When most people hear the name Merlyn, they immediately think of Camelot and magic. These are natural associations to make. Merlyn the Magician, King Arthur’s enigmatic advisor and right-hand man, is an unforgettable and essential player in the Arthurian legend. He has been portrayed in myriad ways in innumerable poems, stories, novels, plays, and films. These depictions vary, but one thing remains constant: Merlyn’s connection to the mystical, esoteric elements of the universe. He is usually seen as a necromancer, sometimes good, sometimes scary, but always mysterious.
So how can he become a romantic hero in my new novel, Merlyn’s Raven?
The realistic side of Merlyn is one that has always appealed to me. In her wonderful trio of Merlin books (The Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hills, and The Last Enchantment) author Mary Stewart explores a more human aspect of Merlyn’s character. I read those books as a teen, and I always appreciated that Ms. Stewart gave Merlyn such a human side after I’d seen him only as a supernatural being. Merlyn’s humanity appealed to me, as did his challenge of balancing a talent for precognition with living a normal life.
But one aspect of Merlyn has never really been explored in any fiction that I’ve read, and that idea came to me about two years ago as I read an old Welsh poem called Vita Merlini by Geoffrey of Monmouth. In that poem, Merlyn has a wife, and this struck a real chord with me. Who was this woman? What was she like? How did they fall in love? What made her special to Merlyn, and what was it like to be married to the great and powerful wizard of legend?
Thus, Merlyn’s Raven was born. I created the character of Gwendydd, who falls in love with a young druid apprentice named Myrddin despite her grandfather’s wishes. I wanted to explore the younger adventures of Merlyn through the eyes of a woman who loves him, thus risking everything in her life. Fans of Arthurian legend will recognize many of the characters and circumstances in the story, but telling this tale through the lens of true love and sacrifice gives the novel a whole new twist that readers will enjoy no matter what their background.
I hope you’ll come on this incredible journey with Merlyn and Gwendydd. The magic of love, and the magic of the Universe, await you in Merlyn’s Raven.
By Rose Vanden Eynden
Falling in love is the ultimate magic. For Gwendydd, a young woman in 5th century Wales, it seems an unobtainable fantasy. She dreads the day her chieftain grandfather will marry her off to increase his allies among the warring tribes of Britain. When she meets the mysterious and handsome druid apprentice Myrddin, Gwendydd realizes just how difficult falling in love can be. The ire of her disapproving grandfather is not her only obstacle. Myrddin’s clairvoyant visions of a king who will unify the battling tribes and bring peace to the land become a dangerous obsession that threatens to obliterate their union. Can Gwendydd support her beloved, the man destined to become the world’s most powerful enchanter, King Arthur’s legendary Merlyn? Or will her devotion destroy her and everything she holds dear?
The scream hung in the air like the waxing moon outside my window. I touched my face, expecting to feel the wound there, my skin cut somehow as Myrddin’s had been in the dream. My trembling fingers came away clean. My heart raced as my mind recovered, but I tore from my bedchamber nonetheless, darting through the shadowed hallways of Grandfather’s household, avoiding the guards that stood, dozing, at the ends of corridors. I knew I’d be beaten if I was caught, but nothing was as important as getting to Myrddin.
I reached the familiar door and slipped inside. He lay on his simple pallet beneath the window casement, but his eyes were open in the moonlight. They sparkled like dew on the grass, as did the sweat that dampened his hairline. His hand lay against his cheek, searching for the phantom wound.
“What is it?” I breathed, my heart still pounding as if it had never pumped before. “I had a nightmare about you.”
He sat up, his body shaking, and I pulled the blanket up over his shoulders as tremors wracked him. He gripped the cover with one hand and took mine in his other. It was not a fit, I knew, but an icy chill stole over me. “I had a vision.”
“It was you, was it not?” I forced the words out, even though they pained me to say them. “Trapped? Tortured?”
He nodded. I could bear it no longer, and flung myself into him, burying my face in his chest. He hesitated, but then his arms came around me, and I nearly gasped from relief, from knowing he was with me, warm and alive and safe.
“What does it mean?” I moaned.
“It is the future we see.”
I tilted my chin up to look at him, and he stared down into my face, one brow arched as if puzzling over a new plant he’d found while scavenging. “How is it that we see it together, raven? How is it that we are connected?”
“I love you.” The words, so sacred and yet sounding so simple, tumbled out. I did not care. Here in the dark, where there was no one else, the rest of the world seemed frozen, unimportant, and far, far away. Blaise, sleeping in the next room, was forgotten. I did not think of my grandfather and his plot to find me a husband, or of his threats to kill any man that stood in the way of that.
Only this moment between us mattered. Myrddin had to know that I thought of nothing but him, sought naught but his presence, heard only his voice with the pounding of my heart. It was bold and brash and dangerous, it was everything I wanted to be, my own true self, and I knew he understood that.
“I know,” he whispered. “And you should not.”
He tried to pull his hand away, yet I clung to it, my voice hardening. “Why do you say that? You are everything to me.”
“You speak of love, Gwendydd, and yet you have told me countless times how you long not for a husband, but for freedom.”
“You are my freedom. Do you not see? You, who have taught me healing and storytelling and magick. . .so many things. You are right—I did not know what I longed for until I met you, and then I understood.” I lifted my hand, daring to touch his cheek, and he allowed it. “This must be love, for it to seep so deeply into me, into my very soul.”
Softness settled into his gaze as he stared at me. “You are a poet, raven.” He teased, I knew, to turn the subject, but I would not be abashed.
“It frightened me, Myrddin. The dream. I cannot bear to be without you, or to have you hurt.”
“And yet there is no way to stop it, if it is my fate.” He gathered me against him and pushed us both up to our feet, shaking the blanket from his shoulders. He guided me toward the door but did not pull away, and I savored his closeness. “Come. You must go back to your chambers. If Brychan finds you here, or if someone sees us and informs him, he will kill us both.”
We shuffled in silence along the corridors, slipping past the sleepy guards undetected. When we came to my quarters, Myrddin placed his hands on my shoulders and looked at me sternly, as Betrys sometimes did when she preached her gospel of Jesus.
“Blaise has told me, Gwendydd, that unrest stirs in the land. The Cymry chieftains like your grandsire cannot quell it, and it will come to call here very soon. But these changes, all of them, no matter what they are, must unfold as they are meant to. We may never understand all that happens, but that is our challenge in life. And that includes whatever this vision may portend for me.”
I matched his seriousness with my own. “Whatever happens, we are meant to be together. I understand that much.”
His hand moved underneath my loosened hair, cupping the back of my head like a pillow, and his expression of wonder made me dizzy. “It is foolish and reckless, raven, but yes. I think I understand it as well.”
He left me standing there in a pool of moonlight, my mind spinning as the stars overhead, replaying his words over and over again to seal them permanently in my memory.
Look for Rose’s first novel, MERLYN’S RAVEN, coming April 17, 2012 from Soul Mate Publishing.
About the Author:
Rose Vanden Eynden has always believed in magic, which probably explains how she is able to be a writer as well as a wife, mother, medium, massage therapist, minister, and instructor. She resides in a suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband, twin teenaged sons, and a dachshund named after Rudyard Kipling. In her spare (!) time, she enjoys performing in live theatre, watching films, reading, and walking in the woods. An avid believer in a balanced life, she meditates and eats chocolate daily.
Rose’s books, available at all major bookstores:
SO YOU WANT TO BE A MEDIUM? A DOWN TO EARTH GUIDE
METATRON: INVOKING THE ANGEL OF GOD’S PRESENCE
ASK A MEDIUM: ANSWERS TO YOUR FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE SPIRIT WORLD
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