Once, in Keltia, a woman dared to wrest back from the Lord of Death himself the greatest treasure of all: her beloved mate . . .
It is a time when the star-kingdom of Keltia is plagued by the Firvolgi, an ancient alien race. Yet along with a problem, the gods have sent a solution: Athyn Cahanagh, born orphaned on a battlefield, becomes High Queen and drives the invaders out. Athyn--now known as Blackmantle--and the great bard Morric Douglas fall in love and wed, ascending the Keltic throne as king and queen. But the lovely, dissolute courtesan Amzalsunëa vows she would sooner kill her onetime lover Morric than see him with Athyn--and she keeps that vow.
But Athyn has sworn an oath too, one of love and vengeance. Taking the Low Road that only those mighty in magic may tread, she journeys to the Otherland, to find her lost lord and bring him home...
"A splendid tale."
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
Patricia Kennealy-Morrison was born in New York City and has lived there for most of her life. She is the author of The Keltiad; her novels include The Silver Branch and The Hedge of Mist. One of the first women rock critics, she was editor-in-chief of Jazz & Pop magazine, and as an advertising copywriter, a two-time Clio nominee.
In 1970 she married Jim Morrison, lead singer of The Doors; her memoir Strange Days: My Life With and Without Jim Morrison has been called "the first good book on Jim Morrison" (New York Daily News).
In 2021, to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of his death, she will publish Fireheart: The True "Lost Writings" of James Douglas Morrison, an extensively annotated collection of the many love letters, poems, songs and drawings Morrison left her.
She is a Dame of the Ordo Supremus Militaris Templi Hierosolymitani, a High Priestess in a Celtic pagan tradition and a member of Mensa. Blackmantle is her seventh Keltiad book; the next will be The Deer's Cry .Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that, as the scaffold sways the future, a romantic character upon the stage of action will sway more parts in the great drama than his--or hers'alone.
-- Davyth na hInclei, called Incleion
One of her earliest memories was of walking with her father--he was her fosterfather, not her sire, though how he had come to foster her she was yet too young to know, and never for all the years of his life or hers did she call him, or think of him as aught but "father"--across spring-green fields near their home on the planet Erinna.
They were bound on an errand of high importance: to choose a horse for her to have for her own, her first; or small-horse rather, her thin legs would have made no dint at all upon the girth of anything greater. She was perhaps six there or a little either side of it, and she could not remember a day when she could not ride, or was not at home amongst horses: a solemn child with long straight brown-red hair and eyes deep gray-green under a neat-cut glib; tall for her age, with promise of more height to come, round like a candle, but whip-thin. She had lived all her short life as a fostern among six brothers and sisters, not one of whom was the least kin to her by blood. But then that would have been the case for any Keltic child of her age, to be so fostered--though true it was also that few Keltic children were brought to it, as she had been, from the hour of their birth. Few other children had had such need to be; but this too she had not yet been given to know.
They lived in a sprawling stone maenor surrounded by the ancient elm trees that had given the place its name of Caerlaverock, which according to the dialect employed couldmean either "fort among elm trees" or "lark castle." Both were apposite: The towering elms with their rustling foliate crowns were home to shoals of the lovely soarers, and the family, seeing across the fields the singing spirals rise up to greet the dusk and dawn, could time its day by the comings and goings of the birds.
The house itself was big and comfortable, three-storied, with wings going back from the broad front, stepped gables and deep dormers in the tile roof, built in a time when defense was not so needful, mellow with years and ivy clothing alike its walls of warm red stone. The family's lands went on for miles; but the maenor stood proudly in its elm-grove in the midst of vast rolling grasslands, with mountains blue and far to the east and high rough hills much closer by, from which their holdings sloped down like a great grassy saucer to the edge of the sea.
They had lived always in that place, or so it seemed to her. They were farmers, horsebreeders; the Name of Archill had been renowned for centuries on Erinna for excellence inbloodstock. The beasts they raised were various, and to the child all beautiful in their own way--tall elegant creatures that moved as delicately as dancers and had temperaments to match, for lords and ladies to ride and race; tremendous gentle plowbeasts with huge feathered hoofs, bred for hill-farms massive as hills themselves; patient sturdy garrons and ponies little bigger than the giant wolfhounds raised on the Lanericks' farm that marched with their own lands upwith. Their nearest neighbor wag an Incomer, Nilos Marwin by name.
They did not see much of him; he was quiet, educated man, sparing of his presence, unlike to nearly all his kind in nearly all ways. The Keltic overlord of the district, Esmer Lennox, Earl of Connacht, seemed to a child even more remote, as distant as a god, as the lost monarch. Fairer than any, and better than almost all, he was caring and concerned for the many kindreds that looked to him under the old brehon laws. He was scrupulously polite to the Incomers in his ancient domain, who for their part, and for what they deemed good cause, called him Velenax, a word that means in their tongue "wild boar," and gave him wide respectful berth. As for the Clann Archill, they did not much more often have to do with him than the Incomers did, or he with them, though her sister, Sulior said the Earl and their father were old battle-comrades, and that she, Athyn, had been shown to him as art infant, upon her saining, so that the lord of Connacht might know his liegewoman for the future. She, of course, did not recall, and no other had ever spoken to her of it.
She caught now the scent of horses on the spring air, a warmsweet tang of hide and health, sweet and straw; the wind had
veered round to the southeast, over the Elmet plain. Then they came over a last small rise and were among the herds. The patiently cropping knot of horses nearest them were coldbloods--the fiery throughbreds were kept carefully apart--and among these were the garrons from which they had come to choose.
Solid-boned, hard as iron, lacking the flair or the fineness of the better-bred animals, the garrons were affectionate as hounds, possessed of no chancy temper'in all ways unlike the irritable little ponies from whom she had learned to ride almost before she could walk. As her dignity and saddlecraft alike'on both of which she prided herself'were too advanced by now for those bad-tempered thrawn little creatures, she had insisted on a garron or nothing. She had been so fierce upon it, indeed, that at last her doubtful mother had given in, though not without dire warnings. Even her father, she knew, thought privately that she had over chosen herself, and that there would be tears before supper.
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