This post follows on from my last blog entry 'Folklore of the Nix', which you can read here.
WULFSUNA is a book about battles: physical battles of blood and carnage, mental battles against pride and fear and emotional battles of torn responsibility, love and betrayal. It is also a book mostly about men. The Seaxen (Saxon) tribe of the ‘Wolf Sons’, whose name is the book’s title, is a war-band of viking warriors. Many of the women they knew are either deceased, too infirm to travel or have chosen to remain in Germania.
The book opens with the tribe’s arrival in the east fens of Bryton (Britain) and follows their journey inland, to a long-destined meeting between two halves of a tribe, separated by sea and some twenty years apart. However, amid all the sweating oarsmen, helmeted nobles and axe-wielding warriors is one who is stronger than all of them; she is a Seer and her name is Morwyneth. Who is she? Well, so far she has been shadowed by her more muscular counterparts and so I felt it was time for her to emerge; for the world (who have not yet read my book) to know the woman behind the wolves of the WULFSUNA.
Morwyneth is a young Briton, or ‘Wealh’ as the Seaxens would call her. She has lived a quiet and secluded life, the orphan of a Seer and an unknown father. The Historical Novel Society Indie Review described her as “a very well drawn and an engaging character”.Speesh Reads thought “Morwyneth’s subsequent development as the tale progressed, was very deftly handled and she could well turn into one of the series’ most interesting characters.”
We soon discover the WULFSUNA are not the only characters who are on a journey of destiny. Through Morwyneth’s eyes we witness some of the tumultuousness of the period as kinfolk are torn apart by fears and beliefs, both old and new. Contrastingly, we find small pockets of Brytonic life passing by as though the Roman Empire had never set foot upon the land and we are drawn, as is Morwyneth, into the serenity and joviality of it all. Then there is isolation – the fate of so many when the Romans departed and people were left without purpose or profession.
Morwyneth’s path collides with that of the WULFSUNA and as P Bennett puts it, she “threatens to tear the tribe apart because of her ties to Earth Magic and her visions of the future”. All around her are warriors who live in fear of the one they call ‘Nix’. To understand this immense fear, you should know of the folklore surrounding beautiful women who appear near water to lure men to their deaths. This was deep-rooted in the psyche of 5th Century Germanic people and is evident through tales that appear throughout the Germanic and Scandinavian regions. (See my earlier blog link at the top of this post.)
Whilst she may be small, young and gentile, she is by no means meek. Her own gift of sight forces her to mature quickly and the dangerous landscape in which she finds herself, means she must seek sanctuary with those that understand her. To the WULFSUNA she is a river-siren and a danger to them all, except one. And, as fellow author SJA Turney says, so begins “the oddest love triangle you’ll see”! The child thrown violently into womanhood at the start of the novel must fulfil her destiny and accept the path of the Wolf Spear Saga. She must embrace the power she has been given and learn to control both it and herself. Why? Because her magic may be all that can save them.
Here is an excerpt from WULFSUNA where we first meet Morwyneth:-
"Morwyneth patted the first goat and it wandered off, allowing its companion to move in for milking. She settled the animal with a fond caress between the ears, its body rubbing against her knees as it made itself comfortable. Again she warmed the teats and set to filling the rest of the pail. The early light caught the low honey-coloured dry stone wall that embraced the villa. Smiling contentedly, Morwyneth adjusted the cloth cap that had slipped from her head and threw her long brown hair back over her shoulders. Her pail full, she petted the goats and went inside.
A fire burned in the central hearth, bright orange flames flicking sparks onto the circle of stones around it. Hanging over the fire from an iron tripod, a cauldron warmed water. Morwyneth set the pail on the floor and reached for a clay cup from her small table. She dipped her cup into the pail and sipped the tepid milk, pondering whether Lord Huweyn had risen. She wondered, almost daily, whether the rumours of love between their lord and her mother were true. Her mother had never spoken of any love and, when answering queries about the origins of her father, Anwen had always told Morwyneth she had met a man when on pilgrimage, spirit walking in the south.
Setting down her half-empty cup, she felt the world spin violently. Morwyneth closed her eyes, disorientated. She fell onto her bunk, kicking over the pail of milk. Behind her eyelids, dark ethereal clouds rolled over themselves. She heard the screams of dying men and smelled the stench of blood mingled with moss. Iron weapons clashed in the distance. Opening her eyes, Morwyneth gasped. No longer in her home, she inhabited a dark place where she could see nothing except rolling black cloud. Screams grew louder and heavy breathing crept up on her from behind. As she turned, she only encountered the darkness, ever-folding, consuming. A face appeared in front of her. She screamed. The blue-painted face held wide black eyes, glaring wildly. Tribal drawings, burned into the skin, ran in designs down the face and neck onto a body obscured amid the gloom."
WULFSUNA is available in both paperback and eBook from the following suppliers:-