Blog Book Tour | “Sign of the White Foal” (Book One: Arthur of the Cymry Trilogy) by Chris Thorndycroft

Posted Friday, 2 August, 2019 by jorielov , , , , , 2 Comments

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I am a regular tour hostess for blog tours via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours whereupon I am thankful to have been able to host such a diverse breadth of stories, authors and wonderful guest features since I became a hostess! HFVBTs is one of the very first touring companies I started working with as a 1st Year Book Blogger – uniting my love and passion with Historical Fiction and the lovely sub-genres inside which I love devouring.

It has been a wicked fantastical journey into the heart of the historic past, wherein I’ve been blessed truly by discovering new timescapes, new living realities of the persons who once lived (ie. Biographical Historical Fiction) inasmuch as itched my healthy appetite for Cosy Historical Mysteries! If there is a #HistRom out there it is generally a beloved favourite and I love soaking into a wicked wonderful work of Historical Fiction where you feel the beauty of the historic world, the depth of the characters and the joyfulness in which the historical novelists brought everything to light in such a lovingly diverse palette of portraiture of the eras we become time travellers through their stories.

I received a complimentary of “Sign of the White Foal” direct from the author Chris Thorndycroft, in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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On why this story appealled to me & how I arrived inside the chapters:

You might remember how consumed I was by the story-telling and historical narrative arc within the Guinevere Tales trilogy by Nicole Evelina? This was the first chance I had to pull myself into the folds of a well-thought out exploration of the Arthurian myth & canon – wherein, I found a wicked intense focus on Guinevere herself, the foundations of Avalon’s history and the curious ways a writer can pull you through a Historical Fantasy series wherein you’re not just captivated by their research for these fabled characters and heroes of the ancient times in our timeline but you feel more anchoured to a part of history which isn’t oft discussed or explored.

As I had such an emotional connection to Evelina’s trilogy, I waited until after I had concluded reading it before I began to read more stories set in, round or next door to her time periods. There is another Historical trilogy I am re-reading late Summer, early Autumn this year – as the first novel released last year; “The Lost Queen” runs parallel to my interests in this timescape. Thus, when I saw “Sign of the White Foal” was touring, I was equally delighted and excited to see how this author would treat the subject and the persons he’s populated within his story.

It is lovely how for each author who stimulates a historical portal to the past, there are others who can pick up from whence we left off with one author and continue our quest to move in and out of periods of history which fascinate our imaginations.

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I had planned to read two Non-Fiction releases before sharing my review for “Sign of the White Foal” – Wisdom of the Middle Ages & Wisdom of the Renaissance – whilst I wanted to dig back into “The Lost Queen” as well – to have this lovely immersion experience in cross-relating stories and subjects of interest. *However!* – instead my week was wrecked by plumbers, a migraine & more life woes than a girl can shake a stick at in apt frustration! Thereby, my review which I had thought was due on Friday, was in effect, meant to arrive on Thursday but it wasn’t til Thursday night I honestly could curl back inside “Sign of the White Foal” and bring this review to my readers!

When you haven’t a way of reaching your books & your blog, you just have to hope and pray the hours you have after the chaos recedes allows you enough serenity to ‘catch up’ and find the blissitude you had before the chaos overtook your readerly hours! At least, this is how I re-directed my heart and mind as I dipped back into reading this late Thursday night and early Friday morning!

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Blog Book Tour | “Sign of the White Foal” (Book One: Arthur of the Cymry Trilogy) by Chris ThorndycroftSign of the White Foal
Subtitle: Book One in the Arthur of the Cymry Trilogy
by Chris Thorndycroft
Source: Publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

A generation after Hengest and Horsa carved out a kingdom in the east, a hero of the Britons rises in the west…

480 A.D. The sons of Cunedag have ruled Venedotia for fifty years but the chief of them – the Pendraig – is now dying. His sons Cadwallon and Owain must fight to retain their birthright from their envious cousins. As civil war consumes Venedotia, Arthur – a young warrior and bastard son of the Pendraig – is sent on a perilous quest that will determine the fate of the kingdom.

The Morgens; nine priestesses of the Mother Goddess have found the cauldron of rebirth – a symbol of otherworldly power – and have allied themselves with the enemy. Arthur and six companions are dispatched to the mysterious island of Ynys Mon to steal the cauldron and break the power of the Morgens. Along the way they run into the formidable Guenhuifar whose family have been stewards of Ynys Mon for generations. They need her help. The trouble is, Guenhuifar despises Arthur’s family and all they stand for…

Based on the earliest Arthurian legends, Sign of the White Foal is a rip-roaring adventure of Celtic myth and real history set in the ruins of post-Roman Britain.

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781099698132

Also by this author: Sign of the White Foal (Interview)

Also in this series: Sign of the White Foal (Interview)


Genres: After Canons, Arthurian Legend, Historical Fiction, Re-telling &/or Sequel


Published by Self Published Author

on 1st July, 2019

Format: POD | Print On Demand Paperback

Pages: 311

This novel is self-published

Converse via: #HistoricalFiction, #HistFic or #HistNov
as well as #Avalon and #Arthurian

Available Formats: Trade paperback and Ebook

About Chris Thorndycroft

Chris Thorndycroft

Chris Thorndycroft is a British writer of historical fiction, horror and fantasy. His early short stories appeared in magazines and anthologies such as Dark Moon Digest and American Nightmare. His first novel under his own name was A Brother’s Oath; the first book in the Hengest and Horsa Trilogy. He also writes under the pseudonym P. J. Thorndyke.

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why I ‘let go’ of the glossary & who’s who whilst reading:

Being I had a limited time window to read Sign of the White Foal due to reasons I’ve already disclosed in the top anchour of this review – I decided to re-approach this story a bit differently than most. I decided to read it straight-through without worrying about who was whom in regards to the historical names Mr Thorndycroft was using for his cast vs the names we know of them nowadays to be more ‘common’. I also decided to cipher the unknown words out through the contextual clues of the paragraphs themselves and just immerse myself in the story as it was writ vs reading the story as I flipped back and forth between his notes in the both the glossary and the character’s ancestral tree whilst conferring with his revelations in my interview.

my review of sign of the white foal:

You truly felt transported to this region, where the bounty of a river can support the land and where those who stood in sentry to their elders held a wide respect for the life they dared to live. It is here where we find the dead; soon after they took the grave and where those who discovered their presence were questioning the security of their arrival. It was a time where the uncertainty of transportation and passage on open roads was as badly wrought as it had been in the wilds of the Western Americas during the 1800s. This was untamed land in many regards as even though those in power held some allegiances you could tell there were others who still inked out chaos and ill just because they felt they could get away with it. Either that, or past enemies had returnt anew to find enroads towards a war everyone else had hoped was extinguished without the chance of a resurgence of battle.

The way you greet the land is first through seeing the joys of what is like to live beside a great river and how the people who live here benefit from her resources. Not just for trade and commerce but for the sanctity of protective measures against those who could cause them harm. Still. There were forces of darkness willing to penetrate their confidences and their sense of safety – that much permeates the opening of Sign of the White Foal – where what can be sensed and what can be seen are not readily dismissable.

It was here where Thorndycroft first releases the back-histories of this land – of the factions who took to war and why the two families and kingdoms they oversaw were ill-begotten enemies. It was not as readily assured that the past enemy was their current foe – even with the close proximity of how the enemy could be returnt to this locale, it was questioned on the reasoning behind the return rather than the imminent threat that was cast like a looming shadow of certainty if a descendant of those past battles had decided to re-take up their quest to conquer what hadn’t been accomplished previously. It was all rather curious because it was the motivation which sparked a curiosity in myself – what was motivating the new presence of their enemies and why this particular moment had been chosen.

When Cadwallon and his wife Meddyf took to discussing their current state of affairs – I personally loved her response to their twist in fates. How she was self-assured and encouraging in spirit towards accepting what cannot be undone and circumvented; how sometimes one’s fate is predestined and decided. It was fitting because of how true it was to to be stated but also, a bit of an uplift in a way as she was allowing her husband to recognise that come what may – she would support him and whichever way their lives went now, she was resigned to their duty and their service.

Your heart just grieves for Cadallon – he’s betwixt a rock and a hard place – his soul lies in the battle, to fight with determined grit and honour; to fight his enemy (the Gaelic’s) and to give duty to his dead but at the same time, as a newly almost appointed King he could not forsake those he could save from the gallows. His men were as brave as he – shoulder to shoulder in matched injury, certain death and adrenaline empowered wrath; yet, his inner strength shined a light of hope in the midst of the bloodshed. Thorndycroft could have turnt this scene bloodier and grittier; I, for one, am blessed as a reader he did not – he kept it believable as he wrote it dramatically and emotionally instead. Enough visuals to give you the gutting reality of this battle but without the nausea inducing depictions others might have opted to have written.

Oy vie. Only a King would think of tradition at time of heightened anxiety and a race against bloodshed when he needed to be thinking of a father and a husband instead! I was as fiercely vexed as Meddyf finding Cadwallon more concerned with keeping his lineage and legacy alive through a token of their ancestry vs leaving without anything save their lives! This was a crucial scene I felt as part of me was inclined to think there was enough of a red flag (ie. warning) to believe this was a rouse of ill-gotten luck on their behalf but a portion of me hoped against hope I was wrong; that perhaps they could succeed and flee towards a flight of freedom!

The segue was a good one – finding a younger Arthur, caught in boyhood antics and the joys of not having the weight of the world pressing on his shoulders. Knowing him as a King as a tired warrior in his latter years, it was refreshing to find him as a boy in this novel. His youthfulness was endearing as that was a portion of who he was lateron – in small ways, the glimmer of his boyish innocence had always been a remnant of his maturity; but seeing how he was as a lad was a keener way of understanding how he turnt into the King everyone grew to be afeared of battling.

As tuck back into his childhood; of both his upbringing and his parentage, we find a boy who had a hard hand dealt to him. His mother was shrouded in a shunning by society for the man she fell in love with was without honour to keep her with the honour she deserved whilst his youth was spent in redemption of his birthright. For Arthur did not have an easy walk to live but the truthfulness of his strength lay in his earnest passion for learning and gaining the knowledge he was given to be taught; both of mind and of war. He was a self-curious young lad, respectful of his past and enduring of the gossip-mongers who tried to cut his mother to the quick whenever they had the chance. He was her constant companion and her truest friend; despite the hardness of his life, you saw him emerging as an empathetic young leader rather than a mere follower of orders. Arthur had a singularly independent mind even as a young warrior and enabled him well to succeed lateron.

You could gather young Arthur saw war as a chance to prove himself – as a man and as a warrior who could deem himself respectful after the hinderment of a past where parentage was not his strongest suit of referral. He forged a passion for battle through a determination to  prove himself – he wanted to seek a way to separate himself from his lineage; a history of death and unfortunate souls who tried to make haste into the world but found folly or difficult circumstances untoward of their own efforts or those round them. He simply did not have the kind of heritage which would entreat one to find hope out of desperate situations but his soul yearned to be at battle; to will his courage out of what he mustered was his own true strength: to use his knowledge and his self-driven tenacity to carve out his own destiny rather than to lay to rest on the life he was meant to embrace.

As an aside, the dark arts were alive and well in this world – I hadn’t hinted about it but the creepiest scene in the opening bridge of the novel are the deathbringers – the ones who came to attack Cadallon and to overturn his seated throne. Thorndycroft inches us towards the interweaving tides of Avalon’s forces and the darker energies outside of it; as for balance between good and evil is never an easy line in the sand to draw. He closes in on how some are fire-burnt on greed and the emptiness of seeking power without conscience; where their thirst for rule overshadows any humanity inside them and where war is all they hunger after now. So, too, do we find the inter-workings moving towards this brewing war between the Gaelic’s and the Britons; one is fuelled by honour and self-sacrifice; the other, the ascension of power taken by force.

Meddyf is the rock behind Cadallon; their sons notwithstanding a portion of their strife as they continue to seek harbour away from their enemies; she is the one who has to remind him of reason and the purpose behind what they are attempting to achieve. His mind is wracked with the fears all mortal men face when war marches on their door – yet, as a wife, she tries to reign in his fears, to qualm those anxieties and to seek a road paved with less fright and an increased resolve of resolute courage to achieve the impossible. She is also a woman who leant on her faith in times of crisis and what I appreciated was drawing close to her thoughts; to see a different perspective outside the purview of the brewing war and to see how a wife might seek to support her husband when the glass shatters through the peace they once knew.

Arthur was ready for whatever lay against his path; his mother, not nearly as much – for she knew this day would come but it was the quickness of its arrival she could never have prepared to bolster her worriment’s. His foster brother Cei was not an especially accepting character nor one I leant a close shoulder towards but it was how Arthur chose in these early years to take the higher roads; to seek a mutually acceptable path rather than to voice his own logic into situations I felt did him well. He did speak when his elders were questioning him but he didn’t offer a counter-argument when at times I felt he might have been better off revealling to his peers, like Cei.

When you first learn of the cruel-hearted way of the fostered children in this world are treated – of being indebted almost to serve their kings in their collective armies, it is hard to resolve. Except that despite the cruelty of how they are taken from their birth families they are given a chance to mark their own path into adulthood. It is a hard won path, fraught with adversities – including prejudices by their peerage and others who might not take kindly to their parenthood; but the army afforded a ‘way out and a way forward they might not have been able to acquire otherwise. In essence, it was a way of positioning yourself into a future outside of poverty and the lower ranks of being a dismissed class of citizen.

Thorndycroft is aptly peppering this narrative with the realities of this century – of how there are divisive divisions between classes; how birthright is an honour untouchable to those of the lower classes and how the power divides curate dishonesty amongst the ranks of the noble as too oft the persons in power are not in agreement with the dividing lands each of them is in charge to rule. It is a time where the strength of your grit is measured against the truth of your sword and where if you die by the blade you’d have more honour in death than you had in life if you were unfortunately bourne out of wedlock.

As such the language and the depictions of the warrior’s lives are brokered out of their experiences in the field; they’re at times brass and blunt but otherwise, they share a brotherhood most will recognise from future centuries. They do care about each other and when in battle or war itself, they unite to either a) defeat their mutually declared enemy or the b) self-sacrifice themselves for the greater good; except when c) an alternative choice is made which pulls into question how each individual had to make choices that were right from them but perhaps not right for the whole.

The unique difference between my readings of a Feminist Historical telling of Guinevere and Arthur in the trilogy writ by Nicole Evelina and this lovely narrative is how impressively brilliant each author penned their trilogies owning to their own lead character’s. Evelina took us through the portal of the feminist search for identity, truth and the purity of owning our own personal beliefs even if they are counter-current to the populace as Guinevere’s faith was singularly part of why she survived as well as she did and how she thrived during times to peace. Her faith was restorative as much as it empowered her and gave her purpose.

Interestingly, Thorndycroft has pulled us through a very masculine and Arthurian angle of the same tale and back-histories Evelina explored herself. Which means to say, rather than focusing on the rights of women and the injustices of their gender, religious heritage or self-identity of being a woman of Avalon; herein, we find the otherside of how the same century was viewed by the men. Tackling the same hard and heady subjects with the same outcomes but with the masculinity of showing how some men of this century took it was a given to treat women as they did and do as they pleased (in all aspects of their lives not just the areas of immorality) – it also proved how difficult it was to rise as a King amongst thieves. Ethically, to rule with a compassionate heart, a courageous spirit and a willingness to do right by your people was nearly impossible; yet this plagued the best of Kings. It is crucial to understand this – to peer into how the men who had better morals and ethics dealt with their conscience and guilt; something Evelina also implored us to understand about Arthur but he took a bit of a backseat in some ways to Guinevere’s own journey as was fitting due to the central focus of her trilogy.

Here, it is like carrying forward a narrative where you can lay introspect thought onto these characters; peering at them from new angles and re-dissecting their lives from new portals of theory, thought and examination. And, this dear hearts is what makes this novel unputdownable and beloved by yours truly! Nay, I may even say, by outside appearances this might have seemed like an odd fit for me as a reader, but the ways in which Thorndycroft encouraged my bookish heart to continue through his vision for Arthur and the legends surrounding him to self-evolve in his trilogies – wells, let’s just say, it was a bookish hug of joy to discover!

I have savoured several passages; keenly applauded his use of Briticisms and reflect on how insightful he was to break this novel into different pertinent sections of action and introspective narrative. You don’t just journey alongside Arthur or Cadallon and Meddyf; you step directly into their shoes in the same vein as Evelina left me wistful and emotionally gutted for the experience.

on the historical & arthurian styling of chris thorndycroft:

What hooked me inside Sign of the White Foal rather immediately was the beauty of how it was told – Thorndycroft is a wordsmith and a sage. The way he found the words and turns of phrase to place us into this lost century, where men found bravery in battle at times where courage felt lost in their bones was the beauty of reading the story for me. I loved how it had this aged effect – you could definitely re-assert yourself into the historic past without fear of feeling this was a contemporary told tale – wherein, the sensory clues and the ways in which Thorndycroft narrated his story had a heart of these ancient men, honouring their legacies but also their legends.

His narrative styling reminded me of why I loved reading Sebastian’s Way: The Pathfinder – there is something wicked unique about how he approached writing this Arthurian time portal. You can readily step through his world and feel adjusted to it – even if you are only peering into his world on the fringes of reading a handful of Arthurian legends and/or after canons. He easily helps you make this transition – it is one of the centuries I am under-read inside and thereby, one that I wasn’t entirely sure if I’d quickly feel anchoured. I did not have to worry – the readings I had undertaken in the past helped me but also, the stories in Historical Fiction which are battle heavy and laden with the dramatic journey centred on a character who is rising into power, acquiring the personal agency to step through their destiny and to right the stars they need to align back into balance.

I truly feel like I’ve found a new author I can read quite happily through different installments and series due to how he’s telling his characters’ lives. I definitely want to acquire the first trilogy in which this is progressively building upon as it would be wicked brilliant to back-read the origins of this timescape and to better understand the nuances I am quite sure I overlooked despite devouring every inch of Sign of the White Foal.

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On why I love listening to musical scores, soundscapes, overtures & lyrical ballards as I read:

On a night where it was hard to just focus and find a way to re-adjust back into reading after such a chaotic week, I turnt to Spotify as music helps me ‘tune in’ to books when I have a bit too much on my mind – I didn’t know what music would anchour me properly into “Sign of the White Foal” – took a chance on Daily Mix No. 1 and have been finding the randomness of those selections to befit the style of narrative Mr Thorndycroft has writ! Especially as a lot of the selections are orchestrations, Celtic and/or Gaelic in origin and/or influence and definitely parlay into the New Age spectrum of electronica musical soundscapes! A wicked good fit and one I was thankful to have in my ears in order to properly read this novel!

I wonder which kinds of soundscapes my readers & fellow bookish spirits love listen to as they soak into a novel they’ve been itching to read? I sometimes try to tempt the story with a soundscape I feel ‘fits’ the heart of the story itself – other times, I play round with the choices on Spotify til I find the ‘one’ that sparks & resonates with the characters and/or the author’s style – tonight, though, what a lovely random surprise fit!

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This blog tour is courtesy of:

Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours - HFVBTFollow the Virtual Road Map

as you visit others participating:

As this particular one has a bookaway along the route:

Sign of the White Foal blog tour via HFVBTs
 I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary!
Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst readers who gravitate towards the same stories to read. Bookish conversations are always welcome!

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Reading this story contributed to a few of my 2019 reading challenges:

2019 HistFic Reading Challenge banner created by Jorie in Canva.

2019 New Release Challenge created by mylimabeandesigns.com for unconventionalbookworms.com and is used with permission.

This review will be cross-posted to LibraryThing.

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{SOURCES: Book cover for “Sign of the White Foal”, book synopsis, author biography, author photograph of Chris Thorndycroft, the tour host badge and HFVBTs badge were all provided by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours and used with permission. Post dividers badge by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets were embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. 2019 New Release Challenge badge provided by unconventionalbookworms.com and is used with permission. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Book Review Banner using Unsplash.com (Creative Commons Zero) Photography by Frank McKenna, Historical Fiction Reading Challenge banner and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2019.

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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2 responses to “Blog Book Tour | “Sign of the White Foal” (Book One: Arthur of the Cymry Trilogy) by Chris Thorndycroft

  1. Thank you so much for taking the time to write such a wonderful and poetic review! Every sentence feels like it should be a quote on a book cover. I feel like you know my characters better than I do and I loved reading your analyses of them. I’m honored and flattered that you mention me in the same company as Nicole Evelina. I just finished reading ‘Mistress of Legend’ and loved it too!

    Chris Thorndycroft recently posted: A cool surprise on Google Maps!
    • Hallo, Hallo Mr Thorndycroft!!

      There is no higher compliment than knowing I’ve honoured your story by being able to grace my blog with my own ruminative thoughts and to bring my readers into an awareness that not just befits my own experience inside your world but allows the fullness of your story to step forward. I love blogging the heart out of the stories I am reading – this is why I have oft felt book blogging was a wicked good fit for me vs being a reviewer; I like to dig deeper and explore what really works for me inside a narrative. I love to leave behind an intuitive footprint of where I traversed as that is how I read and when it came time to blog about your novel… I fear, the only issue I had was in balancing how much to discuss and how I wanted to dislose what I loved about it! I truly am gushing throughout this showcase (smiles) and it is because of the inspiration I felt of being re-rooted into this canon of stories.

      Bless you for giving me that foundational nudge as I honestly was seeking another author who pens similarly in style to Ms Evelina and of whom, I could read for quite a long while after discovery. Each time I sit down to compose my thoughts, I feel like they are meant for the writer… as they would understand how stories becoming an evocative experience and dimensionally enrich our lives. Thank you for giving us this insight into Arthur and the rest of the world therein! I am readily excited to see what comes next and as promised, as I’m able too – I’ll be collecting the prior trilogy!

      You’ve blessed me in return with this lovely note of gratitude and compliments on behalf of my style of blogging.

      PS: Ooh my… perhaps I see where you are leading us to journey with them rather than seeing them outside your own insight? You write a heap between the lines and your characters are as real to me as if they lived in the here and now. Ah, yes,.. I love giving compliments and it would have been a short sight of mine not to mention her and the novel “Sebastian’s Way”.

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