I am revising the first draft of The Swithen Book 2: The Sons of Constance, and I’m very into it and super excited! It’s much more epic in scope, and FUN, and is more in line with how the rest of the series will be, since we move onto a national scale with kings and battles, and there’s also some great magic, supernatural events and macabre mysteries. So I thought I’d share with you a preview of what’s coming.
You can start with Book 2
You don’t need to have read Book 1 in order to get into Book 2, since the first book is a self-contained story that tells of the conception and birth of Merlin. In Book 2, Merlin is an adult and moves into his familiar role as advisor to kings, and the story is now moving inexorably toward the birth of Arthur, which will happen at the end of Book 3.
Like Game of Thrones, only with a LOT more existentialism…
Since I am adapting the original legends from hundreds of years ago, to create the novels, I am chopping one long story into sensible breaks. Because of this, instead of knowing the themes going in, I look at the story I have, and the themes emerge as I’m crafting them. For this one, the theme that kept recurring is foreknowledge of one’s own death. FOUR different characters in the novel have their deaths foretold, and each has to deal with it in his or her own way. That’s why I say that the old legends have a weirdness that stories written today can’t match….
King Vortiger and the fight of the two dragons
The first section of the book finds tyrant King Vortiger looking for Merlin—in order to kill him. He has been told that Merlin’s blood will make his tower—that he is building to protect himself against the increasingly angry populous—withstand attack. This section also contains an exciting battle between two dragons, retelling the famous Welsh legend of the red and white dragons contained within the hill Dinas Emrys.
This Merlin isn’t cute and cuddly
Throughout the book, the kings who trust Merlin can’t be sure if he is helping them, or if they are just pawns in his plan to bend the country to his will. They learn the hard way that deceiving Merlin is a very bad idea, and can incur unpleasant consequences they don’t even have the resources to imagine. This Merlin is still developing, however, and makes mistakes, as opposed to the all-knowing, always-right wizard we normally see.
Don’t F**k with Merlin
The book also contains a very fun, macabre, Twilight Zone-esque episode in which a man attempts to discredit Merlin by disguising himself and asking Merlin to predict his death. His plan backfires, and soon he finds himself trapped in a living nightmare where everyone in the kingdom is watching him, waiting for him to die.
The greatest battle Britain will ever know
Having fled Vortiger after he killed their father, brothers Pendragon and Uther return to Britain to drive out the Saxons and reclaim their birthright. The novel contains the battle of Salisbury, which Merlin tells us is the greatest battle that will ever occur in Britain. The battle is presaged by a fiery red dragon that appears in the sky, and is intense, exciting, and bloody as hell.
Real places in real legend
This section of the story contains a great deal of action in places that really exist. The battle of the dragons happens on Dinas Emrys, a real place in Wales, and has as backstory the legend Lludd and Llefelys from The Mabinogion. In the book, Merin writes the Book of Prophecies, which is actually contained in the real-life work of Geoffery of Monmouth, and at the end of the book, Merlin creates Stonehenge—which is actually there in the Vulgate Cycle of 1215AD! You have to love that writers in the 13th century had no idea where Stonehenge came from… so they just said Merlin made it.
Setting the stage for Arthur…
The book ends with Merlin creating the Round Table, which will go to King Leodegrance after the death of Uther, and become part of the dowry of his future daughter, Guinevere. The book also introduces us to the young, impulsive Uther, whose flaws will be played upon by Merlin to create Arthur, when Uther takes center stage in Book 3. We also meet some of the people who will go on to be important in Arthur’s life, like Ulfius, King Lot and Sir Ector.
What do you think?
Any and all thoughts and comments are always welcome. And if it sounds interesting, Book 2 is available for pre-order right now. I’m still having a lot of fun revising, and looking forward to having it all out to you in a month or so. Thanks for reading!