Today on The Maze, I am excited to announce the release — after a whopping seventeen years in the making — of the latest installment in the Dragon's Dove Chronicles series, Raging Sea!
|Kim Iverson Headlee with the paperback
Artless selfie aside, I couldn't be more proud of this book, which features the coming-of-age story of my Lancelot character, Angusel.
Series: The Dragon's Dove Chronicles, book 3
Author: Kim Iverson Headlee
Genre: Epic Historical Fantasy (Arthurian Legends)
Publisher: Pendragon Cove Press
Print Publication Date: 02/01/2019 (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, BooksAMillion)
E-book Release Date: 03/11/2019 (Kindle Unlimited)
Pages/Words: 384 pages/100K words
Cover Designer: Natasha Brown
Outcast, clanless, and but a junior officer in Arthur the Pendragon’s army, Angusel struggles to rebuild the life stolen from him through betrayal by the person he had held most dear. His legion allegiance thrusts him onto the campaign trail as one of Arthur’s forward scouts, stalking Angli troops and being among the first to clash with these vicious enemies at every turn. But the odds loom high against him and his sword-brothers, and they will need a miracle just to survive.
Outcast, clanless, and dead to her family, Eileann struggles to rebuild the life stolen from her through the deaths of her husband and infant daughter by Angli treachery. She vows to thwart their violent plan to conquer her clan. But she is no warrior, she has no soldiers to command, and she will need a miracle just to survive.
How can one soldier make a difference? How can one woman save her kin and clan? In the crucible of combat, Angusel must surrender to the will of the gods, and Eileann must invoke divine power to forge the most dangerous warrior the world has ever known.
FOR THE first time in a year and a half, Angusel was returning home.
To his birthplace, he corrected himself. “Home” had become a barracks chamber.
He marveled that Stonn seemed to remember the lands surrounding Senaudon, tugging at the bit and prancing higher by the league. It took Angusel’s last mote of skill to keep his stallion from bolting down the path ahead of the Pendragon and Centurion Cato.
And why shouldn’t Stonn be eager? He had the comforts of a familiar stable awaiting him, not scorn.
Angusel straightened in the saddle, submerging his resentment. Whatever might happen, he would comport himself as one of Arthur’s soldiers, stoic and reserved.
That plan worked until the troop rode to within hailing distance of Senaudon’s gate tower.
His mother chanced to be standing on the battlements, talking to Saigarmor, the guard captain. As Centurion Cato identified the troop, Alayna’s face clouded. She had to resent the Breatanach occupation force—swelled tenfold for the second time in as many years by the soldiers being staged for Angalaranach action—but it seemed to Angusel that her scowl deepened when she made eye contact with him.
Angusel squared his shoulders and looked straight ahead as he’d been drilled countless times to do, thankful for the military protocol to mask the wound rending his heart.
Peripheral vision told him that Alayna had departed the battlements, leaving Saigarmor to act on her behalf in completing the welcome.
Arthur dispatched a soldier to find the Comitissa Britanniam and ordered First Ala to dismount and lead their horses to the staging area’s picket lines while he wheeled Macsen about to join his family’s litter.
The cavalry troop hadn’t advanced a score of paces when Alayna appeared, mounted, from through the gate and cantered straight up to the Pendragon.
“What is he doing here?” Angusel had never heard her sound so furious, and the pit in his gut confirmed that he was the he she had meant. He kept his gaze trained forward as he clenched Stonn’s reins, mindful not to drag on them and hurt his horse’s mouth. The heat in his cheeks and the sweat coursing down his back he did his best to ignore. “What gives you the right to violate Caledonach customs with such blatant disregard?” she demanded in Caledonaiche.
Arthur gave her a long, cool appraisal. “My soldiers are here upon my orders,” he answered her, wielding an improved Caledonaiche accent. “All of them. If you have a quarrel, it is with me and no one else. Not even my wife. We can settle this quarrel, you and me, in the nearest combat ring and to the death, if that is your wish.”
“My wish? You don’t give a bloody damn about what I wish. I’ll wager you can’t guess what I wish!”
“That you had never underestimated me in the Battle of Abar-Gleann?”
Angusel heard the undercurrent of humor in the Pendragon’s voice and pursed his lips to contain the smirk.
Alayna uttered a frustrated growl. As she reined her horse about, her frustration yielded to pity. Angusel risked a glance in that direction. Arthur’s sister and her children were peering out from between the curtains of their litter, and the traveling had heightened the worry and sadness on their faces.
“Your kin?” Alayna asked Arthur.
He confirmed her guess. “Their home is under siege. They shall be staying in the encampment with Gyan and me until it’s safe for them to return. We’ll not trouble you any further than we must.”
“Rubbish.” That won her a surprised look from Arthur. Angusel’s eyebrows raised too, but he flattened them before she could notice. “As you say, my quarrel is with you alone. If you take your kin to war, they will need a troop to guard them—soldiers who would be of greater use in stopping the Angalaranach threat.” The pity dominating her face softened into compassion. “They look as if they could stand a spot of comfort, poor dears. They may shelter inside my fortress for as long as is needful.”
Arthur regarded Angusel’s mother long enough to have made her son squirm. Alayna stood resolute.
“Thank you, Chieftainess Alayna,” said the Pendragon. “I shall not forget your kindness.”
“I shall not permit you to, Artyr.”
Angusel feared she might embarrass him by flirting harder than the coy grin she slid Arthur while uttering the Caledonach form of his name, but she took her leave and nudged her mount over to introduce herself to Lady Annamar and her children. After a brief exchange, which ended with Annamar expressing profuse thanks, Alayna instructed the litter’s driver to follow her through the gates.
Alayna’s son felt his chest swell because of her choices.
Before First Ala could resume course toward the picket lines, a figure emerged from the maze of tents and storage structures.
“Gyan? What has happened?” Arthur asked in Breatanaiche when she had walked close enough that he could keep his voice low.
Angusel studied Stonn’s black mane, waving off the occasional fly, but he was too close to avoid hearing their conversation.
“Colgrim sent a force to attack a ferry port village belonging to Clan Tarsuinn,” she said, also in Breatanaiche.
“A raid?” asked the Pendragon.
“Far bigger, though exact numbers are unknown. The clan”—she sucked in a long breath—“Chieftain Rionnach and his men repelled them, and most of the Angalaranach survivors escaped, but…”
Angusel dared to glance up. Her pursed lips couldn’t conquer the quiver of her chin, and the Pendragon had leaned his face close to hers.
“Mo laochag,” Arthur whispered, “let’s finish this in private.”
She blinked and touched her consort’s cheek guard. “My headquarters tent, mo laochan.”
Their innocent intimacy tore Angusel’s heart. Keeping Stonn’s reins slack, he clenched them till his fists cramped. The pain restored a dollop of reason. He forced his hands to relax, berating himself.
The Pendragon watched his wife’s departure before redirecting his attention toward First Ala. He moved his head in a slow sweep. “Soldier Gawain,” he said, “front and center.”
Gawain led Arddwyn out of formation to approach his uncle and war-chieftain, whom he saluted.
“Change of plans, men,” Arthur said primarily to Centurion Cato, though in a tone that carried to the ala. “I need a squad to scout ahead of the legion. Cato, select fifteen to twenty men from the First who are the most adept at fighting on foot. Your horses will not be crossing the Fiorth. Begin the mission by riding to Chieftain Rionnach’s stronghold to learn what he knows about the Angli and to seek his assistance in moving the infantry cohorts across Clan Tarsuinn territory. I designate you as my emissary. Optio Ainchis Sàl can serve as your translator. I shall dispatch further orders depending upon your report of Rionnach’s response. You depart at dawn.” Arthur glanced at the men, appearing to make eye contact with several of them. “The rest of First Ala shall remain here with the Horse Cohort under the direct command of Prefect Peredur.”
Angusel’s disappointment surged as he noted that the Pendragon expected the scouts to leave their horses on the firth’s north bank for the most perilous part of their mission—as well as Arthur’s implication that he intended to leave the cavalry in reserve at Senaudon—but he knew better than to openly disagree with the army’s war-chieftain.
And he knew better than to hope that Centurion Cato would select Drustanus as one of the advance scouts. He offered a swift, silent prayer that his friend would survive whatever the gods had in store for the First.
Centurion Cato saluted and made as if to reply, but the Pendragon raised a finger and shifted his gaze toward his sister’s son. “Soldier Gawain, since of all men in First Ala you know Dunpeldyr’s lands best, I promote you to the rank of optio and charge you with walking point to keep the scout squad clear of Angli patrols. Choose between one and three men to accompany you.”
“Ainchis Sàl.” Gawain grinned at Angusel. “He can be as annoying as that itch you can’t ever reach, but his stout heart and clear eyes and strong arms are all the help I’ll need.”
“The unit’s Caledonian translator?” Arthur knit his eyebrows. “It could put the mission at risk should he get injured or killed.”
While Angusel mulled whether he could get away with speaking in his own defense, Gawain solved that problem for him. “When does an itch ever go away at the first scratch?” Gawain’s grin yielded to absolute seriousness. “Ainchis Sàl can handle himself, sir, and his parade gear displays the phalera to prove it.” He saluted Angusel. “Same as mine.”
Angusel couldn’t decide what astonished him more: Gawain’s declaration, or the fact that it had made Arthur smile.
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Stories make us greater.