Saturday, 1 October 2016

Blog Tour: The Learn by Tony Halker

The Learn by Tony Halker

Blending reality, history and legend, about a time when women were considered as important as men, taking power in an oral society that worships the Goddess. A whole Celtic Druid world is laid out before us, incorporating beliefs, technology and the natural environment.

A Celtic boy, a beach scavenger, is pledged to the Learn, a life of endurance, a path to become sworn Druid: scholar and warrior. Young women and men progress, becoming Priests and Druidii. Friendship, affection, passion and care develop as novices mature, confidence emerging.
Seasonal battles of winter and summer bring rich festivals when seeds of men are taken by women in pleasure to prove fertility. Small damaged, hurt peoples on the margins of Celtic society blend in and out of vision.

At frontiers with Nature, dependent for everything on what the earth gives or takes, an emotional response to the natural environment defines who people are and the values they live by.
A lyrical novel resonating with modern readers through portrayal of character, language and history; arising from a landscape of today, yet centred in the Celtic Bronze Age of North Wales.

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The Book – More In Depth

The book is about a landscape that exists today, artefacts that can be touched now and the people who may have lived there 3000 years ago.

It explores the social impact of technology change as new metals are found, developed and forged; considering a society that is almost a miracle to me, in that with no writing (we know of) to record and pass on the minutiae of technology (we know they did) and to evolve those technologies is quite amazing in itself. I like to imagine that the songs of bards long ago in our folklore were not just beautiful tales of love, battle, poison and sacrifice, but a means of forging memories that could be sung with rhythm and passed on from tribe to tribe, mother to daughter, enabling them to hone and harvest technologies of wood, pots, metal and mead.

There are riches in gold and pearls, horses and in children who come of fertile families. Druids control the trade in these goods, as well as access to rite and the definition of blasphemy. New technologies constitute blasphemy when not part of approved chant, as different groups wrestle for an edge in a new technology.

Fate provides an opportunity for a beach scavenger of the tribe Ordovici whose family has seen a better time. She uses the value that comes to her to manipulate a promise to allow her son to enter a process to train to be tested to become a Druid Priest and later a Druid. That process is The Learn, the accumulation of knowledge and progress, building a store of those things both for the individual and the group.

The young people grow in strength of body and mind as they Learn to question and are taught that authority has no control to order their thinking.

The story sets out a whole Druid Celt culture and way of life drawing on folklore, the few descriptions we have of those times and the highly developed artefacts that remain which include beautiful goods as well as observatories. Religion, Gods and Goddesses and rich festivals celebrating the change of seasons are a part of the story.

A group of young people progress through The Learn, grow to adulthood, fall into passion and battle. Conflicts arise between their loyalty to tribe and that to the progress of society through The Learn.

One tribe seeks power over others to control trade and riches, using religion, hate and hypocrisy, as well as manipulation and grooming of its own youth to reach power ends for a few individuals in authority.

Young people from different Celtic tribes through west and central early Britain progress through The Learn in mutual respect, yet they must become enemies in time as some fight for The Learn and others against it out of tribal loyalty. Those against wrestle with the conflict between demands of their tribe and their natural instincts to support knowledge and enlightenment.

New priest made and battle honed young people meet in passion, they have been together before in previous incarnations but know they must wander as Priests, passing the word, fulfilling duty, meeting from time to time. Seeds of men are taken in the process, women share power; small damaged peoples at the edge of society, shunned by some, hurt by lack of sun, in-breeding and hard lives contribute and are valued by the tribes who know them as allies.

Nature, places, sounds, smells, the seasons and senses are all a part of this story as people live in and off the landscape, dependent for survival on what the earth gives, the omens tell and the Goddess rewards them with. The sounds become something not yet named music.

About Tony Halker 

Born in London, Tony Halker studied geology at Leeds University after which he worked as a geologist, travelling extensively overseas. Following an MBA at Cranfield School of Management, he became a manager in hi-tec business and later a businessman and entrepreneur. His writing is inspired by powerful natural landscapes and his interest in the people and technologies emerging from those hard places. His two daughters were born in North Wales. He lives with his wife there and in Hertfordshire. 

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