On the blog today, an excerpt from Hammer, a new release from Micheál Cladáin. Published January 2023 / 375 pages
Genonn’s tired and dreams of a remote roundhouse in the Cuala Mountains.
However, sudden rebellion in Roman Britain destroys that dream because the Elder Council task him with delivering Lorg Mór, the hammer of the Gods, to the tribes across the straits of Pwll Ceris. Despite being torn between a waning sense of duty and his desire to become a hermit, Genonn finally agrees to help.
When his daughter follows him into danger, it tests his resolve. He wants to do everything he can to see her back to Druid Island and her mother. This new test of will means he is once again conflicted between duty and desire. Ultimately, his sense of duty wins; is it the right decision? Has he done the right thing by relegating his daughter’s safety below his commitment to the clans?
Here’s an Excerpt:
Ireland, Southwest of Tara – CE 60 or 61
Genonn came awake with a start. His dreams had been fraught, but he could no longer remember any detail. Rubbing his hands over his eyes, he sat up in his cot and sighed as he threw off the foul-smelling hides, which had done nothing to prevent his night from being a cold one.
Cold and fruitless.
Besides the addition of the hammer, nothing much had changed. His boots beside the door were unrepaired because there was no tanner in the ráth. His robes on the bench beside them still had the same holes because instead of seeking a seamstress, he had wasted the night with Oengus drinking mead. His head felt as decrepit as his robes and boots, and his mouth felt like a badger’s sett tended to smell. Dry and full of the scruff used to create a nest.
Rubbing his shoulders, he rose and sought his clothes.
What happened to earning a crust and fixing your robes? A winter of cold and wet toes will be your death, bundún. Instead of telling a story and earning a little silver, he spent the night talking banalities with Oengus. They had not spoken about the incident. Neither of them was willing to admit it had happened. Genonn supposed the warrior would only talk about it if a question was asked directly. Genonn would not ask out of self-preservation; sure, asking would push Oengus over the lip of his self-built barrier, forcing him to react violently.
‘Too much mead,’ he said to the daub on the wattle walls.
Both mead and room had been paid for by Oengus, Genonn remembered. His purse might as well be as holey as his boots for all the silver he carried. Without the warrior, he would need to keep a tight belt until he could recite a tale and earn enough to pay for food and drink. He would also need to make enough for his passage to Ynys Môn. Silver was becoming the main driver behind his existence, which he loathed, hating what his life had become. He did not miss the hypocrisy of the moment.
So tired. But I must fulfil my pledge. Without honour, there is nothing.
Walking to Caer Leb to fulfil his pledge would not be easy. Oengus had said he would leave with the sun’s rising, so he would be no help.
Genonn could look forward to another day without breaking his fast. The Tuatha were cruel if they were controlling his fate. He was not sure. He had never been sure. He thought they would watch with grim smiles and take a hand only when it benefited them.
Sighing again, he stood, pulled his triús over his undershirt, and shimmied his way into tatty robes. It would be a long cold trek to the coast to take a ship for Caer Gybi and then a trek to Caer Leb, the other side of Ynys Môn, Druid Island. There was no use in delaying. He sat on the cot to pull on his boots, stood to tie his rope belt and only then turned to the hammer propped up beside the door.
Lorg Mór. An Dagda’s great club.
An ornately decorated wooden handle with an iron head. One side of the head was curved and pointed, and the other side was broad and flat. Both were chipped and dented from hard battles. More a hammer than a club, in truth. A tool of war meant to give life from one end and take it from the other. Genonn was unable to fathom how a weapon could give life, nor was he sure how much he believed in the tales of those sitting around firepits in hostels all over Ériu. It did not matter. Genonn did not understand how the Elder Council intended to use Lorg Mór; he did not care about old legends or their veracity. His heart was set on a roundhouse in the Cualu Mountains, where he could contemplate a life spent in servitude to the Council and the clans of the Five Kingdoms.
Micheál has been an author for many years. He studied Classics and developed a love of Greek and Roman culture through those studies. In particular, he loved their mythologies. As well as a classical education, bedtime stories consisted of tales read from a great tome of Greek Mythology, and Micheál was destined to become a storyteller from those times.
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