Gawain is the eldest son of King Lot of Lothian and Queen Morgause. He is his father’s favourite despite his having more brains than brawn. His aunt Morgana has destined him for a special mission and trains him at her convent. Gawain will spend his entire life wondering what on earth he has done to deserve the fate that Morgana has in store for him. He will discover the perks of the job too, fortunately.
Gorlois, lord of Cornwall, has won the love of a faery woman, Ygraine. She brings him many blessings – but she also excites the jealousy of other men. Gorlois and Ygraine have an unspeakably happy marriage that has produced two daughters, Morgause and Morgana. Gorlois is so kind, sweet, loving and generally perfect that he might as well wear a target for the Tragic Muse on his back.
Klingsor is a powerful sorcerer with a huge grudge against men in general. Having been caught consoling an unhappily married woman, he was castrated by her husband and has since refused to identify as ‘male’. He is now in the business of helping vengeful females cook up elaborate and gruesome schemes against men.
Lot, an Irish prince of the Red Branch, was reduced to piracy when the clan O’Neill burnt down his family’s fortress of Emain Macha and usurped the crown of Ulster. Together with his brother Angus he has come to Britain to establish a new kingdom. Uther Pendragon gives him the hand of Morgause of Cornwall in marriage. They have five children together. Lot is, however, hopelessly in love with his sister-in-law.
Merlin, the son of a fae and a human nun, has visions that compel him to try and shape the future, whatever the cost to himself or other people. He offers his services as a sorcerer to High King Emrys and, after the king’s death, to his brother Uther Pendragon. Merlin is the only one who understands Morgana’s role and the true extent of her power. He also turns Arthur’s beginnings into a great mess.
Morgana, youngest daughter of Ygraine and Gorlois of Cornwall, has a powerful gift of magic, but it does not seem to be a benign one. Her touch can suck the vital energy out of any living thing. Even at an early age she is feared by many. As a young girl, Morgana is married off to King Urien of Rheged, but she soon leaves her husband to pursue a monastic life. She heads her own convent in the Valley of No Return.
Morgause, eldest daughter of Ygraine and Gorlois of Cornwall, is in many ways the opposite of her sister Morgana. Her magical gift is one of life and healing, something for which she is cherished and respected by her (nevertheless philandering) husband Lot. Morgause bears six children, setting something of a record in this story and in Arthurian legend in general. Her search for love leads to all the wrong places.
Urien is the aging king of Rheged who has his sights on the High King’s crown. His major adversary is his brother-in-law King Lot, who is also his equal in ambition. Urien feels he has been cheated by Uther Pendragon when he received Morgana’s hand in marriage. He fears and hates his wife, but his pride and ambition do not allow him to reject her officially. Urien and Morgana have one child, a son called Owain who is one year younger than Gawain.
After the death of his elder brother Emrys, Uther, called Pendragon, becomes High King of Britain. A capable war leader, he manages to deal serious blows to the Saxon hordes that are invading his island realm. Uther’s prowess inspires respect and loyalty in his vassal kings. His manoeuvre to steal the wife of a faithful ally, however, does not. Uther’s dealings with Ygraine place a serious burden on the life and reign of his illustrious but illegitimate son, Arthur.
A faery woman from the Land Beyond the Mists, Ygraine loses her heart to a mortal man. She marries Gorlois of Cornwall and bears him two daughters, Morgause and Morgana. But her fairytale turns sour when she catches the eye of Uther Pendragon. Against her will, she bears Uther a son: Arthur. It is Ygraine’s desire for revenge that will shape Gawain’s life.