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TITLE:The House of Pendragon Book I : The Firebrand
Author: Debra Kemp

~King Arthur~

The very name conjures up visions of knights in shining armor, magnificent Camelot and the famous Round Table. Most of us are familiar with the legend of Arthur through the many books and numerous movies which describe how a young boy united the warring clans of England and finally brought peace to the British Isles nearly two thousand years ago.

And yet, what if there were more to this legend--a story which has never before been told? Debra A. Kemp brings such a tale to light in her book, "The House of Pendragon Book I : The Firebrand."

How might the legend of Arthur have been changed if the great king had sired a daughter? "The Firebrand" examines this possibility with the introduction of Lin, daughter to the Pendragon. But Lin is not raised as a pampered princess in the vaulted halls of Camelot. Instead, she begins life as a slave to Arthur's half-sister, Queen Morgause, within the fortress of Dunn na Carraice, far to the north of Camelot on one of the cold and barren Orkney Islands.

Lin is not even aware that she is daughter to the Pendragon; she thinks she has been born a slave, and while she knows nothing more than the cold and hunger, the sickness and brutality of being a slave, she still exhibits a prideful resolve which refuses to allow her to bow down meekly to the people who own her.

Her only solace in the daily grind of slave labor is her brother, Dafydd, also a slave of the Queen. Under other circumstances, Dafydd would have been a Bard; his singing voice and the number of tales he would recite every night took some of the pain and hardship away from their life as slaves.

As hard as Lin's early life may have been, it only becomes worse after she 'comes of age'--at about ten years old--and is collared. She is now a true slave and must constantly wear the mark of her servitude around her neck. And yet she refuses to accept her position and Lin's headstrong, rebellious ways and pride only encourage the ire of her captors. But her misery is multiplied when Lin is given as a present by the Queen to her son, Prince Modred.

Modred makes it his purpose in life to break the spirit of stubborn Lin. When she repeatedly refuses to acknowledge his mastery over her, he beats her, has her whipped, rapes her and eventually has her thrown into a rat infested dungeon, yet the only thing Lin really fears is that she and Dafydd might be separated if one of them were to be sold. But when Modred threatens to remove Dafydd's tongue, silencing her brother's beautiful voice forever, Lin finally appears to be cowed. It is the auction block which will forever change the lives of both Lin and Dafydd, as they are sold and thus begin a journey wherein Lin learns the truth of her heritage.

A work which beautifully blends historical legend with enticing fiction, "The Firebrand" opens a new chapter in the search for King Arthur's claim to the English throne in a gritty, graphic examination of late 5th century England. Debra Kemp's book, the first in a series of three, brings forth strong characters from a little known past and should be considered a must read for anyone interested in historical fiction or the Arthurian legend.

For more information on Ms. Kemp's book and her other work, stop by and read her interview in this month's issue.

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