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9.19.2012

Glastonbury

Glastonbury
A Novel of the Holy Grail
by Donna Fletcher Crow

Have you ever wished history wasn't so dry and boring?  Well, Donna Fletcher Crow has brought it to life with Glastonbury.  

Travel back to the early days of England when a star in the East announced the birth of a king of great power.  More than thirty years pass when a darkness descends and a great shaking of the earth occurs that the Druid wisdom of old cannot explain.

Druid England waits for the sacrifice that will satisfy the gods for all times - the sacrifice of a great king.  When Joseph of Arimathea and eleven believers arrive in Britain seeking refuge from Roman persecution and to fulfill the Lord's commission the land is waiting to hear of the One who brought the way to everlasting life.

Glastonbury follows the descendants of Joseph of Arimathea through the centuries as Christianity struggles against the tides of darkness to bring light to the island nations that are Britain.   Discover the truth behind the legends and get to know Saint George and Saint Patrick.  Struggle against raiders as Britain fights for her identity as Rome falls to the Visigoths.  Be there when Arthur comes to power and accepts the sword Caliburnus from the Lady of the Lake.

 But throughout the holy isle of Avalon is central to the history of Christendom. From a druid holy place to the first Christian settlement to a monastery to the ruins of today.  As the history of Glastonbury is related by the last monk of Glastonbury - Austin Ringwode.

Glastonbury is the history book you wanted to have in high school history class!


Book Excerpt:

From Chapter Three
The Anointing of the King
Arthurian Britain
As on any night before battle, Arthurius slept but lightly and was up and armored well before first light. He sent Falin to see to Valere and climbed to the top of Camel Hill. He felt a strong desire within himself to see the sunrise, as if it might be the last he would see.
Arthurius sat with a chill predawn breeze ruffling the long tufts of spring grass around him and watched while the eastern sky reddened and the golden streaks heralding the rising sun broke beyond the edge of the world. He recalled the sunset he had watched on the Tor that long-past eve before setting out to prepare for the battle of Mount Badonicus. If this day ended in dark, would there be a sunrise to follow? Was the sunrise a sign of promise as God gave Noah the rainbow? Curious, he thought, that a long-ago sunset should have signaled the beginning of his reign, and he now felt within him the sunrise was a symbol of its end. It should be the other way around. Were all beginnings really endings and all endings really beginnings?
[Arthur is grievously wounded in battle and is taken to Glastonbury for last rites}
Baudwin and Gildas lay Arthurius in the boat with his broken head in Gwenhumara's lap and, towing the canoe behind them, they set out in the coracle for the Isle of Avalon. Mist rose across the marsh, and the setting sun turned all a gentle pink-tinged gray. Curlew and kestrel sang them on their way. When they reached the island, the sun had set, and no pink remained in the misted world; the Tor was shrouded from sight, and no more birdsong could be heard, but the chant of the monks at evening prayers bade them welcome. Arthurius was laid on a pile of softest furs in the best of the guest huts with a flickering candle to keep vigil.
Through the night the holy brothers sang prayers for the High King in the Old Church, and Baudwin and Gwenhumara sat by his side. The night was long, and yet not long enough for Gwenhumara sitting by the side of her husband-king who was there and yet was not there. Through the open window of the cell the night bird's call and the scent of earliest apple blossoms kept company with the prayers of those who watched. Gwenhumara's heart-prayer and soul-cry would not be stilled. Again and again her longing approached the throne of Heaven. She called upon her God to grant this, her one last request.
When at last through the small square opening the queen saw the Tor, gold-etched with the sun rising behind it, she knew her day had come. Even so the end was not yet. For with the dawn the king opened his eyes as if from natural sleep and spoke in a voice weak, but clear, "Gwenhumara, my heart's light, bide you with me."
"I will, lord of my heart; always I will." She shifted closer to his cot and held his hand. Then he turned his gaze from Gwenhumara to Caliburnus lying close beside him as it ever had since first it was given to him on that same misted island. "Baudwin, worthy one, Caliburnus of the cut steel has felled her last foe for Britain from my hand. Take her now and make return to the Lady of the Lake for the great prize with which she gifted me. And bid her pray for the soul of Arthurius."
"My lord…" Baudwin choked on his words.
"Na, na, my eques. By God's grace we have done what we set ourselves to do. And the doing was good. We have kept alive for a space the last glimmering flames of the old order. And it has been good. Perhaps on the other side of the dark that now closes over us, perhaps when men build a new order, the stories told of us will help them. And that will be good."
Baudwin protested, "But why must it be so? Why must the dark come?"
"We must go down into the dark just as the year does every twelve-month cycle at Samain. Every year the winter dark descends, but the spring lightness follows. So will it be for Britain. It grows cold; our wintertime approaches, but the spring of new birth will follow, and after that the bright glory of summer." None in the room could make answer, for fullness of heart.
Baudwin stood uneasily, clasping Caliburnus to his chest. Arthurius spoke with a ring of his old command in his voice, "Take the sword now, Baudwin, but tell no one when I am dead. Such knowledge would be a weapon for Cheldric. Say rather that I have gone away for healing, and that I will return when Britain has need of me."
Baudwin left the room, and a few minutes later his place at Arthurius's side was taken by Brother Gildas. "I will hear him confess if he will." The look that followed the words clearly suggested that Gwenhumara leave them alone.
"I will stay by his side."
In the end, it didn't matter, for although Arthurius still breathed, he had spoken his last. The priest leaned down and placed the tiniest crumb of the bread of Christ's body on the king's tongue. "Whoever eats this bread will live forever."
"Lord, have mercy." The queen's response was little more than a deep breath.
Gildas then pulled the stopper from a small vial of sweet-smelling oil and poured it over the king's head. "As Christ was anointed Priest, Prophet, and King, so may you live always as a member of His body, sharing the life everlasting in this world and the next."
The priest departed before the queen's response: "Into Your hands, Lord, I commend my spirit."
When Baudwin returned, Arthurius breathed no more. But as the eques turned to comfort the queen, he saw that she too had breathed her last. The smallest of gentle smiles was still on her lips that her prayer had been granted. "Bide with me," Arthurius had said. Faithful ever, she meant her "I will." So the great hollowed oak that had borne Arthurius and Gwenhumara to Avalon became their coffin, like the ancient royalty of the Celtic people who at their death had been put in ships to sail to the land of Avallach.
[Arthur and his Guenivere are laid to rest by the brothers on the Holy Isle of Avalon]
With the last shovelful Indract raised his hands over the grave. “If we believe that our Lord Jesus Christ died and rose again, God will bring forth with Him from the dead those also who have fallen asleep believing in Him at the last day, at the sound of the trumpet, when all shall rise.”
And the brothers responded, “I will praise You, Lord, for You have rescued me. I will praise You, for You have turned my sorrow into joy.”
“Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end, amen.”
As the monks turned to go, Brother Breden, youngest of their number and yet not so young anymore, said, “We are so few. Are we all that is left of Logres? Does the flame flicker so dimly?”
Gildas stopped still and, for once unfrowning, turned to his brothers. “I would speak to you in comfort the words of our long gone-away Archbishop Merlinus Ambrosius Dubricius who said, ‘The light was before the dark, righteousness before evil, grace before sin. God the Creator existed before Satan the destroyer. So will light outlive dark, so is righteousness stronger than evil, so will grace overcome sin.’ The darkness closes over us, my brothers, but the light will shine again. And this light— the shining of Logres— will be remembered on the other side of the dark.”
The brothers made their silent, brown-shadowed way up the path to the chanting of their nighttime prayers in the Old Church, leaving Baudwin alone by the grave of Arthurius High King and Gwenhumara High Queen. He sat on the evening dew-damp grass and brought from the soft golden doeskin bag on his shoulder the harp he had carried with him from Camel Hill.
A night thrush sang from the overhanging branch of a flowering apple tree, and he waited until her song was finished, for the bard would not stifle his sister. Then his fingers moved across the strings. “The Summer Kingdom has gone. It could not last upon this earth. It was but a vision, a foretaste of what is to come for those who love— for those who love Him who is the King above all High Kings. His Kingdom of Summer, of peace, and of love will come for all time.”
The words came out in a strange chanting to a random plucking of strings, not at all the flowing bardsong Baudwin was wont to make. Yet the words rang with conviction. They were the words he found in his heart, and he knew they were true. “But even so the end is not yet. The evil will not triumph forever. All that you did, my Arthurius, all that you lived for, my king, will rise again. It will live for generation unto generation. It will come again and again to each age with its own truth. Truth, like light, cannot die.
“It is given unto man— even such a man as you, my Arthurius— for you were but a man— once to die. In the end, all must die. But what you lived for, lives beyond and beyond. “The triumph will be ours.”
 Delve into this delightful book and discover the treasure of history and the quest for the Holy Grail.

I received a copy of this book in conjunction with the blog tour organized by Pump Up Your Book!

Available at Barnes and Noble or Amazon

Visit Donna Fletcher Crow's website