Middle grade historical fantasy
Plot summary from query
Archer doesn’t belong. In case he has any doubts, Edlyn will go to any lengths to show him that he never could.
At fourteen, Edlyn’s gang jump Archer in the woods, tie him to a tree and try to teach him some respect. It nearly costs Archer the affection of his only friend Patricia, but no one likes being called treacherous, do they? On the plus side, he gains a couple of loyal friends. During the trio’s first road trip, a band of fierce renegades learn a thing or two about courage and audacity, and a charismatic Celtic drummer band turns the incident into a song.
At sixteen, Archer competes with his friends in a graduation competition to see who is worthy of being crowned May King and Queen. Although Edlyn tries hard to sabotage Archer’s chances, they both get through to the final round. There’s a gleeful moment when Archer takes to the stage as Robin Hood, attracting plenty of female admirers, but it’s Patricia he wants to kiss.
When Archer carved the yew stave given to him by Oxford’s master bowman, drops of his blood awoke the powerful tree spirit. The stave was from the same tree Edlyn tied Archer to years earlier, and the enchantress wants revenge for Edlyn’s thoughtless cruelty. While everyone else enjoys the Beltane feast, she entices him into the ceremonial bonfire. Archer is faced with the ultimate dilemma - does he defy her and risk his life to save his nemesis, or simply walk away?
Although it has a distinctly medieval feel, ‘ARCHER’ is set in a modern-day, alternate England where teenagers enjoy archery and jousting instead of football and Facebook. With echoes of the film ‘A Knight’s Tale’ and the series ‘Merlin,’ this story will appeal to young teens, fans of Philip Pullman/Rick Riordan, and adults who enjoy historical adventures laced with humour and a dash of romance.
250 word extract
‘C’mon Archer, you can do it!’
‘Go for it Finn!’
Sitting astride his stallion Apollo, Archer grinned as people in the crowd shouted encouragement. He spotted his friends; they were Finn’s friends too and obviously didn’t know who to support. Some of them looked worried, but Fletch didn’t care, holding up victory fists to both contenders in turn. The buzz of excitement was affecting everyone and Archer felt the familiar thrill of blood pumping through his veins. Months of effort had gone into the preparations and people had travelled from miles around to celebrate Beltane, the Festival of the May.
‘Good luck, mate.’ Tybalt, Archer’s Second, held up his shield. ‘May the best man win.’
‘Man? Don’t you mean Junior?’ Archer was secretly delighted by the idea, as he slipped his gauntlet through the shield straps and took the reins.
‘No, Archer. Today, you and Finn are men.’ Tybalt handed over the lance, then, with an anxious look in Finn’s direction, walked to the dais to prepare for the tributes.
Looking down the tilt at his opponent, Archer felt the warmth of brotherhood. No, Finn was more than a brother, they did not argue as siblings did. Professor Niall had pronounced them the only pair ready for the joust – all the other boys had settled for the rings.
Archer shivered, despite the sunshine. This wasn’t the same as an ordinary practice. The enthusiasm of the crowd made it more exciting than anything he had ever done in his life.