Archer

BookViral "Enchanting to the last page, Archer has the feel of an epic saga in the making and is sure to find an enthusiastic following amongst younger readers. Definitely deserving of a place on your bookshelf, it is highly recommended."

Read the thrilling first chapter of Archer here.
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What can you say about a blond, stacked, 16-year old Warrior?
I like to leave most of it up to the readers imagination, but here are a few juicy morsels to whet the appetite.


Finn is pretty confident he can beat Archer in the joust - after all his best mate is no match on a horse. Not so sure about the sword and buckler though ...

Fletch knows that Archer is a loyal friend and the best man to have around in a fight - after all, he did outsmart the Renegates with skill and cunning.

Tybalt knows that even though Archer is an awesome warrior, as smart as any magi, and as fine a woodsmith as any outil, he is modest about his talents.

Edlyn thinks Archer is nothing but an arrogant nobody who believes he's a good as any magi, and that it's his job to take the upstart down a peg or two.

Patricia thinks that despite his slightly warped sense of humour, Archer is brave, kind and a bit of a flirt.

Chrysia  knows that Archer is the best-looking guy in her year and loves to tease him, even if he doesn't seem that keen.

Bethia thinks Archer is a sweet guy with a big heart and a generous nature.

Kayleigh has always admired Archer's courage and skill in sports, but he would never actually ask her out - would he?


Hereward thinks he can fleece Archer and his two friends of everything they own.

Doug thinks Archer's story will make him a pretty penny when he sings it up and down the country.

Bowman is pleasantly surprised when Archer manages to teach him a thing or two about testing and designing bows.

Malduc knows Archer is special, but that he is destined for a much bigger task than just competing in the Beltane contest to become King of the May.

Archer would just say that he was pretty ordinary - that he had a couple of rough experiences when he was younger, but nothing he couldn't handle with the help of his friends and of course, his wonderful foster parents Ganieda and Sedge.


The story? Without giving too much away, it basically tells Archer's life story in one day - that day being Beltane (May Day). It opens with a joust and ends with Archer trying to decide whether or not to throw himself into the Beltane bonfire to rescue someone you'd think he really wouldn't want to.

If you don't want to risk the (mild) spoilers in the plot synopsis below, don't scroll down past the end of the glossary.

Here's a couple of definitions that will really help when you come to read Archer.
Glossary:
Beltane - The festival of Mayday linked to graduation
Garlanding - A competition to create the most unusual seasonal garland to represent Beltane
Hengist The People of the Horse – a fictitious race of people existing in an alternate, modern-day England, descended from Anglo-Saxon settlers Hengest and Horsa
Junior - A child in the first stage of training, i.e. from 7–16
Lehren - Equivalent to school, with the emphasis on learning rather than teaching
Magi - Hengist clan: healers, scholars and officials
Outil - The largest clan of Hengist: craftsmen, artisans and farmers
Renegate - The smallest clan of Hengist: rebels who broke away from the rest, living as gypsies
Senior - From 17, education is specific to a trade/occupation, according to talents
Warrior - A Hengist clan: soldiers, constables and gamekeepers
Worthies - Nine juniors choose a Worthy (a historical hero) and dress and act like them during Beltane.


A brief synopsis of the plot  (tries hard not to contain spoilers)
Archer doesn’t belong. In case he has any doubts, Edlyn will go to any lengths to show him that he never could.

At fourteen, Edlyn’s gang jump Archer in the woods, tie him to a tree and try to teach him some respect. It nearly costs Archer the affection of his only friend Patricia, but no one likes being called treacherous, do they? On the plus side, he gains a couple of loyal friends. During the trio’s first road trip, a band of fierce renegades learn a thing or two about courage and audacity, and a charismatic Celtic drummer band turns the incident into a song.

At sixteen, Archer competes with his friends in a graduation competition to see who is worthy of being crowned May King and Queen. Although Edlyn tries hard to sabotage Archer’s chances, they both get through to the final round. There’s a gleeful moment when Archer takes to the stage as Robin Hood, attracting plenty of female admirers, but it’s Patricia he wants to kiss.

When Archer carves the yew stave given to him by Oxford’s master bowman, something terrible happens. Years later he is faced with a dilemma, but will he have the courage to defy the powerful magic?

Although it has a distinctly medieval feel, ‘ARCHER’ is set in a modern-day, alternate England where teenagers enjoy archery and jousting instead of football and Facebook. With echoes of the film ‘A Knight’s Tale’ and the series ‘Merlin,’ this story will appeal to young teens, fans of Philip Pullman/Rick Riordan, and adults who enjoy historical adventures laced with humour and a dash of romance.



I got this idea from Shelfari - I will be building this up bit by bit, but for now, here are a few details.

Characters
Archer

Archer:
  • Blond, brown eyes, Powerfully built, 
  • Courageous, Intelligent, Works hard, 
  • Shy with girls. A proper Hero.
Edlyn:
  • Pure evil. No redeeming features. 
  • Bully. Nasty to everyone. 
  • Probably kicks puppies.
Patricia:
  • Smart. Kind-hearted. Generous. 
  • Better at school-work than sports. Can dance a bit. 
  • Would never admit she likes Archer.
Fletch:
  • A proper wise-cracking smart-ass. 
  • Bit of a detective. 
  • Archer's left hand man.
Hereward
Finn:
  • An excellent warrior who becomes as one with his horse. 
  • Makes a perfect double-act with Fletch
  • Archer's right hand man.
Bethia:
  • Modest. Warm-hearted. Gorgeous. 
  • Works hard at school-work and sports.
  • Likes Archer but loves Fletch.
Kayleigh:
  • Gauche. Athletic. Top sportswoman
  • Fancies Archer but way too shy to approach him.
Chrysia:
  • Bit of an air-head. One of the nearly-popular girls. 
  • Tries to convince the world Archer has a thing for her.
Tybalt:
  • Kinda geeky. Wry. Fancies Chrysia
  • Supports Archer as Second in the joust.
Hereward:
  •  Leader of a fierce band of Renegates. 
  • An old-fashioned Gentleman of the Road.
Doug:
  • Loud, passionate, irreverent
  • Leader of the most charismatic Celtic Drummer Band you will see outside of Edinburgh, Scotland.

Quotes
Finn, (after nearly knocking Archer off his horse in the joust)
    ‘Are you hurt?’ 
The Joust
Archer, (raising his visor with a grin so his friend could see that he was solid)
‘It’ll take more than that little tickle to worry me. Is that your best effort?’



Finn, (talking to Archer about Patricia)
    ‘While she came to get me. Talk about disturbing a sleeping lion. I had a real go at her, nearly had the poor girl in tears…’
 Archer, (barely able to get a word in)
    ‘What,  a nice-tempered lad like you Finn? Surely not.’
Finn, (after a rude gesture)    
    ‘Yeah, well. I said sorry afterwards. Anyway, she led us to the spot and we did the hero bit and rescued you.’

Fletch, (talking to Archer about Patricia)
    ‘If Ganieda had let her, she would have been bathing your naked body twenty four hours a day until the fever broke.’
Archer, (panicking now)
‘What? You mean she’s seen me naked?’
Fletch, (risking a cheeky grin)
   ‘I’m afraid there’s a lot of people in this village have seen you half naked now. I think she’s the only girl though.’

Fletch (grinning at Edlyn's simple toga)
‘Poor old Edlyn’s fuming – thought he would be the King of the Castle as Julius Caesar.’ 
Finn (blowing a kiss at Edlyn, getting a rude gesture in return)
King Richard
‘He’s not got a bad figure in a dress. I could almost fancy him myself.’ 


Archer, (in his Worthy character, Robin Hood, talking about King Richard the Lionheart)
   ‘I don’t think I’m stealing too much thunder if I say that he wouldn’t have got where he did without my help. I did have a bit of help from my men. They were known as merrie, I think they spent too much time swilling Friar Tuck’s ale.


Archer, (in his Worthy character, Robin Hood, introducing Patricia)
  ‘It gives me great honour to present the lovliest thing to come out of France in the twelfth century, Eleanor of Aquitaine. Enchanté  madame.’
Patricia, (in her Worthy character, Eleanor of Acquitaine)
   ‘I’ll let you into a secret. I had a huge crush on King Arthur when I was girl.’ 


Hereward, (as he bent Archer's bow as though to break it)
  ‘So Archer, give me one good reason why I shouldn’t just snap this in two, take the rest of your fine clothes and leave you to run home with your tails between your legs?’
Doug
Archer, (with an expressionless face)
  ‘Because then you’d never know if I could deliver on my claim.’



Doug, (striding through the crowd that parted to let him pass)
   ‘Is that the best you can do? Have you lost your voices? I’ve heard more fun at a funeral.’


Chrisya, (wanting to kiss the May King for luck)
   ‘Come on Kayleigh, put him down, it’s not fair of you to use up all his kisses. Leave some for the rest of us.’


Archer, (catching Patricia's arm as she leaves the dais)
  ‘Don’t you want to kiss the May King for luck?’
Patricia, (her look searing his hand with intense frostbite)
  ‘I think the May King’s lips are still wet with the kisses of his adoring subjects.’



Setting & Locations

The Hengist books are set in a modern-day alternate England. It has the feel of medieval times with no world-destroying inventions like electricity and cars. The people live in harmony with their environment, with sustainable resources and celebrating nature and the seasons.
Aveburgh: A magical village based around a huge stone circle which is used in festivals.
Oxford: A large city, peopled with blacksmiths and other renowned craftsmen.
The following map shows the local area.




Interviews with the cast

These are extracts from an interview by a local tale-teller trying to get the low down on the characters competing at Beltane to be King and Queen of the May.

Before the event:
Tale-teller: So Archer, you are the favourite to win the sporting round – is it going to be easy?
Archer: Not at all. No-one can touch Finn on the back of a horse and Beorn’s a master with the sword.

Tale-teller: Your skill with the bow and arrow is known all over Oxford – I hear that Gaelic Sound even wrote a song about it.
Archer: The song was about Finn and Fletch too. All three of us went to meet the Oxford Bowman but it got dangerous when we met the Renegates.

Tale-teller: But they called it Archer, Son of Sedge. Never mind, I can see you are embarrassed by it. Can you guess who will be in the final?
Archer: Gosh that’s a hard one. There’s no one as good as Fletch in the Worthy round – except maybe Machin – he has a really show-stealing invention. Tybalt’s craft entry is going to be hard to beat and any one of the Warriors could go through – we’re all evenly matched.

Tale-teller: But only you and Finn are jousting – it’s unusual to see juniors involved in this sport.
Archer: I know, but Professor Niall said we were ready and we want to honour his decision.

Tale-teller: Finn, don’t go away, I’d like to get your opinion. Who do you think will win?
Finn: The joust? Definitely Archer – he’s always beaten me so far.

Tale-teller: Who do you see in the final?
Finn: Archer obviously, probably against Fletch or Tybalt – they’re the strongest Outil and Magi.

Tale-teller: Thanks for that. What about the girls?
Finn: Bethia for the Outils, she’s a great all-rounder and she’s worked hard to be the best she can with the bow and javelin. Probably be facing Kayliegh –she the strongest Warrior, or Patricia for the Magi – she’s the smartest person I know.

Tale-teller: Thank you Finn. Fletch, who would you bet on?
Fletch: Me obviously. I can sing, dance, fight and nobody knows more about King Richard than me.

Tale-teller: I like your confidence. Who will you be facing in the final?
Fletch: Archer obviously from the Warriors. Tybalt is the strongest Magi, but he’s not so good when it comes to the sporting rules so I will best him on the knowledge round.

After the results are announced:
Tale-teller: Well done Archer. Tell me something about yourself.
Archer: I’m sixteen and I’m a Warrior.

Tale-teller: You mean you do a lot of fighting.
Archer: I used to when I was younger before I got wise to the bullies. I mean I’m a member of the Warrior class – we are trained in many sports like sword fighting, jousting and archery.
  
Tale-teller: With a name like Archer, I’d expect you to be good at that.
Archer: Most of my arrows hit the target, yes.

Tale-teller: I heard you shot an apple off your friend’s head. Weren’t you worried about hitting him?
Archer: If I had worried, it would have hit him. I have complete confidence in my gift, worrying would not let it do its job.

Tale-teller: Aren’t you just good because you work hard in training? That’s what your professors tell me.
Archer: If I didn’t train hard, my body wouldn’t be ready and able – you need to build up the right muscles to use the bow effectively and to calm you mind so you can focus properly.

Tale-teller: So what is the gift then?
Archer: It’s what gives me the edge over others who train just as hard, but it’s only in archery. Finn’s gift is his connection to his horse – as you saw, he is unbeatable on horseback.
  
Tale-teller: And yet he told us earlier that you beat him in all the trials.
Archer: A clever ploy on his part so I would underestimate him. And I always thought Fletch was the master tactician.

Tale-teller: But Fletch is not a warrior.
Archer: No he’s an Outil – his gift is making things and understanding how they work. But he’s trained with Finn long enough to be as good as any Warrior.

Tale-teller: I hear he’s a bit of a ladies’ man.
Archer: Don’t let Bethia hear you say that. He is very charming and has a real presence on stage.

Tale-teller: Didn’t he play King Arthur?
Archer: No that was Finn. Fletch was King Richard the lionheart – Robin Hood’s king.
  
Tale-teller: Well thank you Archer. Now a word with your lovely queen, Bethia.
Archer: She may be Queen of the May, but she’s most definitely Fletch’s girl.
  
Tale-teller: Bethia, how did it feel when they called your name?
Bethia: I couldn’t believe it – I was sure Patricia would have won – she was so much better than me.

Tale-teller: That’s sweet of you to say. But you did really well in the Warrior rounds and you’re not even a Warrior.
Bethia: So did she – if her last arrow hadn’t rebounded she would have had three in the bull – Archer was the only one who managed that.

Tale-teller: A little bird told me he’s been giving her extra training – do you think there’s something going on between them?
Bethia: I don’t know, he was helping Chrisya as well.

Tale-teller: Is that fair on the rest of you?
Bethia: Not at all, most of the non-Warriors got extra help from the Warriors in lessons and Fletch helped me after lehren finished – he’s a great teacher – really patient.

Tale-teller: And your boyfriend. I believe there was talk of you two jumping the bonfire later on.
Bethia: (blushing furiously) Really? He hasn’t asked me.

Tale-teller: Oops. Patricia. Might I have a word?
Patricia: Which one?

Tale-teller: (laughing) They said you were sharp. And Fletch described you as the brightest person he knows. Were you disappointed not to win?
Patricia: No.

Tale-teller: Can you tell me how you felt when they announced the winner?
Patricia: No.

Tale-teller: Ouch. I can see I’m going to have to be a bit sharper to get anything from you. Please explain what was going through your mind when they said Bethia had won. (beat)
Patricia: That she had the highest scores in each round and deserved to win.

Tale-teller: But you matched those scores exactly. I hear there were several recounts because there was only one vote in it.
Patricia: I couldn’t possibly comment. Bethia makes a perfect May Queen and she has performed her duties excellently.

Tale-teller: That’s very generous of you. Will you be dancing with Archer later?
Patricia: If he asks. Will you excuse me, I must talk to the professor.

Tale-teller: That sounds like a dismissal. I will leave these youngsters to enjoy the rest of their celebration – they are most certainly Worthy. 








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