Atlantean Bull Dancers

Atlantean Bull Dancers

I’m a long-time fan of Stephen Lawhead’s Pendragon Cycle.  It’s a retelling of the King Arthur stories but told from both a historical and Christian perspective.  It stretches from the final days of the Roman Empire in Albion to the Battle of Britain. 

The very first book in the series is to my mind the strongest: Taliesin.

The book is told from two perspectives. The first follows the life of Prince Taliesin, the greatest Celtic bard in the history of Britain. His father in incredibly Celtic fashion, finds the beautiful golden-haired infant in a salmon net wrapped in fur and skins. A few of you might recognize this as the start of the Book of Taliesin, a Welsh manuscript dating from the mid-1300s. The Taliesin in Lawhead’s book follows the narrative of the poem, kinda-sorta but not by much.  

In the Pendragon cycle, Taliesin is a man who was fated to be the greatest king in the history of Britain but he sacrifices that fate to save the life of his infant son, Merlin.

The other story follows the life of the beautiful Princess Charis of Atlantis, who becomes the mother of Merlin.

That probably has you wondering about a few things.  Okay, Romano-Celtic Britain right before the last centurion on Hadrian’s Wall laid down his shield in the heather and took a barbarian is pretty easy.  Yeah, there are Mack truck-sized holes in the historic records but it’s not impossible to put together a narrative that will feel true to the period.

Atlantis is a much bigger problem what with it never having existed and all. 

There is only one ancient source on this subject; Plato’s works, Timaeus and Critias.  Not to be a complete killjoy on Atlantis but it was probably just a fictional allegory about the hubris of a nation.  Something that mattered a lot to Plato. 

Hey, I get it, I used to have daydreams about this mysterious lost continent when I was kid too. Laser pyramids, rows of sphinxes women in diaphonous robes…

I didn’t think my childhood dreams would turn out this tacky

I grew older, got something that could be accused of being an education, and had to write off Atlantis.  I will grant that given the age of the homosapiens is roughly 100,000 years old and Egypt gave this civilization thing a whirl only about 5,000 years ago. So maybe something popped up along the coasts during the last ice age and was wiped out by… Let’s say the Toba Eruption. Admittedly, that does account for a civilization that vanished in a night of fire and whatnot.  

However, if there was ever a real-world civilization that Plato based his musings on Minoan Crete is probably the better candidate.

Lawhead decided to combine what little Plato had to say on the subject of Atlantis with what little we know of Crete and did so rather effectively.  

There were obvious limits to what Lawhead could import from Knossos

Princess Charis was born to one of the eleven kingdoms of Atlantis, all were in fealty to a high king over all the kingdoms of Atlantis.  The kings would gather every now and then and sit in a court.  At one of these meetings, a tragedy occurs, and Charis’ royal family is torn apart.  

The princess dedicates her life to her religion’s chief god (a sun-deity). She becomes a bull dancer, the finest in all Atlantis.

There is some argument in academics about whether the Minoans really did it but the ‘it was just mythical depictions’ school sounds to me a lot like projection by men who knew they would NEVER try such a thing.  I personally suspect it was real. The mural feels too much like Roman depictions of gladiators.  There is a touch of vivacity to it.

When Atlantis is destroyed Charis and her house find their way to Britania where they become known to the natives as a “faire folk” because of their beauty and uncanny knowledge base.   Charis and her father come upon Christian missionaries and convert them.  In case you’re wondering and I truly understand how you might, the author treats this as a good and real thing.  Charis’ father becomes the Fisher King of Arthurian fame. 

Eventually, she meets Taliesin falls in love, and has to struggle with her conversion because, with everything she has lost, she doesn’t want to have hope in her life again. 

Charis’ sister Morrigian takes a very different road.

Excellent book and the Dark Herald Recommends with Enthusiasm. 

When I found out that Daily Wire was producing a mini-series version of the Pendragon Cycle my ears perked up.  I honestly haven’t been that impressed with their production thus far, competent but not memorable.  Lady Ballers honestly felt like the first half of Dodge Ball, the half that isn’t all that funny. I didn’t bother with the Gina Carano western because I knew it was going to be her last acting job ever. 

But ever since I heard they were making the Pendragon Cycle I’ve been very curious as to whether they were going to include a bull dancing sequence.  Given how central it is to Charis’ character there is almost no point in bothering with Taliesin without it.

I finally got my answer.

Discuss on Social Galactic

Share this post