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Tiny author brings old legends back to life

Original Article – (Simcoe.com)

‘The Prince Madoc Secret’ part three of a trilogy

Historical legend is the pearl in the oyster of a Barrie Doyle novel.

The Tiny Township resident published his third novel, The Prince Madoc Secret, this month and is planning book signings across the region this summer.

“All three books are modern-day thrillers with their roots in legends,” said Doyle.

His first book, The Excalibur Parchment, published in 2015, revolves around the legend of the Excalibur sword.

His second book, The Lucifer Scroll, published in 2016, is based on the legend of the Spear of Destiny that was thrust into Christ’s side when he was on the crucifix.

The Prince Madoc Secret is built on the legend of Prince Madoc of Wales who settled in America in 1170, bringing Christian antiquities with him.

While the books are part of the Oak Grove Conspiracies, they can be read individually.

“It’s the same basic characters. I’ve written them to be three standalones, but there are times in each book that refers back to something that happened in the previous one,” Doyle said.

The retired journalist and public relations professional said he spent his career “telling other people’s stories.”

But it wasn’t until a family crisis — one of his two grandsons was having heart surgery and had a 50/50 chance of survival — that he began writing his own stories.

“I had to sit down and get my mind off the operation and I started writing the (first) book.”

Fortunately, his grandson survived and is doing well. The publisher at World Alive Press in Winnipeg suggested Doyle create a trilogy.

“I thought ‘good grief I have to come up with more stories’. Then I thought, there’s lots of legends out there.”

Doyle, 71, went back to his birth land of Wales to provide an accurate setting for The Lucifer Scroll. His villains are druids seeking antiquities as a means to political power.

“They are zealous, power-mad druids who will kill for power. My druids are terrorists.”

The books sell for $25. They are available at Georgian Bay Books in Midland, The Reading Room in Penetanguishene, Chapters, and online with Amazon.

For more information go to Doyle’s website at www.barriedoyle.com or email him at excaliburparchment@gmail.com.

 

 

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Where are the books set? And why?: Part Four: St. David’s Cathedral

Tucked away in the far south west corner of Wales is Britain and Europe’s smallest city, St. David’s.

          It has a population closing on 2,500 residents, a few shops, some restaurants and pubs and, hidden in a small valley below the city, the immense and impressive St. David’s Cathedral.  The village (because that’s what it really is) is called a city because of the Cathedral. Ecclesiastic law and history determined that no matter how big or small, any place that had a Cathedral was declared a city.

          St. David is known as the Patron Saint of Wales and has an incredible story—worthy of a book—of his service to Wales in preaching and teaching Christianity. Legends suggest that St. Patrick, of Ireland, was taught by David. His preaching was renowned. Thousands gathered to hear his sermons. Miracles were apparently done in his name.

          And so, the Cathedral was built to honour him and to hold his tomb.

          It’s nestled in a narrow, sheltered valley for a reason. In the so-called Dark Ages (mid 500’s and on), Viking marauders attacked and destroyedchurches along the coastline, killing all the monks and sacking nearby villages and enslaving its inhabitants.

          St. David’s hidden location saved it from such deprivations and allowed it to prosper. By the time of William the Conqueror (1066), such was the fame of the Cathedral that a Papal decree dictated that two pilgrimages to St. David’s was the equivalent of one pilgrimage to Rome. William himself made a pilgrimage to the Cathedral in 1081.

          Beside the Cathedral itself are the massive ruins of the Bishop’s Palace, indicative of the wealth of the Cathedral in medieval times. During Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries it suffered heavy damage but survived and serves today as an active church and diocesan centre for The Church in Wales (part of the Anglican Communion),

          The best view of the Cathedral is from the old stone gateway and bell tower atop the hill by the village. From there you can see the sweep of the valley and the church’s strategic placement.

          Stained glass windows and decorative features abound in the Cathedral. If you’re lucky and it is not church service time, you still might hear the organist or even catch the Cathedral choir practising.

          In The Prince Madoc Secret, the Cathedral plays a key role. But I postulate that, at the critical time in the novel, the Church and the cultural community have gathered to create a special memorial place for Welsh writers, artists and musicians might have their own ‘Poet’s Corner’ such as found at Westminster Abbey in London.

 

          That is one piece of fiction I’d love to see become reality.

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The latest, but hopefully not the last, of the Oak Grove Conspiracies series

Original Article – artsconnection.ca

As Micheal Corleone said, in The Godfather: Part III, “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!”

In The Prince Madoc Secret, book three of the Oak Grove Conspiracies series by Barrie Doyle, just as journalist Stone Wallace and the historian father-daughter team of Huw and Mandy Griffiths think they’ve rid themselves and the world of the Druids, they discover otherwise.

Two deaths set the stage for the rest of the book’s events: the successful assassination of a key political figure in Wyoming and an unsuccessful attempt on Wallace in London, England. And, while seeming unrelated, Wallace and the Griffiths are offered an assignment from the BBC to produce a documentary about a long-forgotten Welsh royal, Prince Madoc. Research into the prince, who supposedly discovered America before Christopher Columbus, leads the trio to discover a Druid plot behind Prince Madoc’s disappearance and their current circumstances.

Author Barrie Doyle has the ability to surprise the reader with unexpected twists and turns.

As with each of the books in the Oak Grove Conspiracies, once the Druids are involved, danger, seen and unseen, abounds. Doyle is one of the best action adventure writers there is. I agree with the the reviewer compared him favorably to Tom Clancy (creator of the Jack Ryan stories): Doyle has the ability to draw a reader into the plot, cheer for the heroes and hiss at the villains. He has the ability to surprise the reader with unexpected twists and turns. As cliched as it may sound, The Prince Madoc Secret is a page-turning, keep-you-up-at-night novel that you just have to keep reading until you’re finished.

The Prince Madoc Secret can be read as a stand-alone adventure, but it really helps to have read the other books in the series: The Excalibur Parchment and The Lucifer Scroll. The background of the previous Druid plots isn’t essential because Doyle fills in gaps, but if you enjoyed The Prince Madoc Secret, you’ll want to find out what happened before.

When I interviewed Doyle at the release of The Excalibur Parchment, he said he planned on a trilogy. With this third book, and a few cryptic curves thrown in, I’m hoping for a fourth installment…and maybe even more. As a fan, I say let the Oak Grove Conspiracies adventures continue.

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Where are the books set? And why?: Part Three: Istanbul

In The Lucifer Scrollan archaeological dig unearths a tantalizing document that hints at the existence of a revered icon, the Holy Lance also known as the Spear of Destiny. It was the spear that a Roman centurion thrust into the side of Jesus Christ at the crucifixion. But it became a spear immortalized by future generations as an icon that allowed its holder to rule the world.

Certainly, Charlemagne and Napoleon believed it and sought it. Adolf Hitler lusted after it. He sent his occult-loving SS chief, Heinrich Himmler, on a search for the spear. Hundreds of thousands of Deutsch Marks were spent on the search, even in the middle of World War II.

One of my protagonists, Professor Huw Griffiths, flies to Istanbul to help an old friend excavate and interpret and old church building they’d discovered in the midst of a huge industrial dig to create a new subway line in the city.

Istanbul is an incredible city, layered with history and tumultuous events, magnificent structures dating from Byzantine times as well as Ottoman. The city straddles the Bosporus, a sea channel connecting the Black Sea and the Aegean. The Bosporus also divides Europe from Asia.

Huw’s church dig symbolizes the city’s violent past, dating from its destruction during the Ottoman invasion of 1453. Hidden beneath the marble altar he finds the provocative document that sparks the new hunt for the spear.

 

Istanbul is a city of contrasts. Modern high rise office towers sit side by side with white marble mosques. Crowded city streets open into magnificent park-like squares. Modern shops on modern streets lead to the tumult and noise of the Grand Bazaar or the Spice Market. It’s noisy and bustling. And it is quiet and reflective.

High above the old city, on the south side of the famed Golden Horn lies three of the city’s most historic and amazing structures.

Hagia Sophia, an enormous Byzantine Cathedral draped in magnificent décor and once the largest building in the world. Still amazing to see and walk through some 1500 years later. It passed from the Byzantines to the conquering Ottomans who were so awed by the building they turned it into a mosque. It now exists as a museum, open to the public and delicately showing off both the incredible mosaic work of the Byzantines and the scrollwork art of the Muslim tradition.

Hagia Sophia sits between two superb Muslim creations: Topkapi Palace and the famed Blue Mosque which is sparkling white marble. (It’s called the Blue Mosque because of the predominant blue and turquoise décor inside the structure).

Topkapi was the palace of the Ottoman emperors until they moved in the late 1800’s to a newer, more modern structure further north along the Bosporus, called Dolmabahce Palace.

Linking Topkapi, Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque is the park-like Sultanahmet Square which itself also takes in

 part of the old Byzantine Hippodrome.

History. Culture. Museums. Clashing faiths. Istanbul was an easy choice for a somewhat mysterious, challenging, evocative location to begin the hunt for the Lucifer Scroll.

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Where are the books set? And why? | Part two: Tintern Abbey

Set in a meandering section of the Wye River valley about ten miles north of the border town of Chepstow, the skeletal ruins of Tintern Abbey evoke a peacefulness and solitude that is at odds with its turbulent past.

Tintern was the model for the fictional Cymllyn Abbey in The Excalibur Parchment. My monks Thomas and Owain were at the abbey, as was the traitorous Gethin—a Druid leader infiltrating the Christian church.

Tintern itself was abolished by Henry VIII in his dissolution of the monasteries. The lead roof was removed for its value, but the stone skeleton was left. Over the years the magnificent old church deteriorated but still retained a stark beauty. In 1798, the poet William Wordsworth wrote his famous poem “Lines composed a few miles above Tintern Abbey”. Interest in the old site picked up and it is now a well-restored ruin and a major tourist attraction.

In the abbey ruins you see the outlines of the various supporting outbuildings—the Abbot’s residence, the infirmary, the monks cells and others. It stands on the banks of the Wye River in a fairly flat area surrounded by hills. It is rich agricultural land and, as you walk around the site, you can easily imagine the hustle and bustle of the monks and lay workers as they tended the crops and animals. You can also understand how this became one of the wealthiest Cistercian monasteries of its age—a wealth Henry was determined to seize.

Standing inside the ruins of the magnificent church with its ornate stone decorations and window shells, you can also let your imagination run wild. I deliberately loaded some medieval chants onto my iPhone, plugged in my earpiece and let my imagination wander the monks deep melodious singing hymns accompanying me as I strolled down the nave.

But in my mind, I was not at Tintern. I was at Cymllyn Abbey with Thomas and Owain as they served and then found themselves challenged with the discovery that the Abbots of Cymllyn had hidden and protected a tremendous icon for more than 700 years—the mighty Excalibur, King Arthur’s sword.

From the ruins, I could see the river down which they escaped. And not too far away, the forested hills into which they fled and, beyond that, the open moorland they had to cross, pursued not only by vengeful Druids but by the soldiers of Lord de Tuberville.

All in all, and evocative, peaceful and contemplative spot.

 

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Where are the books set? And why? | Part One: The Old College, Aberystwyth

The Old College in Aberystwyth was the first university in Wales. Its first home was an old former hotel that had been built on the seafront and then extended, before passing into the hands of those who wanted Wales to have its own institute of higher learning. It became known as The Old College or, in Welsh Yr Hen Goleg.

It is a key location in The Prince Madoc Secret.

Interestingly, it was a forward-thinking university from its inception, offering women the same opportunities for higher education that were offered to men—a distinct change from the normal gender-based thinking of Victorian times. It was also developed partly thanks to the efforts of Non-Conformist ministers across Wales who collected “pennies of the people” to develop a starting fund of five thousand pounds—an enormous sum in those days.

As time passed, the university outgrew the existing building. A new, sprawling modern university was constructed in the hills east of the town and today is a renowned school of higher learning. The charming seaside town is also home to the National Library of Wales.

But the quirky old building on the seafront remains. At the invitation of some of the university’s leaders—who told me that ‘my professor’ (Huw Griffiths) had to do some of his research at the university. I agreed. And I went to the Old College to take a look when I was researching and writing The Prince Madoc Secret last year.

I found a delightful, quirky building that really is an amalgam of architectural styles and construction. A magnificent triangular limestone leads into the substantial wooden doors at the entrance to the College. Inside, a massive grand stone staircase leads up to narrow halls. Circular metal staircases clash with wooden staircases. Halls go nowhere except to another set of stairs (stone, wood or metal) which lead to other halls and other staircases (stone, wooden or metal) leading down half a flight to yet more halls. Rooms, professors offices and lecture theatres feed off the main halls.

Along the seafront side is a set of rooms occupied by Prince Charles when he was a student here learning Welsh and preparing for his investiture as Prince of Wales.

The Old College is mostly devoid of students now. They’ve moved up to the main campus east of the town. Instead, there are plans to revive the Old College as a place for special events and concerts among other things.

But it was just the right place for Stone Wallace and Mandy Griffiths to use as a base for their research into the legendary Prince Madoc. It’s a building steeped in history and yet timeless; a place imbued with a sense of learning and Welshness, set in a magnificent location beside the old castle which dates from 1277.

History, culture, legend, idiosyncratic styles are all gathered at The Old College. It is worth a visit and worth a prominent place in the book.

The Old College

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LAUNCH CELEBRATION

“The Prince Madoc Secret” was officially launched at an invitation-only event on May 5.  Guests enjoyed meeting with Barrie, getting some of the low down on how the book came about as well as learning a little about the legend of Prince Madoc. “For the full story, you’ll have to read the book,” Barrie told one guest. Almost 30 people came, enjoyed the event, looked at the displays and bought the book (and some even bought both of the previous novels as well.

One reader who reviewed an early pre-publication copy said “(Barrie) does a great job of giving life and personalities to his characters. While this is a novel, it often sounds like something from the evening news. The story is really gripping and my mind goes back and forth thinking it’s a TV news segment to realizing I’m just enjoying a well told story. It is a wonderfully rich and intertwined story richly and enjoyably told.”

The next scheduled event is a book signing on May 19 at Georgian Bay Books in Midland, ON between 1 and 3 p,m.

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Ontario Welsh Festival, Kingston ON (Apr 27-30)

Enjoyed a great weekend in Kingston, Ontario at the annual Welsh festival. People from all over Eastern Ontario as well as parts of the eastern United States plus visitors (mainly a male voice choir) from Cardiff, Wales.

One lady bought the first two books at the North American Welsh festival in Calgary 2016. She was at the same festival in Rochester NY 2017 asking for the third book. She was in Kingston and finally got her wish! She bought The Prince Madoc Secret and went home happy.  A number of the choir members and their families also purchased the newest book. More events later this year and we will be at the North American Festival of Wales in Washington DC late August.

 

The Marketplace was well attended. We were able to bring out banner and Excalibur (can’t take it across the border L) which people enjoyed posing with.

 

Throughout Saturday, the peaceful and soothing sounds of the Welsh harp permeated the vendor area

You’re supposed to stand within this sculpture where the “I” should be, but it was too cold and rainy.

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Counting Down to the Release of ‘The Prince Madoc Secret’

Don’t forget that The Prince Madoc Secret will be released in as few weeks. Check in on our website for information on various book events. If you have a bookstore near you that you think might like to host a book signing, please share this email with them and have them contact me direct. If you set up a confirmed book event, you’ll receive a free copy of the book.

Here’s what one early reviewer said:  I kept reading and telling myself, “okay, just half an hour more and then take a break”.  No breaks.  You’re a very good storyteller.  I really got pulled in.  I have found many authors have one or two good books in them, but they continue to write more. You, however have improved.  While I thoroughly enjoyed the first two, Madoc is clearly the best”.  

If you have the opportunity to visit your local bookstore, here’s what two bookstores think about the books!  Share it with your bookstore owner.

“The Oak Grove Conspiracies series by Barrie Doyle is an excellent foray into adventure and history. Beginning with The Excalibur Parchment the reader follows character Stone Wallace as he tries to save his mentor from Wales. The Lucifer Scroll follows suit with a second gripping adventure that traverses the globe. The release of the third in the series Prince Madoc has been hotly anticipated by fans worldwide.  In the two years that we’ve been running our bookstore, we have recommended Barrie’s novels highly to fans of Dan Brown, Bernard Cornwell and Wilbur Smith. When they return for the second in the series we know we’ve got them hooked!”
Georgian Bay Books, Midland, Ontario

And from The Reading Room in Penetanguishine, “At The Reading Room Bookstore in Penetanguishene, we look forward to the arrival of Barrie Doyle’s third book in his Oak Grove Conspiracies. We held events for his first two books in the series, The Excalibur Parchment and The Lucifer Scroll. Both signings were well attended, and sales were terrific.

Barrie, after a long career in journalism, corporate communications, and public relations does a great job of promoting his books and events on social media and through his vast professional networks. He also shows up with props (the Excalibur replica is a huge hit) as well as terrific printed material.

His books deal with the universal themes of good vs. evil, and religious beliefs used for control and power (sound familiar?). They will appeal to readers of historic fiction, fantasy and nail-biting thrillers. One customer compared Barrie’s books to those of Ken Follett. “

Those are just some of the comments we’ve been receiving. We have also found out that Waterstones (a major bookstore in the UK) now carries the books online. If any of you have friends or relatives in Wales or other parts of the UK who’d like to read these nail-biting thrillers, let them know about Waterstone’s. They can order online and pick it up at their closest store.

If, like the early reviewer, you enjoyed any of the books, please consider leaving a review and rating on Amazon or Goodreads and recommending them to family and friends (or, better yet, buying copies as gifts for special occasions!)

I can always be reached by email (excaliburparchment@gmail.com) or you can follow me on Facebook or Twitter to get the latest info, photos, reviews and news.

Looking forward to hearing from you and seeing you again at various events.

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Breaking News! April Newsletter

Breaking News!

Book 3, “The Prince Madoc Secret” to be released May 1!
I am very pleased to announce that The Prince Madoc Secret is scheduled for release on May 1 and we are already planning a number of special book signings and events during the month of May.
If you would like to suggest bookstores or other venues that might want to host a book signing, or if you’d like to host a book party in your home, please contact me at excaliburparchment@gmail.com
Here’s brief preview of the plot and some reader comments regarding the first two books:

Legend says a mysterious Welsh Prince named Madoc discovered America more than 300 years before Columbus, landing in Mobile Bay, Alabama. Stone Wallace and Mandy Griffiths are intrigued by the legends and hired to produce a TV documentary. They discover that Madoc was more than an explorer. The powerful and wealthy Knights Templar charged him with an enormous task: to protect some of their precious relics. Modern day Druids know those icons are so powerful and valuable that they will kill for them.  Faith battles faith. Good vs evil. Only one can win.  As they delve into Madoc’s story, Stone and Mandy become embroiled in preventing a plot to launch devastating twin attacks on Britain and America that will result in the deaths of thousands. Assassination in Wyoming, murder in Maryland and multiple deaths in Wales: The Druids never give up and the revenge they seek on Stone is palpable. His death means the deaths of thousands. As the clock ticks down and with death and destruction about to fall, only he and his colleagues can prevent devastation.

Reader comments:  

The Excalibur Parchment:
“A fun read, almost cinematic in scope”;    “Convincing and realistic; reads like and epic movie.”

The Lucifer Scroll:
“action packed with narrow escapes and intrigue”;  “ nail-biting”; “one of those books you can’t put down”
NOTE:
IF YOU WANT TO PRE-ORDER A SIGNED COPY, PLEASE USE THE EMAIL ADDRESS ABOVE.  
Copies are $25 each (plus shipping and handling)