A Year and a Day

Hello, folks. Today I’d like to start with the topic “A Year and a Day”. It’s a term many have heard because it comes from ancient tradition. Today it is a part of the legal system, coming from Anglo-Saxon Common Law. It is the reference point of what constitutes a felony, which is any crime that can be punished by a year and a day or more in prison. In France, if you find a lost item and turn it over to the police, it becomes yours if nobody claims it within a year and a day.

It seems to go back much further, though. In the medieval era, if a serf left his or her lord’s estate and lived within a city, without hiding, for a year and a day, he or she became free. In England, it was the period of time that a couple must be married for a spouse to have a claim to a share of inheritable property.

Art by J. C. Leyendecker

It goes back at least as far back as the Iron Age. In Irish mythology, the hero Cu Chulainn trained with the female warrior Scáthach for a year and a day to become a warrior.

Art by David Bedell

The reference has also been a part of literature. In The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Faramir gives Frodo freedom of passage within Gondor for a year and a day. In The Chronicles of Narnia, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Caspian swears to keep voyaging a year and a day in search of the Seven Lost Lords.

In one of the stories from The Canterbury Tales, a knight who raped a maiden is given a year and a day to prove to the court that he doesn’t deserve to be executed by learning what it is that women want most. (On a side note, this appears to have been one of the great puzzles of history. An Arthurian romance story about Gawain involves this particular question.)

Art by Arthur Pyle

In some of the stories about the Knights of the Round Table, the knights pledge to search for the Holy Grail for no less than a year and a day. In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the Green Knight challenges any of Arthur’s knights to chop off his head, as long as the knight agrees to meet the Green Knight a year and a day later for the Green Knight to have his turn.

All of this comes full circle to the real reason I am writing about this subject. Yesterday was the first anniversary of the release of The Retreat to Avalon. Due to finally having a warm dry day to fix things around the house, I didn’t have a chance to do a post about that. Luckily for me, the “Year and a Day” trope seems to be a perfect fit.

For this anniversary, we have a couple items of good news. The publisher is going to be offering the Kindle version of The Retreat to Avalon for 99 cents for a limited time. In addition, I am going to have a drawing for a free copy of the book to anyone who comments on any of my blog posts, past or throughout the summer. The drawing will be September 1st.

Another item is that I will be starting the “Behind the Scenes” list of blog posts. These will run through the book, beginning to end, discussing the various historical and legendary points in The Retreat to Avalon, and how I incorporated them into the story. These will contain spoilers but they will say so, and they will be linked posts, not directly on the home page. I hope these spark your interest in much of the shadowy lore behind Arthur and the Dark Ages of Britain!

Ok, I’m back to real life, with spurts of progress on book 2, The Strife of Camlann. Best wishes, all, to another great year!

4 thoughts on “A Year and a Day”

    • Hi! I’m sorry this fell off the table, but I owe you a free copy of The Retreat to Avalon, since you are the only person who actually commented on a post!
      Can you email me for details?
      Thanks, Sean

      Reply

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