The ground that holds the sacred bones of the fallen

must forever be in the protection of their brothers

and the soil that covers their blessed skin

 must be touched in equal measure by the sun and the moon.

– from the Arthurian Bible –

 

*

 2013 certainly isn’t the Age of Chivalry.

Drive to work and you’ll get cut up – plenty of times. Try to park – someone will steal the space you’re carefully reversing into. Walk into a store; the person in front will seldom hold the door for you. Hold it for other folk – you’ll be lucky to get a thank you.

‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’ are becoming as rare as rocking horse shit. Road rage is turning a trip to the supermarket into a lap of Rollerball.

And that’s just the minor stuff.

We live in the Age of Disappointment not Chivalry.

An age when money in a building society is no longer safe. When banks go bust but bosses still collect bonuses. When stock markets crash but traders still cash in. When the job that you thought was yours for life, is just about to be taken off you in the name of this year’s balance sheet. When the pension you paid into isn’t going to pay out anything like what you hoped – and you’re going to have to wait even longer to draw it.

And we’ve still not reached the serious shit.

This is the age when the government spies on you – with cameras on the streets, with listening devices on your phones and electronic eyes all over your email, but the same politicians prevaricate over what to do about real threats to life and liberty represented by the aggressive shifts of power in Syria and Egypt.

Sadly, we live in the Age of Duplicity and Dishonor. When there is no longer Good and Bad. Right or Wrong. There is only what is politically desirable. When the ballot box is truly more powerful than the bullet.

We need heroes. Knights in Shining Armor. Champions of Decency. Ideally, the greatest heroes of all time – the legendary King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. A ruler who was not only a mighty warrior – he was a gentleman, an enforcer of decency and respect.  He oversaw the Codes of Chivalry. Oaths. Sworn allegiances. He was a leader who ushered in an age when a man’s word was his bond and a lady’s honor could result in duels at dawn.

The Camelot Code by Sam Christer

The Camelot Code by Sam Christer

And so was born the flight of fancy that lead to me writing ‘The Camelot Code’ – an almost anachronistic tale of honor, valor, bonds, allegiances and integrity. A story about people who don’t just believe in fairness and protecting the poor and weak – they’re prepared to die for it.

Like all boys, the Arthurian legends are stories I’ve grown up with. I’ve wielded a plastic sword, slain mystical beasts and fought countless battles for the glory of England and St. George.  I’ve pulled Excalibur from the stone and in headier moments even made some sacrifices for fair maidens as well.

Researching the many versions of Arthur and his Knights made me realize the enormous popularity of the much-traveled legend, so I decided the book had to work on three levels.  Firstly, for the uninitiated, it had to be a great read, a classic historical thriller with ancient mysteries that reach out from their creaking tombs to grab at the ankles of modern heroes.

Maryland

Greatness had been within his grasp

If he hadn’t been greedy, this would never have happened and he’d have closed a deal that the antiques world would have spoken about for centuries. His name would have ranked alongside those of Gildas and Malory, Geoffrey of Monmouth and Chrétien de Troyes. The big secret would have been out.

And Amir Emmanuel Goldman would have outed it.

Which, he guesses, is why he’s dying.

And then, for the Arthurian aficionados, there had to be something subtler – a layer of hidden richness that only they would recognize. Beyond the more obvious puns, the plays on names such as the Frenchman Lance Beaucoup, there had to be modern twists on old deceptions – ones that I hope Arthurian scholars enjoy unearthing.

Glastonbury Tor

They sit at the top, where thousands of years ago there was a monk’s retreat and then a sacred chapel. From here they can see Great Breach Wood, Polden Hills, Brent Knoll and West Mendip Hills.

But Owain and Jennifer see much more. They see the ghosts of Shamans, Druid priests and necromancers. They see St Patrick strolling the land looking for converts. Saxon hermits hiding in the hillsides. Celtic tribes massing. Roman armies marching. The roots of civilization growing. And they see Arthur and his Queen arm-in-arm, the Knights of the Round Table assembling and the holy goddess Fortuna stretching her hand up from the cold water of the lake.

Thirdly, I had to make it an exciting vehicle for Mitzi Fallon, a plain speaking Californian cop and mother of twins who apparently has won the hearts of many readers.

San Francisco

A murky fog rises from beneath the Bay Bridge and crawls toward the giant federal buildings crowded near the choppy waters.

Mitzi Fallon stares out from the glass belly of the FBI skyscraper, ‘Some weather,’ she says to no one at her side. ‘I move from LA, for what? To start my morning in the mist like a freakin’ gorilla? Sheesh.’

So without giving too much away (which I suspect I may already have done!), The Camelot Code is a clash of new and old worlds as well as new and old ‘values’.

It opens with an old mystic (Myrddin) in a Welsh castle having a vision about a murder in America (the New World). The man being killed owns an antiques store and he’s been involved in a deal he shouldn’t have been.  This ‘Keeper of Time’ as he becomes known, is murdered and so begins a chain reaction of events that threatens to topple a secret society that has for centuries been working for the greater good, without even wanting public acknowledgment.

Our heroine, Mitzi, has just transferred into the Historic Religious & Unexplained Crimes unit and this is the first case that hits her desk. It’s a trail that will take her all the way from Maryland back to ancient Britain and it will be the bloodiest and most emotional investigation she’s ever been involved in.  It will test her personal beliefs, loyalties and code of life to the limit.

Along the way, she’ll encounter Welsh history, British royalty, Celtic legends and organized crime.  And she will also encounter Sir Owain Gwyn – a man whose family history is older than America itself. A man who has remarkable connections to the legends of King Arthur – so many, that some people believe he really could be him.  But that of course is just nonsense.  Arthur never even existed.  He was only a myth. Wasn’t he? 

To separate great men from the great myths that surround them, you must understand the forging of the Circle of Iron. For the King of Kings is a Man of Iron. Belief is the mould and generation by generation a new man is poured into it. Century by century, those who stand around him point him out and say he was the one, is the one, or will be the one.

And, so it is, that to those who chronicle such feats, it seems at times that there are either many of him, that he lived for ever, or that he never lived at all.

–         The Arthurian Bible –

 SAM CHRISTER (author of The Camelot Code , The Turning Shroud and The Stonehenge Legacy)

 All extracts from The Camelot Code, published by Little, Brown

FACEBOOK.COM/SAMCHRISTER

Twitter: @Sam_Christer

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