The Place of Blood – Rinn-Iru
Conall Book I
by David H. Millar Genre: Historical Fantasy
Over four hundred years before the birth of Christ, the island of Ériu is a patchwork of feuding kingdoms, wide plains, and impassable bogs. Battle, intrigue, betrayals, and courage are part of life for the Celts who call Ériu home, while from their underground halls the mysterious aes sidhe seduce brave warriors, turning men in to kings and binding them with fearsome geis.
Conall Mac Gabhann is content with his apprenticeship to the local blacksmith. Content, that is, until his family is slaughtered in their home.
Two men share responsibility for the massacre: a mad Irish king and a dissolute Roman. Conall will have his vengeance on both, or die in the attempt.
Accompanied by his childhood friend Brion ó Cathasaigh and the veteran warrior Fearghal ó Maoilriain, Conall's hunt takes him northward through unfriendly kingdoms and treacherous bogs to a confrontation beyond the ancient earthworks of the Black Pig's Dyke.
Along the way, Conall will gather an army, and come to the attention of the aes sidhe. An apprentice blacksmith could become a king with their help—if he so desires.
The Raven's Flight – Eitilt an Fhiagh Dhuibh
Conall Book II
Conall II: The Raven’s Flight continues to chronicle the epic journey of the warriors from Ériu (Ireland).
Conall Mac Gabhann and his brooding queen, Mórrígan, lead over two thousand warriors together with their followers across the narrow sea that separates Ériu from Albu (Britain). Their quest: the capture of Cassius Fabius Scaeva, the dissolute Roman patrician held responsible for the slaughter of their families.
The Ériu encounter human, natural, and supernatural foes and friends. At the mercy of the aes sidhe, a race of demi-goddesses who demand that he fulfill an ancient geis, Conall is named as the “Hand of the Goddess” and given the instrument that will crush the Na Daoine Tùrsach—a tribe of fanatical, blood-lusting priests.
They battle fierce northern tribes: the Aos na Coille, whose one-eyed king, Drostan Ruadh, opposes their presence as do the Na Mèadaidh led by the sly Finnean Mac Sèitheach. Not all are enemies. The Aos an Fhithich offer their support, although it too comes at a price.
Heroes and villains from myth, legend, and history converge in this saga set in the vast ancient forests, treacherous bogs, snow-capped mountains, and mysterious lochs of Scotland some four hundred years before the birth of Christ.
It is 406 B.C. The Gaels tramp through the vast forests of lowland Scotland, cross the brooding moors and marshes of the Pennines, and plough the grain fields of the South. The majestic stone brochs and dùns of the north give way to the great hillforts of the south.
Cloaked in a rich tapestry of tattoos or wearing armour inlaid with iron scales, the Gaels stand as one, taunting their enemies with fierce battle-cries and insults.
In Conall III: The Sisters—the third book of the Conall series—the women take centre stage. Brighid and Danu are kidnapped on the orders of Kartimandu, a malevolent queen bent on conquering the North. Mórrígan and Conall’s blood oath promises no quarter until the young twins are returned.
Will Eachdonn Breac, betrayed by his queen—Ceana, redeem his honour on the battlefield? A merciless assassin stalks the community. Tadhg Ó Cuileannáin is given the unenviable task of tracking the killer down. A mission made worse, when the signs point to the sister of one of Conall’s closest friends. Amid, the battles and intrigue, Mòrag Ni Artair, a tall beauty and fearsome warrior, sets her sights on Conall. A clash with Mórrígan—Conall’s queen, appears inevitable.
“Butter-gold and cruelly hooked, the beak ripped a ragged gash across the newborn’s throat.”
Son of a blacksmith, Conall Mac Gabhann’s only desire was to follow in his father’s footsteps and enjoy a long life with his childhood love, Mórrígan. The slaughter of their parents dashed those dreams. Fuelled by vengeance, both embark on the dark path of retribution.
From the ancient forest, two great eagles take wing. With amber-gold eyes, Fate and the Goddess watch, ready to guide and meddle in human lives. Conall, now Clann Ui Flaithimh’s ‘king over kings’, must complete his geis—at any cost. Conall takes another stride closer to Rome and a reckoning with Marcus Fabius Ambustus. Flat-bottomed biremes carry Conall’s army cross the Muir nIocht to crash on the shingle beaches of North-western Gaul. New enemies and uneasy alliances flourish.
Assassins, treason, and treachery thrive. Above all, Conall values loyalty. Thus, treason within the tribe sours his belly. Mercy will have no part in his response.
The fourth novel in the Conall series, Conall IV: A Brace of Eagles is a rousing epic of Celtic heroes and villains, bloody battles, political intrigue, honour, treachery, and forbidden love.
“Witch!” Tullus gasped.
“You are not that fortunate, Roman,” came the menacing reply.”
Blood has purchased a fragile peace for Conall and Mórrígan and the close circle of friends they call family. Now, allies and enemies alike wonder if the king and queen have lost the thirst for vengeance on those who slaughtered their families. Alarmed, gods, kings, and despots conspire to poke the slumbering fire.
Brennus of the Senones still smarts at his defeat at Conall’s hands and covets his lands and wealth. Will a bruised ego and hubris overrule the Gaulish king’s normal pragmatism?
The Gaiscedach want revenge for the defeat and execution of their queen. In the dead of night, like cockroaches, they scuttle over the walls of Lugudunon.
Marcus Fabius Ambustus tolerates no challenge to his plan to be Dictator of Rome. But has arrogance blinded him to the enemy he has nurtured?
The gates of Rome and retribution draw closer. But Conall needs his enemies as much as his friends. Still, who are enemies and who are friends? It is a time of schisms and rebuilding, of loved ones endangered, and assassins and spies revealed.
Yet, there has always been one constant. Only the foolish doubt Conall and Mórrígan will show any mercy to those who threaten their family.
Conall V: Retribution is the fifth and final book in the Conall series.
Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, David H. Millar is the founder, owner, and author-in-residence of Houston-based ‘A Wee Publishing Company’—a business that promotes Celtic literature, authors and art.
Millar moved from Ireland to Nova Scotia, Canada, in the late 1990s. After ten years shovelling snow, he decided to relocate to warmer climates and has now settled in Houston, Texas. Quite a contrast!
An avid reader, armchair sportsman, and Liverpool Football Club fan, Millar lives with his family and Bailey, a Manx cat of questionable disposition known to his friends as ‘the small angry one!’
Conall is a tale of the ancient Gaels, their lives, and battles. It is a story of a warlike people who also had an undisputed talent for art, design, and music. The series is set in Europe, 400 years before Christ, in a time when the boundaries between myth and reality were fluid. Life was harsh and violent. This was the time of the great seanachaí ― the storytellers.
From thatch-roofed roundhouses and wooden hillforts, to the brochs of northern-Albu (Scotland), to the great forts of southern-Albu (England), and the great walled stronghold of Lugudunon (Lyon) and the port of Massalia (Marseille). And finally, to Latium (Italy) and an early Rome.
The books sweep through a broad geography beginning at the southern-most coast of Ériu (Ireland). From there the Gaels cross the bogs of mid-Ériu, and the massive earthworks and ditches of the Black Pig’s Dyke to the land of the Ulaid (Ulster) across the Ler Ériu (Irish Sea) to northern-Albu and clashes with the Cinn Péinteáilte (the Painted Ones). The epic journey continues south to the hillforts of Mai Dún (Maiden Castle) and Rinn-Campáil (Danebury) and then across the Muir nIocht (English Channel) to Aremorio (north-western France), the land of the Gauls (France), and the Great Sea (Mediterranean). The finale and conclusion of the series takes place at the historical Battle of Allia, where Rome was sacked by the Celts/Gauls.
There are five books in the Conall series:
Conall I: The Place of Blood (set in Ireland)
Conall II: The Raven’s Flight (set in Scotland)
Conall III: The Sisters (set in England)
Conall IV: A Brace of Eagles (set in France)
Conall V: Retribution (set in France/Italy)
A naïve blacksmith’s apprentice, Conall Mac Gabhann returns home from a hunting trip with his friends to find his parents and young sisters slaughtered, along with the rest of the small rural community. A meeting with the mysterious Sidhe, Mongfhionn, and a geis accepted, sets Conall on the path of retribution. The price is never to return to Ériu. Several decades later, the former apprentice, now Rí Ruirech, King over Kings, of the great clann he founded and nurtured, stands before the gates of Rome to face his nemesis, Marcus Fabius Ambustus, Pontifex Maximus of Rome.
Initially, Mórrígan Ni Cathasaigh’s only dilemma is how to bed the shy, auburn-headed, Conall, until the fateful day she and her friends return from the hunting trip to find her family murdered. A darkness of the soul overtakes her, threatening to destroy her and leading her on the path to become An Fiagaí Dorcha—the Dark Huntress. The swirling, dark designs that cover Mórrígan’s body flow with ominous powers, powers which rival those of her mentor, the Sidhe.
In the final novel (Conall V: Retribution) Mórrígan the Queen of the clann stands alongside her hand-fast partner Conall, on a wooden bridge over the Tiberis river (Tiber). There she waits to bring her own dark brand of revenge and terror to those she holds responsible for her family’s deaths.
Every hero needs an enemy to overcome, whether tribulations from man or nature. As the series progresses, Conall meets with a diverse range of foes. Some are historical figures, some semi-mythical or paranormal, from depraved kings to honourable rivals, foreign assassins to tribal miscreants as well as the challenges of leading a fiercely independent people. Some become lifelong friends, others ascend to the Otherworld, the Halls of Mag Mell or Tartarus. One fate is common to all who oppose Conall and Mórrígan. Those who threaten their family and close friends are shown no mercy.
The ultimate nemesis in this epic tale is the depraved and dissolute Pontifex Maximus of Rome, Marcus Fabius Ambustus. He sits at the centre of his web of power and influence, waiting for his victims. Yet one transaction in far off Ériu, has not gone as planned. It is not as if Marcus cares about the massacre. He does not. After all, they were just barbarians and of no consequence to a Roman Patrician whose ambition is to be Dictator of Rome. Hubris and an unshakeable confidence in the might of Rome dims Marcus’ political foresight, as he and his proxies face in Conall an enemy now grown into a fierce warrior king and shrewd strategist.
The Conall series is a rousing adventure in the spirit of Ireland's ancient legends. Red and gold banners of king and tribe flap in gusting winds. The driving beat of bodhráns echoes off mountain slopes while the mournful wail of war-horns reverberate through sylvan lands. Heroes and villains from myth, legend, and history converge in this saga set in the vast ancient forests, treacherous bogs, snow-capped mountains, lush river plains, and mysterious lochs of ancient Ireland, Scotland, France, and Italy. Conall is a journey of bloody battles, honour, treachery, tragedy, love, and high passions, an epic tale of vengeance and retribution, of courage and the frailty of body and spirit.
The Conall series is available in print and eBook formats from all major online and retail outlets. In the United States copies signed by the author are available by mail (see contact details).