The Dragon's Dove Chronicles Book 1
by Kim Iverson Headlee
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Print Length: 415 pages
Publisher: Lucky Bat Books
Publication Date: February 25, 2013
What if King Arthur’s queen was every bit as heroic as he was? Find out by immersing yourself in this epic story of the power couple whose courage and conviction would shape the destiny of a nation.
Gyan is a Caledonian chieftainess by birth, a warrior and leader of warriors by training, and she is betrothed to Urien, a son of her clan’s deadliest enemy, by right of Arthur the Pendragon’s conquest of her people. For the sake of peace, Gyan is willing to sacrifice everything...perhaps even her very life, if her foreboding about Urien proves true.
Roman by his father, Brytoni by his mother, and denied hereditary rulership of his mother's clan because of his mixed blood, Arthur has followed his father's path to become Dux Britanniarum, the Pendragon: supreme commander of the northern Brytoni army. The Caledonians, Scots, Saxons, and Angles keep him too busy to dwell upon his loneliness...most of the time.
When Gyan and Arthur meet, each recognize within the other their soul’s mate. The treaty has preserved Gyan’s ancient right to marry any man, providing he is a Brytoni nobleman—but Arthur does not qualify. And the ambitious Urien, Arthur’s greatest political rival, shall not be so easily denied. If Gyan and Arthur cannot prevent Urien from plunging the Caledonians and Brytons back into war, their love will be doomed to remain unfulfilled forever.
But there is an even greater threat looming. The Laird of the Scots wants their land and will kill all who stand in his way. Gyan, Arthur, and Urien must unite to defeat this merciless enemy who threatens everyone they hold dear.
In the center of the ring, a scarlet-mantled rider spurred his mount through a series of complicated combat moves. As the white stallion curveted, sidestepped, reared, and plunged, the man slashed at imaginary foes. The sword, no blunted practice weapon, glinted bright and deadly in the sun’s last rays. From the pommel flashed a ruby the size of a child’s fist. Surprisingly, the scabbard strapped to the saddlebow was plain leather. The way the warrior and stallion seemed to flow together into a single being was remarkable, as though they spoke not leg to flank but mind to mind.
Gyan watched in silence, oblivious to the clamor behind her. Brin pawed the ground and tugged at the bit in his eagerness to show off. She steadied him with a firm hand. And she tried to keep a tight rein on the admiration and awe threatening to dominate her expression.
She felt her mouth curve into a faint smile as she realized she had better command of her horse.
The man reined his charger to a halt, sheathed the sword, and dismounted. He surveyed the line of Caledonach warriors parading past the enclosure before acknowledging Urien’s salute. His gaze rested briefly, but intently, upon Gyan.
It was a look she knew she would never forget.
The Dragon's Dove Chronicles Book 2
Print Length: 439 pages
Publisher: Lucky Bat Books
Publication Date: June 11, 2013
“Magnificent.” ~ Kathleen Foley, author of the Faith in Uniform series
In a violent age when enemies besiege Brydein and alliances shift as swiftly as the wind, stand two remarkable leaders: the Caledonian warrior-queen Gyanhumara and her consort, Arthur the Pendragon. Their fiery love is tempered only by their conviction to forge unity between their disparate peoples. Arthur and Gyan must create an impenetrable front to protect Brydein and Caledonia from land-lusting Saxons and the marauding Angli raiders who may be massing forces in the east, near Arthur’s sister and those he has sworn to protect.
But their biggest threat is an enemy within: Urien, Arthur’s rival and the man Gyan was treaty-bound to marry until she broke that promise for Arthur’s love. When Urien becomes chieftain of his clan, his increase in wealth and power is matched only by the magnitude of his hatred of Arthur and Gyan—and his threat to their infant son.
Morning’s Journey, sequel to the critically acclaimed Dawnflight, propels the reader from the heights of triumph to the depths of despair, through the struggles of some of the most fascinating characters in all of Arthurian literature. Those struggles are exacerbated by the characters’ own flawed choices. Gyan and Arthur must learn that while extending forgiveness to others may be difficult, forgiveness of self is the most excruciating—yet ultimately the most healing—step of the entire journey.
“Mathan,” Airc said. “Visitors.”
“Go away,” came the despondent murmur.
Mathan turned his head anyway, noticed Merlin and Arthur, and struggled to push himself up. The blanket fell away to reveal a mass of bandages so badly blood-soaked that Arthur couldn’t tell where one whip mark ended and the next began. Mother of God.
“Stay down, Mathan,” Arthur said, curbing his fury. “Orderly!” All of them hurried to Mathan’s bedside. “Why haven’t this man’s bandages been changed?”
“He won’t let us, Lord Pendragon,” the nearest orderly said.
“Every time they try, it feels like they’re killing me.” Mathan sighed. “Although if they did, it would be a mercy for me. And a relief for everyone else.”
“Not true, Mathan.” Arthur squatted to Mathan’s level. “Your ala needs you. I need you. And you know Gyan would be devastated.”
“Chieftainess!” Again he struggled to rise, and again Arthur bade him to stop. “Is she here, my lord?”
“No. But she wanted to be, with all her heart. Will you let these men tend you, for her sake?”
With a groan, Mathan buried his face in the pillow, his shoulders heaving. Arthur nodded to Merlin, who sent the orderlies after fresh bandages, water, salve, and a painkiller-laced sleeping draught.
When Mathan finally looked at Arthur again, his eyes were red-rimmed and wet. “I have failed. Her, you, Airc, the ala, the clan—everyone.”
“You succumbed to temptation and struck a superior officer,” Arthur corrected him. “You have already paid a hundredfold.” At least. He laid a hand on Mathan’s forearm and squeezed. “The only way for you to fail is to succumb to self-pity.”
The Dragon's Dove Chronicles Book 3
Print Length: 415 pages
Cove Press Publication Date: March 11, 2019
Outcast, clanless, and but a junior officer in Arthur the Pendragon’s army, Angusel struggles to rebuild the life stolen from him through betrayal by the person he had held most dear. His legion allegiance thrusts him onto the campaign trail as one of Arthur’s forward scouts, stalking Angli troops and being among the first to clash with these vicious enemies at every turn. But the odds loom high against him and his sword-brothers, and they will need a miracle just to survive.
Pressured to make the best choice to ensure her clan’s future leadership, Eileann struggles with her feelings for Angusel, whose outcast status makes him forbidden to her as a mate. When Angli treachery threatens everyone she loves, she vows to thwart their violent plan to conquer her clan. But she is no warrior, she has no soldiers to command, and she will need a miracle just to survive.
How can one soldier make a difference? How can one woman save her kin and clan? In the crucible of combat, Angusel must surrender to the will of the gods, and Eileann must invoke divine power to forge the most dangerous warrior the world has ever known.
THE former Exalted Heir of Clan Alban of Caledon was dead.
He was certain of it.
There existed no light, no pain, no smells, no heat, no chill, no sensation of any kind save the most beautiful strains of harp music he’d ever heard. The images it evoked bespoke love in its many incarnations: the frenzied passion of the Belteine fire dance, the soaring joy of two souls bonded by desire, a mother’s fierce protectiveness of her children, the lament of a bereaved spouse, a lullaby for a newborn, the rapture of a long-delayed reunion. The Otherworld wasn’t like what he had been taught—he saw no eternal battlefield where Lord Annaomh’s Army of the Blest fought Lord Annàm’s Samhraidhean minions. None of the ancient tales mentioned music in the Otherworld, but he supposed the Old Ones could have whatever they liked.
Comforted by the melody, which was jaunty and lilting and mournful and jaunty again, he wasn’t about to complain to his sithichean hosts.
The final notes thrummed into silence. “Well done, Eileann,” spoke a nearby male voice in Caledonaiche. “I’ll wager the Old Ones themselves are pleased by your harping.” This won the murmured assent of other Caledonach men.
“Thank you, Tavyn.” The female Caledonach voice sounded demure, as though unaccustomed to hearing such praise.
He was about to add his lauds to Tavyn’s when pain battered his head and chest. Apparently, the gods weren’t done tormenting him. He had been housed with his people—his former people. If this group had recognized him, they never would have allowed him into their company.
Caledonaich did not associate with those who had been stripped of honor.
Dragging a hand across his eyes, though unwilling to open them, he encountered the folds of a bandage swathing his brow. His hand dropped to his chest, and he found another bandage where his battle-tunic and undertunic should have been. He probed the ache’s source and winced. Half a handspan farther down, and the wound would have gifted him one-way passage to the Otherworld. Where am I?
“Rest easy, brave one.” He must have uttered the question aloud, and the lady harper sounded much closer than before. “You’re in the field hospital at Port Dhoo-Glass.”
The Caledonach ward.
Someone pressed a cool, damp cloth to his cheeks and neck. He had to admit it did feel good.
“Medics found you with a gash on your forehead and a spear in your chest,” the woman continued. “If you hadn’t moved when you did, they would have left you for dead. You’re lucky to be here.”
Some luck. He wished the medics had left him to the ravens.
Kim Headlee lives on a farm in southwestern Virginia with her family, cats, goats, Great Pyrenees goat guards, and assorted wildlife. People and creatures come and go, but the cave and the 250-year-old house ruins--the latter having been occupied as recently as the mid-twentieth century--seem to be sticking around for a while yet.
Kim has been a published novelist since 1999 with the first edition of Dawnflight (Sonnet Books, Simon & Schuster) and has been studying the Arthurian legends for nigh on half a century.
One of the oldest forms of storytelling is the legend: tales of heroes and their deeds, their defeats and victories, their enemies and allies, their lives and their loves. Legends caution us and inspire us. Legends have fascinated us for millennia.
Once a fact has transitioned into legend, it enters into the domain of the storyteller, whose number one job is to entertain his audience by keeping the legend fresh and relevant.
The evolution of the Arthurian Legends offers a prime example of this process. Though contemporary historical records are scant, very few scholars today dispute the fact that a warlord arose out of the chaos of the British political landscape left in the wake of the Romans’ departure, and that this warlord united his people for a generation. His name remains in dispute; some scholars call him Ambrosius, Riothamus, Artorius, Arturus, or Artos. Tradition has named him Arthur.
Arguably the earliest appearance of Arthur is in the ancient Welsh literature known as “triads” – poetry developed and retold by the Celtic bards to commemorate heroes and deeds. The original bards were druidic initiates. Since it was a capital crime for these men to commit triads to writing, their poetry did not achieve written form until the twelfth century, many generations after the druids had ceased to be a religious and political influence. In the Welsh triads, Arthur is presented as a war leader… and a cattle thief.
And yet Arthur’s “once and future” memory must have thrived in folk memory, for his story jumped the English Channel into France and beyond, thanks to late-twelfth-century troubadour Chrétien de Troyes, who added a Frenchman named Lancelot to Arthur’s court and made other knights’ deeds appear to be more heroic to his audience than cattle thievery would suggest.
In more recent times, Mark Twain changed the legend with the introduction of his famous Yankee from Connecticut—and in the killing off of Arthur and thousands of other knights as a direct result of the Yankee’s meddling. Twentieth-century author T.H. White gave Arthur cannons to use against Lancelot in their final battle, a veiled commentary about the horrors of World War II.
My approach in The Dragon’s Dove Chronicles (Dawnflight,Morning’s Journey,Raging Sea, etc.) seeks not so much to change the legend as to strip off centuries of embellishments to bare the roots of what might have really happened to Arthur and his world. It remains fresh and relevant today because, although technology changes throughout the millennia, human beings do not. We laugh, we fight, we love, we mourn. We struggle, we fail, we overcome. We live.
And we learn from the journey, the more so when we have legends to help us.
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