This is part 4 of my posts on how/why I came to write my modern fantasy, The Lords of the Summer Season (check the book out at Amazon link: https://amzn.to/2QcFhwQ ). Other installments will follow.
No fantasy story is complete without a vengeful villain or, in this case, two vengeful villains without morality. They oppose the (somewhat) moral Bradan at every turn – one of my story’s conceits is that Bradan and the villains are almost immortal, so it’s really a dual through history. Bradan crossed them in 6th century Britain and they haven’t forgotten, and now they’re pursuing him during San Francisco’s psychedelic period in the mid-1960s.
In The Lords of the Summer Season, the main antagonist, Van Newman, is a modern incarnation of Mordred, or, using the Welsh spelling as I do in the novel, Medraut. He’s variously described as Arthur’s bastard son and his killer at the battle of Camlann, but there are as many descriptions of him as there are Arthurian stories in the Early and High Medieval periods. To me, he seemed to have the amorality, ability to manipulate, and drive that would serve him well in the modern political arena and that’s how he appears in The Lords of the Summer Season. Readers interested in learning more about Arthurian legends are encouraged to start with Christopher Hibbert’s King Arthur. And for a wonderful travelogue visiting important British Dark Ages sites, Max Adams’s In the Land of Giants is recommended.
The story’s second villain is Gwyn ap Nudd, Welsh king of the Faerie Otherworld, Medraut’s sponsor, and leader of the Wild Hunt. Like Medraut, his role and character are variously described by sources, but he definitely wasn’t someone to get on the wrong side of since he wrenched out the souls of individuals who fell afoul of him. His henchmen, the Wild Hunt, were atavistic savagery incarnate, vision colliding with reality. Peter Nicolai Arbo’s painting The Wild Hunt of Odin, portrays the hunt luridly (see image above). Though Odin leads it in Arbo’s image, other legends say this is Gwyn’s pack. In my novel, the Wild Hunt is led by Gwyn and, among other things, serves as a metaphor for unbounded creativity run amok.
(painting above by Peter Nicolai Arbo, ‘The Wild Hunt of Odin’)