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The Minstrel Boy

by Sharon Stewart

Haunted by a lifelong dream in which he’s searching through a devastating fire for something precious, David Baird has grown into a troubled teen. To separate his son from undesirable companions, David’s father takes him to Wales. But David’s black moods continue. After the latest of many quarrels, he steals a motorcycle and races off into the night, crashing on the mountainside near the ruins of the Celtic fort at Caerleon. He regains consciousness in a dense forest. The motorcycle has vanished but standing over David, holding a sword to his throat, is a boy his own age. When the boy, Bear, takes David to his village, an assortment of crude huts, David reluctantly realizes that he has somehow stepped back from his own time into Celtic Britain. From the bard who teaches Bear, he learns of his intuitive gifts for storytelling and playing the harp. After a failed attempt to return to his own time, David decides to develop his talent as a bard – a talent that saves the lives of the comrades he has come to admire and is the means of finally explaining his recurring dream.

In Sharon Stewart’s first novel, past and present are interdependent, as they are in all good time travel stories. Through his adventures in the past, David learns a needed lesson – the importance of sharing his talent with the community rather than using it as a self-indulgent expression of his own emotions. In addition, the knowledge he brings from the future makes possible the rescue of villagers abducted by marauding Saxons. The novel also works well as historical fiction. Celtic Britain comes alive for the reader as David struggles to fit into a life he finds at once attractive and repulsive. When he returns to the present and discovers the final pieces of the puzzle, the reader rejoices with him to learn that the comrade he has come to love, Bear – Artos in Celtic – is actually the future King Arthur.

Was David’s time in the past real or merely a vivid dream? In time travel it’s the emotional journey that counts, and here the writer has woven a most convincing tale.