No one in 5th century Britain knows more secrets than master spy Marcus ap Iorwerth, and that makes him a dangerous man. It also makes him a hunted one. For nearly three decades he has manipulated stubborn, irascible kings and warlords in a quest to not only unite them against foreign invasion but to stop them from destroying each other as well. And along with his beloved wife Claerwen, he has followed a greater, even more perilous pursuit—to forge a clear path for the fulfillment of Merlin the Enchanter’s famed prophecy that one day a great king will take command, the king known as Arthur of the Britons.
Now, with Arthur at last on the brink of adulthood and already showing great promise as a leader, Marcus discovers that the emerging Christian church is gaining enough power to dangerously shift control of Britain. At the same time Claerwen, gifted with second sight, is plagued with strange dreams that connect inexplicable doom to both Arthur and a long lost grail sacred to Britain’s high kings.
As foreboding mounts, Marcus struggles to prevent the church from crushing Arthur’s chances of becoming an effective king. But how he goes about it sets up the very doom that Claerwen sees. Will she be able to stop him? Or will her visions send Marcus to his own doom as well?
"Marcus and Claerwen: Dark Age Dynamic Duo" by Kathleen Cunningham Guler
Master spy Marcus ap Iorwerth has had quite a life. He’s been a little crazy at times, but for a good purpose…umm…mostly, and he’s always said what he thinks straight up. Don’t be offended if he’s sometimes a little blunt—that’s just his nature. He’s usually true to the mark.
Marcus is the kind of guy who needs to set things right. And a lot of things needed to be set right in the fifth century: stubborn kings, corrupt noblemen and warlords, all squabbling with each other while turning a blind eye to barbaric, oppressive Anglo-Saxon land grabbers increasing their holdings. Not to say that Marcus couldn’t be a bit barbaric as well—he’s lopped off a few heads, swears, likes to drink a lot…
Never idle, he’s spent years trying to straighten up those stubborn noblemen and keep them out of trouble, or at least keep them from making things worse. The best part is they rarely realize who was doing the manipulation. Was it that monk? The farmer? Itinerant storyteller? Maybe the old white-haired beggar? Wait, no, Marcus has black hair. How did he do that? Little did they know he was not just a spy but a master of disguise as well. What a guy!
Claerwen, his elegant, ethereal wife, will say he’s absolutely incorruptible and loyal. To know this, she didn’t even need her gift (or curse) of second sight, or “fire in the head” as she calls it. She learned to trust it without question when it led her to Marcus after he’d been betrayed, imprisoned, tortured and left to die. From then on, she refused to stay home and wait for her hubby while he was out spying. Brave woman? Or just plain crazy?
Through the course of nearly three decades, they are also accused of murdering a high king, prove who really did it, discover Marcus had a son (by another woman), capture a rival of the next high king, get caught in battles, dodge revenge, get exiled in separate countries, discover Excalibur, mess around with a mysterious warrior called the Iron Hawk, lose family members, rediscover others, and come to terms with not only the losses but the horrifying effects of war. Whew!
And why do all this? The prophecy. They know a great king will come one day, a man called Arthur who will gather the Britons together, take back their country, and give their people peace and prosperity. Told by Myrddin Emrys—Merlin the Enchanter, who also has fire in the head—Marcus and Claerwen know the fire must be trusted. And with each step they take to ensure the prophecy is fulfilled, they find a piece of Macsen’s Treasure, the sacred symbols of the high kings. Will they find the last piece of the treasure for the day Arthur finally takes command?
Read A LAND BEYOND RAVENS to find out what happens next…
Novelist Kathleen Cunningham Guler is the author of the multi-award winning Macsen’s Treasure Series. Drawing on a long background in literature and history as well as her Welsh and Scottish heritage, she has published numerous articles, essays, reviews, short stories and poetry. The author is a member of the Historical Novel Society, the International Arthurian Society and participates in various writing organizations.