Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Clad in Woad, He Prepares the Way

     Julius Caesar, in his writings, De Bello Gallico, tells of the Brittani coloring their bodies blue.  We see this portrayed in the movie Braveheart as well. Marshall Best, in his series The Chronicles of Guiamo Durmius Stolo, has a new twist as to why these warriors painted themselves blue.  Sreng, a member of the Fir Bolg had been a slave to the Fomori, forced to fight on their behalf to ensure the safety of his wife and children.  After cutting Nuada's arm off in battle, he and several of his people were captured.  Guiamo convinces him to fight with them to defeat the Fomori in the hopes that his family is still alive. In the excerpt below, Sreng accompanies Guiamo on a quest to free his family.

Excerpt from Book II of the Guiamo Chronicles, Cumoro by Marshall Best

Sreng mounted a spare horse brought by Aoi and, carrying only his armor and ax tied up in his bedroll, left his farm and hut behind to free his family with Guiamo.
When they stopped each evening to make camp, Sreng sat with Guiamo drawing orc symbols and explaining their meaning.  Guiamo had Sreng draw the symbol on leather sheets.  Next to each symbol, Guiamo wrote the meaning in Roman words and, again using the Roman letters, wrote how to pronounce the orc word.
As they neared home, Guiamo asked, “Sreng, I wish to make a blue dye.  Do you know how to make such a color?”
Sreng replied, “There is a weed in these parts whose dried leaves are ground to pulp and left to rot.  If it is prepared properly, it will produce a good blue dye.”
Guiamo asked, “How long does it take to make?”
“The first steps require a fortnight, but it must be repeated to obtain a good color that stays fast,” Sreng replied.  “I saw it made as a youth, but I do not recall all the steps.  I do know this; there are no leaves in the winter, so you shall have to wait until springtime.”
Guiamo replied, “Then we shall have to find some already made.  Some villagers should have some, I should think, which I could purchase.  What is this plant named?”
Sreng replied, “It is called glasen by some, but others know it as woad.”
Guiamo’s head snapped back in surprise as he remembered a portion of the oracle’s words.

O, Land prepared, Romulus follows.
      The son of Mars comes!
Clad in woad,
      He prepares the way.
“Tomorrow we must search out a large supply of this blue dye, for I need it before we return to Rí Tuaithe Etarlám,” he said.
For the next three days, they asked every villager they encountered for a source of blue dye.  None could help, and most looked oddly at the strange caravan which searched the world in the cold of winter for blue dye.  On the third day, a villager took them to an old man living in a nearby village who had a supply of blue dye.  Aoi paid the outrageous price and the old man was delighted with his unexpected profits.
In the morning, as the men ate their first meal, Guiamo explained his plan to the warriors of the caravan.  In the bitter cold, Sreng displayed his tattoos and brands to the men who watched in awe.  Guiamo explained the orc practice of branding and tattoos, and read out loud the many symbols.
He then told the story of the slave and orc speaking of freedom.  When he mentioned the words ‘blue waters’ and ‘blue skies,’ Sreng began to understand Guiamo’s intent.
Guiamo produced the pot of blue dye.  Opening his leather binding of orc script, he turned through its pages until he found the word he wanted.  He painted a symbol upon Sreng’s face and announced, “This symbol painted on Sreng’s face says that he has no master!”
Flipping again through the pages, Guiamo found a second symbol.  He painted it upon Sreng’s chest, again covering a tattooed orc symbol.  “This says Sreng is a great warrior who fights with an ax!” he shouted.
Guiamo found more symbols and painted them on Sreng’s body, arms and legs, declaring, “I am death to orcs!” “Avenger of evil!” and “Orc hewer!”
When Guiamo was finished, the men no longer saw the orc tattoos, but a fierce blue-painted warrior covered in wild patterns.  Guiamo called the men forward to join Sreng in the war against the Fomori.  “We shall terrify the orcs with messages upon our bodies!”
First came Aoi, and all the others followed as the blue symbols became badges of honor and courage.  Guiamo painted late into the night, and to the flickering light of great bonfires, the men danced as they sang their traditional songs of battle, gore and the afterlife in the great battle lodge of the valorous.
Proudly wearing their armor and blue symbols, the troupe travelled two more days to the hall of Rí Tuaithe Etarlám.  Everyone was surprised to see the warriors using Guiamo’s riding steps to dismount and the people were quickly informed they were made by Guiamo, but what terrified the people were the painted symbols upon their bodies.  Aoi’s men were greeted with some hesitation, for the king’s men were intimidated by the warriors who rode with renewed purpose and grim, blue-clad determination.
They were ready for war and Etarlám saw it.  He saw it in Aoi’s eyes; this renewed desire to do battle, and Etarlám wondered if his favorite warrior was planning insurrection.
Guiamo put his mind to rest when he stepped forward to announce, “My lord, I have brought to you a new champion, Sreng of the Fir Bolg.”
Etarlám was instinctively wary of Sreng, for he knew the man had removed Nuada’s left arm with a single blow.
Sreng stepped forward with strength, but politely bowed low to honor his host, the rí tuaithe.
Guiamo explained the purpose of the blue symbols and Etarlám listened with eyes wide with astonishment.  When he had at long last finished, Guiamo fell silent to await the king’s mind.
Etarlám sat quietly on his throne and looked into the eyes of his men.  There was a new energy in their eyes, a light which he knew would be extinguished if he demurred, but would blaze on if he approved.  He made his choice and enthusiastically exclaimed, “By the gods, Cúmóro, you have an ingenious plan!  All my warriors shall ride into battle defiantly wearing the blue orc symbols in the color of freedom!  The Regni of Rí Tuaithe Etarlám will lead the war against the Fomori and, by Lugh’s beardless chin, we shall be victorious!”
All the men burst out with a thunderous cheer, and a great feast was held that night to honor Sreng and Guiamo.  Word travelled quickly across Íath of the Mighty Hundred of Rí Tuaithe Etarlám, all clad in blue and of the Druí boy who led them.
Cassivellaunus, seeing the enthusiasm which surrounded the spreading tale of these men, recognized that his own men admired them greatly.  He feared his men would desert him to join with Etarlám.  He sent emissaries to Etarlám asking for Cúmóro to teach his men about the orc symbols in blue.  The men eagerly embraced Guiamo’s plan and before long, Nuada informed Eochaid of the newfound practice of the warriors spreading among the tribes.
Lying on his sickbed, Eochaid listened carefully to Nuada’s tale.  His physician, Dian Cécht the leech, busied himself preparing a poultice on a small table beside the bed to treat Eochaid’s fever.  When Nuada had finished, Eochaid brooded deep in thought.  Finally, he whispered, “We shall embrace this new way of warfare.  I am mindful that this young Druí may gather a following to challenge me.  This I cannot allow.  To suppress him, each rí tuaithe shall create his own troupe of one hundred mounted men and choose a champion to lead them.  In this way, Etarlám’s men shall be no different than any other rí tuaithe.  My slúaig will grow stronger for it, but none shall stand up to challenge me.  When great battles are to be fought, all my warriors from every region shall wear the symbols of blue.”

About the Series

Combining legitimate legends with actual historical events, Marshall Best weaves an epic story that portrays the ancient world as it might have been, a world which the ancient historians recorded as fact; a time when gods ruled the earth and strange creatures dominated the land. It is the era of civilized conquerors exploring distant and primitive new lands. Scant recordings left to us today only touch on the fringe of the fantastic and brutal reality that existed in those distant lands of the west. Into this age, young Guiamo enters the world stage as the great game-changer, and by his hand the gods and beasts become destined to disappear into myth and legend.

The Chronicles:

Guiamo (The Chronicles of Guiamo Durmius Stolo, #1)Guiamo

In 60 B.C., ten-year-old Guiamo Durmius Stolo, an exceptionally gifted Roman orphan, is abandoned in Gaul . Left to fend for himself, Guiamo is set onto a path of legend. Recognized by the gods as having world-changing talents, he is given a weapon that changes his destiny and the world’s forever. 
Ebeth says, "In telling this story, Best is able to richly lay out the history of the land and the people - and he does so without confusing the reader. That is a gift and a talent."

Cumoro (The Chronicles of Guiamo Durmius Stolo, #2)

Guiamo Durmius Stolo sails in 55 B.C. with Rome’s 7th Legion as Julius Caesar invades Britain. But Caesar has not before encountered the Fomori, a dominion of wicked creatures which wage war against the human inhabitants and dominate much of Britain. Armed with his god-made spear, Guiamo joins with the tribal kings against their Fomori foe when Caesar departs. 
"Just finished Book 2. Any writer who wants to write about epic battles, should read the battle against the orcs. A great example of swordplay and magic combined!"  - Mary Woldering

Having destroyed the Fomori in Britain , Guiamo Durmius Stolo decides in 51 B.C. to bring the Cruthin people, once slaves to the Fomori, to Ireland , but encounters the Fomori who reside there as well. Guiamo discovers that the gods venerated by the Druids are unworthy. The gods are displeased with him and begin to work against him.
The third book in an excellent series and again the authors understanding and research into the myths and legends add excitement and interest to the story. 
The writer totally enthralls and absorbs the reader into a time gone by and again you feel you are there fighting and wanting to warn Morlanos of the danger he is facing. 
Anyone who is interested in legends and has an vivid imagination and believes strange creatures and magic (or the belief that wizards/witches existed) governed the thoughts of the people and their lifestyles will find this an excellent read.beckvalleybooks 

In 50 B.C. Guiamo Durmius Stolo finds himself victor over the detested Fomori whose leader, Cichol, is slain and those few who survived are scattered. Guiamo explores the secret places where Cichol kept his most important secrets and discovers there the treasures of Cichol's master, the goddess Domnu.
The author springs yet more surprises and again shows expert research and intense historic knowledge.beckvalleybooks 
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The Author:

Marshall BestMarshall Best is an avid reader, father of six and business owner. In the past several years he has found his love of writing as well. What began as a desire to write a story for his children has evolved into a nine book series.

Marshall has done extensive research into the history behind the legends, people and places of England, Scotland and Ireland involved in his books. He loves being able to weave real people and legends into his stories making them come alive. He is definitely a writer that tends to the details often mapping out timetables, calendars, geneologies, etc. that pertain to his book to ensure that it is as realistic as possible. 

Marshall also enjoys putting real life issues into his books, delving into a bit of philosophy while entertaining with orcs, dragons, magic and battles. He is someone who loves a grand adventure but makes sure it's not a shallow one.

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