The Flamebearer Preface

This is a work of fiction. I have drawn from time-honored Celtic and medieval romances, and other western European mythologies, and while elements of these traditions permeate much of my writing, I have let my imagination weave a story which reflects my personal vision, rather than adhering to exalted legend or chronological fact. I do not claim to be a writer of historical fiction so much as a spellbinder, inviting the reader into a world where fantasy and reality gradually become indistinguishable, where the veil separating the ordinary world from the realm of Faerie disappears.

The drama unfolds against the backdrop of the Norman conquest of Wales, an effort which surprisingly lasted several hundred years. As French and English authority spread throughout the Celtic lands of Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, occupation and insurgency dominated the times. Lance and sword ruled the “marches” – the constantly shifting border regions dividing the established Anglo-Norman power structure from the untamed, (and possibly “ungovernable”) natives.

Many claimed the land itself, with its misty remoteness, its winds and its vast stretches of moorlands dotted with strange stone monuments to antiquity, bred anarchists and poets. Religious superstition, coupled with widespread belief in witchcraft, sorcery, and other sinister forces that threatened to undermine one’s faith and sanity permeated all of society, affecting common folk and nobility alike.

Where possible I have given Welsh (or least distinctly Celtic) names to my characters, and have chosen to use the native spellings, rather than the Anglicized versions. I’m pleased to provide a pronunciation guide for readers who are unfamiliar with this ancient and beautiful language.

This is primarily a love story, a personal quest undertaken by two idealized, yet deeply flawed and vulnerable characters. To risk entering the mysterious territory of passionate devotion, erotic intimacy, and emotional honesty is perhaps the greatest uncertainty either of them will ever face. In telling their story, I aim for the highest romantic ideal, while scrupulously observing the raw imperfections, doubts, fears, lusts, and complexities of an unfolding relationship.

Can enchanted soul love survive the thrilling yet perilous journey into the fires of intimacy, while the ordinary world seethes with violence, ignorance, inequality and greed? I imagine every lover hungers for such perfection, but so many forces align against its earthly attainment that we ultimately despair of finding it anywhere but between the pages of a romance novel. In the end, if we truly believe, perhaps we’ll find it within the fragile boundaries of our own beating hearts.