Love Bytes says hello and welcome to author J Tullos Hennig visiting our blog today to talk about new DSPP release, book 4 in the Wode Books, “Summerwode”.
The Green Man
J Tullos Hennig
It has been chiselled into cathedral columns and sewn into lavish tapestries. It has been carved into wooden lintels and misericords, sculpted in stone to protect castle gatehouses, has grinned or scowled at us from walkways and garden gates. Both male and female—and some in-between—sometimes cheerful, sometimes grotesque… always evocative.
It has become known as the Green Man.
But the Green Man is more than these numerous and specific representations. He is of us. From Neolithic times to the Victorian era, crowned with horns or tressed with foliage, the Green Man has been there, peeking from the corners of our subconscious. For all the arguments about what He is and isn’t, one thing is clear: He characterises an oft-fierce and irrepressible life, symbolises our own longings for a verdant, natural world. He is life, and nature.
It is an incarnation that Robin Hood was born to take on.
Indeed, there are many theories (and theories of this particular archer abound, believe me!) that wild Robin was indeed born from tree spirits and misted glens. That he dances a spiral over the fecund earth, the lord of misrule who dares the wilderness both as the aspect of the Winter’s Holly King and the Summer’s Oak King, evenly matched and embattled.
In my own particular re-imagining within the Books of the Wode, Robin Hood / Robyn Hode is wildly akin to that shadowy, leaf-crowned and horned figure, a trickster quite at home in the deeps of primordial forest. He is avatar to the natural forces, a wild god taking aim at fate with the push of a longbow and the release of an arrow dressed with peacock tufts—the symbol of an ever-watchful goddess. He has his men beside him, and his Maiden—only this time the Queen of the Shire Wode is his sister, with her own fate and strength and choices. Robyn instead finds his heart in another direction, and with a theological twist only a stroppy dissident could come up with, Robyn swears he’ll defend the sacred space of the Shire Wode to his last breath—if his god will let him be a lover, not a fighter, to the nobleman’s son who is fated to be his archenemy, and wear the Oak crown to Robyn’s Holly. Seeking change, before the old magics are forever strangled silent.
But then, the Green Man breeds change, makes fertile the imagination and oversees the seasonal cycles, guards with fierce leers the gates to both heaven and hell—so, too, is Robyn a symbol of fertile growth. He disappears into the safe and treacherous haven of the forest—a trickster, sure—but overall, a survivor. When we most long for a way back, a reconnection with the power of nature, there he is, with two upthrust fingers for the powers that be. Sedition, and significance. Green is the colour of balance, so it is no coincidence that the Green Man—or His best-loved avatar, Robyn Hode—would supply both haven and havoc in a world wildly out of kilter.
He always reappears, just when we need him most.
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The Summer King has come to the Wode…
Yet to which oath, head or heart, shall he hold?
Once known as the Templar assassin Guy de Gisbourne, dispossessed noble Gamelyn Boundys has come to Sherwood Forest with conflicted oaths. One is of duty: demanding he tame the forest’s druidic secrets and bring them back to his Templar Masters. The other oath is of heat and heart: given to the outlaw Robyn Hood, avatar of the Horned Lord, and the Maiden Marion, embodiment of the Lady Huntress. The three of them—Summerlord, Winter King, and Maiden of the Spring—are bound by yet another promise, that of fate: to wield the covenant of the Shire Wode and the power of the Ceugant, the magical trine of all worlds. In this last, also, is Gamelyn conflicted; spectres of sacrifice and death haunt him.
Uneasy oaths begin a collision course when not only Gamelyn, but Robyn and Marion are summoned to the siege of Nottingham by the Queen. Her promise is that Gamelyn will regain his noble family’s honour of Tickhill, and the outlaws of the Shire Wode will have a royal pardon.
But King Richard has returned to England, and the price of his mercy might well be more than any of them can afford…
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J Tullos Hennig has always possessed inveterate fascination in the myths and histories of other worlds and times. Despite having maintained a few professions in this world—equestrian, dancer, teacher, artist—Jen has never successfully managed to not be a writer. Ever.
Her most recent work is a darkly magical & award-winning historical fantasy series re-imagining the legends of Robin Hood, in which both pagan and queer viewpoints are given respectful voice.
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SPECIAL SALE: The duology that started it all, Greenwode & Shirewode, are on sale starting (quite apropos) on May Day/Beltain and running for a limited time through DSP Publications, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, iBooks and Amazon!
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