*Camelot trumpet fanfare*
Today it is my great pleasure to host author Elijah David on the book tour for his novel Albion Academy. Eli and I first met through our mutual friend Mirriam Neal, but we didn't really 'connect' until a Facebook discussion on Arthurian Legend, during which his Albion series was mentioned. Today, we've come full circle, with Eli here to tell us what parts of Arthurian Legend have intrigued him the most over the years.
Thanks, Arielle, for having me here today.
Albion Academy features a variety of creatures and beings from myth and legend, from Djinn to Valkyries to mermaids to Faeries. But the foundational legend for the book and its sequels is the Matter of Britain—the story of King Arthur and his knights. The book started with an idea about Merlin Ambrosius, and even after I moved on from him, I still had a Merlin at the heart of the story: Merlin Pendragon (because why suffer from the burden of one legendary ancestor when you can have two?).
Over the years, I’ve made it no secret that Merlin Ambrosius —that is, the Merlin of legend—is one of my favorite fictional characters. Disney’s The Sword in the Stone first introduced me to this magical man (and indeed, he was one of few male magicians in the movies I saw as a child, something which vexed me greatly) and he has remained one of the primary attractions of Arthurian legend for me to this day.
For those of you who don’t know, Merlin as we know him today is a composite figure of at least two men, one a military and political figure (Ambrosius) and one a prophet or madman of the wilds (Myrddin or Merlin). When Geoffrey of Monmouth penned his pseudohistorical History of the Kings of Britain, he combined these two figures and made his own contributions to both Merlin’s and Arthur’s stories. In the oldest stories, Merlin is a figure of mystery and danger, much akin to the Fae who populate the legend of the Celts. He is both wise and mad, powerful and shifty (not unlike Merlin’s older alter ego Droon on the BBC series). But while Merlin’s roots are wild, I’ve always taken the view that he is more like the portrayals from Disney, Hallmark, and T.H. White—beneficent, if a little unhinged at times, and always holding his country’s (and his student’s) best interests at heart. The aid he offers to Uther in seducing Arthur’s mother has never made sense to me in any iteration; it always seems against Merlin’s character, the same way Arthur’s slaughter of the May Day babies has always seemed out of character. (Incidentally, these two events are addressed at a later point in the Albion books, with at least one character attempting to “set the record straight”.)
But while Merlin is the center of my own Arthurian obsession, he is by no means the sole star in the constellation. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight; Mordred and his arc of deception, manipulation, and betrayal; Morgana le Fay (regardless of whether she’s related to Arthur); and the Fisher King and his connection to the Holy Grail (to name just a few) all make their mark on me, my storytelling, and the Albion Quartet. The Knights of the Round Table, Gawain among them, become an integral part of the story as well as the mythos of the series; Mordred is a full-fledged antagonist with his own agenda; Morgana—well, I won’t say much about her for fear of spoilers; and the Holy Grail’s existence and appearance are touched on at some point in the story. The prospect of Arthur returning to rule in Albion’s greatest need has also fascinated me. I think Gargoyles did a fine job with this idea during its Avalon arc, though I’ve always wanted there to be a continuation of the series that explored what Arthur did after he walks off the scene. We’ll see if the Once and Future King makes any appearances in Albion Academy’s sequels. I won’t say no, because characters like him tend to push their way in just to spite me.
As you can tell, the magical and villainous have attracted me most in Arthuriana. That’s probably due to my imbibing copious amounts of fairy tales, both Disney and otherwise, and having a mind and heart for fantasy and epic storytelling. If you can point me to a retelling of the Arthur stories that captures these characters and quests in a new light, I’m there in a heartbeat.
Are there any characters, quests, or conflicts in the Arthurian legends that keep you coming back for more? I’d love to hear about them!
Thank you, Eli! You can find out more about Elijah David and his books on his blog: Inexhaustible Inspiration.
Now, take a look at this shiny cover.
Is a Djinni just a trickster? Can a wizard only learn magic? Must a Valkyrie always ferry the dead?
For Mortimer, Merlin, and Bryn, it seems the fates have already written the ends of their stories. When Mortimer asks unorthodox questions, the Djinni Elders exile him to a human school of magic—Albion Academy. Merlin's friendship with a mortal only increases his mother's determination for him to live up to the heritage of his ancestors. And Bryn's prophetic sisters outright declare that her fate is tethered to Mortimer, Merlin, and the mysterious door in the school's basement.
As the three of them struggle against the constraints of their families' expectations, they find themselves inexorably drawn into a conflict that encompasses rogue Faeries, dangerous mortals, and sorcerers hidden in Albion Academy itself. Defying their fates might be the only way they survive their first year at . . .
Albion Academy is available from Amazon in both PAPERBACK and KINDLE format.
Valkyries, Djinni AND
Arthurian Legend? Sounds like a win-win to me!