The Retreat to Avalon
The Arthurian Age Book 1
by Sean Poage
Genre: Arthurian Historical Fiction Adventure
Fifteen hundred years have turned history into legend…
After three generations of struggle against ruthless invaders, Britain has finally clawed its way back within reach of peace and prosperity. Across the sea, Rome is crumbling under an onslaught of barbarian attacks, internal corruption and civil war. Desperate for allies, Rome’s last great emperor looks to Britain and the rising fame of her High King, Arthur.
Arthur believes the coming war is inevitable, but many are opposed. Dissent, intrigue and betrayal threaten to tear the fragile British alliance apart from within, while the enemies of Britain wait for the first sign of weakness.
Meanwhile, Gawain, a young warrior craving fame, is swept up in Arthur’s wake as the king raises an army. While Gawain’s wife and kin face their own struggles at home, the young warrior finds himself taking on more than he bargained for, and heading into the greatest battle his people have faced in generations.
The Retreat to Avalon is the exciting beginning of the historical fiction trilogy The Arthurian Age, introducing readers to the origins of King Arthur and the world he lived and fought for.
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With Author Sean Poage
What inspired you to write this book?
Well, when I was in high school, I was wandering around the library trying to find a subject for a term paper. The librarian, Mrs. Heusinkveld, handed me The Discovery of King Arthur by Geoffrey Ashe and said I might like it. She was right. For years I hoped someone would do a movie or book based on his research. When I mentioned that to my wife, she suggested I do it. And here we are.
What can we expect from you in the future?
Currently I’m working on the third book in the series. It completes the series, but I plan on a fourth book that focuses on “Merlin” and his life. It will explain a lot of things that happen in the background of the other three books.
After this series, I plan to do some fantasy novels, some historical-fantasy based on Greek legend, and to re-visit a story I started and didn’t finish years ago, about working as an undercover drug investigator for the Army in Germany.
Do you have any “side stories” about the characters?
I do! I’ve actually written a few short stories about some of the characters and events. I will be releasing those in the future, possibly as free stories for people who join my very small mailing list.
Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in The Retreat to Avalon?
The main character is Gawain. He’s a young, rather idealistic man trying to show he can hold his own among the older warriors in his society. His wife, father, brother, and friends all have important roles. Myrddin (Merlin) is a very interesting character who I’ve incorporated in a way that I don’t think has ever been done. I wonder how many people will figure him out before book four comes out. Even though the story is ultimately about Arthur, I wanted to show Arthur through others’ eyes. Arthur is too vast, in who he may have been, and all the interpretations of him in the past 15 centuries. I want to leave something of him for others to make up their own minds.
How did you come up with the concept and characters for the book?
The concept came from the research of a prominent historian from the UK named Geoffrey Ashe, and his books, including The Discovery of King Arthur. Considering the source material, the main characters were pretty easy. Originally, I intended to have Arthur as one of the few people from the old legends, until my research revealed that quite a few of the legendary characters may have been based on actual people.
Where did you come up with the names in the story?
Most of them come from historical people and people from the Welsh legends, rather than the later Medieval French romances. There is no Lancelot, but rather some much more interesting characters.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
Discovering how many of the old legends and people actually fit into plausible historical events and connections. It makes me think of Heinrich Schliemann researching what everyone thought was myth, just to find the ruins of Troy.
How did you come up with the title of the book?
I’m not sure. It just came to me, right from the start, probably because Avalon is an actual place in France, and how it ties into the historical battle that happened at Deols, France in 470. As Geoffrey Ashe pointed out, you can find many ways that the later King Arthur legends correlate to actual events and people.
Who designed your book covers?
Dmitry Yakhovsky, a very talented artist who lives in Belgium. You can read about him at:
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?
I’ve learned a lot about writing since my first book, and there are small things I would change, but nothing major. Mostly just stylistic things.
Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
So much! The publishing process is very interesting. My publishers at Perseid Press, Janet and Chris Morris, have taught me a lot about writing and publishing. I’m so grateful and never thought I would be close friends with someone who has been one of my favorite authors since I was a kid.
If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Imagining actors is fun, even though I am the worst at pop culture and knowing who most actors are. I think a young Karl Urban would make a fantastic Gawain.
Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Don’t worry about pronouncing the Welsh names. Pick a sound and go with it. And if you lose track, each book has an appendix with every character and location listed, with information about each.
What is your favorite part of this book and why?
The climactic battle. Everything comes together, and you can see Arthur face these terrible situations and… well, I don’t want to give too much away!
If you could spend time with a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?
If I could meet the historical person my book is based on, it would have to be Arthur, of course. I would have all kinds of questions for him. But if I just had to choose a character as written in my book, it would have to be Merlin (Myrddin), because he is just such an interesting, mysterious person.
Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
As many of the people as possible, more than you might expect, come from real people, or at least people who may have been real. Merlin is the one main character who may be more fictitious than real, though he plays a role that could have been that of a real person.
Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?
It is very character-driven. Because I need to make the story fit history, not twist history to fit the story, I’ve found that the research on different characters has made the story go in unexpected directions at times.
Convince us why you feel your book is a must read.
There is something timeless about Arthurian legend. So many people over the centuries have written their own versions, but few have tried to show Arthur in his real place in history. One of the best compliments I receive on my books is that they portray a King Arthur that not only seems real, but still feels like an Arthurian story.
Have you written any other books that are not published?
I’ve finished a short novella that is related to my series The Arthurian Age, but seen from the point of view of the legendary first Anglo-Saxon king in Britain, Hengist. J.R.R. Tolkien argued that Hengist was a historical person, and my story is based on his book, Finn and Hengest. It will be out this year.
If your book had a candle, what scent would it be?
It would definitely not be pumpkin spice.
Historical fiction author, Sean Poage, has had an exciting and varied life, as a laborer, soldier, police officer, investigator, computer geek and author. Travelling the world to see history up close is his passion.
These days he works in the tech world, writes when he can, and spends the rest of the time with his family, which usually means chores and home improvement projects, with occasional time for a motorcycle ride, scuba dive, or a hike in the beautiful Maine outdoors.