Heartwood Synopsis

Home Biography Novels Musicals Appearances Links
Heartwood Excerpt The Inside Story


Selling the Tale: Part Two
A Sample Marketing Synopsis for Heartwood

It is a land where scattered tribes offer blood sacrifices to unseen gods, and the spirits of trees and animals are as sacred as those of humans. A world where all beings – living and dead, mortal and immortal – are part of the great World Tree, in whose silver branches dwell the gods and in whose roots float the Forever Isles of the afterlife.

This is the world of Heartwood, where life is a precarious balance between life and death, order and chaos. But the tribes of the Oak and the Holly have no idea how precarious that balance is until a malevolent force disrupts the Midwinter battle between the Oak-Lord and the Holly-Lord, locking the world in winter.

Drawing from Celtic and Norse mythology, Heartwood explores the bonds that bind society and family, the lengths to which we will go to preserve them, and one man’s struggle to maintain control of his life – and the lives of those he loves – when only relinquishing that control can restore balance to the world.

Embittered by the death of his wife and his mother, alienated from his tribe and the gods who seem to have abandoned him, Darak’s faith is further undermined by the belief that he is losing his younger brother Tinnean. He cannot accept Tinnean’s decision to become apprenticed to Tree-Father Struath, to dedicate his life to the very gods who have destroyed their family. Hoping to sway Tinnean from his path, his actions only alienate his brother and incur the shaman’s enmity.

However, Darak and Struath must work together when they realize the enormity of the catastrophe confronting the tribe and the world: not only has the spirit of the Oak-Lord been lost during the battle, but Tinnean’s spirit has been cast adrift as well, while that of the Holly-Lord is trapped in Tinnean’s body.

With the world locked in what could prove to be an eternal winter, Darak must use his skills as a hunter to search for his brother and the Oak-Lord. Accompanying him on his quest are his wife’s impulsive sister Griane; Yeorna, the tribe’s Grain-Mother; the Holly-Lord; and Struath whose past hides a secret that threatens them all. For only Struath knows the identity of the malevolent force that disrupted the battle of the tree-lords – the spirit of his predecessor and lover Morgath who has escaped from Chaos to seek revenge against the tribe that consigned him there.

Pursued by Morgath, who has usurped the body of a wolf, the little group crosses the veil between the worlds into the First Forest, the magical realm where gods walk the shadowy trails, helping – and hindering – their quest. Chief among them is Fellgair, the mercurial Trickster-God, whose riddles force Darak to reveal his darkest secrets. In return, Fellgair offers tantalizing hints about Tinnean’s whereabouts before revealing the truth: that both Tinnean and the Oak-Lord are trapped in Chaos.

Before Darak can find a way there, Morgath attacks Griane. After she is rescued by the Trickster, Griane bargains with the god to open a portal to Chaos for Darak. Frustrated in his attempt to steal Griane’s body, Morgath chooses a new victim: the Grain-Mother. He casts out Yeorna's spirit, reveling in the joy of once again wearing human flesh. When Struath realizes the truth, he summons his magic to battle Morgath. Darak arrives too late to save Struath, but the Trickster honors his promise to Griane by ripping open a portal to Chaos. Locked together, Darak and Morgath tumble through it.

With the group sundered, the story follows each of the main characters: Darak, whose ordinary skills as a hunter seem useless in the shifting realm of Chaos where illusions become reality and lost spirits are irresistibly drawn to the spark of human life; the Holly-Lord whose too-frail human body cannot contain his ancient energy, but whose determined spirit impels him to follow Darak; Morgath whose desire for revenge pushes him to the brink of madness; Griane who turns to the half-human tree folk of the Summerlands to help her escape from the Trickster and return to her friends; and Struath and Yeorna, whose lost spirits live on in Chaos and try to help Darak attain the goal of his quest.

Instead of finding Tinnean, Darak encounters the spirit of his dead father. Estranged in life, the two hunters must work together to locate Tinnean and the Oak-Lord. Their spirits have taken refuge in a twisted thorn tree, a mockery of the majestic One Tree in the First Forest. Darak is horrified to discover the Holly-Lord lying at the base of the tree, twigs sprouting from his fingers, toes curling into roots.

When Morgath captures the Holly-Lord, Darak offers himself in exchange. As Morgath tortures his body and oozes through his spirit, Darak clings to sanity – and to the words that have helped him survive plague and famine, the loss of his family and friends, and the brutal trek through the First Forest: “Fear is the enemy. Control the fear. Control yourself.”

But it takes the magic of Struath and Yeorna, the love of his brother and father, and the ages-old song of the World Tree to help Darak realize the truth behind Fellgair’s riddle: that his great strength is also his great weakness. His rigid control has alienated him from his family and his tribe. It has driven his brother away. And now, it is isolating him from the World Tree, whose ancient power and wisdom can help him defeat his enemy and rescue his brother.

Armed with that knowledge, he finds the strength to battle Morgath. But when he returns to the world with the spirits of Tinnean and the Oak-Lord, he faces an even greater test. For only if Darak is willing to surrender his brother can the world be saved from eternal winter.



Home Biography Novels Musicals Appearances Links


Questions? Comments? Feedback?
Contact me