Timeless Romance by Anna Elliott
Author Anna Elliott joins us today as the second author in our historical fiction guest blog tour. Anna is a long-time devotee of historical fiction and fantasy and is the author of Twilight of Avalon and Dark Moon of Avalon. These books make up the first two installments of the Twilight of Avalon trilogy. Visit her at www.annaelliottbooks.com.
Timeless Romance by Anna Elliott
Trystan and Isolde are one of the most famous pairs of lovers in legend or story. Lancelot and Gwenevere. Romeo and Juliet. Trystan and Isolde. I love the story of Trystan and Isolde, and have since I first encountered it in college. But in the most commonly retold Trystan and Isolde legends, Trystan and Isolde accidentally drink from a magical potion, and it's the potion which causes them to fall helplessly in love. This version of the story ends tragically, and in many ways, so it should: a love based on a magic potion can hardly be true love. And haven't we all discovered that chasing after a mere illusion of love leads to a broken heart?
But the earliest versions of the Trystan and Isolde legend haven't survived. The medieval written versions of the story are more than six hundred years later in time period than the oral traditions that eventually became the legend of Trystan and Isolde. And six hundred years is a lot of time for a legend to grow and change. In fact, there is a fragmentary and very early Welsh version of the Trystan and Isolde story that ends happily, with the lovers united.
In Dark Moon of Avalon, my retelling of the Trystan and Isolde story, I was interested in exploring what might have been the tiny kernel of truth at the root of the stories as we know them today. Dark Moon of Avalon takes place in the shadow of King Arthur's Britain, during the mid-6th century, when invading Saxon armies were increasingly defeating Britain's forces and taking over Britain's lands.
My Isolde is the daughter of Modred, great villain of the Arthurian cycle of tales. And she has lost everything, her old life, her family, her home, have all been destroyed by the constant battles and political intrigue. She sets out with her childhood friend and protector Trystan on a dangerous mission by boat, and--as in the original legend--it is on the journey
over water that their relationship starts to deepen and change. Isolde is also a healer, focused on caring for others day in and day out. And the true turning point in her relationship with Trystan comes when she is herself injured, bitten by a
poisonous snake, and so forced to allow Trystan to step into the role of healer and take care of her. I'd like to share a brief excerpt of the scene here, where Trystan and Isolde don't need a magical potion to fall in love, only the magic of the emotional bond between them.
His gold-brown hair was still damp with the rain, small droplets of rainwater still trapped on his eyelashes. The firelight gleamed on the lean, strong lines of his face, and his touch on her skin was warm and sure. And all at once, as their eyes met, Isolde felt something enter the room--something that crept in like sea fog and tightened her every nerve.
Isolde forced herself to say, "Trys, all this is my fault. I should have--"
She had to break off as a hot prickle of tears started again behind her eyes. Isolde blinked, ordering herself to stop. If she'd been careless enough to be bitten by the adder, she absolutely refused to dissolve now into tears.
Trystan must have seen, though--or else she looked even more ill ant pathetic than she'd thought--because he came to crouch down next to her. His hand moved as though he were about to smooth her hair back, but then he seemed to check himself and said, instead, "Your fault? That a snake bit you? You can't blame yourself. Besides, haven't you heard about an adder's bite being good luck?"
Isolde smiled unsteadily, raising a hand to scrub at her cheek--and tried not to wish he'd touch her, put an arm around her so that she could lean against him. "You just made that up. And stop being so nice to me--you'll make me feel sorry for myself."
I've always loved the story of Trystan and Isolde, and it was a pure joy for me to explore the roots of the legend, and immerse myself every day in the magic of their timeless romance. What about you? Who are your favorite lovers from legend or history? What's your favorite love story?
To celebrate the release of Dark Moon of Avalon, I'm offering a free prequel short story, Dawn of Avalon, available for free download on my website here: http://www.annaelliottbooks.com/dawn.php
He would become the most powerful wizard in the history of Britain--Merlin. She would become Britain's most storied sorceress--Morgan le Fay. But before they were legends, they were young. And they were lovers. Together, in the sunlight of one day long ago, they saved a kingdom.
Dawn of Avalon. A stand-alone story from the universe of Anna Elliott's Twilight of Avalon.