Blog Tour for "The Oath"

The Saxons are Coming

A. M. Linden

When the last of members of a secretive Druid cult are forced to abandon their hidden sanctuary, they send the youngest of their remaining priests in search of Annwr, their chief priestess’s sister, who was abducted by a Saxon war band fifteen years ago. With only a rudimentary grasp of English and the ambiguous guidance of an oracle’s prophecy, Caelym manages to find Annwr living in a hut on the grounds of a Christian convent.

Annwr has spent her years of captivity caring for the timid Aleswina, an orphaned Saxon princess who was consigned to the cloistered convent by her cousin, King Gilberth, after he assumed her father’s throne. Just as Caelym and Annwr are about leave together, Aleswina learns that Gilberth, a tyrant known for his cruelty and vicious temper, means to take her out of the convent and marry her. Terrified, she flees with the two Druids—beginning a heart-pounding adventure that unfolds in ways none of them could have anticipated.


Praise:

“Linden's well-researched tale eloquently brings to life a lesser-known period of transition in Britain. . . . The author has created a strong foundation for her series with well-developed characters whom readers can embrace. . . . [a] layered, gripping historical fiction.”
—Kirkus Reviews

“The story rolls along at a lively pace, rich with details of the times and a wide cast of characters. [The] plotting, shifting points of view of the three engaging protagonists, and evocative writing style make The Oath a pleasure to read. Highly recommended.”
—Historical Novel Review

“Linden uses a fairy tale-like style almost as though this story has been passed down orally over the centuries.”
—Booklist Review


Trigger Warnings:
Sexual assault, child abuse

Book Excerpt or Article

The effects of Annwr’s wine had worn off, but instead of offering Caelym another cup, she fed him thin porridge, spooning it into his mouth and wiping his chin as if he were a drooling infant.

What he needed was more wine and to be left in peace to sleep and recover his strength. Instead, she made him roll over so she could spread a foul-smelling unguent on his wound, lecturing him while she worked as though she were the shrine’s chief physician and he merely some ordinary patient come to injury through his own recklessness.

He was still lying face down on the bed, gritting his teeth and reminding himself that Annwr was their long-lost priestess and Feywn’s beloved sister, when he heard running footsteps outside.

“The Saxons are coming!” He kept his voice low as he groped on the bedside table for his knife, only to realize that Annwr had moved it across the room to the counter where it lay polished and gleaming and out of reach.

“I told you that my geese will give warning if anyone comes—” Annwr’s hand was on his back, holding him down, helpless, as the door flew open and a Saxon—albeit a short, thin, female one—rushed into the room, gasping in English, “Anna, there are soldiers coming! They are chasing some poor Druid and searching everywhere. They are heading this way and will be—”

She came to a halt in the middle of the room and stood there, staring at Caelym. Instead of letting him up to get his knife, Annwr kept her hand on his back and greeted the intruder like they were old friends. “Oh, Dear Heart, I’m sorry. I was coming to see you, only this boy, who is kin to kin of mine, arrived and I had to take care of him.”

“Anna, no! He cannot stay here! He must go away! The soldiers will be here any moment!” “I’ll hide him somewhere—in the loft, or maybe in the goose shed.” The two women were speaking rapidly in English, while Caelym, feeling sluggish and stupid with his rising fever, looked from one to the other trying to follow what they were saying.

“They will find him, Anna! They will search the loft and the goose shed! He must run away into the woods!”

“He is too weak to run far. They will find him in the woods and follow his tracks back here—so when they find him, they will find me too. But, Dear Heart, you have given us enough warning that we have time to take a way out of this. I’ll have it mixed, and he and I will drink it, and neither of us will care what they do after that. Now, you must go straight back to the convent and be ready to say how you never suspected me of being a witch, and how glad you are that the Christian world is rid of him and me both.”

“No, Anna, you must not even think of it! It is a sin!”

“Maybe so, Dear Heart, yet I will choose this sin over the virtue of being put alive into a Christian bonfire.”

These last words, at least, were clear. Wrestling himself out from under Annwr’s restraining hand, Caelym swung his feet over the edge of the bed and stood up. Weaving only slightly, he declared, “I will go, leading the soldiers away, leaving no tracks . . .” He would have gone on pledging his oath to Annwr to gladly give his life for hers, but the Saxon girl let out a strangled gasp, turned away, and covered her face with her hands. Her next words almost too muffled to hear. “I will take him back with me and hide him. Only, please, Anna, tell him to put his clothes on!”

—From Chapter 4: The Warning

Copyright 2021 A.M. Linden

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Ann Margaret Linden was born in Seattle, Washington, but grew up on the east coast of the United States before returning to the Pacific Northwest as a young adult. She has undergraduate degrees in anthropology and in nursing and a master’s degree as a nurse practitioner. After working in a variety of acute care and community health settings, she took a position in a program for children with special health care needs where her responsibilities included writing clinical reports, parent educational materials, provider newsletters, grant submissions and other program related materials. The Druid Chronicles began as a somewhat whimsical decision to write something for fun and ended up becoming a lengthy journey that involved Linden taking adult education creative writing courses, researching early British history, and traveling to England, Scotland, and Wales. Retired from nursing, she lives with her husband and their cat and dog in the northwest corner of Washington State.

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