Conor Kelly and The Fenian King | An Excerpt

So sorry if anyone just received a blank post notification from me… somehow in the seconds between finishing this post and hitting the publish button, wordpress managed to lose my entire content. There have been some weird things going on at wordpress lately,,, gremlins in the machine?

Ali Isaac - Conor Kelly and the Fenian King

Hugh from Hugh’s Views and News has very kindly featured my book, Conor Kelly and the Fenian King as his Book of the Month… cue sparkly lights and glitter! Yaaay! Thanks, Hugh! In tandem with this, you can find the book at only 99c/ 99p on Amazon, and completely FREE on Smashwords and associated retailers. And now, here is an excerpt…


Chapter Forty Two – The Disappeared

the present day…

 

Conor coughed and spluttered as the dust rose in clouds around him, then admonished himself; his body and lungs were safe in his aunt’s little Micra at the bottom of the hill. As a free roaming spirit, he couldn’t be harmed by clouds of dust, or collapsing masonry, or landslides, or whatever it was that had caused Sidhe Finn to cave in.

But Ciara could. What if she was killed, crushed beneath a fallen orthostat? What if…

Conor felt waves of panic swell inexorably through him like the tides of the sea. He couldn’t find her. He couldn’t see her. Even with his spirit eyes and his supernatural senses, he couldn’t detect any sign of her presence. It was as if she had simply vanished.

But that was impossible. Maybe she had got up and wandered outside, dazed and confused. Maybe she had a head injury, and didn’t know where she was. She could be out there, floundering about in a state of bewilderment.

Oh my God! She could fall off the cliff and plunge to an untimely death in the quarry…

He had to get out, had to find her. He took another quick look around. Many of the orthostats had fallen inward, held up from the floor only by the central pedestal which supported the coffin. A couple of the ancient stones had cracked in two. The coffin had been smashed into matchwood, but Conor saw no evidence of bones. Fortunately, much of the loose rubble which traditionally comprised the infill between the chamber ceiling and the mound had been removed by Aylmer’s builders, and replaced with blocks and mortar, thus forming a secure foundation for the tower. The old mortar had cracked and crumbled in places, releasing some of its bricks, but had mostly held firm. The devastation was not as terrible as he had expected.

But his heart jumped into his mouth when he realised that one huge, carved orthostat had collapsed directly onto the spot where Ciara had crouched the last time he had seen her. Its fall had not been halted by the softness of a body beneath it; no pool of blood lay spreading on the ground around it. The relief Conor felt on observing that was short-lived. Where was she?

Beside the stone, the flagstone with the Ogham symbol lay smashed into several pieces. It had been lifted from its resting place, and placed beside a small pit. Which, Conor noted with disappointment, was completely empty. Had Ciara found the missing mouthpiece and removed it? Or had she lifted the flagstone to find only an empty space and a sense of despair? He had to find her. Where was she?

Convinced at last that the chamber was completely empty, Conor allowed himself to drift up through the ceiling and into the circular chamber above. The stairs leading down from the entrance had collapsed into nothing more than an unstable pile of rock. He floated over it and out through the devastated doorway.

It was dark. The weak wash of moon and stars showed Conor that the hillside was deserted. After the explosions and collapse of the tower, it was eerily silent, almost as if nature itself was shocked at this traumatic turn of events.

He wandered around the remains of the tower, dejected and overwhelmed with guilt. There was no sign of Ciara.

Am I to blame? Did I cause this with the ferocity of my lightning attack on the tower? Or was it the quarry? I’m surprised the hill didn’t collapse years ago after such extensive mining. Surely it was an accident just waiting to happen; we were just in the wrong place at the wrong time…weren’t we?

Pushing his way carefully between the yellow gorse bushes, Conor stood on the edge of the cliff and contemplated the drop. Was Ciara down there, broken and battered and bleeding? Far beneath him, a tear trailed down his face as, in the car, his inert body responded to his desolation.

The only way to find out was to leap down after her. Even knowing that he could not fall or be hurt, it took Conor a good few moments to find the courage to jump over the edge. He found it much easier to control his descent this time around. As the ground rushed up to meet him, he saw that the quarry men were running about in a panic. Alarms were sounding, people were shouting, but the drills were silent, and the trucks which transported rock and rubble lay abandoned.

Hmmm…looks like there’s been a bit of a disaster down here.

Conor levelled out a couple of metres from the ground and glided slowly along the base of the cliff, searching for Ciara. Eventually, elated, he had to conclude she had not fallen. His only other option was to search the path on his way back to the car. Perhaps she was already waiting there for him. With his spirits lifting, Conor retraced his journey. But Ciara was not there.

For what felt like the hundredth time, he wondered where on earth she was.

The car was waiting on the far side of the car park, just as they’d left it. Conor felt anxious now; for Ciara, and also for himself. His body was lying in wait for him on the back seat, but what if he couldn’t get back into it? He hadn’t stopped to contemplate how that part of the process was achieved. He might not be able to do it. What then? He had been outside of his body for quite a long time. He might not be able to readjust to its rhythms and limitations.

He went first to the front of the car, half expecting to see Ciara sitting there, impatiently waiting for him. She wasn’t.

What do I do now? Do I re-join my body, and wait? Or do I go out looking for her again? I’m really tied by my mobility if I re-enter my body at this stage. But the longer I leave it, the harder it’s going to get.

Conor wavered between his choices. Then the decision was snatched from him. When he looked in at the rear window, his body was gone.

smashwords-button  kindle-button


allen-collageAylmer’s Folly and Sidhe Fionn are real places. I visited them when I was researching for this book. You can read about them in my post, Almu | Home of Irish Legendary Hero Fionn mac Cumhall.


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A Day of Surprises

Sometimes, lovely things happen unexpectedly, and you just want to shout about them, not to show off, although I can see why some may think that, but just because they make you feel happy. So I’m going to tell you about two things which happened today, which made me feel very happy.

First of all, I woke up to a tweet about my first book, Conor Kelly and The Four Treasures of Eirean. It had actually been read, and reviewed, and featured on a book blog! Now, that may not seem anything out of the ordinary for an author, you might think, and for some of you, it’s probably fairly run of the mill.

But for me, every time some one reads my book, I still feel surprised and delighted. If they have actually paid for it with their hard-earned spondoolies, I am doubly honoured. And if they take the time to write a review, I feel gobsmacked and proud… after I have picked myself up off the floor first.

The novelty still hasn’t worn off, even after all this time. I don’t think it ever will.

So today, my heart-felt thanks go to Cathy of Between the Lines Book Blog for her lovely review, and to Alison Williams Writing who tweeted it and brought it to my attention. If you want to read it, please click the link above to Cathy’s blog. You both made my day!

Secondly, I had another article published on Irish Central. I know that’s not so unusual, but I haven’t felt this way about an article I’ve written since I wrote about reincarnation; some topics, really get to you, I suppose.

The good thing is, quite a few people have visited the blog after reading it, which is really nice, and also makes me feel happy. So hi and welcome to anyone who has just popped over from IC, and to those of you who haven’t, here is the intro and a link to the article (it’s about fosterage in mythology and pre-Christian times, if you are interested);

“Ireland has a strange history when it comes to the care of its children. Sometimes, it seems as if they were treated as possessions to be traded rather than flesh and blood to be cherished, our country’s future.

“We have a dark legacy to come to terms with, as we discover pits at nursing homes packed full of the remains of babies and young children; stories of babies torn from mothers at the Magdalene laundries and given into slavery in exchange for a donation, and people within living memory who have no idea of their true identity because they were adopted or fostered outside of the law.

“In ancient times, fosterage played an important role in Irish society, but the process was governed by strict and complex rules as specified in the Brehon Laws.” Read more…

I have been featured in Blackheath Dawn Magazine!

march-2015-featured-guest1

I am the Guest Author featured in Blackheath Dawn Magazine today, and my Tir na Nog Trilogy is also represented in their Book Feature. So if you haven’t had enough Paddy’s Day fever yet, here is the link.

Irish Mythology | The Retreat of the Tuatha de Denann

Tree and reflection

For this week’s Monday Mythology, I have decided to give you a sneak peak into the opening of the third and final book of my Tir na Nog Trilogy, working title Conor Kelly and The Three Waves of Eirean.

This (unedited) extract is my telling of what happened after the Tuatha de Denann were defeated by the Milesians at the battle of Tailten, and were forced by trickery to retreat into their hollow hills. Although they still interacted with the mortal world well into Fionn mac Cumhall’s time (c C3rd AD), their time as Ireland’s rulers and Gods was over. For them, this was the beginning of the end, and the slippery slope of their decline into legend as the Sidhe.


Prologue – Denann’s Doom

four thousand years ago…

It was a wretched day. In the dark, blue-grey sky above, a shrieking wind tore water-sodden clouds apart, limb from limb. A long queue of people pressed slowly and dejectedly forward into the shadowy maw of a fissure in the mountain, clutching their few rescued possessions and the hands of their children. They consisted mostly of the very old and the very young, punctuated with the presence of the odd, injured warrior. The strong and able bodied were conspicuous by their absence. These were the pitiful remains of a people ravaged by war, defeated both in battle and in spirit. Recovery from such annihilation looked bleak.

Manannán stood and watched, his mouth pressed into a grim line of displeasure.

“I warned you mortals could not be trusted,” he muttered.

Beside him, Bodb Dearg, eldest son of the Dagda and newly elected High King, stirred from his silent reverie of sorrow and regret. “Aye, well that was long ago. Bridges were built and relationships formed since those dark days, connections strong and true that all thought unbreakable. None of us could have envisioned this.”

“You became complacent,” Manannán snapped, his eyes whorling alternately dark and light with anger, like the foamy-topped stormy seas of which he was Lord. “Humans have always envied and feared the Denann for their long life, their powers, their military prowess and grace, strength and beauty. It was a friendship doomed from the start.”

His companion bit back his own furious retort and shrugged, allowing his anger to dissipate up into the ether. What was the point of arguing? What was the point of anything, anymore? Their druids, their poets, their warriors, all their skilled crafts folk, every man and woman capable of fighting, yes even the children big enough to lift a weapon had been pressed into action. Their desperation had failed them. They were all gone. What chance had they of rebuilding? The mysterious knowledge which had once nurtured and sustained them was lost, had died along with those who had protected its secrets so well.

As a young man, Bodb Dearg had dreamed of one day wearing the King’s torc. Now, here he was, High King of the Denann, or what was left of them; a king without a land, his people once again homeless and displaced.

Generations ago, Nuada had led the Denann into Eire. Now he, Bodb Dearg, was fated to lead them away from the only home many of them had had ever known, tricked by the sons of Mil into a life of darkness below the gentle green hills of Ireland. It was not how he wished to be remembered by posterity.

“It’s still not too late.” The words encroached softly upon him, like the whisper of warm wavelets lapping on a soft, sandy shore.

He squared his shoulders and lifted his head proudly. “The Denann have chosen,” he said. His expression belied the trembling and uncertainty which fired within him, his voice sounding resolute as the great grey stones which guarded the Underworld’s entrance. “Many of us have kin here among the mortals. This land has become our home. We have given our bravest warriors to its defence. Our blood has watered its soil, our sacrifice has nourished its soul, our anguish floats in its air like breath. We can no more abandon it than we can our precious children. We have no choice, can’t you see that?”

The Sea-God cursed, his vehemence whipped up by his frustration, crashing down around them with the turbulent power of the three waves of Eirean. “Then there is only one thing left I can do for you,” he roared. “After that, I wash my hands of the stubborn children of Danu! Those of your people that wish it, I will take with me to my lands west beyond the ninth wave. As for the rest of you, you have chosen your fate, and I warn you, your persistence will not go well with mankind. They will fear and persecute you. They will defame you, and slander you. You will not like what they do to your memory, or your beloved land.”

With that, Manannán shook out his Cloak of Concealment and whirled it through the air. Bodb Dearg felt the leap and rush of powerful magic so ancient, even the Denann did not know the way of it. On the edges of his vision, a fluttering of mist began to creep forward, slowly obliterating the lie of the land beneath its white flimsy velvet.

Bodb Dearg caught his breath, choking back deep sorrow as he took his last hungry view of these sacred hills and vales. Who knew when it would be safe to venture forth in the future?

Manannán had done so much for them already. He it was, who had come to them in the depths of their despair, rallying and calling them to action, urging them to choose a leader and decide their fate, when their existence lay in tatters on the battlefield at Tailten. When the conquering Milesian leaders had mocked Denann integrity by choosing to rule that half of Ireland which lay above ground, dooming the defeated to what remained, he had found for them all the wildest, the most secret hills and valleys, where they could be shielded from human interference. There, they had built their palaces beneath the domed hills, their entrances to the forbidden land that Manannán had given them, the place to which mortals in time would attribute the label of ‘Otherworld’.

Now, as his final parting gift, he shrouded them in the Faeth Fiadha, the Master of Mist which would form the border between the mortal world and the magical realm, a boundary through which mortals would stray at their peril.

Bodh Dearg knew this new home of his, Sidhe Femen, with its lake at the summit, was only one of a number of sites around Ireland sinking into the fog of obscurity as the chosen Duns of his people, a network of fairy forts lost to human vision but connected by magic threads invisible and unfelt by dull mortal senses.

The dominion of the Denann was over, but Bodb Dearg knew that in their own way, the magical folk would always prevail.

 

An Added Book-Baby Bonus!

I think you all probably know by now that that other book Jane Dougherty and I collaborated on went on sale this morning, so I’m not going to mention it again, for fear of being lynched!

But I just wanted to let you know that for today only, Jane’s The Dark Citadel, and my Conor Kelly and The Four Treasures of Eirean are reduced to the bargain price of only 99c/ 99p, so if you were thinking of getting yourself a copy, now is the ideal time to do it…

Just sayin’…

Congratulations to the Winners of my Book Competition!

Me and my book-babies
Me and my book-babies

The competition to win a paperback copy of my books, Conor Kelly and The Four Treasures of Eirean and Conor Kelly and The Fenian King closed yesterday. There were plenty of entries, and the two winners were picked randomly by Feedaread, who have already posted out the prizes.


Congratulations to Anne Corcoran, who has won a copy of …

4TE front(3)print

 

 

 

 

 

 


Congratulations to Charlie McDevitt, who has won a copy of …

 

 

 

 

 

 


I hope you enjoy reading my books, and thank you to everyone who entered and took part. You can buy a paperback copy  if you like to do your reading as it was originally intended, or you can buy yourself a Kindle copy if you prefer.