Friday, March 7, 2014

The Glastonbury Grail Series

Near Glastonbury Tor is the town where, in the 16th century, one of the monasteries of the Church of England, so named and claimed by King Henry, is located. Tor means hill. Glastonbury is the town. Glastonbury Tor is the first in a three-part series of fiction called the Glastonbury Grail Series. Author LeAnne Hardy begins her story in Wales, where Colin, a young man angry with his father, blaming him for his mother’s death, attacks his father and accidently wounds him. Colin thought he had killed his father, but not so. Yet, his brother Walter tells him he better leave, giving him a special ring to identify himself and a purse of money, advising Colin to go to the monastery at Glastonbury across the River Severn in England, where one of the monks is their cousin.

When he is almost there, he sees the Tor ahead of him. Colin meets Wilfrith Thatcher, a local farmer, who offers him a ride in his cart. Tired from many miles of walking, Colin accepts. When they reach Thatcher’s home, Colin is invited for supper and overnight. To his surprise, this family has a Tyndale Bible in English and several family members, including daughter Alice, can read it. They read a portion every night after supper. But that is against the law and Colin will be expected to report them. Of course, he does not. He is surprised and pleased to see and hear a Bible read in English rather than Latin.

Colin stays with them for two days and then finds his way into town and to the monastery, meets his cousin who is now known as Brother Arthur, meets the Abbot and explains his situation, and is granted permission to remain at the monastery for a time, not as an official novice, but just as a person who needs that kind of care for awhile. Colin’s mother had always wanted him to join the church, be involved in a monastery, so he takes his time to look at it and think about it.

King Henry is sending Lord Cromwell’s men around to all the monasteries to inventory goods that might be given or taken for the king’s coffers. Glastonbury Abbey is rich, and Colin is assigned to help secure, and perhaps hide, some items the monks do not want to have taken away from them. Colin soon finds other concerns as well. As monasteries are being closed, monks are being turned away though some want to stay in their areas and continue to help the poor and any who need help. There is talk of petitions to the king. Some of the monks want to march as pilgrims, thinking the king will then change his mind and keep them in their places. There is much more...I haven’t even told you about the special cup yet, the olivewood cup that may have come from Israel with Joseph of Arimathea, long ago when perhaps he came to Glastonbury.

There are many mysteries here. And there is a second volume available, called Honddu Vale, in which Colin returns to Wales to try to reconcile with his father and has further adventures there. And there will be a third book in this series. LeAnne Hardy has been a missionary in six countries on four continents. Her plots and settings are inspired by these locations. She has also  written for children affected by HIV/AIDS. Her books are available at www.leannehardy.net.

—Lois Sibley