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Archive for the ‘Melusine’ Category

Despite the old adage, people always do judge a book by its cover, and so, in publishing The Children of Arthur series, I wanted the books’ covers to reflect the themes and atmosphere of their contents. Many fine graphic artists are out there, but I opted instead to use nineteenth century depictions of legendary figures that fit the individual book titles and which placed me within the literary and Romantic tradition I was modeling. I strongly believe I am trying to capture a somewhat more modern and progressive version of the Arthurian legend akin to what Pre-Raphaelite painters did in their art and nineteenth century authors like Alfred, Lord Tennyson and William Morris captured in their Arthurian poetry. Below is a description of each cover—and how it relates to the series overall.

Cover-ArthursLegacyArthur’s Legacy: The Children of Arthur, Book One

Cover Image: The Death of King Arthur (1860) by James Archer (1822-1904)

For me, no painting is more quintessentially Arthurian than this one, which captures the pivotal moment that transforms Arthur from a king into a legend. This may well be my favorite painting of all time. For me, it captures the great moment of reconciliation in the novel when Arthur has been wounded at Camlann and is about to be carried off to Avalon. Both Morgana and Guinevere come and make their peace with him, and Elaine also comes and makes her peace with Bedwyr, Guinevere’s lover. Of course, as we all know, despite the grief in this scene, Arthur is carried to Avalon to be healed of his wound, and there he resides until the day he will be called upon to return. This moment reminds us that he will return, and hence, his legacy is one of hope and immortality, much like that of Christ, who also plays a role in the novel.

Cover-MelusinesGiftMelusine’s Gift: The Children of Arthur, Book Two

Cover Image: The Fair Melusine (1844) by Julius Hübner (1806-1882)

Many images of Melusine have been painted over the years, but most, being medieval in look, fail to capture the Romantic style, depicting her in unflattering ways largely as a flying serpent. This painting is by a nineteenth century German artist and contemporary of the British Pre-Raphaelites, whose images fill the covers of all the other novels except this one and that of Ogier’s Prayer. To me, this painting was far more beautiful and positive than any other depictions of Melusine. It depicts the magic of Melusine as a mermaid. Some people told me it was too risqué for the cover, so I asked my cover designer to make one small change and move up Melusine’s arm to cover her nipple. Others thought it was creepy that a man is spying on Melusine—he is actually her husband, Raimond. By putting him on the back cover and wrapping the image around the book, I hoped to eliminate the creepiness and only provide the wonder as the first sensation the viewer experiences, and then upon flipping over the book, Raimond can be seen, which adds to the dimension and wonder of the story. This moment is pivotal because Raimond promised Melusine that if she married him, she could hide herself away in private every Saturday and he would not disturb her. When Raimond breaks his promise, Melusine is forced to leave him, but in Melusine’s Gift, I have made that moment not one of shame and curses, but one of wonder and expansion of knowledge. It is only then that Raimond learns what Melusine’s gift truly is.

Cover-OgiersPrayerOgier’s Prayer: The Children of Arthur, Book Three

Cover Image: The Flying Carpet (1880) by Viktor Vasnetsov (1848-1926)

In Ogier’s Prayer, Ogier the Dane, one of Charlemagne’s great knights, is carried on a magic carpet from the fabled land of Prester John to the court of the Caliph Haroun al-Rashid in Baghdad—and you can imagine the reactions of the people of Baghdad when they see him making his entrance in truly grand Arabian Nights style. This painting actually depicts the Russian folklore hero Ivan Tsarevich. However, I felt the scene of Ogier the Dane on a flying carpet was the most visual scene in Ogier’s Prayer so I sought for a flying carpet painting, and when I found this one, I thought it breathtaking. Yes, Ogier would be blonde, not dark-haired, but I imagine his years in the hot Middle East helped to darken his hair and complexion. In the painting, Ivan is carrying a magical firebird with him on the carpet, but if I hadn’t read about the painting, I would have just thought it a lantern, so I thought it close enough for the cover art I desired, and it gave the same feel and matched the Pre-Raphaelite and Romantic style of the other covers.

Cover-LilithsLoveLilith’s Love: The Children of Arthur, Book Four

Cover Image: La Belle Dame Sans Merci (1902) by Sir Francis Dicksee (1853-1928)

These last two covers are both by Sir Francis Dicksee, one of the best known of the Pre-Raphaelite artists. This first one depicts La Belle Dame Sans Merci, a popular theme of the Pre-Raphaelites. I know of at least two other depictions of her from this period, but this is the most fabulous one. Her name means in French, “The Beautiful Woman Without Mercy,” and she is based upon John Keats’ famous poem of the same name in which a supernatural woman takes a young man for her lover one night, and when he wakes in the morning, he finds that he has spent decades with her and is now an old man. The image was perfect for this book’s cover because Lilith is the primary antagonist of The Children of Arthur series and highly sexual, taking lovers so she can control them. In Jewish tradition, Lilith was the first wife of Adam; she was cast from Eden, and consequently, in The Children of Arthur series, she wants her revenge upon Adam and Eve’s descendants. But she also has a gift to give the world if the world would only quit fighting her—that of love. And so the novel’s title is a play both on the gift of her love and the man she loves. I thought the painting appropriate for the cover because the stunned looking man captures perfectly how the man she takes for her lover in the end must feel—and yes, he turns out to be a true and chivalrous knight.

Cover-ArthursBosomArthur’s Bosom: The Children of Arthur, Book Five

Cover Image: The Two Crowns (1900) by Sir Francis Dicksee (1853-1928)

I had the most difficulty in finding an image for this final book in the series, largely because I had only started to draft the novel at the time so I didn’t have a full idea of what it would be about yet. Then one day I stumbled upon this painting and knew it was perfect. This final novel depicts the return of King Arthur, and so what better to have on the cover than a king? It wasn’t until I saw the painting’s name that I even spotted there were two crowns in it—yes, the second is Christ with his crown of thorns. As with the cover for Melusine’s Gift, I decided to wrap the image so the back would surprise readers. In doing so, I had to have the image reversed since, originally, Christ was on the right side, and I wanted him on the back of the book. Only when you turn the book over then do you see that the king is looking at Christ and, therefore, is meditating upon what a true king is and what it means to wear a crown. It felt like it was destiny that I would find this painting, for at the same time, I first heard the theories of how Christ’s cross was brought back to Britain by the Empress Helena, and so that story and this painting with its depiction of Christ on the cross really inspired the writing of the novel. In the novel, my main character goes upon a quest to find the True Cross and by doing so, he helps to bring about King Arthur’s return. As for the book’s title, it refers to a line in Shakespeare, a play on the biblical phrase of “Abraham’s Bosom,” which is a reference to heaven. In the novel, the main character finds himself in what might be termed a type of Arthurian heaven.

I hope my choice of cover images inspires my readers and complements the primary theme of the Children of Arthur series, which is:

Imagination is the Salvation of Mankind.

May these books and their covers lead you on your own fabulously imaginative and world-changing journey!

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Marquette, MI, December 9, 2015—Three centuries after she carried her brother, King Arthur, to Avalon, Morgan le Fay is still interfering in the lives of mortals. At the court of Charlemagne is the handsome and virile Prince Ogier of Denmark, and Morgan le Fay has surprising plans for him. Now Ogier tells the story of his amazing adventures in award-winning author Tyler R. Tichelaar’s new historical fantasy novel Ogier’s Prayer: The Children of Arthur, Book Three.

Tyler Tichelaar's newest Arthurian novel takes readers on a magic carpet ride from Charlemagne's France to Avalon, Jerusalem, and the fabled land of Prester John as King Arthur's descendants embark on a quest to fight an ancient evil.

Tyler Tichelaar’s newest Arthurian novel takes readers on a magic carpet ride from Charlemagne’s France to Avalon, Jerusalem, and the fabled land of Prester John as King Arthur’s descendants embark on a quest to fight an ancient evil.

Ogier the Dane is the greatest knight since King Arthur. Blessed at birth by Morgan le Fay and her fellow fairies, he has always known a great destiny awaits him. Even when his evil stepmother Gudrun turns his father’s affections against him, leading to his exile at Charlemagne’s court, he does not cease to aspire to greatness. There he befriends the great knight, Roland, and he achieves many valorous deeds, rescuing princesses and surpassing other men at arms.

Then Ogier’s father dies and his evil stepmother secretly marries Roland’s uncle, Geoffrey, son of the mysterious fairy Melusine. When, soon after, Ogier learns that Gudrun has murdered Geoffrey and taken Melusine’s magic ring, he fears Gudrun has sinister and far-reaching plans. Ogier soon pursues her beyond the limits of the known eighth century world. From France to Avalon, and from the fabled land of the legendary Christian king, Prester John, to the court of Haroun al-Rashid, the caliph of Arabian Nights fame, Ogier finds himself caught up in more adventures and mysteries than he ever could have conceived. Most importantly, before his quest is completed, he will discover that the power of prayer can work wonders that no manner of manly prowess could ever accomplish.

Bookending Ogier’s tale is that of Adam and Anne Delaney, a twentieth century couple who have appeared in each volume of the Children of Arthur series. The Delaneys’ children have just been kidnapped, and they fear it is by the latest incarnation of Ogier’s evil sorceress stepmother, who is preparing to unleash havoc upon the human race. In their efforts to protect their children and stop this ancient supernatural woman, they are guided by the great magician Merlin, who reveals to them their own family’s connections to Morgan le Fay and her lover Ogier.

Arthurian authors and fans have been delighted with each volume of the Children of Arthur series. Sophie Masson, editor of The Road to Camelot, praises the first book, Arthur’s Legacy, as “an intriguing blend of action-packed time-slip fantasy adventure, moving love story, multi-layered mystery, and unusual spiritual exploration.” Cheryl Carpinello, author of Guinevere: On the Eve of Legend, proclaims that the second book, Melusine’s Gift, is “reminiscent of those ancient Tales from the Arabian Nights where one story flows into the next…. I can’t recommend this series enough.” And Roslyn McGrath, author of The Third Mary, calls Ogier’s Prayer an “inspirational re-visioning of the past…vivid, suspenseful storytelling will leave you craving the next installment of this thought-provoking, delightfully plot-twisting series!”

Tyler R. Tichelaar, Ph.D. is the author of numerous historical fiction novels, including The Marquette Trilogy, The Best Place, and the award-winning Narrow Lives, as well as the scholarly books The Gothic Wanderer and King Arthur’s Children and the play Willpower.

Ogier’s Prayer: The Children of Arthur, Book Three (ISBN 9780996240017, Marquette Fiction, 2015) can be purchased in paperback and ebook editions through local and online bookstores. For more information, visit www.ChildrenofArthur.com. Review copies available upon request.

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I have long been interested in the Fairy Melusine, as evidenced by my writing the book Melusine’s Gift. While researching that novel, I learned that Melusine was referenced in Philippa Gregory’s The Cousins War series, beginning with The Lady of the Rivers, so I had to read those novels. I found them fascinating since I’ve also long been interested in the Wars of the Roses. Indeed, it’s possible that I am descended from Elizabeth Woodville, and her mother, Jacquetta of Luxembourg, who figure prominently in the novels.

Melusine

Melusine

But one thing confused me about Gregory’s depiction of Melusine. Her insistence that Jacquetta, and the House of Luxembourg, was descended from the famous mermaid-like fairy. I assumed there must be some source to this idea, but Gregory never explains the connection in the novel. Melusine is better known as the ancestor to the House of Lusignan, so I could only guess that some member of the House of Lusignan had married into the House of Luxembourg, but who?

I also was surprised by Gregory making the English characters in the novel suspicious of Jacquetta and Elizabeth because of their connection to Melusine. Both women are even accused of witchcraft, so clearly descent from a famous mythical creature—sorceress, mermaid, flying serpent woman, however you want to describe Melusine—was a partial explanation for this fear and their belief that the women might share their ancestor’s supernatural powers. But Gregory completely ignored that the English royal family, the Plantagenets, including Edward IV, whom Elizabeth Woodville married, themselves claimed descent from Melusine. Not until the final novel in the series, The King’s Curse, does she even make a passing reference to this connection.

Where did Gregory get the idea that the House of Luxembourg could be descended from Melusine? According to Wikipedia, Gregory may have gotten this idea from another novelist. “Rosemary Hawley Jarman used a reference from Sabine Baring-Gould’s Curious Myths of the Middle Ages that the House of Luxembourg claimed descent from Melusine in her 1972 novel The King’s Grey Mare, making Elizabeth Woodville’s family claim descent from the water-spirit. This element is repeated in Philippa Gregory’s novels The White Queen (2009) and The Lady of the Rivers (2011), but with Jacquetta of Luxembourg telling Elizabeth that their descent from Melusine comes through the Dukes of Burgundy.”

First, let me say that the claim of the Dukes of Burgundy to being descended from Melusine seems unlikely. In fact, I believe Gregory made up the connection that the House of Luxembourg is connected to the House of Burgundy. If they were at the time of the mid-fifteenth century, it was a very tenuous connection and I could not find a connection. Furthermore, the Dukes of Burgundy during Jacquetta’s time in the early fifteenth century were directly descended from the French royal family.

Elizabeth Woodville, wife to Edward IV of England, was descended from the House of Luxembourg, and perhaps a descendant of Melusine.

Elizabeth Woodville, wife to Edward IV of England, was descended from the House of Luxembourg, and perhaps a descendant of Melusine.

Baring-Gould’s claim that the House of Luxembourg claimed descent from Melusine is true, but it is not a credible claim. In fact, in The Book of Melusine of Lusignan by Gareth Knight, who is perhaps the greatest expert on Melusine, it is stated that the Luxembourg legend says that Sigefroy, first Count of Lusignan, married a woman named Melusine (p. 117). Since we know Melusine married Count Raimond of Lusignan in other versions of the legend, it is likely various nobles just decided to make up their own connections to Melusine. Somehow, I just don’t see Melusine as a bigamist who deserted Raimond and then went and remarried. Furthermore, Sigefroy is considered the first count of Luxembourg and he lived in the tenth century, while Melusine seems to have lived in the eighth century when she is married to Raimond of Lusignan. Plus, we know that Sigefroy was married to Hedwig of Nordgau, by whom he had several children, including those through whom the House of Luxembourg descended.

So the link between Melusine and Luxembourg seems to be completely fanciful, but still, I decided to dig into Jacquetta’s family tree to see whether I could find any Lusignan link, and believe it or not, I did find a connection. The link is actually through Jacquetta’s paternal grandmother’s line, as shown below. The tree begins with the first documented member of the House of Lusignan, Hugh I, who lived in the ninth century and whom we can presume would be the alleged descendant of Melusine. Each person on the chart is the parent of the person below him or her.

 

Lusignan Genealogy, linking to Luxembourg

Hugh I

Hugh II (d. 967) According to the Chronicle of Saint-Maixent, he built the castle at Lusignan.

Hugh III

Hugh IV (d.1026)

Hugh V (d.1060)

Hugh VI (1039/43-1103/10)

Hugh VII of Lusignan (1065-1171)

Hugh VIII of Lusignan (d. 1165/71)

Aimery of Lusignan (1145-1205) – brother to Guy, King of Jerusalem

Hugh I of Cyprus (1194/5-1218)

Marie de Lusignan (1215-1251/3)

Hugh, Count of Brienne (1240-1296)

Walter V of Brienne (1278-1311)

Isabella of Brienne (1306-1360), claimant to the Kingdom of Jerusalem

Louis of Enghien (d. 1394)

Marguerite of Enghien (b. 1365) m. John of Luxembourg, Lord of Beauvoir

Peter of Luxembourg, Count of Saint Pol (1390-1433)

Jacquetta of Luxembourg, married Earl Rivers

Elizabeth, Queen of England m. Edward IV

Elizabeth of York m. Henry VII

Henry VIII of England

 

The genealogy above is a very roundabout way to connect Luxembourg to Lusignan, but the connection is there. That said, Jacquetta was as closely connected to the Plantagenets already as she was to Lusignan, being a descendant of Plantagenet king Henry III as shown below.

Henry III of England (1208-1272)

Beatrice of England (1242-1275) m. John II, Duke of Brittany

Marie of Brittany (1268-1339)

John of Chatillon, Count of Saint-Pol (d. 1344)

Mahaut of Chatillon, Countess of Saint-Pol

John of Luxembourgh, Lord of Beauvoir

Peter of Luxembourg

Jacquetta of Luxembourg

 

This chart would mean that Jacquetta would also be potentially descended from Melusine if it were true that the Plantagenets were descended from Melusine. But what was the Plantagenet connection? We know that Richard the Lionhearted, who was brother to King John and, therefore, uncle to Henry III, used to like to joke about being descended from Melusine. Therefore, the link has to date to before the thirteenth century. The connection of the Plantagenets to the Lusignan’s actually exists in the line of Anjou from which the Plantagenet line descended.

Fulk Anjou, King of Jerusalem

Geoffrey V of Anjou m. Maud, daughter of Henry I of England

Henry II of England

John of England

Henry III

 

Here’s where things get confusing. In the first chart above showing Jacquetta’s ancestors, we have Aimery of Lusignan, brother to King Guy of Jerusalem. The genealogy of the Kings of Jerusalem is full of marriages where husbands inherited the crown from their wives. Let’s try to unravel the genealogy of the Kings of Jerusalem.

Fulk of Anjou, King of Jerusalem m. Ermengarde of Maine. They were the parents of Geoffrey of Anjou, progenitor of the Plantagenets. Fulk later married Melisende, Queen of Jerusalem. They had two sons Baldwin III and Amalric, both Kings of Jerusalem. Melisende was herself the daughter of King Baldwin II of Jerusalem, so Fulk achieved the throne through marriage. Also, notably, Melisende is often confused with Melusine because of the similar name, though that may or may not be the cause of the Plantagenet claim to descent from Melusine. Melisende got her own name from her father, King Baldwin II’s mother, Melisende, who was the daughter of Guy I of Montlhery. Who Guy’s father was is questionable. According to Wikipedia, he was probably the third son of Thibault of Montlhery, though some sources say his father’s name was Milo. I find this latter assertion interesting since the Fairy Melusine may have had a son named Milo or Milon according to some less than creditable sources. But that does not explain the link between Lusignan and the Plantagenets.

As it turns out, Fulk’s son, Amalric, had a daughter, Sybilla, who ended up inheriting the crown of Jerusalem and passing it to her husband, Guy of Lusignan. The result is that the link between Plantagenets and Lusignan is only through marriage, making them sort of half-cousins, but the Plantagenets themselves are not direct descendants of Lusignan. At least not through the House of Anjou.

But a later Plantagenet link does exist. Henry III’s mother was Isabella of Angouleme. Isabella was engaged to marry Hugh IX of Lusignan (brother of Aimery and Guy) when King John instead married her and made her Queen of England. As a result, the Lusignans rebelled against the English king. After John’s death in 1216, Isabella returned to France and married in 1220 Hugh X, the son of her former fiancée. (Not so strange since he was within a few years of her age while King John was twenty-four years older than Isabella.) Hugh X and Isabella had many children who would have been the half-siblings to King Henry III. Among those children was Aymer, who became Bishop of Winchester, and Alice, who married the Earl of Surrey, while the other children seem to have remained in France. So again, another Lusignan connection for the Plantagenets, but again, only by marriage.

"The Wandering Unicorn" by Manuel Mujica Lainez

“The Wandering Unicorn” by Manuel Mujica Lainez is a fanciful novel about Melusine watching over her Lusignan descendants during the Crusades.

In any case, what is clear from these genealogical explorations is that if Melusine was the progenitor of the House of Lusignan, she had many, many descendants. But the question remains whether she even lived. The line of Lusignan can only be traced back for certain to Hugh I who lived in the early tenth century, and his son is likely the true builder of the Castle of Lusignan, which is reputed to have been built by Melusine. Searches for Hugh’s ancestry would be difficult and would require going back a century or two to find the ancestress Melusine if she existed at all. However, no records seem to exist of Hugh’s ancestry.

The question also arises whether we even know Melusine’s real name? According to The Serpent and the Swan: The Animal Bride in Folklore and Literature, the name Melusine was used by the first chroniclers of her tale, D’Arras and Couldrette, as an abbreviation of the French words “Mere des Lusignan” which would be “Mother of the Lusignans” in English (Source http://jungiangenealogy.weebly.com/melusine-de-alba.html). In other words, the real Melusine, like so many medieval and ancient women, remains nameless to us.

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Tyler Tichelaar, Ph.D., is the author of The Children of Arthur series, including the novels Arthur’s Legacy and Melusine’s Gift. You can learn more about him at www.ChildrenofArthur.com.

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 Prologue

 Roncesvaux Pass in the Pyrenees

Between France and Spain

August 15, 778 A.D.

 

When Roland woke, he felt immense relief—he had been dreaming—or had he been? His body was still exhausted. Was it true? Had they been ambushed? He remembered marching with the army, and then—yes, there had definitely been a battle. He remembered the feel of his sword as he slid it out of a Saracen throat and the sight of the blood squirting out, and then—and then a great soaring pain through his whole body, but most of all in his chest, as another Saracen sliced—but—was he dead then?

Melusine's Gift tells the story of a fairy connected to King "Melusine's Gift" tells the story of Roland, Charlemagne's nephew, his grandmother, the fairy Melusine, and how they are connected to King Arthur and Avalon.

“Melusine’s Gift” tells the story of Roland, Charlemagne’s nephew, his grandmother, the fairy Melusine, and how they are connected to King Arthur and Avalon.

His eyes bolted open, and he tried to sit up, but the pain soared through his chest again so that he was quickly afraid to move and hurt himself worse. He bit his tongue, trying to keep from screaming over the agonizing pain that shot through his body.

After a moment, when the pain lessened, Roland looked about him, conscious that it was now night. He strained his eyes to see anything he could about him, but he could only make out shadows—of what he knew not. Where was he? Lying on the battlefield, not quite dead? Was the enemy still near? He closed his eyes again, fearing that if an enemy warrior or a grave robber should come and see he lived, he would be struck dead. He listened, waiting to hear footsteps, but all he heard was the great squawking of birds—carrion birds come to feast on the dead. In a moment, no doubt, they would be nibbling on him. He had to get up and make his way to shelter somehow—to see whether any of King Charles’ brave men remained to look after the dead and wounded—or were they all dead or wounded?

“Be still.”

He jerked in fright at the unexpected voice. He had not heard anyone approach, but it sounded like a male voice, and an elderly one. It spoke to him in French, not the Saracen tongue, and not the tongue of the surrounding provinces—rather the French of Paris, the French of King Charles’ court.

“It’s all right. You’re safe now.”

He slowly opened his eyes; it took a minute for them to adjust. It was growing dark, the sun nearly set now. Beside him knelt a shadowy figure.

“Lie still; your wounds mustn’t be exasperated further. I’ve given you some medicine to help with the pain—that is what woke you, when I poured it down your throat. It should numb the pain in a few more minutes.”

“My men, what of them?”

“Most are slaughtered; a few escaped; a few were taken prisoners.”

“Oliver and Ogier, what of them?”

The old man hesitated a moment, then said, “Ogier survived.”

Roland struggled to hold back his grief over the death of Oliver, his companion since childhood. After a moment, he asked the old man, “Can I speak to Ogier?”

“Ogier is gone now. The king and his men all thought you dead. They could not find your body. You were buried beneath the corpse of the Saracen who tried to slay you; he fell dead upon you when another struck him from behind. He covered your body, protecting it from further harm, but hiding it from view. Nevertheless, Ogier is the one of all King Charles’ court whom you will see again when the time is right.”

“Right for what?”

“That is too difficult a question to answer at this moment, but it will all be revealed.”

“If my body was buried beneath another,” Roland asked, “how did you find me?”

“I have my ways. I watched the battle from up in the mountains. I kept an eye on you.”

“Thank you. Then you were not with the army?”

“No.”

“But you know me and my companions?” Roland tried to read the old man’s eyes in the dim light as his own eyes finally began to focus in the darkness.

“Yes, I know you, Roland, King Charles’ nephew,” the man solemnly replied.

A bolt of fear swept through Roland’s body. How did the old man know him if he were not with the army? Roland knew he wore nothing to distinguish himself as the king’s nephew.

“How do you know who I am?” he asked.

“Why, all your life I have watched you—I knew you when you were yet in your mother’s womb.”

“Who are you?” Roland asked, fearing he might have fallen into the hands of a sorcerer.

“I have many names,” said the man, leaning back. “You would be surprised by them all.”

Roland’s eyes widened as the man spoke. Although the sun had set and there was no candle or other source of light, the man’s face suddenly became illuminated. He was bearded—a long white beard, his hair long and falling about his shoulders—and his eyes were ancient, wise, and mesmerizing.

“Who are you?” Roland repeated, his eyes growing with amazement.

“I am of your father’s people, the Britons,” the man replied, “although perhaps even you yourself do not know of that aspect of your heritage after all these generations, but no matter, I am many other things as well.”

“I don’t understand,” Roland replied. “Where did you come from? How did you get here, and what is your interest in me?”

“Most recently, I have resided in the Forest of Broceliande. In a cave where it is said by mortals that I sleep; if you think upon it, you will know me.”

Roland barely dared think the name that came into his mind, but as he stared at the old man, trying to regain his ability to speak amid his astonishment, a glow slowly lit the old man’s face, emanating from a ball the man held up near his chin. Roland had never seen this man before, and yet, he knew instinctively who he was, and finally, the name came to his tongue.

“Mer-lin?”

The ancient wizard nodded, and then the light diminished from his face.

“But—but,” Roland stuttered in confusion, “I thought you were enchanted, in a cave, unable to…. Oh, how can this be? It doesn’t make sense. Am I dreaming? I don’t understand. Am I dead? Is that why you are here?”

“I am very much alive, brave Roland, and so are you. It is foolish, the stories men sometimes tell—that a great enchanter like I, one with such wisdom to live for centuries, could fall for a mere mortal woman barely past her youth and allow her to enchant and trap me. You mortals want to think romantic love is everything and even the greatest of wizards will fall for it, but it is not so. Most of the stories you have heard about me have been tainted by the fears of men and bear little resemblance to the truth, but just wait until you have lived long enough to hear the stories they will create about you.”

“Can I have some water?” Roland asked, beginning to cough from the dryness in his throat.

“You are thirsty. That is the healing potion taking effect. I gave it to you before you woke. Wait a few more moments and we will be ready to leave.”

“Leave? How? Do you think I’ll be able to walk?”

“You will be healed completely; you may feel some bodily exhaustion for a day or two, but after that, you will be your old self.”

“I don’t believe this. I can’t be alive; I must be dead or at least dreaming.”

Merlin placed a drinking flask to his lips.

“Here, this will make you feel alive still.”

The water was cold and felt wonderful on Roland’s parched lips. He had not tasted water since early that morning before the ambush that had caused his companions’ deaths.

A Medieval Depiction of the Battle at Roncesvaux Pass where Roland is said to have died.

A Medieval Depiction of the Battle at Roncesvaux Pass where Roland is said to have died.

“Will you take me to the army, to my uncle the king?” Roland asked when he had drunk his fill, and far more than he would have imagined could fill the small flask.

“No,” said Merlin. “You have other work to do.”

“I will need my sword and a horse and my men to pursue the Saracens.”

“No, your fighting days have passed,” said Merlin. “You have a more important task now.”

“I am the king’s nephew, one of his paladins; I fight by King Charles’ side. There is no more important task.”

“Do you think that I, who served the great King Arthur, do not know better than you?” Merlin asked. “You men and your wars. Trust me. You need not worry about your honor. Your uncle the king will claim to have your body so he may give you a fitting burial in the great tomb of the Kings of France at Blaye. Your great deeds will be remembered in song and story for more than a thousand years to come. You have no need to worry.”

“What of Alda, my betrothed?”

“She—I’m sorry to say that she will be heartbroken to know you are dead; she will go to an early grave. It is sad, but you will see her in the next life, though it will be many, many years from now.”

“I need to go to her. I cannot break her heart that way.”

“No, you will not be returning to France,” Merlin repeated.

“Who are you to tell me where I may go?” snapped Roland, his strength having now been restored to him, and with it came the full pain of knowing that he would never again see his dead companions and his fiancée.

“I serve a higher power than you or your king,” said Merlin, “and now it is time for you to do the same.”

“What do you want with me, wizard?” Roland demanded. “I’ll have none of your trickery.”

Roland sat up in anger, but although he winced in anticipation of pain at the effort, he was amazed to feel his chest and stomach whole again.

“Trickery, hey?” said Merlin. “I suppose my healing you was trickery.”

Roland looked only amazed, and perhaps he felt a bit of fear, for swords he knew of, battles he could fight, but from sorcery he did not know how to defend himself, and sorcery that called him to serve a higher power than his king—that was frightening indeed.

“You will know soon enough what is wanted of you,” said Merlin, rising to his feet. “Come; you are able to stand and walk now. We must hurry before the Saracens return.”

“Where are you taking me?” asked Roland, first kneeling and then standing, amazed by his sudden renewed vigor; unbelievably, he felt stronger than he had before the battle.

“We go south, to your grandfather,” said Merlin, turning and beginning to walk away.

“My grandfather? I know no grandfather.”

“No, you wouldn’t; he retired to the monastery at Montserrat before you were born,” Merlin called over his shoulder.

“I don’t understand,” said Roland.

“Your father’s father,” said Merlin, turning back to look at Roland, “Raimond, the former Count of Poitou.”

“I did not know my father’s father lived. My father died before I was born so I never met my grandfather.”

“Come; you have much to learn that you were never told before. You, my boy, are far more than the nephew of a king—even if that king will soon title himself Holy Roman Emperor. You come from a far more ancient line. It is time you learn the truth of your family.”

“The truth of my family?” Roland whispered to himself. What was it Merlin had said at first, that he was of “his father’s people”—that he was a Briton? But how could any of that be? He knew his father had been born in France, and Raimond of Poitou—he remembered hearing the name—from his mother’s lips when he was a child, after his father had died. But he had dim memories of what his mother had said, not remembering much beyond that revelation that she was the king’s sister, that he was the nephew to the great King Charles of the Franks. There had been something more—about his father’s past and about a strange legend that his grandmother…but his thoughts felt all muddled. He could not remember it all at the moment….

And Merlin was walking off into the darkness.

Roland quickly ran after him, no longer doubting that he was healed and well.

“Here is a horse,” said Merlin when Roland was beside him again. In actuality, there were two horses hidden behind a rock in the pass. In another moment, the wizard and the warrior were mounted and galloping south, toward the monastery of Montserrat—where secrets were kept that Roland could scarcely imagine.

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Marquette, MI, January 13, 2015—What made medieval royalty want to claim descent from a shape-shifting fairy? Whether a mermaid or a flying serpent, Melusine of Lusignan was seen as a desirable ancestor by many noble and royal houses of Europe, and she was both reviled and celebrated by medieval audiences. Now she tells her own story in award-winning author Tyler R. Tichelaar’s new historical fantasy novel Melusine’s Gift: The Children of Arthur, Book Two.

Melusine’s Gift tells the story of a fairy connected to King Arthur and the two magic rings she leaves her children.

 

According to legend, Raimond, Count of Lusignan, met the beautiful Melusine at a forest fountain. They fell in love and she agreed to marry him if he promised never to disturb her when she locked herself away every Saturday. Raimond agreed, but fearing his wife was committing adultery, he eventually spied on her and discovered she was a mermaid. Later, when tragedy struck their children, he lashed out at his wife, calling her a serpent. Heartbroken, Melusine sprung wings and flew out the castle window, her serpent tail trailing behind her.

Tichelaar has always been intrigued by Melusine and believes the explanations behind her mystery lie in her being raised in Avalon, home to Morgan le Fay and King Arthur’s final resting place. “I suspect she learned magic in Avalon and simply enjoyed shape-shifting, something humans couldn’t understand,” says Tichelaar. “As for the connections to royalty, the whole premise of my Children of Arthur series is that King Arthur’s descendants live among us today. I believe Melusine played a key role in that lineage.”

In Tichelaar’s first novel in the series, Arthur’s Legacy, twentieth century Adam Delaney, an American-born young man, meets the wizard Merlin, who reveals to Adam that he is a descendant of King Arthur and his family will aid in fulfilling the prophecy of King Arthur’s return. Now in this sequel, Adam and his English wife are on their honeymoon in France where they discover their family’s connection to Melusine. This knowledge will aid them in the future when they must fight forces determined to stop Arthur’s return.

The Children of Arthur series has won praise from readers and Arthurian experts. Jenifer Brady, author of the Abby’s Camp Days series, says, “Readers unfamiliar with Melusine’s place in history will be drawn into her world, while the captivating web of multi-layered stories within stories combine and complement to obliterate the preconceived notions of those who consider themselves experts on her legend.” And John Matthews, author of King Arthur: Dark Age Warrior and Mythic Hero, states, “Works of this kind are hugely important because they keep the legends alive and bring them into the 21st century. Strongly recommended for all who love the old and the new in mythic fiction.”

Tyler R. Tichelaar, Ph.D., is the author of numerous historical fiction novels, including The Best Place and the award-winning Narrow Lives as well as the scholarly books The Gothic Wanderer and King Arthur’s Children.

Melusine’s Gift: The Children of Arthur, Book Two (ISBN 9780979179099, Marquette Fiction, 2015) can be purchased in paperback and ebook editions through local and online bookstores. For more information, visit www.ChildrenofArthur.com. Review copies available upon request.

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Few people know, and few Arthurian works mention, that Guinevere had a sister. She was named Gwenhwyvach, but she has been written out of the legend over the centuries. In fact, I believe I’m the only modern novelist to include her in my novels, where she is a major character.

But just who was Gwenhwyvach? We really don’t know anything about her other than that she was Guinevere’s sister.

She is mentioned in the Mabinogion tale Culhwch and Olwen, in which her name is included among the 200 men, women, dogs, and horses invoked by Culhwch when he makes his request of King Arthur to help him win his love Olwen. But this reference really tells us nothing of Gwenhwyvach.

Another reference isn’t much more helpful. In The Welsh Triads, it states:

“One of the reasons for the Battle of Camlann was the blow Guinevere struck to her sister Gwenhwyvach.”

N.C. Wyeth's depiction of Arthur and Mordred at the Battle of Camlann, which Gwenhwyvach may have helped to cause.

N.C. Wyeth’s depiction of Arthur and Mordred at the Battle of Camlann, which Gwenhwyvach may have helped to cause.

This statement is obscure, but it’s obvious that Gwenhwyvach must have had a major role in the early legends, or perhaps in history itself, if she influenced the Battle of Camlann where Arthur and Mordred fought each other and died. At least one writer, Thomas Love Peacock, in his novel The Misfortunes of Elphin (1829), decided that Gwenhwyvach was Mordred’s wife, which seems a plausible conclusion based on this statement.

The only other reference to Guinevere having a sister is in the thirteenth century Prose Lancelot where Guinevere has a sister, known as the False Guinevere, who tries to take the place of Guinevere the night she weds Arthur.

In writing Arthur’s Legacy, my curiosity about Gwenhwyvach and the False Guinevere led to my combining the two to create a major villain not just in this novel but the entire The Children of Arthur series. Following is the scene from Arthur’s Legacy where Gwenhwyvach reveals her past to Constantine, whom he hopes to enlist in her desire for revenge:

“Do you know what this is, Constantine, Cador’s son?” she asked.

“Yes,” he replied, shrinking back at the sight of the foul mark.

“This brand is the reason you never knew of my existence. Arthur banished me as a traitor, though I am not one. He decreed it a crime for anyone even to utter my name.”

Constantine hesitated to associate with a criminal, but his curiosity would not yet permit him to flee from her enticing gaze.

“What is your name, lady?” he asked.

“Gwenhwyvach,” she replied. “I am the rightful heir to King Leodagraunce of Northgallis, and more importantly, the rightful Queen of Britain, Arthur’s lawful wife.”

“How?” Constantine asked. He wondered whether her desire for revenge included her seeking the throne of Britain. But how could she? No woman could rule a kingdom.

“Do not fear. I have no desire for a crown, although I could build an empire if I so wished. All I want is to destroy Arthur and Guinevere. I don’t care what becomes of Britain after that. I will make you its next king if you will assist me in my enemies’ destruction.”

Constantine was flattered and his eyes lit with excitement at the prospect of being king, but he was too conniving to agree at once. He would first determine how useful an ally this evil wench might be.

“Before I agree to anything,” he said, “you must tell me your full story.”

“You will help me no matter what I say,” she replied, “but I will tell you my past if only to relieve my own misery.”

She picked up a stick and poked at the fire while muttering under her breath. The sparks flew up into the air, and as Constantine raised his eyes to follow their path to the cave’s ceiling, Gwenhwyvach began her tale.

“My father, King Leodagraunce of Northgallis, conceived me upon my mother, who was his lawful wife, Queen Elen. That same night, he afterwards left his marital bedchamber, drunk as he usually was, and made his way to the room of my mother’s young handmaiden, whom he raped. Nine months later, upon the same full moon, Guinevere and I were born.

“My mother, the queen, died in childbirth, as did her handmaiden. The handmaiden’s mother assisted as midwife at the births of Guinevere and myself. We were born only an hour apart, and being half-sisters through our father’s royal blood, we have always looked immensely alike. The old midwife, partly out of love for her newborn granddaughter, Guinevere, and partly to revenge her daughter’s rape and death caused by my father, switched the two babes the same night they were born. Guinevere, the bastard child, was raised as King Leodagraunce’s rightful daughter, while I, born of a king and queen and conceived in holy matrimony, grew up as a household servant.

“Being the same age and living in the same household, Guinevere and I were playmates before we could even talk. The old woman, who claimed to be my grandmother, encouraged our friendship because it allowed her to see her true granddaughter more often. I grew up envying Guinevere for having a father, while I had no parents. I had heard rumors from the other servants that I was the king’s bastard child, and although still not knowing the whole truth, I began to believe these tales, for the king clearly displayed an aversion toward me, while he always expressed great love for Guinevere. As I grew older, I found myself resenting the princess. I believed I had as much right to our father’s love as she did. It was not my fault I was a bastard.

“Then as we approached womanhood, King Leodagraunce died, and Guinevere went to live in Cornwall, under your father’s protection. Because we had been close friends, or so I let her believe, she allowed me to accompany her, as well as the old woman who claimed to be my grandmother. All the eligible lords in the kingdom now began to court Guinevere, some for her beauty, while others merely wished to rule her kingdom. Even several royal princes sought her hand. I envied her, for the only man interested in me was a shepherd, and he had nothing to offer me except a hut and a stench I could not tolerate.

“One afternoon, I was walking with Guinevere in the gardens at Tintagel when she told me a messenger had arrived that morning from Camelot. He had come bearing a marriage proposal to her from King Arthur.

“Although she had never seen the High King, Guinevere had fallen in love with the stories told of him, so she did not hesitate to accept the proposal. I could not bear the jealousy I felt over her good fortune. Perhaps I was selfish, but it was unfair that one sister marry a High King while the other could find no husband of worth. I fled from the garden, ignoring Guinevere’s shouts for my return. I did not stop until I was deep in the forest, and then I slumped down beneath a tree and spent several hours crying and wishing my life were different. I felt I could no longer remain at Tintagel. I dreaded having to watch Arthur’s men bear Guinevere off to become High Queen of Britain, so I decided to return to my grandmother’s hut after the old woman had gone to sleep. Then I planned to gather my few belongings and depart forever. Perhaps even depart from Britain, for nowhere in the land would my sister’s name not be known, and I knew the mere mention of it would henceforth be intolerable to me.

“But when I returned to the hut, I found several of our neighbors gathered outside the door, and when they saw me, they all began asking where I had been. Then they told me to go inside and see my grandmother because she had suffered from some sort of dizzy spell and collapsed in the street. She was lying down now, but awake, though she probably would not live through the night. For the last several hours, she had been calling my name, and entreating the neighbors to find me.

“I don’t know that I ever loved the old woman, but I had always believed her to be my grandmother, so I at least felt some respect for her. I wanted to leave Tintagel as quickly as possible, but I could not desert her in her last moments. Deciding I would not leave until after she had died, I entered the hut and went to her bedside. The old woman was pale, yet she nearly shouted my name when she saw me. It was there on her death bed that she told me the truth, that I was the daughter of King Leodagraunce and his late queen, meaning I was the true Princess Guinevere. She also admitted it was her fault my birthright had been taken from me because she had switched my half-sister and me in our beds the night we were born. She begged my forgiveness, but after so many years of living in poverty when I could have lived royally and had any of my heart’s desires, any lingering of Christian mercy deserted me. I spat in her face and uttered a series of curses that made her tremble and seek her grave all the sooner. When the life had left her, her face held a terrible look of fear beyond what anyone could imagine. I believe she saw the gates of Hell opening for her. She deserved no lesser fate.”

Gwenhwyvach’s brow steamed with hatred as she repeated her tale; Constantine’s selfish soul pitied this woman because, like him, what was rightfully hers had been stolen from her.

“Did you go to Guinevere and tell her the truth?” he asked.

“How could I have proven it? The old woman had made certain no one knew her secret until moments before her death. If I had told anyone, the story would have been passed off as the deathbed ravings of a crazy old woman, or worse, I might have been accused of lying and rebelling against my queen.”

“But then why did Arthur banish you from Britain?”

“I was determined to get my revenge. If I were the rightful daughter of King Leodagraunce and Queen Elen, I believed it was my right to wed King Arthur.”

Constantine squirmed in his seat. He sympathized with Gwenhwyvach, but he also wondered whether she did not make up this tale, and if she had made it up, how much of it had she convinced herself was true? Still, if she hated Arthur and Guinevere as much as he did, her hatred could make her an invaluable ally.

Whether or not she noticed Constantine’s puzzled look, Gwenhwyvach continued her tale.

“Arthur and Guinevere’s wedding ceremony took place without interruption. But I had laid my plans for that evening. When Guinevere went to her bedchamber to prepare for the consummation of her marriage, she changed into her nightgown, then stepped out into the garden to relieve herself before Arthur entered the bridal chamber. I had found myself a lover in the village, one Bertolais, a strong, hulking man but weak in his desires for a woman. I convinced him to help me, and then he convinced his friends to do the same with my promise to reward them all later. That night, we hid in Guinevere’s garden. Bertolais and his friends were to kidnap the bride, and then murder her after they had carried her far enough away from the castle. Meanwhile, I would take Guinevere’s place as Arthur’s wife.

“But that foul old druid Merlin learned of my plans by the use of his black arts. Arthur’s soldiers stormed into the garden just before we grabbed Guinevere. Then Arthur ordered that Bertolais and I be banished. My lover was sent to Gaul, forbidden ever to return, while I was imprisoned in Hengest’s Tower in the middle of the Saxon Lake. Instead of marrying the High King of Britain as was my rightful and intended destiny, I spent the next fifteen years enchained in that prison. That is why I will hate Arthur and Guinevere until they are both dead.”

“But then how did you escape from the tower, my lady?”

“The jailer became ill one day, and a naïve, young man came to take his place. Within a week, I had the fool hopelessly in love with me. I offered myself to him, but the mere pleasure of holding me exhausted him, and he fell asleep.” Gwenhwyvach laughed as she recalled the event. “I then extracted the key from his belt, imprisoned him in my cell, and made my escape. Five years have since passed, so if Arthur has ever learned of my absence and made a search for me, by now he must have given up all hope of my recapture.

“Since my escape, I have had to live like an animal in hiding, foraging for berries in the forest, fishing with my bare hands, and taking shelter under trees and in caves. No human being has ever had a more unfortunate and miserable existence than what I have suffered. You have no idea what it is to sleep in a cave without even an animal fur to cover you on a cold winter night. That is why I must have my revenge on those who caused my misery even if it means killing every soldier in Britain before I can reach Arthur and Guinevere. And if they succeed in destroying me first, my spirit will return to haunt Britain for centuries to come. Nothing is too powerful to stop me!”

Gwenhwyvach’s eyes flared with heat that could burn down a forest. Constantine could not help being mesmerized by them.

“Will you assist me in bringing about Arthur and Guinevere’s destruction?” Gwenhwyvach asked. “When it is completed, I will make you the most powerful man in the world. I learned much of the black arts while in my prison, for I was not denied reading material, and my jailers were illiterate, so they never realized how harmful were the books they innocently brought me from the ruins of a nearby monastery. My powers as a sorceress will set you on the throne of Britain, and I shall ask nothing more of you, but that I may continually reward you for the good services you performed in helping to vindicate me. All that belonged to Arthur and Guinevere will be yours. I shall ask no share. What is your answer, Constantine, Cador’s son?”

*

To find out Constantine’s answer and how I also incorporated the reference to The Welsh Triad in the novel, read Arthur’s Legacy, available at www.ChildrenofArthur.com and watch for its sequel Melusine’s Gift, coming in January 2015.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Historical Fantasy Series Debuts with Twist on King Arthur Legend

“Arthur’s Legacy,” first in a groundbreaking new historical fantasy series by award-winning author Tyler R. Tichelaar, suggests Camelot’s story was distorted by its enemies and reveals the role of King Arthur’s descendants throughout history.

Arthur’s Legacy: The Children of Arthur, Book One – the first in a five book Arthurian historical fantasy series

Arthur’s Legacy: The Children of Arthur, Book One – the first in a five book Arthurian historical fantasy series

Marquette, MI, June 1, 2014—What if everything we ever thought we knew about King Arthur were false? What if Mordred were one of Camelot’s greatest heroes rather than Arthur’s enemy, but someone purposely distorted the story? What if King Arthur’s descendants live among us today and are ready to set the record straight? Award-winning novelist and Arthurian scholar Tyler R. Tichelaar offers entertaining and visionary answers to those questions in his new novel “Arthur’s Legacy: The Children of Arthur, Book One” (ISBN 9780979179082, Marquette Fiction, 2014).

The Arthurian legend says King Arthur and Mordred, his illegitimate son, born of incest, slew each other at the Battle of Camlann. But early in Tyler R. Tichelaar’s new novel, “Arthur’s Legacy,” that belief is called into question by a modern day man who claims to have been an eyewitness of events at Camelot. Disrupting a lecture, the mysterious man declares, “I will not be silent; Mordred has been falsely accused for nearly fifteen hundred years. It is time the truth be known.”

Soon, a series of strange events are set in motion, and at their center is Adam Delaney, a young man who never knew his parents. When Adam learns his father’s identity, he travels to England to find him, never suspecting he will also find ancient family secrets, including the true cause of Camelot’s fall.

In “Arthur’s Legacy,” Tichelaar draws on many often overlooked sources, including the involvement of Guinevere’s sister Gwenhwyvach in Camelot’s downfall, Mordred’s magnanimous character, Arthur’s other forgotten children, the legend that Jesus’ lost years were spent in Britain, and the possibility that Arthur’s descendants live among us today.

When asked about his inspiration for writing The Children of Arthur series, Tichelaar said, “For centuries the British royal family has claimed descent from King Arthur, but DNA and mathematical calculations would suggest that if King Arthur lived, nearly everyone alive today would be his descendant. The five novels in this series ask, ‘What if the myths and legends of King Arthur, Charlemagne, Dracula, Ancient Troy, Adam and Eve, and so many others were true? How would that knowledge change who we are today?’”

Arthurian scholars and novelists are raving about “Arthur’s Legacy.” John Matthews, author of “King Arthur: Dark Age Warrior and Mythic Hero,” says “‘Arthur’s Legacy’ is a fresh new take on the ancient and wondrous myth of Arthur.” Sophie Masson, editor of “The Road to Camelot,” calls “Arthur’s Legacy,” “an intriguing blend of action-packed time-slip fantasy adventure, moving love story, multi-layered mystery, and unusual spiritual exploration.” Debra Kemp, author of “The House of Pendragon” series, states, “Tichelaar has performed impeccable research into the Arthurian legend, finding neglected details in early sources and reigniting their significance.” And Steven Maines, author of “The Merlin Factor” series, concludes “Arthur’s Legacy” “will surely take its rightful place among the canon of great Arthurian literature.”

About the Author

Tyler R. Tichelaar, Ph.D., is the author of numerous historical fiction novels, including “The Best Place,” and the scholarly books “The Gothic Wanderer: From Transgression to Redemption” and “King Arthur’s Children.” In writing “The Children of Arthur” series, Tichelaar drew upon Arthurian and Gothic literature and biblical and mythic stories to reimagine human history. “Melusine’s Gift,” the second novel in the series, will be published in 2015.

“Arthur’s Legacy: The Children of Arthur, Book One” (ISBN 9780979179082, Marquette Fiction, 2014) can be purchased through local and online bookstores. Ebook editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other retailers. For more information, visit www.ChildrenofArthur.com. Review copies available upon request.

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