The Strife of Camlann by Sean Poage ~ Book Tour & Giveaway 7/2 – 7/16

Fifteen Hundred Years Have Turned History Into Legend

The Strife of Camlann

The Arthurian Age Book 2

by Sean Poage

Genre: Arthurian Historical Fiction Adventure

Fifteen Hundred Years Have Turned History Into Legend

Arthur’s Men have returned to Britain to keep the peace between fractious allies. Gawain wants only to raise his family and forget the war, yet he carries a heavy burden: an oath to maintain a terrible lie.

But is it a lie?

Looming conflicts threaten more than any border or throne. The course of history, the future of the Britons, will be decided at Camlann.

The second book in The Arthurian Age series, The Strife of Camlann continues the story of King Arthur and his warriors. Returning from the war in Gaul, the Artoriani try to uphold Arthur’s goals and interests in Britain, as news of Arthur’s continuing triumphs across the sea come to Britain ceaselessly. But storms loom as internal divisions within Britain’s alliance of kingdoms are a greater threat than any external foe.

Meticulously researched, this story blends history and legend with just enough imagination to tie it all together into a story of Arthur and Britain in the time period between the Roman occupation and the rise of the English.

**July’s Feautured Title with Perseid Press! Get it On Sale for Only $2.99!**

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Rhian wished she had not been so eager to go with Gawain and join Gwenhwyfar’s court for the Conventus. Cair Cerin was a marvel, and the great market was a thrill to explore with Viviane. However, a shadow hung over everything. Despite the mild weather, tempers were short. The conference was two full days of argument, accusation, and obstinacy. Despite seven years with hardly a foreign raid, the fruits of Badon had yielded only brambles of discontent and weeds of discord.

Now Rhian picked at her dinner, lounging with a dozen other women on a semi-circular couch around a low table, in the Roman fashion. Two other such stibadia occupied the large, well-lit room. Aromatics burning in braziers mingled with the scent of cut flowers, perfumes, spices and food. It was a garish display of wealth.

The home belonged to the widow of a former magistrate from another city. She had moved to Cair Cerin years earlier when her town was abandoned. She offered her home as Gwenhwyfar’s residence during the Conventus and presented this banquet for the queen and the women of her entourage.

“I’m so bored with old people conversations,” Viviane whispered, whining. “And I hate eating like this.”

“Act as if you belong here,” Rhian whispered back, “and not out back with the servants.”

Tongues loosened by too much wine buzzed in conversation louder than the musicians. Naturally, discussions revolved around observations and speculation about political issues throughout Britain, as well as the most scandalous gossip. Rhian listened but said as little as possible. Gawain’s status made her a frequent target for ‘innocent’ questioning.

“Who is that?” A large, thickly painted woman pointed across the room to the main table. “I’ve not seen her before.”

“That’s Maglocunus’ wife,” said another.

“No, I’ve met his wife. That waif is not her.”

“Oh, ho! You haven’t heard?” said a third. She lowered her head and her voice. The others around the table leaned in. “She was murdered!”


“Oh, yes. Poisoned! But that’s not the most shocking . . .”


“That woman was married to Maglocunus’ nephew, who died mysteriously on a hunt with the king.”

“You aren’t suggesting . . .” the first woman said, wide-eyed.

“I only relate the whispers, but they say that woman convinced Maglocunus to kill her husband and marry her!”

Amid the gasps and twitters, Rhian kept herself carefully composed and did not engage. She had heard these rumours and more.

Another diner, scowling from the opposite end, said, “That is an utter slur, spread by Cuneglasus and his cronies, who wish to overthrow Maglocunus’ rightful pre-eminence.”

“Why, the real scandal is that Cuneglasus has cast out his own wife and takes the poor woman’s widowed sister to his bed!” said a matronly woman beside her.

“Oh, all these men will sleep with anything they can get their hands on,” another said. “Is it not true, Rhian, that Vortipor beds a girl he fosters, a little trollop from Iwerddon?”

“I know nothing of that,” Rhian said, squirming under the sudden attention and flashing a warning look at Viviane’s wide-eyed stare.

“Nothing? Your husband is one of his trusted warriors.”

“My husband often defends Demetia, but he is seldom at Vortipor’s court because of his duties to the Consilium.”

“The last year or so must have kept Gawain busy,” said the lady beside Rhian. “What with all the agitation and raiding.”

Rhian flashed her a grateful smile for changing the subject and said, “Yes, he is often away from his hall.”

“Maglocunus and Usai vie with Vortipor,” the first woman said. “Paguis on the verge of war with Linnuis. Now the Gododdin have joined the Consilium, and we will all likely be at war with Alt Clut and Nouant.”

“Oh, don’t be so dramatic,” said the woman across the table. “Dynfwal is wise enough not to risk war with the Consilium. He can still claim sovereignty over the Gododdin, even if all know it’s a farce.”

“And if only Vortipor would stop meddling in the affairs of his neighbours, there might be peaceful relations,” said the matronly woman.

“Vortipor and Maglocunus joined in fellowship might convince Cyngen to end his aggression.”

“Aggression?” a formerly silent woman in the group burst out. “Cyngen is trying to put a peaceful end to the constant thievery from the east!”

As an argument rose, Viviane said, “Mother, may I be excused? Where are the facilities?”

“Oh, certainly, dear,” Rhian said, scooting off the couch and taking her hand. “We will return shortly,” she said to the group.

“Must we return?” Viviane whispered as they walked out to the courtyard. “I really just wanted to leave.”

“I’m glad of the excuse to get away from that discussion, but it would be a grave insult to the queen if we left before her.”

“I wish we could sit at the queen’s table. No one would dare speak like that in front of her.”

Outside, pink and gold streaked the evening sky and shadows gathered between the ornately trimmed shrubs and along the courtyard walls. Bundles of twigs in tall fire-baskets brightened the main path through the garden. Rhian and Viviane wandered among the shrubs and potted flowers, enjoying the cooling evening when the doors to the residence opened in a burst of light and chatter. Half a dozen women followed Gwenhwyfar and her hostess into the courtyard.

Rhian and Viviane stood to the side as the queen and her entourage strolled along. One of the locals fawned over the queen, thanking her for the endowment to repair the city’s theatre. Gwenhwyfar stopped and smiled at Rhian.

“Ah, Rhian. Hello, Viviane. A fine garden, is it not?” The old widow, standing beside Gwenhwyfar, nearly glowed from the compliment. “Care to join us?”

There could be no thought to refusing, so Rhian and Viviane fell in where Gwenhwyfar directed them, on her left, earning Rhian an icy glare from Cwyllog, who had to take a step back.

Stopping beside a large earthen pot of yellow-flowering achillea, Gwenhwyfar said, “This colour matches your lovely dress, Rhian.”

“Thank you, my Queen. It’s made from the silk you gave me long ago.” Rhian blushed. “It took me years to have the courage to turn it into something.”

“I thought it might be,” Gwenhwyfar smiled. She examined the cuff. “I see you have mastered the embroidery.”

“You’re very kind, my Queen.”

“My, such restraint in waiting so long to make use of the queen’s gift, Rhian,” Cwyllog spoke up over Rhian’s shoulder with a smile that ended at her lips.

Rhian noted the veiled slight but only smiled, refusing the bait.

Gwenhwyfar turned away and continued along the path. In a light-hearted tone, she said, “Some are more careful than others with the gifts they receive.”

To what might that scarcely veiled jab at Cwyllog refer? Rhian wondered, uncomfortable with the sudden tension in the air.

“Speaking of gifts, when will Arthur return?” Cwyllog continued in her mild tone. “He is long overdue in providing the gift of an heir.”

Rhian gulped. Apparently, Cwyllog knows what Gwenhwyfar meant.

Gwenhwyfar’s step faltered, and she stopped at a fragrant bush with tiny mauve flowers. “I know not, Cwyllog, what God intends.” She pulled her hand gently across the fronds and breathed in the scent on her palm. She turned to Cwyllog and smiled. “But it must be comforting to know that Modred is busy planting heirs all across Britain.”

Cwyllog’s eyes widened, her lips compressed and, before the shock of the moment could fully register on those watching, her hand shot out across Gwenhwyfar’s face with a sharp smack that snapped the queen’s head to the side.

Rhian’s heart seemed to stop. Cwyllog slowly withdrew her hand, her face white, mouth fallen open, eyes now wide in fear.

Gwenhwyfar turned back to face Cwyllog, eyes burning, a red welt on her pale cheek. Her chest heaved, arms rigid at her sides, fingers splayed and trembling. Her lips parted, worked silently a moment, then she hissed, “Get thee gone. Cross my sight again and you will burn for treason.”

Cwyllog stepped back, composed herself, and spun on her heel. The women behind her parted, and she marched to the residence as if she had won some trivial argument. The only sound beyond the scuff of her shoes on the pavestones was the crackle of the burning twigs.

When Cwyllog disappeared through the doors, Gwenhwyfar took a deep breath and turned to her hostess. “It has been a fine evening, but I think I would like to rest, now.”

The matron bowed and escorted the queen back to the house in measured steps. Rhian and the others stood staring at each other, until trickling away to follow. Rhian held Viviane back.

“Mama . . .” Viviane looked fearful.

“Be silent. It’s time to leave.”

**Don’t miss Book 1!**

The Retreat to Avalon

The Arthurian Age Book 1

Find it on Amazon

Sean Poage, has had an exciting and varied life, as a laborer, salesman, soldier, police officer, investigator, SWAT member, computer geek and author. A history buff his entire life, he is most drawn to the eras of the ancient Greeks and Dark Ages Britain. Travelling the world to see history up close is his passion.

These days he works in the tech world, writes when he can, and spends the rest of the time with his family, which usually means chores and home improvement projects, with occasional time for a motorcycle ride, scuba dive, or a hike in the beautiful Maine outdoors.

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