‘Annwyn’s Blood’ begins as another medieval tale of derring do. Marianna, the beautiful daughter of Mattheus, High King of all Gwent, has been abducted while returning from a pilgrimage. All her guards and retainers have been brutally slain, but five weeks have passed and there has been no ransom demand. The kingdom is being scoured to find her. Among those seeking is a noble youth from ‘Birkenshire’ named Erik, a young knight in training, eager to prove himself to his King while nursing a secret love for the princess who is ‘out of his star’.
Rapidly, however, we realise that another genre has a major hand in this. A dark force is at work, with vast numbers of zombies and vampires at its disposal. A pagan God commands armies of the undead: Arawn of the Otherworld and Grey Prince in Annwyn where the dead reside. He lures those with the disposition away from the Christian God who has supplanted him in so many lands. His plan to take his power back involves taking Marianna as his bride and pursuing the virtuous Christian Erik with temptation in the shape of Marianna in repeated attempts to get him to take his covenant. Taking the Grey God’s covenant grants eternal youth, but at a bloody price – which you will discover, if you read this book as I urge you to do. ‘Annwyn’s Blood’ gets the story underway. The full tale will unfold in further volume/s.
Although the authors do not share my personal dislike of subordinate clauses beginning with ‘as’, they write very well, with a penchant for alliteration and assonance. Just one example among many: Erik in a dream “swept the sword as a scythe, blood flowing is steaming streams from beneath his booted feet.” There is fine irony: “Dripping tallow candles flickered around the hole in the floor to prevent anyone seeking nocturnal devotion from falling into the pit and breaking their contrite necks.” The incidental detail needed to root the tale in its time and help their readers suspend their disbelief is there in abundance. Here medieval chivalry and true virtue are pitted against a Prince of Darkness with dreadful power over the undead and a force of voracious vampires at his disposal. The struggle and the sacrifice is profound.