, a war hero who led–or at least may have led–a victorious campaign against the invaders, driving them back for perhaps the space of a man’s lifetime and so inspiring the roots of a legend that still captures our imaginations today.
I was fascinated by this possibility of a real King Arthur, and fascinated by the world in which he might have lived. So I decided to set my story there, to make my particular Arthurian world grounded in what scraps of historical fact we know of Dark Age Britain. And yet I wanted, too, to honor the original stories and their magical, legendary world–a world that after centuries of telling and re-telling, is as real in its own way as historical fact.
It was a bit of a balancing act, I discovered. My Isolde is the granddaughter of Morgan (sometimes known as Morgan le Fey in the original Arthur stories; a healer and enchantress of great renown). Isolde is gifted through Morgan with both the knowledge of a healer and with the Sight, which enables her to receive visions and hear voices from the Otherworld. All of which fitted in with what I’d read of both the legends and historical accounts of Celtic spirituality, pre-Christian Celtic belief, with its emphasis on the powers of herbs, on trances and dreams that transcend physical boundaries and touch an Otherworld that is separated from our own by only the thinnest of veils.
And yet, too, there were those elements of the original Trystan and Isolde tale that were harder to fit in with any degree of historical verisimilitude. Like the famous love potion, which in the original legend causes Trystan and Isolde to fall helplessly in love. So in those cases I took a more symbolic approach, which I’ve always felt is a way–though certainly not the only way–of reading the fantastical elements of the Arthurian tales. Dragons, for example, can be literal scaly monsters. But they can also be seen as a metaphor for the evil that exists outside the bounds of organised society. And a love potion like the one Trystan and Isolde accidentally imbibe can be viewed as a metaphor for the overwhelming, all-consuming nature of passionate romantic love.
So in the second book of the trilogy, Dark Moon of Avalon, Trystan and Isolde do journey together by boat, as in the original tale, and it is over the course of the journey that they deepen and develop their relationship, which again is true to the original legend. But the purpose of their journey is based on what scraps of historical fact we can gather about the shaky political situation of sixth-century Britain. And they don’t need a literal draft of a magical potion to fall in love–only the magic of their own powerful emotional bond.
I did take a fair number of liberties with the legend–liberties that are, I hope, justified. After all, after so many centuries of re-tellings, adding yet another version of the story seemed silly unless I could add something new to the age-old tale. From first to last of the trilogy, Trystan and Isolde’s story has been an absolute joy to work on. And my hope, now that the first book is out and I’m close to the completion of book three, is that readers of the books will experience at least a small echo of the unique blend of fantasy and historic truth that first drew me to the original tales.
*** Wasn’t that just awesome?! Comments and questions, for Anna?
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Filed under Anna Elliott, Author Post, Dark Ages, Guinevere/Guenevere, Isolde and Trystan

>Book Review: "Twilight of Avalon" by Anna Elliott & Arthurian Links to Ponder

> Twilight of Avalon: A Novel of Trystan & Isolde Book 1 in a Trilogy by Anna Elliott
Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: Touchstone (May 5, 2009)
Historical Fiction, Fantasy
ISBN-10: 1416589899
The Burton Review Rating: 4.75 EASILY MY NEW FAVORITE

The Blurb:
“Seven years ago, on the battlefield of Camlann, the great King Arthur was slain by Modred, his traitor son. And in the aftermath of battle, Isolde, daughter of Modred, was married to Arthur’s heir, Britain’s new high king, in a desperate bid to unite Britain’s warring factions. But now Isolde’s husband lies dead on another battlefield, and the Saxon tide that Arthur turned back is once more threatening Britain’s shores. Only Isolde knows the truth: that her husband was killed, not by the Saxon enemy, but by a powerful nobleman who will stop at nothing to become the next high king. Mistrusted among the king’s council for her father’s treachery, and branded a witch by many for her skill at the healer’s craft, Isolde’s only hope for survival is Trystan, a mercenary warrior with a shadowed past. Together Isolde and Trystan must fight to protect the throne from the king’s murderer, and expose a treasonous plot that could destroy Britain itself.”

From my Teaser Tuesday post:
“I know. I saw him killed. I watched him die.”
Isolde was distantly aware of Hedda’s sharp gasp, but the remnants of the vision were gathering and forming before her once more, and the sound seemed to come from a long way off.

You really need to go Read an Excerpt on Anna Elliott’s website.

I totally ate this book up. I love the myth and the legend behind it, and the unique twist that Anna puts on it. You’ve heard of the legend of King Arthur. Picture grey skies, howling winds and cold seas; the cover is perfect for this tale. Quite a legendary story it is with Arthur and his son Modred, who are both killed at Camlaan fighting each other. Though Lancelot is not present in the legend that the author pulls from, Anna Elliott’s story begins with Modred’s daughter Isolde as she learns that her husband of seven years, the High King Constantine, is killed fighting the Saxons. 6th century Britain as they know it is shifting, with its many kings with their own lands all vying for power. Isolde cannot trust anyone as she tries to make sense of what flashes she sees in her mind, and what is truth.

Elliott meanders slowly through Isolde’s path of Dark Age Britain so that we are treated to descriptive characterizations and settings which are well illustrated as she struggles with her thoughts of the past and the present. Isolde used to have the power for visions (The Sight) but as we meet her, we learn she had been stripped of those powers somewhere about the time that she had married Constantine. Yet, somehow, she sees the event of Constantine’s death, and learns that his death is not due to battle wounds but someone, although his face covered, supposedly on her side has murdered him. This knowledge she wisely keeps to herself as she treads lightly among the council members. She and the murderer know the truth, as she is quite alone in the world struggling for survival amongst power hungry warlords who believe Isolde to be a sorceress or a witch and would love to see her burnt at the stake.

Isolde is lucky to have crossed paths with Trystan, and she embarks on an adventure to save both her life and the Britain that her late husband had struggled to maintain. There is death, magic and survival all intertwined beautifully in the story that is legend for a reason. Anna Elliott uses the myth and lore to recreate the consequences of the Battle of Camlann in an enchanting tale that captures the reader from the start as we follow Isolde on her bitter journey.

I found each page to be a thrill and I completely relished the story itself. I loved the easy writing style of Anna Elliott, the picturesque narrative was complete and fulfilling. The author had to explain to the reader certain events of the past in order to make the present story work, requiring a lot of flashbacks with Isolde’s grandmother Morgan appearing in quick visions or as a voice. Sometimes it fit well, other times it was a tad out of place as if it were forced in to help prove a point. But most of the time the cohesiveness gelled with the flow of the story so this is a minor issue. Using the strong-willed Isolde as a central character in this story the reader immediately bonds to her and empathizes with her as she endures issues that a modern day woman can relate to. I am not going to go further into the events of the story because I know you are going to want to read this book on your own and follow Isolde’s journey yourself. If you are familiar with the love story of Tristan and Iseult, this is not the same story. Perhaps the characters are the same but there is not a strong resemblance, at least in this first book. There is no romance here, and nothing alludes to it either. This is merely the story of how Isolde tries to honor her promise to her dead husband in saving Britain from the traitorous Lord Marche.

The only warning about Anna Elliott’s book I would give is that her Trystan has a mouth on him and likes to invoke the Lord’s name in vain. I believe the author is trying to prove a small point here in which the world of Isolde had once been one tolerant of witches yet is now the new Britain who recently became Christian.
Do you remember the days in high school when you would adorn your bedroom walls with posters and pictures you loved? A blow up of this book cover would be one of them, complete with its title and wording, so that the feeling of the magical story can be remembered each day. Anna Elliott’s interpretation of the aftermath of Arthur’s Britain is a wonderful addition to the myriad of Arthurian books, as I am anxiously awaiting Book 2, Dark Moon of Avalon due out in May 2010. The prologue to Dark Moon is up on Anna Elliott’s website; the working title of Book Three is Sunrise of Avalon. I can’t wait to see those covers as well! The Bridgeman Art Library has had the best book covers I’ve seen this year. Thank you so much to Anna Elliott for weaving this fine tale, now hurry up and get the rest of series published!!

If you watched Tristan & Isolde, the movie with the gorgeous James Franco, there is also no resemblance from this particular book to the movie, and I also loved the movie. I have not read Rosalind Miles’ trilogy or the classic by Bedier, but I will. Recommended to me was Mists of Avalon, twice over, so I will add that to my shelf also. I have a growing Arthurian Book Collection.
Read some other Reviews:
Reading The Past (with some more background included)
A Reader’s Respite
Jenny Loves To Read
S. Krishna’s Books

In honor of Science Fiction/Fantasy Writer’s Day I am also including here links of interest for those wanting to do some more perusing of the King Arthur story:
A group of links from Anna’s Site
And then sent to me by Anna Elliott herself are these picks (thank you!):
http://www-personal.umich.edu/~merrie/Arthur/ is very well-structured and gives a good basic grounding in the Arthur legends.
http://www.geocities.com/vortigernstudies/bibliograrth.htm is more scholarly and probably for true Arthur/history enthusiasts only–but it has some fascinating articles.
http://www.gorddcymru.org/twilight/camelot/art/index.htm is a library of paintings and illustrations inspired by Arthurian legend.
Others:
Regarding The Tomb and the History http://www.lib.rochester.edu/camelot/gerald.htm

A teacher’s blog with interesting video http://anaeoilangreo.blogspot.com/2009/05/king-arthur.html

Pics of Cornwall Trip, Students In Search of Arthur http://efljblog.blogspot.com/2009/03/king-arthur-discovered-though-he-had-no.html
A King Arthur Author Blog http://blog.kingarthur.org.uk/?cat=17

A background on the Lore http://beyondtheblog.wordpress.com/2007/12/12/king-arthur/

BlogTalk Radio Questioning the Evidence http://www.blogtalkradio.com/localelives/2009/01/10/The-Legend-of-King-Arthur
Happy Surfing as we await Anna’s next installment! Also visit the guest post that Anna wrote for Historical-Fiction.com
And in honor of Fantasy Writer’s Day, Anna has graciously agreed to write a little Guest Post for this blog! I am so excited for that and that is posted above this review, which covers her thoughts on writing a historical work on something as elusive yet familiar as King Arthur’s Legend.
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Filed under Anna Elliott, Arthurian, Dark Ages, Isolde and Trystan, New Release, Review

>Booking Through Thursday – Fantasy

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Deb said: One of my favorite sci-fi authors (Sharon Lee) has declared June 23rd Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers Day.
As she puts it:
‘So! In my Official Capacity as a writer of science fiction and fantasy, I hereby proclaim June 23 Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Day! A day of celebration and wonder! A day for all of us readers of science fiction and fantasy to reach out and say thank you to our favorite writers. A day, perhaps, to blog about our favorite sf/f writers. A day to reflect upon how written science fiction and fantasy has changed your life.
So … what might you do on the 23rd to celebrate? Do you even read fantasy/sci-fi? Why? Why not?’

Science Fiction is not my forte. When I first started to read adult books when I was in 5th grade I did read a lot of science fiction because that is what was available to me for some reason. I have no idea who I read, lots of alien things that I did not understand. The one that stays with me though is Stephen King’s The Eyes of The Dragon. I re-read that several times, and I also enjoyed Tolkien in High School. As far as life changing, no, I don’t think that happened.

Something that is really perking my curiosity is the King Arthur Legend. Although not science fiction, this is mythical and fantasy lore. I am really enjoying Anna Elliott’s Twilight of Avalon, which deals with Anna’s view on when Isolde and Trystan meet and their adventure together. But the innuendos to the legends that had become before her are so interesting to me.

We remember King Arthur married his Guenevere, and that his advisor was Merlin. Yet Arthur and his half-sister Morgan had a son Modred. And then Modred and Guenevere are parents to Isolde. Confused yet?

But the story is so intriguing that I am going to be reading many more books surrounding the legend, such as the Isolde Trilogy by Rosalind Miles and Joseph Bedier’s Classic, Tristan and Iseult. Go to this site and download the EBook for free.

On Tuesday, 6/23 = Science Fiction Fantasy Day, I will celebrate by posting my review of Anna Elliott’s Twilight of Avalon, complete with links to more Arthurian Lore sites.

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Filed under Anna Elliott, Book Thursday, Isolde and Trystan, Meme

>Teaser Tuesday – Twilight of Avalon

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TEASER TUESDAYS is hosted by ShouldBeReading and asks you to:
♠Grab your current read.
♠Let the book fall open to a random page.
♠Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page.
♠You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
Please avoid spoilers!

I am reading Twilight of Avalon, by Anna Elliott; page 106:


“I know. I saw him killed. I watched him die.”

Isolde was distantly aware of Hedda’s sharp gasp, but the remnants of the vision were gathering and forming before her once more, and the sound seemed to come from a long way off.

I am thoroughly relaxing and enjoying this book. Wonderful!

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Filed under Anna Elliott, Isolde and Trystan, New Release, Teaser Tuesdays

>Waiting on Wednesday

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Sponsored by “Breaking the Spine“. This week’s pre-publication “can’t-wait-to-read” selection is:


Twilight of Avalon: A Novel of Trystan & Isolde (Paperback)by Anna Elliott
Releases May 5, 2009

Another pretty cover, and since I’m on a Tristan/Isolde kick this week (see my mailbox) this was fitting. I saw one rating for 2 stars on Goodreads for it, but there was no review.

The Blurb:
“Seven years ago, on the battlefield of Camlann, the great King Arthur was slain by Modred, his traitor son. And in the aftermath of battle, Isolde, daughter of Modred, was married to Arthur’s heir, Britain’s new high king, in a desperate bid to unite Britain’s warring factions. But now Isolde’s husband lies dead on another battlefield, and the Saxon tide that Arthur turned back is once more threatening Britain’s shores. Only Isolde knows the truth: that her husband was killed, not by the Saxon enemy, but by a powerful nobleman who will stop at nothing to become the next high king. Mistrusted among the king’s council for her father’s treachery, and branded a witch by many for her skill at the healer’s craft, Isolde’s only hope for survival is Trystan, a mercenary warrior with a shadowed past. Together Isolde and Trystan must fight to protect the throne from the king’s murderer, and expose a treasonous plot that could destroy Britain itself.”

Read an Excerpt on Anna Elliott’s website.

What are you waiting on?

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Filed under Anna Elliott, Isolde and Trystan, Meme, Waiting on Wednesday