Let me entice your reader’s mind with an excerpt from the first pages
of Morning’s Journey:
The clash of arms resounds in the torchlit corridor. Blood oozes where leather has yielded to the bite of steel, yet both sweating, panting warriors refuse to relent.
Her heart thundering, Gyan grips her sword’s hilt, desperate to help the man she loves. Caledonach law forbids it.
Urien makes a low lunge. As Arthur tries to whirl clear, the blade tears a gash in his shield-side thigh. The injured leg collapses, and Arthur drops to one knee.
Crowing triumphantly, Urien raises his sword for the deathblow.
Morning’s Journey is filled with scenes like this, where the reader’s heart quickens as it tries to determine the outcome. It is also filled with grief stricken scenes like this one:
At last, Angusel’s fingers found the smooth, cool surface of his blade. Fumbling to sheathe it, he breathed a prayer of thanks. The stream’s whisper seduced his thirst, and he half slid, half stumbled down the bank. He eased onto his stomach and plunged his hands into one of the burn’s deep pools. As he greedily sucked water from his cupped palms, he felt the brush of fabric against his leg. He sat up and pulled the cloth from the bush.
His heart lurched.
He fingered a small, soft blanket, slashed and crusted with blood. Moonlight glinted off its silver threads. Though shadows hid the pattern, he knew which clan had created the fabric.
I have said it before, and I will say it again, Headlee’s writings
about King Arthur should be required reading for high school and college
students. Her writing style is, in itself, magnificent. As we discovered in
Dawnflight, Headlee is well researched and educated on both the Pictish and
Roman cultures as they merged and became the dark ages version of the British.
In Morning’s Journey, we dig deeper into the story of young Angusel, who had
pledged his loyalty to Gyan's clan. We will also dig deeper into the personal
relationship between Gyan and Arthur, where Headlee addresses a few issues that even married adults struggle with even in modern times: the absence of a spouse due to work and the adjustment of a huge life change. Additionally, we will see more of Morghe, and her murderous hatred for anyone who might bring Gyan joy.
Tragically, Morning’s Journey does not end on the same positive note as
Dawnflight. Though the love story survives, one single relationship suffers an
unfair punishment and a devastating blow is dealt to the main characters that
will forever taint any story from now on. It will be impossible to ignore the
shattering of lives that happens in Morning’s Journey in future works of
Headlee’s, and it left me feeling ill. This was, of course, by design.
The only thing I would have changed about Morning's Journey (and for that matter, Dawnflight, as well) are the covers. The covers of each are well done, I will admit, but Headlee's first two books in The Dragon's Dove Chronicles deserve art that reflects the masterpieces they are.
I still hold to that The Dragon’s Dove Chronicles is finding a fantastic spot among my collection of favorites. Kim Headlee is a remarkable author.