Recently, I was contacted by Wisdom House Books, to participate in the blog tour of Ms. E. A. Haltom the author of Gwedonlyn’s Sword.
I posted my review of the book here.
So, if you want a quick overview before you read this “scene overview”, then you should definitely check that out!
One of my favourite scenes of the book is the part where Prior Thomas speaks to Gwendolyn about Religion and the Druids and heresies. I found that to be one of the most interesting parts of the entire book. The whole idea of religion and how it shaped the people, society that is, and Gwendolyn in this book fascinated me.
One of the quotes that grabbed my attention was this one:
“These ancient ones see all religions as different aspects of the same truth. For them, it is as if we are all on the edge of a wheel, seeking a way back to the center”
In the book this idea, that with religions you can never get the full image and each religion will only reveal a small part of the Divine (whether that be God or Nature or anything else), has always fascinated me, and the way it was presented in the book was so well written and so interesting to read.
When I got the chance to ask Ms. Haltom about the belief system in the book and how that has shaped Gwendolyn, she gave me a wonderful reply, that made it all the more interesting!
“The book reflects several belief systems. At the time of late 12th c. England, you had some competing worldviews that were really at odds with each other, much the same as we have today. The Christian church had not yet established itself as owning and shepherding its subjects’ lives from birth, through marriage, to death. These events, at the level of the general populace, still frequently took place without the participation or benediction of a local village priest. At the same time, folk beliefs and practices with ancient roots pre-dating the Church were also still very much alive and in use. At this time, the Church, while not comfortable with or condoning these practices, had also not yet begun a systematic effort to eliminate them. A third belief system reflected in the book comes in through the surviving Druids. With the exception of the Druids, each of the characters adhere more or less to one or more of these worldviews–which also seems to have been common at the time. Gwendolyn is somewhat unique, however, in that she rejects all of it. She doesn’t have a modern worldview to replace it with, which sometimes leaves her struggling to make sense of her experiences.
The book reflects this tension as historical fantasy. On the one hand I’ve stayed true to historical events and known historical characters and woven the story around them and what they were actually up to at that time. On the other hand, the Arthurian elements require an opening for magical possibilities. The historical record for this time is fairly detailed, but there are still significant gaps–shifted alliances for which no explanation has been found, coinciding deaths with no notation as to how or why. Into these gaps enters the story–and sometimes a little magic.”
To me, her reply made the whole genre of historical fiction all the more interesting. The really cool part is that, at the end of the book there is a whole section on historical information that relate to the book, so everything is just really well put together!
As I have said before the story is very well- woven in the book, and the fact that even in this one small scene, there is a historical background to back it up, lifts the whole story to another level. Not to mention, the last part of Ms. Haltom’s answer makes Gwendolyn a much more believable character in my opinion, much more palpable, which for me is a good thing!
Have you guys read the book? If yes, which one was your favourite scene?