Author Anna Elliott has just released her second novel in her Isolde and Trystan trilogy, this one called Dark Moon of Avalon. I recently read this book and reviewed it here, and I have found that she breathes magical creativity into an ancient Arthurian-inspired tale. Book one was Twilight of Avalon, and I reviewed that here last year and enjoyed it so much that I named it one of my favorites of 2009. Anna also visited The Burton Review last year with a guest post, which you can read here.
It is with honor that I welcome Anna Elliott to The Burton Review with the following guest post. Read further for your chance to win your own copy of Dark Moon of Avalon.
Dark Moon of Avalon takes place in the shadow of King Arthur's Britain, during the mid 6th century, when invading Saxon armies were increasingly defeating Britain's forces and taking over Britain's lands. My Isolde is the daughter of Modred, great villain of the Arthurian cycle of tales. And she has lost everything, her old life, her family, her home, have all been destroyed by the constant battles and political intrigue.
My Isolde is also a healer, working with Britain's wounded soldiers. She doesn't yet know how she herself can find the healing she offers others every day. But she desperately needs to believe that recovery from trauma is possible, and so she throws herself passionately into her mission as a healer.
As you might expect, Isolde's passion for the healing craft sent me scurrying for the research books. I read medieval herbals and compilations of the folk remedies common to the British isles; I pored over Roman surgical texts. And I was absolutely fascinated to discover just how sophisticated a Dark Age healer like Isolde could have been.
Certainly our modern knowledge of germs and bacteria revolutionized the medical profession, as has anesthesia and modern surgical theaters. But for all that, medical practice in the Dark Ages was not as crude or as brutal as one might imagine. One ancient surgical technique--that Isolde herself uses to conduct an amputation in Dark Moon of Avalon--was a device called a 'soporific sponge.' Texts on the soporific sponge survive from as early as the 9th century, and direct the healer to soak a pad or sponge with black nightshade, hyoscyamus (henbane), the juice of hemlock, the juice of leaves of mandragora, and several other mild narcotics. The sponge was then held beneath the patient's nose during surgery, so that breathing its fumes would keep the patient unconscious.
In Dark Moon of Avalon, Isolde and Trystan are dispatched on a diplomatic mission through unstable and warring lands to persuade rulers of the smaller kingdoms surrounding Britain to join forces to protect the throne. Isolde's skills as a healer are more than once all that stands between success and failure of their mission. Isolde's greatest test as a healer, though, comes when she is faced with the fear that she may not be able to save the wounded man who matters to her most of all. And the most rewarding part of writing Dark Moon of Avalon for me was watching her find the courage to face that fear, and through it find the courage to also heal her own wounded heart.
Brought together under dire circumstances, Trystan and Isolde must confront their growing love for each other and face a battle that will test the strength of their will, their hearts, and the lives of all those in Britain.
To celebrate the release of Dark Moon of Avalon, I'm offering a free prequel short story, Dawn of Avalon, available for free download on my website here: http://www.annaelliottbooks.com/dawn.php
Dawn of Avalon.
A stand-alone story from the universe of Anna Elliott's Twilight of Avalon.
Please visit Anna's website here.
To enter for your own copy of Dark Moon of Avalon, please comment here telling me what Arthurian-styled stories you have heard, seen or read. Do you have a favorite telling? Please leave me your email address.