The Glastonbury Grail Series
Bringing to life sixteenth century Britain and the people who lived there
Book 1, Glastonbury Tor
A finalist for both the prestigious Christy Award for inspirational fiction and Foreword Magazine's 2006 Book of the Year, Glastonbury Tor has been praised for its historical authenticity, graceful prose, and lack of polemics.
What readers have been saying about Glastonbury Tor:
... a gripping coming of age story and a beautiful retelling of the history and legends of the Holiest Earth in England.--Donna Fletcher Crow, author of Glastonbury: the Novel of Christian England
Writing of this quality is a rare find, and though difficult to put down, it also left me feeling very content. --Lori Fox
A compelling story of forgiveness with the mystique of Glastonbury and the very real grace of God.
--Carolyn R. Scheidies , Author's Choice Reviews
Glastonbury Tor weaves together the rich history and legend surrounding the church in the turbulent times of Henry VIII..., showing the same turbulence in the hearts and minds of individuals, wrestling with conflicting desires for power versus humility, or revenge versus forgiveness.
--E. M. Legg
Book 2, Honddu Vale
What readers are saying about Honddu Vale:
... history and legend combine in a powerful tale of greed, injustice and avarice surmounted by the triumph of forgiveness, grace and love. And in the center of it all— The Holy Grail.
--Donna Fletcher Crow, author of Glastonbury and The Monastery Murders
Hardy has crafted another great historical novel ... [with] twists, turns, and revelations that keep you reading to the very end. This is a wonderful novel of forgiveness and redemption.
--Joan Niehuis, Reviews from an Avid Reader
I liked the idea of having a silent God verses a more active God, like the first book, Glastonbury Tor. Sometimes God is silent and, like Colin, we need to learn to be patient during that time.
--Rani Grant, Indoor Garden Musings
a page-turner…. I am so glad the author provides a pronunciation guide at the beginning of the book since Welsh can be a difficult language to work with ... Yet, Hardy lends great authenticity in keeping names, places and other terms in the ancient tongue of Colin’s people. So, let your tongue be loosened and read on.
--Kevin Sorenson, Random Thoughts from a Cluttered Mind
I am a coward.
Were I not, I would have died this morning on the Tor with the others, but I fled and hid. The Abbot told me I should be gone to Wales by now, but I hadn’t even the courage for that. My father spoke truer than he knew. He said I would never amount to anything as a monk, and he was right.
I close my eyes and mutter the prayers of protection for the dying.
. . . From the ancient enemy: free and defend their souls, O Lord. . . .
Across the moors three gallows loom atop the Tor. Three bodies swing in the cold November dawn. I draw my cloak about me. The bundle that is my treasure presses against my side, safely wrapped in the wool of my old habit. I try again to pray, but it is the warm baritone of the priest in my old parish in Wales, that fills my mind. More than a year has passed since he chanted those prayers for my mother. The pain still runs deep, and it is for her that I weep.
The ancient olivewood drinking bowl that young Colin finds in the treasury of Glastonbury Abbey, was disregarded as worthless wood by King Henry VIII’s men when they inventoried the abbey’s treasures. But Father Dunstan, the tortured prior who preaches forgiveness, treasures it. Father Bede, as demanding as the hated father from whom Colin has fled, covets it. Abbot Whiting finds in it the courage to face his enemy, even as monasteries are being dismantled all over sixteenth century England. Will Colin find the personal faith and sense of worth he seeks? Can he ever forgive his father... or himself?
Things to Talk About
The valley where I had been born twisted below me, a green serpent resting between the bracken-covered slopes of the Black Mountains. A thin trail of smoke rose from the stone chimney of my father’s manor of Cewi Glen. It carried a few bright orange sparks that the rain quickly extinguished.
“Seventy times seven,” a child’s voice spoke in my memory, reminding me why I had come. Forgive, the Bible commanded. Not seven times, but seventy times seven.
“I can’t,” I whispered, though there was none to hear.
I felt in the breast of my tunic for the cup wrapped in old wool. It was there. Safe. I clutched it and murmured a quiet prayer for strength. Slowly my breathing steadied, and I knew what I must do.
Colin Hay returns home to Wales to reconcile with the father he blames for his mother’s death. But he finds Sir Stephen in the arms of a bewitching young woman with designs on more than a place in Sir Stephen’s bed. Belle covets the ancient olivewood drinking bowl that Colin brought with him when the abbey at Glastonbury was closed by King Henry VIII. Yet the cup, which once showed such supernatural power that some whispered it was the Holy Grail, now lies cold and empty in Colin’s hands. Were the glorious promises of God’s presence nothing more than a dream?
Take this virtual tour of the settings used in Honddu Vale.
Things to Talk About
About Writing Glastonbury Tor:
I have always loved all things Arthurian, but on a visit to Glastonbury, Somerset, in England it was the dramatic end of the abbey, rather than the tales of King Arthur and the Isle of Avalon that most struck me.
Research was so much fun. I read more than 30 books about Glastonbury or the historical period. I had lots of notes and a solid outline when I went to stay for two weeks with a lovely family who live six miles from the town on a bike track along one of the many drains that crisscross the Somerset Levels. They graciously took me into their family, loaned me a bike, a map and a pair of Wellington boots and set me loose to explore.
I climbed the Tor in the rain, slipped on the grass, fell in the yellow mud, and felt the wind tug at my clothes. Then I came home and wrote the first draft of the chapter where Colin climbs the Tor. I climbed again in spectacular sunshine on the anniversary of the abbot’s death, and sat on the grass singing, “Knowing you, Jesus. There is no greater thing,” which had become my theme song for the writing of this book. I watched the mists creep out of the drain across my path like a living thing, and stood in awe at the dance of the starlings as they roosted over the bog.
My thanks to the present owner of Sharpham Manor, who patiently answered my questions about the house, and to Otto Dyga, who explained the cutting of turves and the building of ruckles. I can heartily recommend the cream of mushroom soup served by The George and Pilgrim Inn.
About Writing Honddu Vale:
Early in the development of this story, I spent three delightful weeks researching in Wales. Most of the books I had found in North America treated Wales and England as one entity after King Edward’s conquest in the thirteenth century and gave the impression there was no difference between Welshman and Englishman. I was pretty sure that wasn’t the case. The history I brought home was written by a rabid Welsh Nationalist who gave me a glimpse of the passionate emotions my characters would feel about their past.
I rented a car, searching for just the right setting for the story I had in mind. The moment I drove into the Vale of Ewyas I knew I had found Colin’s home. This graceful green valley had everything I had imagined—an abandoned priory, an ancient hill fort, steep ravines and spectacular vistas.
Unfortunately, the geographic elements in the real valley were more scattered than would work for my story. I took the liberty of rearranging them and calling my fictional valley Honddu Vale after the River Honddu that runs through the original. (The DD in Honddu is pronounced like the TH in 'the' and the final U is like a long EE. HON-thee.)
On Sunday I stopped for lunch at Queenshead Inn (inspiration for Colin’s King’s Head). A friendly widow joined me. After all, I had taken “her” table by the fire. She and her friends sitting at the bar encouraged me to explore Patrishow Church—well worth the incredibly steep and windy road.
My husband and I later returned to the valley for a romantic weekend at the B&B in the remains of Llantony Priory. We stayed in the tower room at the top of the winding stair that I assigned to Catherine in my story.
Walking the hills of Wales, exploring its historic sites, reading what its people had to say, gave me invaluable insights into my characters and setting. I am grateful for the privilege.