In sixth-century Cumbria, young swordswoman Gwen of Raven's Crag
stands tall as the daughter of heroes.
Her highest ideal? A fearless heart.
That proud self-image shatters when she falls into the grasp of a tyrant,
Edric, from beyond the eastern moors.
In vengeance against her Brytish kin, the Angul sorcerer uses powers stolen from the Fair Folk to cast a spell of shape-changing upon Gwen. Wrenched into the form of a horse, suffering under Edric's abuse and quailing in terror, she sinks into self-loathing at such cowardice and loses her will to survive.
Then Gwen learns of her tormenter's plans for conquest. Desperate to take warning to her king in the west, she scrapes up nerve enough to escape the sorcerer's lair. She flees Edric's pursuit across high fells and through tangled wildwoods, aided by the Fair Folk and a beastly shapeshifter, but stalked by the bloodthirsty Horned Huntsman. Gwen reins tight her terror, battling not only her foes but also her own skewed concept of courage.
In my historical fantasy novel, Hero's Shield,
6th century Brytish kingdoms begin to fall
to Anglo Saxon hordes pushing inland
from the east coast of Brytain, Isle of the Mighty.
Gwen ferch Draig, trapped and tormented in a form not her own, rouses from the depths of misery when she learns of the peril awaiting her kin. The sorcerer who has kidnapped her is raising a host of other Anguls to aid in besieging the clans of the mountainous west.
Fear for folk overrides fear for self. Somehow Gwen must break her paralysis of dread, escape and outrun the Angul sorcerer, and bear warning to her king in the west.
Outrun, perhaps she can-- with four fleet hooves pounding the road home. But who among her Brytish kin will understand her whinny of warning?
Spellbound in the guise of a horse, and carrying a terrified fellow hostage, Gwen battles human and inhuman foes as well as her own skewed concept of courage.
I have walked all the sites in Hero's Shield, in the Lake District of northwestern England. My tale is set during the waning years of the Golden Age of the Thirteen Kingdoms of the North, so termed in Welsh records.