One of the everyday wonders of my childhood was a visit to my grandparents’ home. The house itself was full of Art Deco details. The walls and shelves were adorned with curious things, brought back from far-flung places… wooden boxes carved with dragons or inlaid with mother of pearl stood next to crystal balls and scrying bowls, each one with its story.
Most magical for me were the artworks, sculpted, drawn or painted by my grandfather. On the big wall above the staircase, Great Isis was enthroned, large as life… at least, that is how I remember Her. Eyeless portrait masks, cast in bronze, watched from the walls, but above the fireplace in the bedroom was a painting of a child.
It was painted with minimal brushstrokes, dark brown on sepia, giving the impression of a pen and ink drawing. The curly-haired child wore nothing but leaves and modesty, its gender hidden by its pose. In its hand were reed pipes…the Pipes of the Great God Pan.
Perhaps he was an Elysian shepherd boy, playing as he watched over his flock. He… or she… always had and Otherworldly air, not quite human to my eyes and far too wise for his apparent years. When asked, my grandfather would only smile… I think there was more to that painting than my young mind could grasp; his study, full of even stranger and more fascinating things, I would later understand better as a magical place of working.
The house and its murals have long since passed into new hands; the artwork doubtless covered with neutral emulsion pant. But they still exist in my memory, and when ‘Heilyn’ made his first appearance in Swords of Destiny, I recognised him immediately…
An extract from Swords of Destiny
Rhea blinked in astonishment as a small figure stepped out of the air before her. He looked to be about twelve years old, but Rhea was fast learning not to make any logical assumptions. Untidy chestnut curls framed a face brimming with glee, his only garment was a strip of animal skin around his hips and about his brow was a garland of oak leaves and bright berries. Despite his apparent youth, there was a disturbing and cynical quality to his face. Rhea thought it lacked humanity. He reminded her of the classical Greek portrayal of a satyr.
“No, my lady, a satyr is not what I am.” Rhea had not spoken aloud and her silent consternation elicited a gleeful response from the newcomer.
“But satire is one of his vices,” interposed a disgruntled Merlin.
“Bravo, brother mine! Perhaps there is hope for you yet.”
“Not while you are around!” The creature greeted this sally with light laughter and Rhea decided that this battle of word and wit had probably been going on for centuries. No offence seemed to be taken despite the content of the exchange. It occurred to Rhea that this was the verbal sparring of two who were not only familiar, but fond of each other. The youth smiled wickedly at Rhea and leaned close,
“Don’t tell Merlin. He’d be terribly upset if he thought I knew that. You are most perceptive, my lady.” He sketched a mocking blow in her direction then seated himself cross-legged on the grass. “Are you not going to introduce me to your flock, brother?” Merlin glared at him.
“You will doubtless have informed yourself of their identities already,” said the old man.
“My gifts have their uses, I admit,” shrugged the youth.
“It is unusual to hear you admit to anything,” was the riposte. “Rhea, Jamie, Alec… I am afraid I must introduce my half-brother, Heilyn. You could try and guard your thoughts but it is probably quite useless to do so as he has little respect for etiquette and has probably gleaned as much as he wishes to know already.” Heilyn assumed an air of innocence completely at odds with the brilliant eyes. For some unaccountable reason, Rhea found herself blushing. “You will have guessed that we share a father, but Heilyn’s mother is not human.”
“Is not?” asked Alec. Heilyn inclined his head in an uncharacteristic gesture of respect.
“My mother rules in Faery as ever. Time touches the Otherworld differently. I am actually some years older than Merlin.” Merlin muttered something unintelligible under his breath.
“How much older?”
“A couple of thousands of your years or so, give or take the odd century or two.” Jamie’s jaw dropped in surprise. “Consider… my father is a god, my mother immortal, my own nature determines my appearance unless I will a change. How should I look any different?”
“Heilyn,” said Rhea, beginning to comprehend, “what are you?”
“I am of the realm of Faery and of the Earth; I am the spirit of spring in the oak, the song of the brook and the flight of the lark. I am the dew on the primrose and the star in the dark. And for this time, lady, I am the servant of the Champions of Light.”
“Will you guide us?”
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SWORDS of DESTINY
“…and the swords must be found and held by their bearers lest the darkness find a way into the heart of man. Ask the waters to grant guidance and tell the ancient Keeper of Light that it is time to join battle for the next age.”
Rhea Marchant heads north to the wild and beautiful landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales where she is plunged into an adventure that will span the worlds. The earth beneath her feet reveals its hidden life as she and her companions are guided by the ancient Keeper of Light in search of artefacts of arcane power. With the aid of the Old Ones and the merry immortal Heilyn, the company seek the elemental weapons that will help restore hope to an unbalanced world at the dawn of a new era.
Extracts of Amazon reviews:
“…a beautifully magical story… An inspired piece of writing that keeps your attention until the very last page.”
“Robed in rainbows, like moonlight on water, FAB. I didn’t so much read this book as eat my way through it…“
“A beautiful, gentle, magical read. I absolutely loved the way the author portrays Merlin! Definitely a re-reader …”