The Eagle is the dramatic conclusion of bestselling author Jack Whyte’s four-generation epic of the rise and fall of Arthur Pendragon, High King of All Britain. In this final volume, Whyte takes us into the lives and minds of the three very human and astonishingly ordinary people whose interrelationships would give rise to the greatest, most enduring love story in the Western world.
Clothar, the young Frankish knight known as The Lancer, returns to his homeland in Gaul as Arthur’s ambassador. From there, while forging overseas alliances on Arthur’s behalf, he watches as Arthur and Merlyn struggle to unify the clans and peoples of Britain and re-establish the rule of law. But Clothar knows Arthur’s darkest secret. When his friend needs him most, he steps forward.
What happened then has never been explained or resolved—until now
About the author
Best known for his original series of Arthurian novels, A Dream of Eagles (called The Camulod Chronicles in the US), and his Knights Templar trilogy, Jack Whyte has written 10 international bestsellers. He left Scotland for Canada in 1967 to teach high-school English, but soon gravitated to life on the road as a professional singer, actor and entertainer. In the 1970s he gained a wide audience as he wrote and performed his one-man tribute to Robbie Burns across North America. Public recitals of his own narrative verse led to him being appointed the bard of the Calgary Highlanders regiment, an honour he maintains to this day. A stint as a CBC national television writer preceded a successful business career in communications, but it was his long-time interest in both the legend of King Arthur and the 5th-century Roman military occupation of Britain that dictated Jack’s destiny. Since becoming a successful author, with his books translated into many languages, Jack has made time to support upcoming authors and participate in many writer gatherings, including the Surrey International Writers’ Conference. He writes every day and resides near his favoured golf course in Kelowna, BC. He is married with five adult children.
Excerpt: The Eagle: A Dream of Eagles Book VI, The Golden Eagle Volume II (by (author) Jack Whyte)
The word apparently made no impression on the man to whom I had spoken, so I said it again, raising my voice slightly, despite the absolute silence, to make sure that he could hear me. Again, however, he chose to ignore me, his attention focused on the layer of whiteness that ended at the threshold of the cave that sheltered us. It had started snowing early that afternoon, tiny, individual flakes blown on a chill wind, their appearance unsurprising beside the sudden, harsh reality of the drop in temperature and the wind’s strengthening bluster. But the snowfall had increased steadily ever since, so that now, a mere two hours later, the entire world had turned white, and the leaden clouds overhead were already leaching the light from the day, creating a premature dusk.
“What about them?” It was a dismissive response, and he kept right on talking, ignoring his own question, as though by merely acknowledging my reference he had dealt with the chariots in full. “This snow does not appear to be passing us by, my friend. It looks as though we might have to bring the horses inside. We could be here for the night.” Arthur Pendragon, nominal High King of All Britain, squinted at me in the darkness of the cave with snow-dazzled eyes. “That means we will have smelly lodgings, but well sheltered, and at least their body heat should stave off the worst of the chills, in the absence of firewood.” Stooping to avoid banging his high, crested helmet against the low ceiling, he moved inside to where I sat with my back securely in a corner of the wall. He placed his long, sheathed sword carefully against an outcrop in the cave wall where it would not fall and then nudged my outstretched foot with his toe. “Move over, unless you want the entire floor for yourself.”
I made room for him, and he eased himself down beside me, then bent forward awkwardly, tugged the heavy war helmet from his head and placed it on the floor between his upraised knees. That done, he sighed and leaned back, scrubbing at his short-cropped hair with the palms of both hands before turning to peer more carefully into the depths of the cave that sheltered us, his dark, yellow-flecked eyes narrowing in concentration as he tried to penetrate the gloom back there. He was two and twenty that year, but looked older than he actually was, his face lined prematurely with the strains of leadership, and somehow, in spite of our relationship as High King and Frankish Outlander, he had become my dearest friend in the four years that had passed since my arrival in Britain at the age of sixteen.
“It’s dark back there,” he grunted, and I did not contradict him, for I already knew the cave was both long and deep. We were seated in the day-lit area before the cave swung to the right, about five paces in from the entrance. Beyond where we were sitting, the darkness became absolute. Across from us, the corresponding angle in the wall was sharper, a knife-edged projection of stone jutting outward to form a flat-sided baffle that concealed the widening of the cave from anyone looking in from outside.
Past the corner formed by the flat-edged rock, the place widened to become more of a cavern than a simple cave, although it was pitch-dark back there. I knew from my first casual exploration that the roof was high enough to permit a tall man to stand upright, because I had done so and been able to stretch my hands above my head. I also knew there was a well-used fire pit in the middle of a spacious floor, because I had blundered into it, falling forward onto my hands and coming perilously close to twisting my ankle. One outthrust hand had landed on a smooth fire stone, and after I straightened up I had lobbed it into whatever lay in the darkness ahead of me. The pause that followed, and then the sounds as the stone struck the wall and fell to the floor, told me that there was more than sufficient space for men and horses beyond the limits of my vision.
Arthur turned back to me in the fading afternoon light. “It’s not exactly a bedchamber in Camulod, is it?”
“It’s dry,” I responded, “and it’s large. There’s a fire pit, too, so it’ll warm up, once we drag some dead wood up here.”
His face wrinkled into his familiar half smile. “Up here from where? And did I hear you say ‘we’? Are you suggesting that the chosen Riothamus of Britain should go out foraging for dead wood? That he should slide and slither down a mountain in a snowstorm and then fight his way back up again, dragging a tree trunk like a common charcoal burner? Is that what you are trying to tell me?”
“No, not at all, Seur King.” I wrapped my cloak around me more securely, shutting out the chilly draft that was gnawing at my legs.
“What is that?”
“What is what?”
“That word . . . that expression you use when you address me as king. You could be calling me nasty names, for all I know.”
I thought hard, wondering what in the world he was talking about, and then I laughed. “Oh, you mean Seur!”
“That’s it. What does it mean?”
“Nothing dire, rest assured. It is a term we use at home in Gaul. A term of respect used in addressing a superior, as in Seur King, or Seur Something-else. That’s all. And sometimes we use it as a personal gesture of honor, when we are dealing with someone who has no royal rank, for example, but who is otherwise admired as a clever or a noble man. Like Merlyn, for example. I might call him Seur Merlyn in speaking to him, or perhaps even Seur Caius.”
“Aye, very well. Now, what were you saying, before I interrupted you? You had made some kind of unacceptable suggestion . . . a hint, if I remember correctly, that I might think seriously about toiling like a common charcoal burner.”
I shrugged. “I was suggesting nothing, other than that you should, perhaps, think in terms of fuel, rather than of firewood, and that there are large amounts of it down below us, quite easily accessible. We could take our horses down with us and let them pull the load up— the snow’s not deep.”
“Not yet, but give it time.”
“Hmm. No need. It will take all the time it needs and wants, Seur King, heedless of whether or not we choose to give it any. Most important of all in this discussion, however, is the self-evident truth that I, as a loyal retainer and faithful companion, might well go down there alone, as you propose, and do what needs must be done. But the storm is worsening, as you say, and I might only be able to make one passage. Thus, it seems to me that if you would prefer your kingly arse to stay warm all night long, instead of having it freeze to the bones in the darkest hours, you might consider it worthwhile, for once in your life of slothful privilege, to set aside your dignitas and concern yourself with simple comfort and survival.”
“You mean I should come with you— share the labor— work like a common clod?”
“Did I say that? Aye, I suppose I did. But think of it as sharing the warmth afterwards, rather than the labor beforehand.”
“Put like that, I admit the notion does have a certain logic to it.” He scratched his chin. “Slothful privilege. You know, you’re the only man in Britain who would dare say such a thing to me, in such a way.”
I could no longer keep my face straight and grinned at him. “Aye, I know. You keep telling me so. But that, as you are always pointing out, is because I’m nothing but a foreigner, lacking the proper awe of your status and stature.”
“Status and stature? Both in one breath? That’s clever, Clothar, that’s very good. You always manage to redeem yourself just short of the executioner’s sword.” He glanced again towards the back-lit entrance and its curtain of swirling snow. “Damnation, I swear it’s getting worse. Even God has no respect for my situation here.” He sighed dramatically. “Well, I suppose we had better go and see to it. No point in sitting here idling while things worsen. Come on, then, up you get.” He rose quickly to his feet, giving the lie to his earlier act of weariness, and held out his hand to pull me up.
"Whyte weaves historical fact and folklore together with an accomplished and bardic verve." - Edmonton Journal
"Whyte’s found the key to refreshing the legend and making it live again… The wealth and richness of the historical detail are fascinating. If James Michener is the past master of the sweeping epic, then Jack Whyte may well be the future one." - Calgary Herald
Other titles by Jack Whyte
The Fort at River's Bend (The Sorcerer, Vol. I)
The Burning Stone
Clothar The Frank
A Dream of Eagles Book VI, The Golden Eagle Volume I
The Saxon Shore
A Dream of Eagles Book IV
The Fort at River's Bend
A Dream of Eagles Book V, The Sorcerer Volume I
The Singing Sword
A Dream of Eagles Book II
Metamorphosis (The Sorcerer, Vol. II)
A Dream of Eagles Book I
A Tale of Andrew Murray