Guardian Angel by Brian John, Greencroft Books, 2007, ISBN 978-0-905559-86-5.
A5 paperback, 256 pp, £6.99.
Published 28 October 2007. Copies sold: 2,500
This is a story about the meaning of identity and community -- but it is also an allegory and a rollocking adventure.
It is a sequel to the novels of the Angel Mountain Saga, set at about the same time as the Jane Austen novels. Those who are familiar with the series will find some characters and settings that they know and love; but this story ranges far more widely, taking in episodes set in the industrial districts of Merthyr Tydfil, and in Paris.
It is a story of an elderly lady who calls herself Susanna Ravenhill and who lives far more dangerously than is recommended for someone of her age. She has a dark secret to hide, and she is pursued relentlessly by a group of armed men. One day they will catch up with her............
This story was not originally marketed as Volume Six of the Angel Mountain Saga, since Martha was supposedly in her grave at the end of Volume Five. But there is more to life and death than meets the eye, as the writers of that famous TV serial Dallas discovered many moons ago.
Brian enjoyed writing this one -- he calls it a "fairy story" and in the course of the narrative, for a nice change, nobody actually gets killed.......
The little mountain of Carningli dominates the landscape around Newport and Cilgwyn, and although it is only 347m ( 1,138 feet) high it is visible as a prominent feature from the north and east, and even from the south, for travellers approaching from Mynydd Preseli. From certain directions, the mountain looks like a volcanic peak -- and this is appropriate, since it is indeed an ancient volcano. But it is extremely ancient -- around 450 million years old, be be almost precise -- and its present-day profile gives us little guidance as to what it looked like when it was erupting. When the mountain was born, the area which we currently call North Pembrokeshire was part of a great ocean, the bed of which was buckled up and down and shattered by earth movements and mountain building over millions of years.
When the Carningli eruption came to an end, the volcanic island immediately started to be whittled away by wave action, wind and running water. The land surface, originally many thousands of feet above its present position, was lowered inexorably by erosion, so that what we see today is essentially the “core” of the original mountain, made largely of a very hard blue-grey rock called dolerite. Some of it is “spotted dolerite” like the famous bluestone of Carn Meini.
During the Ice Age the mountain was completely covered by the ice of the massive Irish Sea Glacier, moving down from the north and north-west, possibly in several different glacial episodes. Some traces of ice erosion can still be seen on rocky slabs near the summit and on the eastern flank of the mountain. In the last glacial episode the glacier may not have over-ridden the summit, but it pressed against the northern slopes and probably into the amphitheatre of Cilgwyn, leaving the southern and eastern slopes to be afflicted by thousands of years of frost shattering. That is why the east face of Carningli is almost obliterated by a great bank of scree even today. Martha and her children loved to climb on the great jumble of boulders and craggy outcrops, and somewhere, in the middle of it all, is Martha’s cave and the crevice into which she dumped Moses Lloyd’s body.