The Flamebearer Synopsis

Abandoned in infancy by his Faery mother, the young Cambrian lord, Ciaran ap Morgan, loses his beloved father to death at the hands of Norman Marcher barons when he is still a boy. Raised by his mortal uncle and trained as a warrior, he hungers for blood and glory, driven by a fierce desire for revenge and a restless, fiery spirit.

His destiny changes the moment he meets Evaine, the human girl he calls his “dark lady.” Despite his best-laid plans, he finds instead of longing for battle, he is beset with visions of love.

For the maiden Evaine, the future holds little expectation for joy. In a culture notorious for its glorification of war and long-standing devaluation the Feminine, she resigns herself to a life of sacrifice in a loveless union arranged by her family to deter hostilities along the border. The enigmatic prince breaks open her heart, awakening her to a promise of love she had never dared to dream.

As the preordained wedding approaches, the two secretly confess to a mysterious and overpowering attraction akin to the reuniting of souls, pitting the young lovers in a dramatic struggle against the tide of circumstances and events.  Do they dare defy the ruthless overlord, Lionel de Barre, to follow the path of their hearts? Are they willing to gamble everything on the strength of their fragile, newly-discovered connection and risk provoking a bloody war they cannot hope to win?

 

 


The Flamebearer Preface

This is a work of fiction. I have drawn from time-honored Celtic and medieval romances, and other western European mythologies, and while elements of these traditions permeate much of my writing, I have let my imagination weave a story which reflects my personal vision, rather than adhering to exalted legend or chronological fact. I do not claim to be a writer of historical fiction so much as a spellbinder, inviting the reader into a world where fantasy and reality gradually become indistinguishable, where the veil separating the ordinary world from the realm of Faerie disappears.

The drama unfolds against the backdrop of the Norman conquest of Wales, an effort which surprisingly lasted several hundred years. As French and English authority spread throughout the Celtic lands of Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, occupation and insurgency dominated the times. Lance and sword ruled the “marches” – the constantly shifting border regions dividing the established Anglo-Norman power structure from the untamed, (and possibly “ungovernable”) natives.

Many claimed the land itself, with its misty remoteness, its winds and its vast stretches of moorlands dotted with strange stone monuments to antiquity, bred anarchists and poets. Religious superstition, coupled with widespread belief in witchcraft, sorcery, and other sinister forces that threatened to undermine one’s faith and sanity permeated all of society, affecting common folk and nobility alike.

Where possible I have given Welsh (or least distinctly Celtic) names to my characters, and have chosen to use the native spellings, rather than the Anglicized versions. I’m pleased to provide a pronunciation guide for readers who are unfamiliar with this ancient and beautiful language.

This is primarily a love story, a personal quest undertaken by two idealized, yet deeply flawed and vulnerable characters. To risk entering the mysterious territory of passionate devotion, erotic intimacy, and emotional honesty is perhaps the greatest uncertainty either of them will ever face. In telling their story, I aim for the highest romantic ideal, while scrupulously observing the raw imperfections, doubts, fears, lusts, and complexities of an unfolding relationship.

Can enchanted soul love survive the thrilling yet perilous journey into the fires of intimacy, while the ordinary world seethes with violence, ignorance, inequality and greed? I imagine every lover hungers for such perfection, but so many forces align against its earthly attainment that we ultimately despair of finding it anywhere but between the pages of a romance novel. In the end, if we truly believe, perhaps we’ll find it within the fragile boundaries of our own beating hearts.

Welsh Language Pronunciation Guide:

Celtic Fire

The Welsh language uses a few letters not found in English

Consonants: As in English, with a few exceptions:

  • The Welsh “c” is always hard, as in “care
  • “ch”, as in the Scottish “loch” or the German “bach
  • “dd”, as in the English “them
  • The Welsh single f, a soft “v” sound, as in the English “David
    The Welsh “ff”, as in “farm
  • The Welsh “g” is also always hard, as in “garden.”
  • The famous Welsh “ll”, something like “thl
  • The Welsh “rh”,  something like “hr”
  • The Welsh “s” as in “sin
  • The Welsh “th” as in “thistle

 

Vowels: Roughly as in continental languages:

  • a: father
  • e: met
  • i: pin, sometimes like the “e” in “me
  • o: not
  • u: pin
  • w: as in “book”, but consonantal (as in root”) before vowels (except y) and in
  • Gwylim, Gwenllian, Gwydion
  • y: sum; (Cymru); sometimes as in “slid” (Gwydion)

Diphthongs: Usually as a combination of two vowels:

  • ae, ei, eu, ey”: tiger
  • aw: out
  • oe: oil
  • wy: dewy. Following g or at the beginning of a syllable: win
  • However, gwy: gooey

The emphasis is generally on the penultimate syllable

  • Ciaran: KEA-rn (don’t forget to trill the “r” in both first and last names)) ap MOR-gun
  • Cei: KAY
    Robyn ap Gryffin: Same as in the English Robin ap GRIFF-in (ap means “son of”)
    Ifanwy: e-VON-wee
    Evaine: e-VANE
  • Bach: as in Johann Sebastian
  • Gwylim: Goo-WILL-im (William)
  • Rhiannon: Rhee-ONN-on
    Tomas: TOM-as (Thomas)
    Gwenllian: GWEN-thlee-an
    Dafydd: DAV-ith; pronounced as in lavender (David)
    Hywell ap Gruffydd: HOW-ethl ap GRIFF-ith
    Iolo: YO-lo
    The Bruce: Just as in English, but with a pronounced trill
    Bwcca: BOO-ka (rhymes hookah)
  • Bri Leith: Bree-LAY-th
  • Caer Blaen: Kire Bline
  • Narberth: Just as it looks
  • Castell y Arberth: The Welsh spelling; Cas-TETHL ee AR-berth
  • Deganwy: Deg-ANN-wee
  • Gwynedd: GWIN-eth