Hammer by Micheál Cladáin

Today I’m delighted to be sharing an excerpt from Micheál Cladáin’s newly released novel, Hammer, as part of a blog tour hosted by The Coffee Pot Book Club. Set in first century Britain, Hammer is the first book in Micheál’s series, The Iron Between.

Ireland, Southwest of Tara – CE 60 or 61

Genonn stopped just inside and frowned at the patrons glowering at him. What had been a raucous celebration was now a dense silence. The same silence greeted his arrival in drinking halls across the land. The revellers were thinking the thought that struck every person when he walked into a hostel or feast hall: “What have we done?” they asked themselves. “Why has a druid arrived here?” Guilt was always at the forefront of their unimaginative intellects when a druid arrived without the chieftain having sued the Elder Council for aid.

Nothing but a hostel full of Cúl an tí. Country folk — always the same.

Genonn smiled at the stern faces, hoping the tension would ease when he offered a story in exchange for a sup and a bite, removing their inherent fear. Silver usually followed a story because — truth be told — he was a good storyteller. Knew all the best tales and carried the gift of the gab, or so they said. Most would buy ale and a story before a meal, which he availed of whenever the chance arose.

Studying the dim interior, Genonn decided it was a bit of a midden. There was a stink of something unpleasant from the mouldering rushes; dirty cups and plates were piled at the ends of the tables. Barrels were stacked at the back with a man standing beside them, washing pots in a tub filled with steaming water. Either he was the hosteller or was a local paying for his food. He seemed like a bit of a bundún, so the hosteller was the likely answer.

This could be the hole where I begin my final song.

Genonn’s song: the song of the warrior and An Dagda’s hammer. During the task set by the Elder Council, he discovered the warrior had stolen the hammer. Having hunted for him through the length and breadth of Ériu, Genonn hoped he might be in this dingy hole, still loose after ten Samhains with a price on his head. It was the warrior’s type of establishment, a place where he could drink himself into Tír nÓg.

It used to be. He might have changed.

With that thought, Genonn hobbled over to the barrels and. Resting his staff against the wall, he asked the pot washer, ‘A bite to eat and a sup of mead for a story?’

‘Why should I give you food, and my patrons give you silver? You could be any old vagabond, chancing your arm for a free meal,’ the hosteller scoffed. ‘I’m not one to hand over without credentials.’

So, once again, my foretelling comes to pass. The hosteller and, without question, a bundún.

‘You want to know my credentials, you say.’

‘Aye. You want my food and my patrons’ silver, old man,’ the hosteller said, indicating the men and women in the hall, ‘you better give me a good reason.’

‘Very well. I am Genonn, called The Vigilant by some. I am a druid, a greybeard, a seeker. Late of the Elder Council on Ynys Môn. Their leader once, many Samhains ago.’

The hosteller scoffed and continued pot washing, ignoring Genonn.

‘You do not believe me, I fear.’ Bundún.

‘You think me a fool, old man? True, you are worn around the edges, grey of beard, but wouldn’t give you more than forty summers. The Vigilant would have been born during my father’s time, before the battle of Gairech.’

‘Before your father, even, but he is Genonn, so he is,’ someone said from a bench in the deeper shadows. Genonn squinted into the dark beside the barrels as his heart began to race. He could not see any details of the speaker except a slight reflection of the brazier light, but he did not need more light. He would know the voice anywhere. It belonged to a man he had counted as a friend, at least until he murdered two innocent boys.

Genonn’s tired and dreams of a remote roundhouse in the Cuala Mountains.

However, sudden rebellion in Roman Britain destroys that dream because the Elder Council task him with delivering Lorg Mór, the hammer of the Gods, to the tribes across the straits of Pwll Ceris. Despite being torn between a waning sense of duty and his desire to become a hermit, Genonn finally agrees to help.

When his daughter follows him into danger, it tests his resolve. He wants to do everything he can to see her back to Druid Island and her mother. This new test of will means he is once again conflicted between duty and desire. Ultimately, his sense of duty wins; is it the right decision? Has he done the right thing by relegating his daughter’s safety below his commitment to the clans?

Hammer is available on Kindle Unlimited and at
Universal LinkAmazon UKAmazon USAmazon CAAmazon AU

Micheál Cladáin

Micheál has been an author for many years. He studied Classics and developed a love of Greek and Roman culture through those studies. In particular, he loved their mythologies. As well as a classical education, bedtime stories consisted of tales read from a great tome of Greek Mythology, and Micheál was destined to become a storyteller from those times.

For more information about Micheál and his books click on the links below
Amazon Author PageGoodreads  

More information on the Coffee Pot Book Club and other works of quality historical fiction can be found on Twitter and Instagram.

Book Title: Hammer
Series: The Iron Between
Author: Micheál Cladáin
Publication Date: 31 January 2023
Publisher: PerchedCrowPress
Page Length: 375
Genre: Historical Fiction

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