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Text copyright 1999-2013, Kim Headlee

 

INTERLUDES

 

October, 1999


Featured Author: Kim Headlee

 

Dastardly villains. Distressed damsels. Dauntless knights.

Who among us can look at ourselves in the mirror and say, honestly, that we never have been touched by such tales of peril and courage and sacrificial love? I must confess that this type of romance has always held a special place in my heart.

In fact, the mythos of Camelot captured me at the tender age of seven when I got my first eyeful of the epic tale in all its wide-screen Technicolor glory. The two things I recall most vividly from that viewing were Guinevere's exotic beauty, and the poignant drama of the knights defiantly riding their horses on top of the Round Table to herald the fellowship's destruction while their king watches in helpless anguish.

Two years later, I began crafting my own versions of the timeless tale. Those earliest stories are lost, but the desire to keep writing never dimmed.

This desire soon was supplemented by the passion to research who "the real Arthur" may have been. When I was in high school, I learned that the Camelot of Hollywood that had so entranced me was the product of medieval influences, such as Sir Thomas Malory's 15th-century classic, Le Morte D'Arthur -- and was analogous to portraying Christopher Columbus as having discovered America in 1992! Simultaneously, I was introduced to Mary Stewart's richly detailed "Merlin Trilogy" (The Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hills, and The Last Enchantment), which transported Arthur and his court back a millennium earlier than the setting depicted in Malory's tome.

Stewart's Dark-Age Arthurian world, my heart was swift to tell me even if the research never can provide conclusive proof, was the key to finding the Camelot for which I had been questing.

And yet, as I devoured fiction and non-fiction alike to learn about the Dark Ages and its denizens whose exploits may have provided the kernel of the legends we know today, I found my focus drawn toward "the real Guinevere." What sort of woman could inspire heroic sagas spanning fifteen centuries, depicting her as earning, by turns, equally intense devotion and abhorrence? What sort of woman could ignite the passions of the preeminent men of her day? What sort of woman could rule at her husband's side, not as his pawn but his equal, to help him lay the foundation of one of the greatest empires the world has ever known?

This woman springs to life from the pages of Dawnflight. My Guinevere, Gyanhumara ("Gyan" to her family and friends) -- a name of my invention based on the most ancient form of her name -- is neither goddess nor harridan but, nevertheless, is a woman of towering strengths and humbling weaknesses. A woman who is as compassionate to kin and clan as she is ruthless toward her enemies. A woman driven to balance the demands of duty against the ecstasies of love.

As implied by the subtitle, my "Legend of Guinevere" concentrates on Gyan's story -- though not always through her eyes. Such a woman as Gyan, a ruler in her own right and as likely to wield her sword as her tongue to solve disputes, is a natural magnet for a spectrum of characters, from those who prove to be her staunchest allies to those fated to become her bitterest enemies. No one who meets her can remain neutral about her.

This is most readily apparent during Gyan's introduction to Arthur, who in Dawnflight is not a nobleman but commander-in-chief of the standing army. But his vision extends far beyond the battlefield. He hopes one day to retire his banner of war to unite friend and foe alike under the banner of peace, and from the start, he sees Gyan as the woman who can aid him in this cause. Since I believe the "real" Arthur-Guinevere relationship was built upon mutual love and respect, it was imperative that my Arthur be a man secure enough in his own strengths and abilities to accept Gyan for the woman she is.

For Gyanhumara is a woman who has a lot to learn and a lot to offer her soul mate, Arthur, as well as the rest of their world. And ours.

 

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