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Monday, October 19, 2009

The National Best Books 2009 Awards

Great news! A LAND BEYOND RAVENS finaled in The National Best Books 2009 Awards, in the Fiction & Literature: Historical Fiction category!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Announcing...Blog Tour!!!

I will be on a virtual book tour for my new book A Land Beyond Ravens, starting 5 October. Here are the stops I'll be making. Please stop by and feel free to leave some comments!

5 Oct: The Plot

5 Oct: Historically Obsessed

6 Oct: The Plot

7 Oct: Book Madness

8 Oct: The Review From Here

9 Oct: Marta's Meanderings

12 Oct: The Fantasy Pages

13 Oct: The Book Connection

14 Oct: In My Youth

14 Oct: HistFic Chick

15 Oct: Historical Novel Reviews

16 Oct: The Writer's Life

19 Oct: Zensanity

20 Oct: Just Me

21 Oct: Divine Caroline

21 Oct: American Chronicle

22 Oct: The Hot Author Report

23 Oct: The Hot Author Report

26 Oct: Book Tours and More

26 Oct: Historical Tapestry

27 Oct: Scribe Vibe

28 Oct: Café of Dreams

29 Oct: The Tome Traveller

30 Oct: The Story Behind the Book

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Review by Historical Novel Review

Posted by Mirella Sichirollo Patzer

In 5th century Britain, High King Uther Pendragon is old, frail, and sick. He has no known heir and must name one before he dies. Lesser king, Cadwallon, waits impatiently to take his place. But Uther Pendragon does indeed have an heir, his whereabouts a secret even to him. A son named Arthur who has been hidden away since birth under the guidance of an old, wise wizard. Almost no one knows of his existence. Soon, Arthur will be acknowledged as Uther Pendragon’s sole heir and high king. But until then, doubts swirl about his existence.

Marcus is a fallen confidant of Uther Pendragon. Over the years, he served as the high king’s spy. But now, he knows too much and he is no longer favoured or trusted by the king. He struggles to keep the peace between Cadwallon and the Christian Church, both desirous of increasing their power.

Marcus’ beloved wife, Claerwen is gifted with “fire in the head” (the ability to see the future). She was also a trusted servant of the king, having protected Uther’s daughter by taking her to Avalon. When her sister, Drysi, and a strange monk, Gwion, seek shelter with Marcus at their fortress, trouble mysteriously ensues. A Land Beyond Ravens is the 4th and final book of the Macsen’s Treasure Series. Even though I had not read the preceding novels, I was easily able to follow the plot and relevant backstory through clever, brief snippets throughout the story. The reader follows the numerous twists and turns of the story through the point of view of the two main characters, Marcus and Claerwan, created completely from the imagination of author Kathleen Cunningham Guler. As such, this keeps the story fresh and unique from the actual Arthurian Legend. Guler writes with a strong voice and vibrant prose. Her use of Welsh and Celtic names and words adds realism to the skilfully woven tale. She is a master at creating unique, unusual characters which draw the reader deeper into the story in anxious desire to unlock their secrets.

I highly recommend this book to afficionado’s of the Arthurian legend. The previous books in the series are Into the Path of Gods, In the Shadow of Dragons, and The Anvil Stone.

Historical Novel Review Blog

Review by Crystal Reviews

Reviewed by Viviane Crystal

In 5th Century Britain, King Uther is physically failing! A ruler who never took hostages has now become suspicious of his trusted spy, Marcus ap Iorwerth, who has held pivotal secrets protecting the realm and now is being treated like a foreign enemy! Into this mix arises the presence of Uther's son, Arthur, who appears to have a design to defeat the encroaching Saxons, a plan that Uther has been slow to accept in spite of failure and in spite of the fact that the lords under Uther are divided in their support and rejection of his ruthless ways. Add to that mixture the rising influence of the Catholic Church, whose loyalty and power appear to sway with whoever is victorious, a changing tide from day to day!

Marcus and his wife, Claerwen are determined to do all in their power to work for freedom, loyalty and love of Britain but are heavily burdened by all of these conflicting forces working for self-gain and destroying the kingdom in the process. Marcus is haunted by the devastating loss of a dearly loved one, and the machinations of Claerwen's sister brings fear and treachery to the home of Marcus and Claerwen, a place of peace, trust and deep respect for the old Druid ways. Their deep love, however, is the force that enemies fail to calculate and one that strengthens them for the deepest of challenges.

Merlin the Enchanter has prophesied that one day a phenomenal King will rule Britain and usher in a new, unprecedented age of glory and honor. He is everywhere that matters and is relying on the allegiance of Marcus and Claerwen, even after Uther tries to divide this dedicated couple by taking a cherished family member a prisoner to guarantee Marcus's obedience. Who will prevail? It isn't so obvious and the confusing battles make the reader doubt whether goodness will prevail.

Kathleen Cunningham Guler possesses a particular gift of blending history, adventure, mystery and passionate love into a story so engaging that one can't stop reading and yet dreads the end of such an engaging, riveting story! Unsure whether there will be other stories to follow in this dynamic, wonderful series, this reviewer believes the end of A Land Beyond Ravens holds forth the possibility of another book to follow in this multiple-award-winning series, which is a great thought, indeed!

Crystal Reviews

Review by TCM Reviews

Reviewed by Victoria Kennedy

It’s fifth century Britain and Uther Pendragon rules as high king. His son Arthur has vanished, taken into hiding the day of his birth by the druid, Myrddin Emrys, nephew to the king.

Marcus ap Iorwerth, master spy and loyal subject of the king and his clairvoyant wife Claerwen, have worked hard for many years to see that Myrddin’s vision of Arthur as king comes to fruition. King Uther’s declining health and ill temper become a problem when the king accuses Marcus of betraying him. Uther punishes Marcus by destroying his sword and sending him home.

The Christian church’s continuing bid for power becomes a threat to Arthur’s future reign and the peace of the kingdom. Marcus must now do what he can to prevent the church’s plots from doing too much damage and it won’t be an easy task. Claerwen has her own problems with strange dreams of a mysterious grail that’s linked to Author’s fate.

A Land Beyond Ravens entertains and gives the reader a haunting glimpse into a myth shrouded past filled with legends, magic and heroes. It’s well written and a great read for both fans of Celtic history and fantasy buffs as well.

TCM Reviews

Author Interview with Feathered Quill Book Reviews

Check out my interview with Feathered Quill Book Reviews:

Feathered Quill interview with Kathleen Cunningham Guler

Monday, August 31, 2009

Review by Reader Views

Reviewed by Tyler R. Tichelaar for Reader Views (8/09)

Kathleen Cunningham Guler has completed the “Macsen’s Treasure Series” with the publication of the fourth and final novel, “A Land Beyond Ravens.” Although I am an avid enthusiast of the Arthurian legend, somehow I missed the first three volumes, but this final volume can be read completely by itself without the reader being at all lost. Guler knows how to provide just enough pertinent information from past volumes for the reader without long summaries. Instead, the reader is continually in the thoughts of the two main characters, Marcus and Claerwen, so that the story is told naturally and effectively.

Marcus and Claerwen are a remarkable couple. They are completely Guler’s invention and do not appear in the traditional versions of the Arthurian legend. But Guler has provided herself with a powerful step into the legend without another retelling of it by focusing on characters somewhat on the fringes of the main storyline to bring alive what life was like in fifth-century Britain. Uther, Arthur, Morgaine, and Merlin are on the fringes of Guler’s novel, appearing briefly when necessary, but Marcus and Claerwen are the central characters. Marcus is a spy working for King Uther in various functions while his wife Claerwen is gifted with “fire in the head”—the ability to see the future, although not always clearly. Claerwen has also been involved in taking Uther’s daughter Morgaine to Avalon as a child to protect her, and she is significant, as is Marcus, in the future quest for the Grail.

The story takes place over the course of just a couple of years as King Uther Pendragon grows older, and as Arthur, who has been hidden away all these years, is about to become acknowledged as Uther’s son and take over the throne. During this time, Marcus is involved in several intrigues that range from dealing with the difficult minor king Cadwallon to the Christian Church’s increasing power in Britain. When Claerwen’s sister, Drysi, and a monk, Gwion, show up at Marcus’ home, additional complications will ensue for the main couple.
As a lover of the Arthurian legend, I was impressed that Guler does not settle for sword and sorcery, thrills, and a simple retelling of the legend. She has striven to be very historically accurate—as much as possible considering fifth-century Britain remains shrouded in mystery as to what really happened. She is faithful to the Welsh and Celtic names, customs, and beliefs of the time as much as possible, and although the items of Macsen’s Treasure are her own invention, the idea hearkens back to the Welsh tradition of the Thirteen Treasures of Britain. The atmosphere of the novel is somewhat dark, but also extremely realistic and authentic. The characters are real, their motivations reasonable, and nowhere were there bizarre or unbelievable plot twists. “A Land Beyond Ravens” is one of the most historically realistic Arthurian novels ever written, a thoroughly mature work that belongs beside such classic Arthurian novels as Rosemary Sutcliffe’s “Sword at Sunset” and Mary Stewart’s “Merlin Trilogy.”

Above all, what I enjoyed about this novel, and would have enjoyed even if it were not Arthurian, was to read about the relationship between Marcus and Claerwen. I am no fan of romance, but this novel went beyond romance to creating a beautiful and realistic portrait of love between a husband and wife, a love that has developed over many years. The scenes between them are tender, never filled with eroticism to entertain the reader, but simply heartfelt. Claerwen is deeply in love with her husband, constantly aware of his masculinity, and Marcus is good, kind, protective and loyal to his wife. It is rare that a married couple is depicted so perfectly in fiction. It is the kind of relationship that makes a reader envious and satisfied at the same time.

My only complaint is that this series has ended. Among the more than one hundred Arthurian novels I have read, the “A Land Beyond Ravens” is among the dozen or so most deserving to become classics of the genre. I will console myself by reading the first three novels in the series and hoping Guler considers writing more.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Review by US Review of Books

Reviewed by Peter Fitzpatrick

"Our people belong to this land; the land is part of us. We don't keep it, we hold it in trust, because it lives, it takes care of us."

Do you want to read a new interpretation of the Arthurian cycle? This fourth book in the series by Guler provides just that, in spades. It takes place in the late 480's, when High King of the Celts, Uther Pendragon, is nearing death. Celtic Britain is in danger of a bloody civil war if his son Arthur does not emerge as a strong leader. Machinations, both military and spiritual, unfold in fast-paced plotting that leads to a resolution of this drama that perhaps also raises the question: Do the tales of the Round Table and good King Arthur serve as emblems of a lost Golden Age—an age when exploitation of our world and warfare were not so prevalent? Well-drawn characters and an engrossing theme keep the pages turning.

Guler draws a world-picture of the ancient Celtic society through two main characters, Marcus ap Iowerth, master spy for Uther Pendragon, and his wife, Druidic seeress Claerwen. They evoke the rhythms of speech and patterns of thought of the 5th century world of warlords, druids, and magic without being overly ornamental or stylized. Marcus throws himself into action hindering attempts by Arthur's rivals from grabbing power for themselves or Rome. Meanwhile Claerwen battles internally to understand the overpowering visions that overwhelm her with a sense of foreboding. Together, they help illustrate the thoroughly pagan sources of the Arthurian mythos, one that modern research affirms as being the true source of the stories. Guler's imaginative and dynamic retelling helps fill a gap in the corpus of Holy Grail fiction, one where the holistic and life-affirming beliefs of Druidism are given a thoughtful and compelling voice.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Book Review from Feathered Quill Book Reviews

Reviewed by Pamela Victor

If you’ve read the first three books in Kathleen Cunningham Guler’s Macsen’s Treasure Series, you will not require any encouragement to pick up the fourth book in the series, A Land Beyond Ravens. No doubt you already are hooked on the action and intrigue surrounding fifth century spy Marcus ap Iorwerth. However if you haven’t yet discovered the series, A Land Beyond Ravens should be on your map if you enjoy fantasy and the Celtic legendary history of King Arthur. In fact even if your book genre interests extend beyond those categories, you may still want to sink your teeth into Guler’s series. For although A Land Beyond Ravens is classified as historical fiction, it gracefully incorporates other genres, such as mystery, romance, action-adventure, and fantasy. If you are a fan of Diane Gabaldon’s Outlander series, then you will enjoy the same scrumptious mix of historical context, exciting escapades and tender moments in A Land Beyond Ravens.

As the high king Uther’s health deteriorates, cunning spy Marcus ap Iorwerth wrestles with rogue king Cadwallon over control of the kingdom. Marcus is an expert swordsman and spy with keen intelligence, plus he’s a romantic who is utterly devoted to his wife Claerwen. In a phrase, Marcus ap Iorwerth is a fifth century James Bond, and he must utilize all his many skills to make sure Uther’s secret son, Arthur, succeeds his father as king. Unbeknownst to Cadwallon and the others of the kingdom, Merlin the Enchanter has been grooming the boy Arthur for just this eventuality. But perhaps the young man is still too immature to hold such a weighty position while fending off others who will fight to the death to usurp his power? Add to the mix, a land battle between the Britons and the Saxon, throw in a dash of religious inquiry as the “new” Christian religion becomes introduced to the primarily Druid kingdom, and then sprinkle a generous serving of a love story about the affection, respect and honor shared between two strong people, and you have the zesty ingredients for A Land Beyond Ravens. As Marcus ponders, “So many years had passed, waiting for the moment. But it had to be the right moment. Arthur may be good – he had just proven he understood tactics well – but that could have been luck alone. Arthur was still so young…And time was running out…”

As readers piece together clues, the suspense surrounding Arthur’s possible ascension to the throne easily maintains interest throughout this well-paced novel. The story is chocked full of tasty morsels of period details, and the addition of the Welsh language lends historical veracity and flavor. Guler’s solid descriptive writing style gives good weight to both details and plot as she integrates neat summaries of the plotlines of earlier books in the series. In a clever manner, the author creates individual books that can stand alone as well as a series. As Guler writes in the author’s note, “I wished to portray a period of history through the eyes of people who could have lived then and set the events that led to Arthur’s rise to power as an influence upon their lives. Each book in the series can be read alone; the prominent characters, chronology, themes and background tie them together.”

However if you enjoy one book in this The Macsen’s Treasure Series, Merlin himself couldn’t stop you from hunting up the rest.

Quill says: A must-read for fans of Celtic history with a taste for intrigue, romance and swordplay!

Monday, March 30, 2009

A Land Beyond Ravens: Book 4 of the Macsen's Treasure Series

WINNER! of the 2010 Colorado Book Award!!!

"...intriguing and suspenseful..."
-- Sharon Kay Penman, NY Times bestselling author of
Here Be Dragons and Falls the Shadow

"...intricately crafted language alive with authentic detail..."
--Jen Delyth,
artist and author of Celtic Folk Soul, Art, Myth, and Symbol

" and surprising..."
--Mark Adderley, author of The Hawk and the Wolf


Mysterious dreams. A lost grail. Secret hoards of wealth. A country ruined by lies and betrayal.

And one brief, shining chance to build a golden kingdom…

No one in 5th century Britain knows more secrets than master spy Marcus ap Iorwerth, and that makes him a dangerous man. It also makes him a hunted one. For nearly three decades he has manipulated stubborn, irascible kings and warlords in a quest to not only unite them against foreign invasion but to stop them from destroying each other as well. And along with his beloved wife Claerwen, he has followed a greater, even more perilous pursuit—to forge a clear path for the fulfillment of Merlin the Enchanter’s famed prophecy that one day a great king will take command, the king known as Arthur of the Britons.

Now, with Arthur at last on the brink of adulthood and already showing great promise as a leader, Marcus discovers that the emerging Christian church is gaining enough power to dangerously shift control of Britain. At the same time Claerwen, gifted with second sight, is plagued with strange dreams that connect inexplicable doom to both Arthur and a long lost grail sacred to Britain’s high kings. As foreboding mounts, Marcus struggles to prevent the church from crushing Arthur’s chances of becoming an effective king. But how he goes about it sets up the very doom that Claerwen sees. Will she be able to stop him? Or will her visions send Marcus to his own doom as well?
Book trailer video for A LAND BEYOND RAVENS!
Watch "The Anvil Stone" book video below: