The seed of the idea for A Mighty Dawn was planted during a lecture in the summer of 2009 when I was completing a diploma course in Oxford. The lecture was about an obscure English missionary named Wynfred who was to become Saint Boniface, the patron saint of Germany. His story is buried in the dark days of early 8th century Europe.
There is an anecdote about him chopping down the sacred oak of Donar (Thor) near Fritzlar in Germany – taken at the time as a miracle and a demonstration of the impotency of the old pagan gods. This scene triggered something in my mind, epitomizing the friction (if not outright conflict) between the “Old Europe” of paganism and heroic warriors and the emerging “New Europe” of Christendom and its fiery saints. Afterwards, still interested, I dug a little deeper into this Boniface’s life and discovered that Islam was in the mix too at the time. An invading Muslim army was defeated a few dozen miles south of Paris in 732AD by the Frankish military leader, Charles Martel. To my mind, that signalled a climax to some kind of story, I just didn’t know what exactly.
After that, the idea began to germinate and grow, eventually finding its beginning in the life of a pagan warrior who would one day become embroiled in all of the tumultuous events which would forge this new medieval Europe and drag it out of the so-called Dark Ages. This warrior’s story begins in the north of Jutland in Denmark. The opening of A Mighty Dawn.