Darkest before Dawn (The Kingdom of Mercia Book 2)

 

 

 

 

 

Darkest before Dawn

 

A Historic Romance
set in Anglo-Saxon England

 

Book #2: The Kingdom
of Mercia

 

 

 

Jayne Castel

Historical
romances by Jayne Castel

 

 

The Kingdom of the East Angles series

Night Shadows (prequel novella)

Dark Under the Cover of Night (Book One)

Nightfall till Daybreak (Book Two)

The Deepening Night (Book Three)

The Kingdom of the East Angles: The Complete Series

 

The Kingdom of Mercia series

The Breaking Dawn (Book One)

Darkest before Dawn (Book Two)

Dawn of Wolves (Book Three)

All
characters and situations in this publication are fictitious and any
resemblance to living persons is purely coincidental.

 

Darkest
before Dawn by Jayne Castel

 

Copyright
© 2016 Jayne Castel. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be
reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any
means, electronic, mechanical, recording or otherwise, without the prior
written permission of the author.

 

Edited
by Tim Burton.

 

Cover
photography courtesy of www.istockphotos.com.

 

Maps
courtesy of Wikipedia.

 

Visit
Jayne’s website and blog: www.jaynecastel.com

 

Follow
Jayne on Twitter at: @JayneCastel

 

***

 

This book is for Tim,
with love.

 

***

 

 

Contents

 

Maps

Glossary of
Old English

Cast of characters
8

Prologue

Peace-weaving

Chapter One

The Eve of Battle

Chapter Two

Oswiu’s Reckoning

Chapter Three

A New Allegiance

Chapter Four

Return to Bebbanburg

Chapter Five

A Daughter’s Duty

Chapter Six

The Victory Feast

Chapter Seven

The Reluctant Assassin

Chapter Eight

The Road South

Chapter Nine

Arrival at Pons Aelius

Chapter Ten

The
Ealdorman’s Welcome

Chapter Eleven

Insults

Chapter Twelve

The Snows
Come

Chapter Thirteen

Closer

Chapter Fourteen

Meeting at
Winwaed

Chapter Fifteen

A Debt is
Owed

Chapter Sixteen

The Truth of
Matters

Chapter Seventeen

The Plea

Chapter Eighteen

Maric’s Tale

Chapter Nineteen

A Chill
Welcome

Chapter Twenty

The
Handfasting

Chapter Twenty-one

Mother Night

Chapter Twenty-two

Cyneswide’s
Announcement

Chapter Twenty-three

Bad Blood

Chapter Twenty-four

Bitter Cold

Chapter Twenty-five

Emissary
from the North

Chapter Twenty-six

A Brotherly
Reminder

Chapter Twenty-seven

Loss

Chapter Twenty-eight

Turning
Points

Chapter Twenty-nine

Gathering
Herbs

Chapter Thirty

Blood at
Ēostre

Chapter Thirty-one

Escape from
Tamworth

Chapter Thirty-two

Treachery

Chapter Thirty-three

The Hunt

Chapter Thirty-four

On the Other
Side of the Curtain

Chapter Thirty-five

A New Dawn

Epilogue

On the Shore

Historical Note

Coming soon… mid-2016

More works by Jayne Castel

About the Author

 

 

Maps

 

 

 

 

Historical background for Darkest before Dawn

 

In
the 7th Century, England was not as we know it today. The Anglo-Saxon period
lasted from the departure of the Romans, in around 430 A.D., to the Norman
invasion in 1066 A.D. My novels focus on the period in between the departure of
the Romans, and the first Viking invasion in 793 A.D. – a 300 year period in
which Anglo-Saxon culture flourished. The British Isles were named Britannia (a
legacy of the Roman colonization) and split into rival kingdoms. For the
purposes of this novel, we focus on two of them: Mercia and Northumbria. The
Kingdom of Gwynedd and The Kingdom of the East Angles, are also mentioned.

 

Many
locations in Northumbria and northern Britannia appear in this novel, although
their names are somewhat different to modern-day England. Northumbria was split
into two kingdoms: Bernicia and Deira. Bebbanburg was the old name for Bamburgh,
the seat of Northumbrian Kings for many centuries. At the time of our story,
the castle would not have been built, however there would have been a wooden
fort at the top of the rocky outcrop, and, possibly, a Great Tower made of
local stone. Farther south, Pons Aelius was the Latin name for the settlement,
which would one day become Newcastle.
Tinanmuðe
was the Anglo-Saxon name
for the River Tyne. Our characters make a stop at the town of Eoforwic, which
would be renamed Jorvik after settlement by the Danes – today, we know it as
York. Toward the end of the novel, we visit Laegrecastrescir – today known as
Leicester.

 

Glossary of Old English
(in
alphabetical order)

 

Æftera
Geola

January

béagas

arm-rings

Blod
monath
– Blood month (November)

ceorl
– a free
man

Eoforwic
– York
(Anglo-Saxon name, prior to Danish settlement – also spelled Eoferwic)

ealdorman
– earl

Ēostre
– Easter

fæder

father

Frea
– Freya –
Anglo-Saxon goddess of love and fertility

fyrd

a king's army, gathered for war

handfasted
– married

heah-setl
– high
seat (later called a ‘dais’) for the king and queen

hōre
– whore

Hrēðmonath
– March

Hwaet?
– What?

Legacæstir

Chester

Lindisfarena

Lindisfarne Island (Holy Island)

misteltãn

mistletoe

mōder
– mother

nithing
– a
person without honor or status, also refers to a coward

Nithhogg
– a
fire-breathing dragon that lived in the underworld

nón-mete
– midday
meal (literally: noon-meat)

Powys
– Wales

Sōlmōnath

February

steopmōdor

step-mother

thegn

a king’s retainer

theow
– a slave

thrymsas

Anglo-saxon gold shillings

Thunor
– Thor

Tinanmuðe
(pronounced: tienanmootha) – The River Tyne (Newcastle)

Tiw

Anglo-saxon god of war and combat

wealca

a tube linen dress with shoulder straps attached with brooches

Wes
hāl
– ‘greetings’ in old English

Winterfyllth

Anglo-saxon Halloween

Woden
– the
Anglo-saxon father of the gods (Viking: Odin)

Wyrd
– fate

 

Other books

Casteel 1 - Heaven by Andrews, V. C.
By Love Undone by Suzanne Enoch
Call Me Tuesday by Byrne, Leigh
Until She Met Daniel by Callie Endicott
King Henry's Champion by Griff Hosker
Depraved Indifference by Robert K. Tanenbaum
The Latchkey Kid by Helen Forrester