I have just completed my first step of the five-part series by Stephen Lawhead called The Pendragon Cycle, a series billed as an "addition to the ranks of Arthurian legend". The first book is entitled Taliesin. The initial two thirds of the story takes us back and forth between two opposing worlds. One is the gleaming jewel of Atlantis, with all of its grandeur and beauty. The other is a small holding in central Briton during the downward decline of Roman control. Initially, Atlantis is a model world of peace and brotherhood, however, beneath the surface lies treachery and betrayal. This upheaval portends the utter destruction of this world and its peoples. The Cymry people in Briton are a proud people, a people of tradition and strength. A people that must constantly remain vigilant to the barbarians and raiders all around them.
The two main characters in this tale are Charis, a strong-minded princess of Atlantis who helps to save a remnant of her people just before her land sinks into the sea. The other is a young Briton prince and bard named Taliesin. The story of Taliesin is designed to provide the background of who these people are and what has shaped them. It also sets the stage for how they ultimately find each other and fall in love, leading to the birth of their fated child, Merlin.
The thread that runs behind and within the pages is the rise of the Christian beliefs in the main characters and how it affects their individual views of the world. A very enjoyable bit of fantasy work by Lawhead that foreshadows his development as an author and storyteller in his more recent works. Now, onto the second book in the series, Merlin.