Helen has graced my blog with an amazing post on Gwenhwyfar, Arthur’s great heroine!
Please welcome Helen Hollick.
When I first started writing what would eventually become The Pendragon’s Banner Trilogy, I had intended to write Gwenhwyfar’s story, even writing it as first person. This did not work well however, although it took me many months and a lot of paper screwed up and thrown into the bin to realise it!
It gradually dawned on me that I wanted to write the story from Arthur’s viewpoint, to place him as the lead character, and I also discovered that writing in third person narrative was far more rewarding, as I could explore more than one character in detail.
My Arthur is a complex character. He was abused as a child, grew up to be a lonely man who could never trust anyone – except the love of his life, Gwenhwyfar. As with all complex people though, their relationship is like a roller-coaster ride, never smooth. They squabble and argue – but equally have a deep passion for each other.
I wanted to make Gwenhwyfar a feisty character, someone who has a sword and knows how to use it. A girl – and a woman – with passion in her heart and a deep, deep, unbreakable loyalty, even though this loyalty is often stretched to (and often beyond) its limit. I have never seen Gwenhwyfar (or Guinevere as she is more commonly called in the Medieval Tales) as a woman who betrayed her King. Nor have I ever liked the “romance” stories of Arthur with Knights in Armour, the Holy Grail, Round Table, etc. I’m sorry to say they never did anything for me. I dislike Lancelot, and could never understand what Guinevere saw in him (especially in the movie Camelot – Richard Harris as Arthur was SO much better!)
I was determined, therefore, to write my story as it may have really happened, no myth, magic or fantasy. No Knights, Grails or Round Tables. No Merlin and no Lancelot. And MY Gwenhwyfar was going to be the sort of women who was capable, calm, infinitely patient – and above all 100% loyal.
I decided to place her as the only daughter of a real Welsh Prince – Cunedda of Gwynedd. He, and his nine sons are well documented, so I figured adding one daughter would be acceptable. To my delight as I was wading through lists of genealogies – admittedly not necessarily reliable – and came across a daughter for Cunedda. Her name was Gwen!
I fell in love with my Arthur as I was writing my books, and I confess, I love Gwenhwyfar too.
Thank you for inviting me onto your blog,
Main Website: www.helenhollick.net
Blog profiles: www.acorne.blogspot.com
Muse and Views Blog: www.helenhollick.blogspot.com/
Monthly Journal: www.helenhollick.net/journal.html
The pleasure was all mine Helen- Thank you so much!
Now doesn't that whet your appetite for this grand Arthurian tale? Please stay tuned for my review of this fascinating read- coming soon.
And now…here’s to another treat you’ve all been looking forward to…(drum roll..)
The GIVEAWAY of Pendragon’s Banner, courtesy of Sourcebooks! US and Canada only.
October 459 With an exhausted grunt of effort Arthur, the Pendragon, raised his sword and with a deep intake of breath, brought it down through the full force of weight and momentum into the skull of an Anglian thegn. Another battle. Arthur was four and twenty years of age, had been proclaimed Supreme King over Greater and Less Britain three years past by the army of the British - and had been fighting to keep the royal torque secure around his neck ever since.
The man crumpled, instantly dead. Arthur wrenched his blade from shattered bone and tissue with a sucking squelch, a sickening sound, one he would never grow used to. Oh, the harpers told of the glories of battle, the victory, the brave daring skill - but they never told of the stench that assaulted your nostrils, bringing choking vomit to your throat. Nor of the screams that scalded your ears, nor the blood that clung foul and sticky and slippery hands and fingers, or spattered face and clothing.
He turned, anxious, aware that a cavalryman was vulnerable on the ground. His stallion was somewhere to the left, a hindleg injured. The horses. Hah! No harper, no matter how skilled, could ever describe the sound of a horse screaming its death in agony. There was no glory in battle, only the great relief that you were still alive when it was all over.
With slow-expelled breath, the Pendragon lowered his sword and unbuckled the straps of his helmet, let them dangle free, his face stinging from the release of the tight, chaffing leather. He was tired. By the Bull of Mithras, was he tired! Arthur stabbed his sword blade into the churned grass and sank to his knees. His fingers clasped the sword's pommel as he dropped his forehead to rest on his hands, conscious suddenly of the great weariness in his arms and legs and across his neck and shoulders. It had been a long day, a long season. He was bone tired of fighting and the stink of death. He had a wife, two sons born, another child on the way; he needed to be with them, to be establishing a secure stronghold fit for a king and his queen; to be making laws and passing judgements - raising his sons to follow after him. A king needed sons. Llacheu would reach his fourth birthday next month. He needed Gwenhwyfar, but she was to the north, more than a day's ride at Lindum Colonia, uncomfortable in her bulk of child-bearing. Love of Mithras, let it be another son!
"Pendragon's Banner" by Helen Hollick
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