Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Stephen Lawhead - "Patrick"

In 2003 Lawhead published the novel Patrick: Son of Ireland, which follows the historical life of Saint Patrick (and was arguably a prequel of Byzantium, as it deals with the same order of monks, the Cele De). Set in an era of brutal conflict and turmoil, this epic adventure is the first novel to tell the full story of the slave who became a saint. In the summer of 405AD, Irish raiders attacked the western coast of Wales, carving a fiery swathe through the peaceful countryside. Among the survivors who are rounded up and taken back to Ireland is Succat: an impulsive sixteen-year-old son of a powerful Romano British family. Succat is sold as a slave and put to work tending sheep. Repeated escape attempts lead to ever more brutal and savage beatings, until he comes to the attention of Cormac, a young novice druid. The two strike up an unlikely friendship and, as Succat learns the ways of the Irish people. Once more he tries to escape, this time successfully, and returns to his home only to find his father's estate in ruins and sold off. He travels North and then off to Gaul where he joins the Roman Legion as a soldier, becomes a hero, suffers the the horrors of a plague-filled Rome; and thence back to Ireland, where he will embark on a mission for which his name will be remembered throughout history. Patrick is a gritty and unsentimental portrait of one of the Western world's great icons, featuring an accurate and compelling rendering of the historical period -- an era full of brutal conflict, adventure, turmoil, and visionary inspiration.

(I loved the Amazon review of the book - part of which I have pinched above for convenience - which had him married before leaving Ireland and being given his name Patrick in Ireland rather than in Italy... Did the reviewer read the book, I wonder).

STEPHEN R. LAWHEAD was born in America on July 2nd 1950 and is an internationally acclaimed author of mythic history and imaginative fiction. He has written over 22 novels and numerous children's and non-fiction books. His works include Byzantium and the series The Pendragon Cycle, The Celtic Crusades, and The Song of Albion. Lawhead (Steve to his friends) makes his home wherever in the world he happens to be and that has included Austria, the Pacific, Nebraska, and, since June 200, back in Oxford where he first lived in 1986, to do research for The Pendragon Cycle, a reinterpretation of the legend of King Arthur in a Celtic setting combined with elements of Atlantis.

His latest project is the 'King Raven trilogy - an authentic retelling of the Robin Hood legend. Lawhead's family also seem to have a talent for writing. Alice Slaikeu Lawhead co-wrote the Pilgrims Guide to the New Age and has written several works of non-fiction. His eldest son Ross Lawhead is co-author of the Hero! series. Stephen and Alice have one other son Drake Lawhead, to whom Stephen dedicated The Warlords of Nin, the second book in the Dragon King Trilogy.

Previously I have read his Pendragon cycle -
1. Taliesin (1987)
2. Merlin (1988)
3. Arthur (1989)
4. Pendragon (1994)
5. Grail (1997)

After a spell of ill health last year Lawhead is hopefully fully recovered and back to his writing.

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