Monday, November 4, 2013

Mythical Monday (31)

It seems there are many books based on or influenced by Myths and Mythological Beings.

There are so many different Mythology and Mythological Beings recorded. Some are very popular and well known, others not so much. There are many similar beings, yet different depending on the culture it’s based in.  The definition of Myth covers about anything in the Urban Fantasy/Fantasy realm to me.

I’ve invited authors to share briefly the Mythological being or Myth that influenced their character(s) or story, or what their character(s) are based on influencing their books.  Hosting here, one author and being or myth per week.

This week we have:
Fantasy author Freya Robertson
Talking of English Folklore inspiration.

Hi Melissa, and thanks for having me on your blog today!

Heartwood—an epic fantasy and Book 1 of The Elemental Wars—was inspired by several important figures in English folklore. Ever since I was young, I’ve had an interest in Robin Hood and King Arthur.

While they have a profound mythical element, it is possible that both of these figures have a foundation in historical fact. Regarding King Arthur, there are occasionally historic mentions of a post-Roman warlord who attempted to unite the Celtic tribes and re-garrison the old Saxon Shore forts on the coasts to try and hold back the flow of incoming Saxons.

Equally, the late fourteenth century poem Piers Plowman refers to “Robyn hode in scherewode stod” while historical records show a man named Robin Hood lived in Wakefield, Yorkshire, in the 13th and 14th centuries.

But the legends as we know them both have their roots in folklore, and they are both linked with the tradition of the Green Man, as are many other of our traditional heroes, from Robin Goodfellow to Puck, Peter Pan and even Father Christmas.

The Green Man is a sculpture of a face surrounded by leaves, vines, flowers and fruit, and in Neo-paganism he represents the Horned God, the male counterpart to the Goddess. The Horned God is born in winter, impregnates the Goddess, dies during the autumn and winter months and is then reborn by the Goddess at Yule. He is also split into the aspects of the Oak and Holly kings, who fight out an eternal battle in the seasons, with the Oak king reigning from midsummer to midwinter, and the Holly king for the other half of the year. At each solstice, one of the kings dies to make way for the new king in a never-ending cycle.

This theme of resurrection and rebirth is a very old one in religion, and it plays a big part in the story of Heartwood, which revolves around the Arbor, an oak tree whose roots stretch across the land of Anguis. Its transfers the love of the god Animus through these roots, which keeps the countryside flourishing and its people happy. This idea stems from the notion in King Arthur of “a king without a sword, a land without a king”—the idea that the fertility and growth of the land is linked to its people and to its ruler. Certainly Chonrad—the hero of the story—comes to understand what an important role both he and the Heartwood knights have to play in protecting the Arbor and keeping the energies flowing throughout the land when the world is threatened by an invasion of the Darkwater Lords.

Those who love traditional epic fantasy will hopefully find something to love about Heartwood. And hopefully its fresh look—no elves or dwarves and an emphasis on positive roles for women (the leader of Heartwood’s army is a woman)—will bring added appeal to the modern reader.

There are also other mythical elements in Heartwood—for example the Darkwater Lords are mermen from the deep who come to the shores of Anguis to defeat the earth elementals. But more of that at a later time :-)


Author Bio:
Freya is a lifelong fan of science fiction and fantasy, as well as a dedicated gamer. She has a deep and abiding fascination for the history and archaeology of the middle ages and spent many hours as a teenager writing out notecards detailing the battles of the Wars of the Roses, or moping around museums looking at ancient skeletons, bits of rusted iron and broken pots.

She has published over twenty romance novels under other pseudonyms and won prizes in fifteen short story and poetry competitions.

Freya lives in the glorious country of New Zealand Aotearoa, where the countryside was made to inspire fantasy writers and filmmakers, and where they brew the best coffee in the world.

Find Freya:
Online at her website as well as on Twitter and Facebook.
Amazon Author Link:

A dying tree, a desperate quest, a love story, a last stand.

Chonrad, Lord of Barle, comes to the fortified temple of Heartwood for the Congressus peace talks, which Heartwood’s holy knights have called in an attempt to stave off war in Anguis. But the Arbor, Heartwood’s holy tree, is failing, and because the land and its people are one, it is imperative the nations try to make peace.

After the Veriditas, or annual Greening Ceremony, the Congressus takes place. The talks do not go well and tempers are rising when an army of warriors emerges from the river. After a fierce battle, the Heartwood knights discover that the water warriors have stolen the Arbor’s heart. For the first time in history, its leaves begin to fall...

The knights divide into seven groups and begin an epic quest to retrieve the Arbor, and save the land.

Augur and other short stories
Unexplained deaths in a South African gold mine... Adventure and loss in the Bermuda Triangle... Strange creatures in the shadows at the time of the Black Death... Alternate realities where things aren't quite as they seem...

An anthology of fantasy, science fiction and historical stories, including a bonus prequel and an excerpt of the epic fantasy Heartwood.

Pick up Heartwood at Amazon

Pick up Augur and other short stories at Amazon


Melissa (Books and Things) said...

I have to admit that I never really enjoyed the King Author tales until Bradley's version. I always did enjoy Peter Pan though. Oh this sounds like an interesting combo. I do enjoy an epic fantasy once in a while.

Anonymous said...

Nice review. I had spotted this one and wasn't sure if i would pick it up. You have swayed me! I found another book on Kindle you should check out. It's called Lords of Mircalla. its dark.. but i found it perfect for the halloween season!

Melissa (My words and pages) said...

Melissa (B&T) Oh really? I would have thought you'd enjoy the King Arthur tales. But this is very good. I can see the influence, but it's not king Arthur too. :) Thank you!

Melissa (My words and pages) said...

Thank you.