Friday, October 1, 2021

The Chronicles of Iona: Exile


“Exile”, the first novel in the historical fiction series “The Chronicles of Iona”, is the story of the two men who laid the foundations of the Scottish nation, an Irish monk, Saint Columba, and a Scottish warlord, Aedan mac Gabran. They were a real-life sixth-century Merlin and King Arthur and their story has never been told.

It is 563 A.D. The world has been plunged into chaos by the collapse of the Roman Empire and barbarian invasions: civilization holds on by a thread. Columba, a powerful abbot and prince of Ireland, is exiled for a violent act to the pagan colony of Dalriada on the west coast of Scotland. Awaiting him there is Aedan mac Gabran, the down-and-out second son of the colony’s previous king, slain by the bloodthirsty Picts.

Together, this unlikely pair travels the breadth of a lawless, divided realm, each in search of his own kind of unity. Their path is fraught with blood feuds, lost love, sacrifice, miracles, dark gods, and monsters. Beset on all sides, their only hope is to become allies—and to forge a daring alliance with the pagan Picts.

How Columba overcame exile and a crisis of faith to found the famous monastery of Iona (one of the greatest centers of learning in Dark Age Europe) and, from it, the Celtic Church in the British Isles; and how Aedan avenged his father’s death and became, against all odds, the progenitor of Scottish kings and the greatest warlord of his age, begins here. 

For both, what begins as a personal imperative becomes a series of events that lead to the foundation of Iona and the kingdom of Scotland—events that literally change the world.

Historically authentic yet told with a bold fictional sweep, “The Chronicles of Iona: Exile” plunges the reader into the world of sixth-century Scotland and Ireland, the veritable Dark Ages—a world on the brink of either collapse or creation, poised between myth and history.

Book source ~ Tour
25 May 2012
Historical Fiction

My Rating ~ 4 bites

In 563 A.D. an Irish monk was exiled to Scotland. Or what would one day become Scotland. At this point in time, the Roman Empire has collapsed and Scotland, Ireland, and Britain (as they will be called) are constantly warring, trying to gain a foothold of power in this new chaotic world. It is here that Columba meets the second son of a slain king, Aeden mac Gabran. They have no idea at the time of their meeting that they would end up being two important men whose stories will (mostly) not survive for future generations to read.

This wonderfully written fictional tale is rooted in factual historical details but since very little records survived this time period the author has given us a compelling story of two men who ultimately helped shaped a region into what it is today.

It takes me some time to wrap my brain around the names of the regions, the familial connections, and how these lands are ruled. The history of Ireland, Scotland, and Britain is so intertwined and embattled that it’s almost impossible to untangle since the Dark Ages records are mostly lost. However, the author does a wonderful job of putting together an awesome tale in a way that someone like me, who isn’t a huge fan of History, can fall right in and believe this is how it all went down. Did it? Your guess is as good as mine, or the author’s, or anyone else’s for that matter. But it doesn’t matter. Not really. This is a fictional tale of two real men and the lives they might have led and both are fascinating! I’m looking forward to continuing their journey in book 2, Prophet. Me, looking forward to more History lessons? Inconceivable!

Paula de Fougerolles has a doctorate from the Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic, University of Cambridge, and has taught and published in the field. She has lived and traveled extensively throughout Scotland and Ireland, including a prestigious year-long Thomas J. Watson Fellowship in which she criss-crossed Europe in search of the physical remains of the so-called Dark Ages--research which ultimately led to this award-winning historical fiction series.

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