One only has to stand overlooking Tintagel Castle’s coastline in late November, when the tourists are gone and the aged stone fortifications and dwellings are your only company during frigid, dark gray weather just before nights hits, to feel close to whoever occupied the place 1,500 years ago.
I stood as near to the drop off to the rocks and surf below as I dared. The Celtic Sea hits the Cornish coast hard when its whipped up by storm winds. The place seemed perfect to include in a short flashback scene in The Lords of Powder to show the main character, Bradan’s, childhood during Dark Ages Britain.
“Could there be a rawer, bleaker place than the North Cornish Coast midwinter?” Bradan wonders.
This posting is part 4 of an ongoing series of brief expositions (meditations) about The Lords of Powder, my noir fantasy set mostly in 1978 Miami during the cocaine wars (Amazon link: https://amzn.to/3dRaHSV ). Bradan, took up smuggling, but got in way over his head with the police and cartels. The Lords of Powder is about him trying to use his limited magical skills and wits to save his humanity, his relationships, and his life.
As noted above, besides warm, tropical Miami, the novel has flashbacks to other times and other places important in Bradan’s history. These flashbacks also compliment the main storyline. Bradan is nearly immortal thanks to being Merlin’s apprentice during the days of King Arthur. So one flashback leaps back 15 centuries to the sea-side fortress of Tintagel in Britain. By legend, King Arthur was conceived there.
Tintagel has become rather touristy these days complete with a statue of a Dark Ages king (maybe representing Arthur). The statue is artistic, but one questions whether any sort of monument was needed beyond the strong, rude beauty of the place – and it’s history.
There are many interpretations about how much, if any, historical fact underlies stories of Arthur and Merlin. However, based on archeological excavations around Tintagel, it seems clear that this site could have been a center of political and mercantile activity during the fifth and sixth centuries when the historic Arthur and Merlin are supposed to have lived and Camelot might have existed.
Six-century Britain is an intriguing setting. Britain was once colonized by the Roman Empire, but the legions had long since departed when Arthur supposedly lived leaving chaos in their stead with large-scale population movements, invading barbarian tribes, and, despite it all, evidence of trade with distant parts of Europe and the Levant. A surprising amount of that trade appears to have reached Tintagel. In other words, it’s a perfect place for Bradan to get his start as Merlin and King Arthur’s protégée – also see my other books in this series, The Lords of Oblivion (Amazon link: https://amzn.to/3gByV57 ) and The Lords of Powder (Amazon link: https://amzn.to/3ewb6Ju ). And Tintagel and post-Roman Britain make for sharp contrasts with 1978 Miami – and some surprising similarities.
I’ll touch other on bits about The Lords of Powder in future posts.
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(Image by Darkmoon Art from Pixabay)