Then the Irish kindled a fire under the cauldron of renovation, and they cast the dead bodies into the cauldron until it was full, and the next day they came forth fighting-men as good as before, except that they were not able to speak. – Anonymous Medieval Welsh, Branwen the daughter of Llyr, Second of the Four Branches of the Mabinogi (The Mabinogion)
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In the shadowy area where myth and history collide...
Last week we met Elliot and his brother, William. At the beginning of The Fireborn, Elliot joins his brother at an archaeological site. William had a surprise, an artifact he thinks Elliot will like. Laughing off his brother’s description of Celtic “bling”, Elliot entered the main expedition tent. He stopped, his breath taken away.
All he could see was the giant cauldron.
The cauldron. Nothing had ever invaded his whole being in quite the same way, crowding out every other thought. At first it was like looking into a deep hole that sucked all light, warmth and life from the room. A moment later its surface appeared to be alive with crawling spirals and designs. And then it would shift again and seemed like any fire blackened old pot, just on a larger scale. When his mind finally accepted it as any old cauldron, it turned back into the black hole and sucked him in.
William talked about the cauldron as a great artifact, most likely used for cremation, but Elliot was having none of it.
“Cremation nothing, this was used to bring dead warriors back to life! Just about every Celtic legend talks about such a cauldron. The Cauldron of Resurrection, some called it. Pair Dadeni, the Cauldron of Rebirth, of Renovation. And remember the famous Gundestrup Cauldron? The image of the army of the undead created by the antlered god dipping dead warriors into the cauldron is one that always sticks in my mind.”
So we are introduced to the great cauldron, which is so alive it can almost be called another character.
Elliot continued to believe the cauldron that William had discovered in his archaeological dig really was the ancient Cauldron of Resurrection from Celtic myth, but nobody else would listen. Using his obscure sources, he created a narrative, a history from creation until it was lost in the first century before the common era. He knew it had to be true.
But then the unthinkable happened. The cauldron disappeared. It was impossible. Nobody could have taken it, but it was gone.
Elliot knew it was just a matter of time before the undead fireborn would make an appearance.
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Note – the two paragraphs describing the cauldron are pulled from the book. The quote at the top is used to start the first section of the book.
If you visit the Wikipedia page for the Gundstrup Cauldron, Elliot is talking about Interior Panel E.
In the shadowy area where myth and history collide, an unlikely hero is forced to save the world from an ancient Celtic curse.