Author Lissa Morgan writes patriotic historical romances set in medieval Wales and her new book, The Warrior’s Reluctant Wife, is located especially close to home.
The story opens in Llanbadarn Church in Aberystwyth with a marriage of alliance between two native ruling houses, and then moves to Abereinion Castle on the Dyfi estuary.
The exact location of this early medieval castle, referred to in Brut y Tywysogion/the Chronicle of the Princes as ‘Castell Aberdyfi’, has long been a cause for speculation.
The southern side of the Dyfi estuary, as opposed to the northern side, is the likely place for such a strategically important fortification, and it is almost certain that the motte and bailey remains on the RSPB nature reserve at Ynyshir is indeed the castle built by the Lord Rhys, prince of Deheubarth, in 1156, to guard against attack from Gwynedd.
Lissa lives in Dolgellau and works in Aberystwyth. This is her third novel to be published by Mills and Boon Historical and coincides with an exciting project being undertaken at Ynyshir to clear the existing mound, which has long been overgrown, and to put in place an information board telling the history of the castle and of Rhys ap Gruffudd.
In 1156, the prince had just taken Ceredigion from Owain ap Gruffudd of Gwynedd, his uncle by marriage, who himself had taken the region from the Normans in 1136. Rhys would lose it again in 1158, to the Marcher lord, Roger de Clare – but not for long!
The warrior of the book’s title is Peredur ab Eilyr, custodian of Castell Abereinion, and his wife is Rhianon ferch Cadwgan, newly widowed and reluctant to marry again.
Like most medieval marriages, theirs is one of political alliance rather than love, and both of them bring their own particular ‘baggage’ to the union.
Weaving their personal and marital conflicts into the atmospheric location, amid the harshness of winter, with the threat of war looming over the border and treachery brewing closer to home, Lissa’s story is a rich tapestry of medieval Welsh society that also draws on the landscape, nature and language of Wales.
Where do the morloi come in? Well, you’ll have to read the book to find out!
The Warrior’s Reluctant Wife is on sale this August and is available from bookshops and online at Amazon.
The book is the first in a duet, with the second part, The Warrior’s Forbidden Maiden, coming out early next summer.
This concluding story is set in the castle of Ystrad Meurig and the Cistercian Abbey of Ystrad Fflur-Strata Florida in the year 1164, when the Lord Rhys was yet again at war with King Henry II and on the cusp of reestablishing his family’s ancient kingdom of Deheubarth, which he would hold until his death in 1197.