‘Whose child is he, Corwynal? Yours? Your father’s? Or is he the son of some man whose name you don’t know?’
Corwynal is the half-Caledonian son of the King of Lothian, guardian and tutor to his much younger half-brother, Trystan, who he secretly believes to be his own son. For years he’s kept him in Lothian to avert a dream he has of a challenge and a death. But when war comes to Lothian, Corwynal struggles to protect a boy desperate to win a name for himself as a warrior. Corwynal’s task becomes more difficult as Trystan begins to forge his own way in the world, an independence that ultimately results in Trystan accepting a challenge from The Morholt, a famous Scots champion, the meeting Corwynal has long had nightmares about. Can he stop what the Gods and fate have decreed? And how much is he prepared to sacrifice for the boy he believes to be his own son?
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‘The Morholt was my uncle,’ Yseult reminded Brangianne. ‘I’m his nearest kin so it’s my right and my duty. For the honour of my family I want revenge on the man who killed him.’
Brangianne, the Dark Swan of Dalriada, is sister to King Feargus and aunt to his daughter Yseult. The death of the Morholt has put her in an impossible situation as Feargus struggles for political survival and demands that she make an unpalatable choice. She flees to her old lands at Carnadail where she meets three shipwrecked men, a Caledonian, a badly hurt young Briton, and their Angle companion and, much to her own surprise, Brangianne finds love in her summer of freedom. But will that love survive Yseult’s need for vengeance? Indeed, will any of them survive when Dalriada finds itself facing an old enemy – an enemy only Corwynal and Trystan of Lothian can defeat?
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‘You can become the man you were supposed to be. You can become a warrior.’
That’s the promise made to Ferdiad, Fili to Dalriada and known as the Snake. But Ferdiad, in a confrontation with Corwynal, has lost a hand. Nevertheless he’s determined to destroy Corwynal as an equal, even if it means facing the demons of his past. Corwynal, meanwhile, has his own problems. Trystan has begun an affair with Yseult, now married to Trystan’s uncle, Marc of Galloway. Powerless to stop it, Corwynal is forced to watch the affair get out of hand. In the end he, Brangianne and the two lovers have to flee to the one place Corwynal doesn’t want to go – Atholl in Caledonia, where he knows he’ll face the Druid council to answer for for an old crime. Will he survive not only the druids’ sentence but Ferdiad’s long-planned revenge? And can he and Brangianne prevent Trystan and Yseult’s affair from turning into tragedy?
Read more about The Serpent in Spring.