A Dream and a Journey: The Writing of “The Black Knight of Avalon Chronicles”
The Black Knight Rises
In the many adaptations of Arthurian Mythology, the character of the Black Knight’s story has never been truly told; to many he is a mysterious and evil man, who appears at various moments in the story of Camelot, always to administer a lesson in chivalry or to test one of the Knights. In The Black Knight of Avalon Chronicles, this tale of Camelot is told in a fresh and clear manner, through the eyes of the Champion of Avalon. One begins to understand, as the story progresses, how Arthur’s kingdom faced and conquered the many threats of intrigue that threatened the Kingdom of Light. One sees behind the scenes as the Black Knight travels the length and breadth of Britain, seeking out both highborn and common traitors, eliminating them in the Goddess Ceridwen’s name.
When he meets the character of the Ruby Phoenix in Book 1, he finds an ally and teacher of the highest quality. His skills are tested and improved under this teacher’s guidance. In Book 2, he is able to rise to his toughest challenge against Arthur’s most deadly enemy of the time. She trains him in the arcane arts, until he can face Morgause the Witch Queen of Orkney so as to stop her from sacrificing Sir Gawaine, her eldest son, in a bid for enough power to kill Arthur. In the end, the Ruby Phoenix and the Black Knight part as she leaves Britain, never to return.
In Book 3, we find out how the Black Knight of Avalon came to be, how he came to Camelot as an abandoned child and grew up to be a Knight of Camelot. It also relates how he met his lifelong friend Olran, and why they care for each other the way they do.
In Book 4, the Black Knight rides again through the land of Britain, seeking out those who would put an early end to the bounteous time of the Queen’s Summer. Evil never sleeps, and through many trials and internal conflicts, we watch Ceridwen’s Champion battle demons and their servants. Lancelot du Lac disappears for years, while the Black Knight searches for him. This tale continues in Book 5, when Lancelot is found and the process of returning him to his former self begins. Sir Olran goes to Camelot to act in his place while he recovers, and Arthur’s injury continues to slowly kill him. Knights begin to abandon their posts as the rumor is spread that Arthur is dying, and the staff at Camelot is pushed to the limit to keep the kingdom intact.
In Book 6, the Holy Grail is stolen from where it rests and the Black Knight is called to retrieve it and keep it safe. Percival, Tristan’s son, sees a vision and the other Knights take up the quest singly and in groups until the Kingdom is severely understaffed. Sir Aaronn is called by Ceridwen to take up Arthur’s seat until he is healed, and Sir Olran as always is by his side, serving as First Knight. Together, they recall Gwenhyfar to take up the Queen’s seat, and when she learns of Arthur’s continuing illness, she agrees. They watch as Sir Galahad leaves on his quest to find the missing Knights and return them to Britain.
In book 7, the Knight are back and all are healed by drinking from the Cup, but Modred has returned to Britain as well, seeking to show he does not deserve the reputation he has earned. All seems to be going well, until Lancelot is caught with Gwenhyfar in what seems to be a very compromising position. The Round Table nearly dissolves as she is put on trial for treason and adultery, but is saved at the very last moment when Lancelot returns aboard a shining white steed. The Round Table comes together to discuss their allegiances, finding that they still wish to serve the Lady and the Land. Just when everything comes together again, war falls upon them and the Black Knight comes to terms with the end of Arthur’s reign, unable to stop it due to the King’s past choices. He is presented with the opportunity to flee, will he take it?
I was born in the summer of 1957 in the Pacific Northwest, the middle child of five. As a result of that, I was always and continue to be somewhat inclined towards daydreaming and shyness. When I was the age of 12, I discovered the stories of Greek and Roman mythology. At 13, I discovered the tale of King Arthur and The Knights of the Round Table and fell under the spell of the legend. I would retreat to the woods behind my parents’ house and play at knights and ladies, all by myself of course, until one of my older siblings was sent to fetch me back to reality and household chores.
As I entered my later teens, I continued to be fascinated by the story, especially the part concerning the relationship of Arthur, Guinevere, and Lancelot. I picked up any fantasy novel having to do with Arthur in any way. One was The Crimson Chalice, which introduced me to the fact that Arthur may have been the offshoot of Marcus Aurelius. Certainly, the great king was raised in a world influenced by Rome. I began investigating older books written about the warlord Arthur, such as Le Morte de Arthur, and how the legend might have began and been spread.
As I grew older and found other sources of information concerning the legend, I became more interested in the mysteries behind the story: the tales of Merlin and the Ladies of Avalon. I wondered if they could be in any way true at all, and began investigating that aspect. This led me to many books on modern Magick, and finally I read Marian Zimmer Bradley’s book, The Mists of Avalon. Her writing captivated me. Along my way, I kept encountering the tale of the elusive Black Knight, painted in most versions as a terrifying individual who appeared at the most opportune moments to test the Knights of Camelot. The character enchanted me with his elusive nature and I was bound and determined to find out what he was all about.
In time I married, home-birthed two children and went about raising them until one night I had a most startling dream. In this dream, I was awakened by a gentle touch and a soft voice, and when I opened my eyes (in the dream) I beheld a Lady all in white. She told me her name was Ceridwen, and that she had something she wanted me to see, if I was willing. Of course, I was more than willing, and she took me by the hand. What I experienced next was nothing like I had ever dreamt before or since, for she walked me through the tale of the Black Knight, showing me rather than telling me the story.
While I walked through the dream, I could hear people talking and horses neighing, I could feel the wind on my face, and touch the linens in the Great Room at Camelot. I could smell fires and spilt blood, but I could taste the foods as well, and everything was vibrantly colored. No one could see me, however, so I could walk wherever I wished. In short, I was given an overview of the time of Camelot through the eyes of the Black Knight, the champion of Ceridwen. At the time, I had only a vague knowledge of her role as the White Goddess in Celtic mythology and the Arthurian Cycles, and so was taken aback by her dominance in the dream. It was truly amazing, and when I woke, all I could do was just lie there and try to process what I had seen.
When my husband woke, I told him that I had just experienced the most amazing dream, and proceeded to tell him all. It took over an hour to relate the tale to him and when I finished, he sat silently for a few moment before telling me that I should start writing it down. It took me a day or so to start, but once I did, it just flowed out onto the paper I was using.
Every day, when my mate would return from the labours of the day, I would have more of the story to tell him. It took several weeks to write down the first two books, and many legal pads as well. Every day I wrote until my fingers were sore and numb, so powerful was the impulse. Finally, I finished the first segment of the story and began the next, and onto the next. At last, some three years later, I finished the entire story and began my revisions.
I knew there was more to the tale, just waiting to be told, but it had to wait until we received a Brother Word processor. I shall always be grateful to my husband’s Mother and Father for the gifting of it, for it made the rest of the books possible. It took me years to write it all down, then more time to prepare the first two (which were still one gigantic book) for submission to the Library of Congress so it could be copyrighted in 2001.
The Publishing Process
Finally, it came time to publish, and I could not find a single publisher who wanted the tale, simply because I did not have an agent. I tried a self-publishing house, but like so many other authors I found it to be an unrewarding and very expensive experience. They were responsible for the first book being split into two books, and I have kept them that way ever since.
Now twenty-five years later, in spite of financial setbacks and other obstacles, all seven books in the series have been published. For a long while, the books just sat there, doing nothing, until finally I found Amazon’s Kindle program. I re-edited and published them as e-books in 2011, and finally people started to read them. Last year, I found CreateSpace from Amazon and edited them again for release as printed paperbacks, the realization of a wish I had cherished since having the dream.
I shall always be grateful to everyone who has helped me get this far. I hope the story speaks to you as it did to me; however, as you read, I beg you to remember that it is only a story. I make no claims to it’s being a true representation of history. It is meant merely as a source of entertainment. And also, remember that the story was inspired by a very vivid dream. Who knows where dreams come from?
Love and Light!
By Sunbow Pendragon
(The Black Knight of Avalon Chronicles are available for purchase at Amazon.com)