Every now and then (but not nearly often enough) you come across a book by a certain author, one of those books that you happen across and take a chance on. You know when you have finished it that the book is finished and didn't have anywhere else to go, but yet you need more - was there a sequel of some sort? A prequel possibly? Then you research the author, at length - you find he/she has written various books, not only has she written these other books, but you realise she has a passion herself for this particular kind of book, she has written a couple books that can be cross referenced with the one you have just finished and the best part is that she is still very, very much alive and still having fantastic books published.
When you read the above and are sitting there with a knowing nod or two, that's when you realise that you have become a massive fan of a certain book and even more of a certain author.
It was about twelve years ago that I first read this book, and I wouldn't like to count how many times I have re-read it since then.
CHILD OF THE PHOENIX, BY BARBARA ERSKINE
This book starts with the birth of a Welsh Princess, called Eleyne - the author , Barbara Erskine started this book after within her research she discovered a Welsh Princess who connected with the Scottish nobility and royal family - Barbara Erskine delved a great deal into this research, wondering how the daughter of a Welsh Prince would end up in Scotland in the 13th century, and by Barbara's own admission she did draw some blanks within her research.
Taking into account of the above, this book is very much fiction, but if you enjoy Welsh or Scottish history, or general history of the medieval period, then prepare to be totally engrossed - Barbara Erskine believes that she possibly has two different Eleyne's on the go - one in Scotland and one in Wales, but she chose to connect the history of these two ladies and make one character - I would say that you shouldn't expect anything accurate at all to come out of this book, but I think that would be unfair and an injustice to Barbara, who has not only an obvious strong passion for early history and has studied for a degree at Edinburgh University in history - I have also read that she has traced her family history back to this period and her family were documented from this time.
Obviously, this book is a novel - when you read just a few pages in, you will see that alongside the historical aspect of Eleyne, there is also another side to her.
This book, in my opinion, is absolutely spell-binding - to be a princess in mediaeval times, no matter how much you are wanted and loved by your parents, must have been a frightening time to have lived - dynasties need to continue, good marriages with lands and dowries are important - cruelty within a marriage is possible. If a wife becomes a widow and she is heiress to a title, or of some importance to the King, then it any future marriages and the children she may have already had become of interest to the King. This happened to Eleyne, as we follow her story as she grows up and leaves Wales to get married.
We follow Eleyne with her nursemaid - who is devoutly loyal to her, and not always in the most orthodox ways - she believes that Eleyne is very special and follows the old gods and the old ways and encourages Eleyne to do the same, knowing that Eleyne has a special destiny ahead of her.
Eleyne is to be the mother of a line of Kings according to the visions in the fire, Eleyne is sometimes able to look back into the past and into the future, but she cannot usually be sure what the signs she sees actually mean or how she is able to help or prevent this visions from coming true.
Eleynes life and loves takes her through Wales, England and Scotland - the destiny of a kingdom and the line of Kings she is to be mother to is something that is always ahead of her, and she understands its importance.
I could tell you which direction her life travels, where she lives her adult life and her older life, but this book is so colourful and the people she meets, lives with and the men she loves and also loathes are all so important to the fabric of this book that I would just encourage you to read it for yourself!
You don't have to be into medieval history to enjoy this book, nor do you have to have a particular interest in Welsh/English or Scottish royalty and nobility - what you do need is an open mind to read about Eleyne and her Nurse, their loyal relationship and Eleyne's destiny.
Child of the Phoenix was first published in 1992 and can be bought on Amazon for as little as £3 - it is widely available brand new and second hand.