Legends... oh, how I love them.
When I was a child, I was a Camelot nerd. While some kids were getting down to 70's music and attending rock concerts, I was listening to plain-song and Early Music ensembles complete with recorder, hurdy-gurdy, and psaltery. Stories about King Arthur were always at my fingertips, and my imagination ran wild with knights, ladies, and chivalry.
That's one of the reasons I'm delighted to share another excerpt from a guest novelist this week, for Rowena Kinread has written about one of Christendom's most extraordinary legends: St. Patrick. Though March h 17th has passed us by, Ireland's patron is such an iconic and legend of Irish lore, that his story transcends well-beyond his canonized Saint's Day. Take a moment to read about the book's plot below. This is one book that I'll be adding to my to-be-read list. How about you?
It's with great intrigue and excitement that I introduce Kinread's novel that tells the story of Patricius a saint with a very Romanized name.
Read on, everybody!
All About the Book
Patricius, a young man of Britannia, is taken from his home and family when Gaelic pirates attack his village. On his arrival in Ireland, he is sold as a slave to the cruel under-king of the Dalriada tribe in the north. Six years later, Patricius manages to escape. His journey takes him through France to Ravenna in Italy. His subsequent plans to return to Britannia are side-tracked when he finds himself accompanying several monks to the island monastery on Lerinus. His devotion to his faith, honed during his captivity, grows as he studies with the monks. Haunted by visions of the Gaels begging him to return to Ireland and share the word of God with them, Patricius gains support from Rome and his friends to return to the land of his captivity. His arrival is bitterly opposed by the druids, who have held power over the Irish kings for many years, and he and his companions must combat the druids to succeed in their God-given mission.
Excerpt from The Missionary
By Rowena Kinread
Eventually Patricius recognised that it was time to move on. His mission was to convert the whole of Hibernia and not just one province. He had left many clergymen in charge of small parishes, and the next spring he continued his journey with a few remaining men from the north-east to the northwest of the island.
The countryside was wildly beautiful. Walking atop rocky cliffs along the northern coastline, Patricius and his men passed steep canyons and high waterfalls. The sea was dotted full of islands, and seabirds cried out plaintively in the cool blue sky. Although the population was scarce, there was proof of their existence in the form of perpendicular wooden steps down craggy cliffs and a precipitous rope bridge across a ravine. They passed from Dalriadan territory onto a peninsula, named Inishowen, into the land of the Cenél nEógain, members of the tribe of the Northern Uí Néill.
The entrance to Inishowen was protected by a small group of hills. They were, in comparison to others, not very high, but on the western edge on the summit of the Greenan Mountain stood an imposing ringfort built from stone. It overbore the entire countryside, dominating the surrounding area.
Patricius and his companions stopped a few hundred paces away and gazed at the cashel.
“Those walls must be at least five metres high,” Robertus guessed. “And just look at the size of the fort! How wide do you think it is?”
“About twenty metres? Definitely the largest building I’ve seen on Hibernia yet, and made of stone too. It looks solid.”
“The community must be quite large. Plenty of heathens to teach about Christ.”
“Yes, let us go and see how they receive us.”
Patricius asked three men to stay where they were, in a coppice, and should he and the other men not return by nightfall, to return to Antrim for help. Patricius, Robertus and five monks followed an ancient path that led to the summit of Greenan Mountain, between two ledges of natural rock. Dark grey clouds gathered in the sky and crows screeched and cawed from the treetops. For the first time in many years, Patricius felt his stomach fluttering.
“Is it just me,” Robertus asked, “or do you also feel some sort of foreboding?”
“I feel as if we’re being watched,” the youngest monk in the group, a man called Chad, whispered almost inaudibly with a tremor in his voice.
“It is unusually quiet,” another monk murmured.
“Now you say it, I notice it too,” Robertus said, putting his feet down softly. “There should be more noise, people working.”
“I’m glad it’s not dark,” a third monk spoke. “It’s a bit eerie even in daytime.” He shuddered and grasped Chad’s hand before continuing up the path.
“Don’t be afraid, trust in the Lord,” Patricius said, sounding braver than he felt.
The cashel was surrounded by three concentric ramparts. The ramparts were made of earth and stone, and followed the natural form of the hill, with an irregular circular pattern. They ascended above each other, leaning slightly inwards and creating levelled terraces. From below, Patricius and his men could not see inside the hillfort. A solid stone wall blocked any view from their eyesight. The path began to dwindle in its width and curved slightly to the right. They walked slowly, in a single file, on their alert.
The barrage came so suddenly, they didn’t stand a chance of reacting. Apparently out of nowhere, twenty armed warriors sped around the corner and overpowered the seven men within minutes. The men were seized, tied in ropes and their belongings taken from them. Then they were chained together and led into the cashel.
In single file they were pushed and jostled along narrow corridors hewn out of rock. Water seeped down rocky crevices and the temperature became icy. Daylight disintegrated. Patricius up front, they were shoved up stone steps and along dark passages until finally the space widened out, and they were ushered into a large hall with a high ceiling. At the end of the hall sat the tribal king on a throne of rock, and circled around him were thirty druids.
Patricius’ heart sank. He studied the druids and recognised a few from Antrim. They stood around the king in their white robes, their hair shaved from ear to ear, chewing their thumbnails and chanting curses. The king raised him arms to silence them.
All About Rowena
Rowena Kinread grew up in Ripon, Yorkshire. After leaving school she started working for Lufthansa in Stuttgart. There she met her future husband whom she married in Ripon. After raising 3 children, she began working as a secretary in a private physiotherapy practice. At the same time, she started writing non-fiction books and magazine articles. Retirement finally brought the financial security to start writing full length fiction. A keen interest in history and her own family ancestry inspired her debut novel “The Missionary”, the dramatic story about the life of St.Patrick. A second book “The Scots of Dalriada” will be published this year. Ms. Kinread says that she welcomed retirement and all its wonderful opportunities to launch a third career.
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