Thursday 27 July 2017

The Quest For The Holy Grail ~ #FolkloreThursday #Myths #Legends

The Quest For The Holy Grail

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”

Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

Matthew 26:17-30 New International Version (NIV)

The Last Supper, ca. 1520, Andrea Solari, after Leonardo da Vinci ~ Wikipedia

This was to be the last supper before Jesus' arrest and horrific crucifixion. It is said that the cup that Jesus used on that fateful night was also used to catch his blood as he hung on the cross.

  Joseph of Arimathea and The Holy Grail.

When Joseph of Arimathea found his way to Albion, he brought the sacred Chalice with him. Joseph settled in The Island of Glass (Glastonbury) and here he hid the Holy Grail down a sacred well. The water of the well instantly turned red and tasted of blood.

The Chalice Well Gardens ~ Glastonbury

The Grail's hiding place remained a secret for many years, and over time it became the stuff of legends. The stuff of folklore.

The Chalice Well

 Chrétien de Troyes and Arthurian Legend

At the end of the 12th Century, Chrétien de Troyes, a French poet, took up the story of the Grail. He wove the story of the Grail into the story of King Arthur and his Knights.

Chrétien de Troyes ~ Wikipedia
The importance of de Troyes influence on Arthurian legend cannot be overlooked. It is de Troyes that introduced us to Lancelot and the love triangle. It is de Troyes that first introduced the idea of the Knights Quest for the Holy Grail. He also introduced us to the knight that would discover the Grail's hiding place — Sir Percival.

Perceval, the Story of the Grail.

If nothing else, de Troyes certainly sparked the imagination of the populace, for what could be more romantic than these chivalrous, heroic knights, searching for the sacred cup of their religion?

Robert de Boron (late 12th Century French Poet) went into even more detail when he took up the story.

The Holy Grail of Valencia, with the cup made from a piece of agate carved during the time of Christ ~ Wikipedia

But it was Vulgate Cycle (Lancelot-Grail), which was written in the 13th Century by an unknown author that really cemented the Grail Quest with Arthur and his Knights.

The central character of the story is Lancelot. However, instead of Percival being the ultimate Grail hunting knight, it is Lancelot's son, Galahad.

George Frederick Watts (1817 - 1904) ~ Wikipedia

The Holy Grail and Arthurian Legend
(An abridged version!) 

Whitsunday (the eve of Pentecost), Camelot.

One day a woman of great beauty came to Arthur's court. She was immediately taken with Lancelot — who wasn't? She asked Lancelot if he would consent to a walk in the woods. Lancelot agreed, and the two set off for what Lancelot assumed would be a romantic stroll. Was he in for a surprise!

The lady led Lancelot to a convent, and there waiting for him were his cousins — Sir Bors and Sir Lionel.

The Abbess introduced Lancelot to a handsome young man. She asked if Lancelot would be so kind as to knight him. There was a moment of shared bemusement between the cousin, but Lancelot agreed to the nun’s request.

Sir Bors could not help but notice that there was something strangely familiar about the young man. He was the image of Lancelot. Lancelot took a closer look at the young man and conceded that this was his child. Who knew...?

Not long after, the Knights were summoned back to Camelot for a meeting at the Round Table.

There was an empty chair pulled up to the Round Table. This chair was known as the Siege Perilous, and it was waiting for that one special knight who would find the Holy Grail. It just so happens that this special knight was Lancelot son, Galahad. Galahad took his place with the chosen few.

Sir Galahad sits at the Siege Perilous, 15th-century French manuscript ~ Wikipedia

When Galahad sat down an image of the Grail floated above the table. There could be no mistake. God wanted Arthur and his Knights to find the Grail. 

The Holy Grail, by Évrard d'Espinques c. 1475 ~ Wikipedia

This was by far the greatest quest the knights have ever been on. While they set off in groups, Galahad decided to go it alone, but alas, he was not successful. The Grail continued to be elusive. Eventually, Galahad was reunited with Bors and Percival.

Percival's sister showed them where the Grail ship was, but unfortunately, she died, and Bors offered to take her body back home.

How Sir Galahad, Sir Bors and Sir Percival were Fed with the Sanc Grael; But Sir Percival's Sister Died by the Way, an 1864 watercolour by Dante Gabriel Rossetti ~ Wikipedia

Galahad had a vision, and he saw things that no mere mortal man could ever imagine. He now knew where the Grail was hidden. He explained to his fellow knights that the Grail was in Briton, but despite the code of chivalry, Camelot was unworthy to be its keeper. The Grail had to be taken to Sarras (a mystical land) — this was a command from God and must be obeyed.

The Grail was on the ship, waiting for them, and they took it to Sarras. They watched in amazement as the cup was lifted to the heavens and disappeared.

Galahad, after seeing the Grail, made a rather odd request. He asked that he may be allowed to die at a time of his choosing. After a visit with Joseph of Arimathea, which was truly glorious, he made his request to die. He said goodbye to Percival and Bors, and the angels came down and took him to heaven.

Image of Galahad from a tapestry by Edward Burne-Jones, c. 1894 ~ Wikipedia

The Grail has never been seen on earth, from this day on, for it has gone home. 

 What did the Church think of this story?

The idea of a magic cup - cauldron - was a very common theme in Celtic myths, not so much the Bible. It was, in short, a pagan tale that was rewritten by a French poet with a socially acceptable Christian theme. But it captured the imagination of the country and has been associated with Arthur and his Knights ever since.

Unless otherwise stated all images can be found on Pixabay.

 The Du Lac Chronicles

If you fancy finding out what happened after the death of King Arthur then why not check out my award-winning historical fantasy series — The Du Lac Chronicles.


Read for free with

Wednesday 26 July 2017

Author’s Inspiration ~ David O. Stewart #HistFic #HistoricalMystery #Giveaway @hfvbt

Book Blast ~ Historical Virtual Book Tour Presents....

The Babe Ruth Deception


David O. Stewart

As the Roaring Twenties get under way, corruption seems everywhere–from the bootleggers flouting Prohibition to the cherished heroes of the American Pastime now tarnished by scandal. Swept up in the maelstrom are Dr. Jamie Fraser and Speed Cook…

Babe Ruth, the Sultan of Swat, is having a record-breaking season in his first year as a New York Yankee. In 1920, he will hit more home runs than any other team in the American League. Larger than life on the ball field and off, Ruth is about to discover what the Chicago White Sox players accused of throwing the 1919 World Series are learning–baseball heroes are not invulnerable to scandal. With suspicion in the air, Ruth’s 1918 World Series win for the Boston Red Sox is now being questioned. Under scrutiny by the new baseball commissioner and enmeshed with gambling kingpin Arnold Rothstein, Ruth turns for help to Speed Cook–a former professional ballplayer himself before the game was segregated and now a promoter of Negro baseball–who’s familiar with the dirty underside of the sport.

Cook in turn enlists the help of Dr. Jamie Fraser, whose wife Eliza is coproducing a silent film starring the Yankee outfielder. Restraint does not come easily to the reckless Ruth, but the Frasers try to keep him in line while Cook digs around.

As all this plays out, Cook’s son Joshua and Fraser’s daughter Violet are brought together by a shocking tragedy. But an interracial relationship in 1920 feels as dangerous as a public scandal–even more so because Joshua is heavily involved in bootlegging. Trying to protect Ruth and their own children, Fraser and Cook find themselves playing a dangerous game.
Once again masterfully blending fact and fiction, David O. Stewart delivers a nail-biting historical mystery that captures an era unlike any America has seen before or since in all its moral complexity and dizzying excitement.

“(The Babe Ruth Deception) cleverly mixes real-life people and historical events. The problems of the unlikely sleuths will particularly appeal to baseball fans.”

Kirkus Reviews

“This is so much more than a baseball book. There’s a lot of the Babe, but it’s a history book, a mystery book, a complex book that beautifully details an era in America. I loved it!”

Tim Kurkjian, ESPN Baseball Contributor and Author

Author’s Inspiration

My Ten Best Mystery/Thriller Writers
By David O. Stewart
To wrap up my month-long blog tour marking the paperback launch of my historical mystery, The Babe Ruth Deception, I want to honor ten mystery/thriller writers who made me want to write that type of book.  The list reflects my tastes, freely acknowledged here:
·      Not a lot of gore or mass violence.  They’re distractions.
·      Smart, polished writing.
·      Close, loving attention to the people in the story, not just the story – unless the story’s totally amazing.
John Le Carré  -- The master.  From The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (1963) through Russia House (1989), Le Carré captured the tensions, hypocrisies, and terrors of the Cold War.  With the fall of the Soviet Union, he reinvented himself, exploring the same themes around the globe in great yarns like The Constant Gardener (2001), The Tailor of Panama (1996), and Our Kind of Traitor (2010).  Witty, ironic, the Muse of Moral Ambiguity.
Elmore Leonard – The master, American version, who packed more description into fewer words than anyone.  Try this character from Tishomingo Blues: “all the way cool.”  You could use more words, but why?  He did Detroit-based stories (Split Images, City Primeval), Florida stories (Maximum Bob, Out of Sight) and anything he damn well pleased.  Get Shorty may be perfect. 
Eric Ambler – This British espionage writer created dense atmosphere, quirky characters, and compelling yarns.  The early books (Journey Into Fear, The Mask of Dimitrios) explore devious men wandering through the world-gone-mad of fascism and communism.  His later books widened his scope.  A favorite is his last, The Care of Time (as in “time will take care of him”).
Rex Stout – I haven’t yet joined the Nero Wolfe Literary Society (yup, there is one!), but I can’t resist the fat epicurean sleuth who loves orchids and never leaves his Manhattan townhouse (well, hardly ever).  Sidekick Archie Goodwin is the perfect counterweight.  Try The League of Frightened Men, or Too Many Cooks, or any of them.
P.D. James – A Scotland Yard investigator who writes poetry?  What can I say – it works in her Adam Dalgleish books (Cover Her Face, The Private Patient).  James also made time for a woman protagonist, An Unsuitable Job for a Woman.  Thoughtful, carefully-observed stories that draw you in deeper and deeper.
Olen Steinhauer – I know, I know, this the first writer on my list who’s still alive.  In fact, still in his 40s.  Concentrating on spy stories, Steinhauer already has produced a great trilogy (loved The American Spy) and excellent stand-alone books (try The Cairo Affair).  The tension crackles, the intrigue is compelling.  An entire book told through a single dinner between former colleagues?  He pulled it off, beautifully, in All the Old Knives.
Robert B. Parker – The Spenser books.  I rest my case.  One of the few recurring-character series that I just kept coming back for.  They’re so good that they’re still coming out even though Parker died seven years ago (written by Ace Atkins).  The novels go down fast, with the smoothest pacing.  Try Early Autumn or The Judas Goat. 
Josephine Tey – Her novel The Daughter of Time showed that an investigator could unearth secrets from the historical past (in her case, the 15th-century killing of the princes in the Tower of London).   That inspired my first mystery, The Lincoln Deception.  Though I haven’t been crazy about her other books, Daughter of Time is perfect.
Arthur Conan Doyle – It’s crazy to have him down this low on the list.  Sherlock Holmes will always be with us.  The dog that didn’t bark.  There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.  When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.  Great stuff. 
Charles McCarry – Another espionage writer, also alive (!).  McCarry’s first novel, The Miernik Dossier, was extraordinary.  His novel about the Kennedy assassination, The Tears of Autumn, is the best guess I’ve seen as to what happened in Dallas in November 1963. 
That’s my list so far.  Great writers didn’t make the cut:  Raymond Chandler, John D. MacDonald, Dashiell Hammett, Agatha Christie.  Hey, it’s MY list.  Who’s on yours?
David O. Stewart is the author of the Fraser/Cook mystery series, The Lincoln Deception (2013), The Wilson Deception (2015), and The Babe Ruth Deception (2016). 


During the Blog Tour we will be giving away two paperback copies of The Babe Ruth Deception! To enter, please see the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

• Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on July 27th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

 • Giveaway is open to residents in the US & Canada only.
• Only one entry per household.

• All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.

• Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Links for Purchase


About the author

David O. Stewart, formerly a lawyer, writes fiction and history. His first historical work told the story of the writing of the Constitution (“The Summer of 1787”). It was a Washington Post Bestseller and won the Washington Writing Prize for Best Book of 2007. His second book (“Impeached”), grew from a judicial impeachment trial he defended before the United States Senate in 1989. “American Emperor: Aaron Burr’s Challenge to Jefferson’s America” explored Burr’s astounding Western expedition of 1805-07 and his treason trial before Chief Justice John Marshall. “Madison’s Gift: Five Partnerships That Built America” debuted in February 2015. He has received the 2013 History Award of the Society of the Cincinnati and the 2016 William Prescott Award for History Writing from the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America.

Stewart’s fiction career began with the release of “The Lincoln Deception,” an historical novel exploring the John Wilkes Booth conspiracy. “The Wilson Deception,” the sequel, is set at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919. “The Babe Ruth Deception” occurs during the Babe’s first two years with the Yankees while he remade baseball and America began the modern era with Prohibition, bootlegging, and terrorism.
Stewart lives with his wife in Maryland.
Useful Links

The Babe Ruth Deception by David O. Stewart

Publication Date: June 27, 2017
Kensington Books
Hardcover & eBook; 304 Pages
Series: A Fraser and Cook Mystery (Book 3)
Genre: Fiction/Historical/Mysteries/Baseball