Delighted to welcome Nancy Jardine with an excerpt from her new book, Before Beltane (a prequel to the Celtic Fervour Series)
Publication Date: 29th April 2022 / 268 Pages
Before Beltane (Celtic Fervour Series) / By Nancy Jardine
Two lives. Two stories. One future
AD 71 Northern Britannia
At the Islet of the Priestesses, acolyte Nara greets each new day eager to heal the people at Tarras Hillfort. Weapon training is a guilty pleasure, but she is devastated when she is unexpectedly denied the final rites of an initiated priestess. A shocking new future beckons for Princess Nara of the Selgovae…
In the aftermath of civil war across Brigantia, Lorcan of Garrigill’s promotion of King Venutius is fraught with danger. Potential invasion by Roman legions from the south makes an unstable situation even worse. When Lorcan meets the Druid Maran, the future foretold for him is as enthralling as it is horrifying…
Meet Nara and Lorcan before their tumultuous meeting of each other in The Beltane Choice, Book 1 of the acclaimed Celtic Fervour Series.
An Excerpt from Before Beltane:
Travelling with the Druid.
While Lorcan was working out the most diplomatic reply, the elder’s gaze shifted to peer across the fireside. A darkness descended across the eyebrows before the old man hawked up some thick spittle which he spat onto the logs in front of him. The following words were bitter, almost stripping the bark from the logs that awaited being added to the fire.
“There are some young Brigante warriors in this room who have no patience at all, and no proper concept of trust.” Disgust dripped from every word the elder grated out.
Lorcan could see that it was not Maran, the druid, who was the focus of the elder’s attention but the newcomer named Bradwr. Those around the fireside were drawn to attention when Chief Nudd’s voice level increased almost to a shout.
“Bradwr. Now you have eaten, I want to know what delayed your return for so long.” Nudd demanded of his warrior, his taut jawline indicating extreme displeasure. “You must have been at King Venutius’ hearth at the same time as the druid and Lorcan of Garrigill.”
Lorcan felt the chief’s gaze seek him out over the fireside, an imperious finger pointing in his direction. “You do not have the excuse of visiting villages along the route as they did, Bradwr. So what detained you?” Chief Nudd was persistent, his intent focus demanding complete attention from his warrior.
Lorcan studied Bradwr. He did not remember having seen the man at Stanwick, but in all fairness Nudd maybe did not realise just how many men congregated around the king’s dwelling. And few were allowed to be at Venutius’ hearth at the same time. “King Venutius gave me a task to do before I came home.” Bradwr’s tone was truculent.
Lorcan noted the man could not meet the chief’s gaze properly, Bradwr’s head turning aside as he found a place to put down his empty bowl at the fireside. A gesture that was both fidgety and discourteous.
“Did he now?” Nudd’s unimpressed and sarcastic tones drew even more of Lorcan’s attention. Something was definitely amiss.
“Did you perhaps visit a southern Brigante village?” Maran asked Bradwr. “Before returning here?”
Across the fire-glow, Lorcan noted the tiniest flare of anger across Bradwr’s eyes. The chief’s impatience was rising further. “Tell me where you have been!”
Lorcan watched Bradwr’s chin firm, the pursing of the warrior’s lips indicating his own growing annoyance, yet there was a careless arrogance that Lorcan felt was misplaced given the circumstances. “I headed southwards.” Bradwr’s answer was brief and unrepentant.
It did nothing to dissipate his chief’s anger. Nudd’s chin jerked upwards to stare at the junction of the beams of his roundhouse, exasperation and other emotions causing him to smash his beaker down onto the floor rushes without a care of who might be hurt by it.
Maran probed further, his tone insistent, though Lorcan could see it was supremely controlled. “Did the king order you to inform one particularly important man about the next Beltane feast that is being organised at Stanwick?”
“What?” Bradwr’s instinctive question spilled out, the first signs of real panic flashing across his face. He sought out his chief rather than facing more of the druid’s questions. “What gives the druid the right to ask me such a question?”
Lorcan could see the tension that held Bradwr’s shoulders rigid, curled fists pressing against the spread of the warrior’s thighs. Maran continued as though the outburst had not happened. “Or perhaps King Venutius instructed you to take news …” There was a definite hesitation before the druid continued, his focus entirely on Bradwr. “…to others in the south that there would be a larger than usual Beltane gathering at the king’s dwelling?”
Lorcan observed the druid closely. There was something about Maran’s expression that was the angriest he had yet experienced. There was a determined edge to Maran’s tone he had not heard before, and something well-repressed about Maran’s posture. Chief Nudd’s anger was palpable when his piercing gaze dropped to focus entirely on Bradwr, his clenched teeth a terror in themselves. “What have you not told me, Bradwr?”
Bradwr flinched away from the stripping glare, the cornered look of a snared animal replacing his earlier arrogance, though he summoned enough courage to spit back. “Venutius’ Beltane gathering might well be a large one, but Maran is unlikely to be there!”
Maran jumped to his feet. Pointing across his neighbour’s head to Bradwr, his words were for the chief. “Your warrior, sitting right there, is a traitor. He has been to no Brigante village. His information was taken to the Roman Legate of the Legio IX.”
Bradwr leapt up to his feet, screaming, “Death to all of the druids!” Launching his fist beyond the seated figure at his knees, Bradwr’s well-honed eating blade was embedded in Maran’s upper arm before anyone could stop him. Bradwr’s screams continued as he drew his knife free for another assault. “The Romans will be better friends to us than that traitor Venutius!”
Lorcan was around the fireside in a blink, but others nearer the chief hauled Bradwr free of the knife hilt before more damage could be done to the druid. Bradwr wriggled and squirmed but the grip around him was impossible to break. The furious chief confronted Bradwr, chin to chin. “Traitorous scum. By your actions we can see you do not dispute the allegations of Maran, our druid messenger, who has faithfully brought us news for many, many seasons.”
Even though trapped, Bradwr continued to deride, “Roman rule is welcomed by many tribes to the south of us, and they now have a much finer life than we have. You have been foolish to resist Roman rule for so long.”
Nudd could no longer tolerate the conspirator in his midst. “Haul that scheming filth out of my dwelling, and summon all of my people right now so that they can witness his punishment outside!”
Nancy Jardine lives in the spectacular ‘Castle Country’ of Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Her main writing focus has, to date, been historical and time travel fiction set in Roman Britain, though she’s also published contemporary mystery novels with genealogy plots. If not writing, researching (an unending obsession), reading or gardening, her young grandchildren will probably be entertaining her, or she’ll be binge-watching historical films and series made for TV.
She loves signing/ selling her novels at local events and gives author presentations locally across Aberdeenshire. These are generally about her novels or with a focus on Ancient Roman Scotland, presented to groups large and small. Zoom sessions have been an entertaining alternative to presenting face-to-face events during, and since, the Covid 19 pandemic restrictions.
Current memberships are with the Historical Novel Society; Scottish Association of Writers; Federation of Writers Scotland, Romantic Novelists Association and the Alliance of Independent Authors. She’s self-published with the author co-operative Ocelot Press.
Social Media Links:
Website: www.nancyjardineauthor.com/ – Blog: http://nancyjardine.blogspot.co.uk – Twitter: https://twitter.com/nansjar – Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NancyJardinewrites/ – LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nancy-jardine-a919b03a/ – Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/nanjar/ – BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/nancy-jardine – Amazon Author Page: http://viewauthor.at/mybooksandnewspagehere – Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5139590.Nancy_Jardine
Thank you Nancy and good luck with the Blog Tour
@nansjar @maryanneyarde #HistoricalFiction #RomanEmpire #AncientWorld #BlogTour #CoffeePotBookClub