Yes folks! She is back! This time Darby comes to us with The Hound at the Gate, the third book in The Adventures of Finn MacCullen series. Have you not started this series? Shame on you, Go. Read. Now. Wondering what the first two books were like? Check out my previous reviews here.
Darby was nice enough to stop by here for a guest post, which follows the book information. Than come back later today for my review. I have to tell you that Finn has made his way into my heart just as Griffin did. ( And if you don’t know who Griffin is, then that means you need to go ahead and get your hands on Darby’s other series, which starts with Griffin Rising. Again, Go. Read. Now.)
The Hound At the Gate by Darby Karchut
The Adventures of Finn MacCullen #3
January 13, 2015 – Spencer Hill Press
272 Pages -Young Adult, Middle Grade, Fantasy, Fiction
Goodreads: Autumn: the season of endings. And beginnings.
Especially for one young apprentice.
At the annual Festival of the Hunt, thirteen-year-old apprentice goblin hunter Finn MacCullen and his master, Gideon Lir, join other Tuatha De Danaan to honor their people’s heritage. But Finn soon realizes that there are some who denounce his right to attend due to his half-human bloodline.
As he struggles to keep his place by his master’s side, he finds himself embroiled in a decades-old grudge between Gideon and another Knight, bewildered (and beguiled) by a female apprentice with a temper as explosive as his own, and battling a pack of goblins determined to wipe out the entire camp in a surprise attack.
It’s going to take some fancy knife work, the help of a female Knight with a lethal bow, and one old pick up truck to defeat the goblins and prove to his people that Finn’s blood runs true-blue Tuatha De Danaan.
You can’t tell me that this book doesn’t sound interesting. I know you’re resisting the urge to stop reading so you can go grab your copy. But wait, there’s a bit more. Interested in what inspired The Hound at the Gate? Read on.
The Story behind THE HOUND AT THE GATE by Darby Karchut
For writers, inspiration often springs from a weird blend of images, obscure facts from history or current events, a random remark, and even from a verse in a song. The Hound at the Gate has such a mix.
For those of you who have read The Hound at the Gate, these references will jump right out at you. For you who haven’t yet cracked Hound’s spine, watch for these as you read:
Mountain Man Rendezvous
During the mid-1800’s, fur trappers and traders and other rugged individuals who lived in the Rocky Mountains would gather together to celebrate their way of life. Over several days or weeks, there would be all sorts of competitions, singing, feasting and drinking and trading. I took this event and shaped it into a Celtic version of a Rendezvous and renamed it The Festival of the Hunt.
The official sport of Ireland. The perfect sport to play at the Tuatha De Danaan’s Festival. Plus, it gave me a reason for Gideon to take off his shirt. You’re welcome.
The Legend of Cúchulain
Cúchulain, often called the Celtic Achilles, was a young, but formidable warrior of Bronze Age Irish mythology. While his birth name was Sétanta, he earned the name Cúchulain from a curious incident. He accidentally killed the guard dog of a local chieftain named Cullen. In payment, he offered to stand guard at the gates of Cullen’s fortress. Others then began calling him “Cullen’s Hound.” In Gaelic, it is Cú Chulain—the hound that guards the gate.
Curiously, young Cúchulain was also taken away, in his late teens, to be trained by warrior-goddess, one of them being the Scáthach.
Roles of Chieftains and Kings
Bronze Age Ireland was more of a tribal society, as opposed to have a central authority figure. While clans had their own leaders, and several clans might be under the rule of a chieftain, it was rare to have a king over all the clans. The High King, Brian Boru (who was a real person) was one such king, although he does not figure in Hound. (It was from the history of Brian Boru that the idea for a parallel series to the Finn MacCullen books was born. Thus: The Stag Lord and Unholy Blue. Bonus point for me to pimping my other series).
The scene with the pick up truck was inspired by Boudica, a chariot-riding warrior-queen who led her tribe of British Celts against the invading Romans. She would have loved Kel O’Shea.
The song “The Minstrel Boy”
The version performed by the band, Enter the Haggis, is the official theme song for the Finnegan series. There is a line in the song, “warrior bard” which resonates with me, and confirms how I view my Tuatha De Danaan: fierce warriors with the souls of bards.
* * *
So, why the Irish in the first place? I wish I could point to one thing or event, but I can’t. Like many Americans, I have Irish ancestry on my father’s side. In fact, “Darby” is an old family name, and yes, it really is my given name.
And, as a teen, I fell in love with the art in The Book of Kells. That led me to explore Celtic art. Which led me to explore Celtic mythology. Which led me to the Tuatha De Danaan, whom I first learned about when I read How the Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill. That was back in 2009.
By 2010, I had written the first drafts of both Finn Finnegan and Gideon’s Spear, but put them aside to focus on my Griffin series, a YA series about a teen guardian angel and his beloved master. (Again, pimping). Once those books were published, I went back to Finn’s story.
Now, here I am, sending Finn and Gideon off on another adventure. What’s next for my heroes? Well, the fourth and final book in The Adventures of Finn MacCullen, entitled The Burnt Bones, is currently in the editing stages. I’ll miss my wild Irish boys; I enjoyed every minute getting to know them.
I hope you do, too. Cheers!
Thank you Darby, for stopping by and sharing the inspiration behind the story. I am looking forward to The Burnt Bones, but I will also be preparing my farewells. Now, come back in a couple of hours so I can tell you how amazingly awesome the third book is!