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The Pangur Ban Series                   

Pangur Ban     Finnglas of the Horses    Finnglas and the Stones of Choosing     The Serpent of Senargad     The White Horse is Running

Prequel:  Shape-Shifter

                

 

Pangur Ban.  The white cat, Pangur Ban, and the artist-monk Niall are thrown together in a ship with the bloodthirsty Princess Finnglas. In a moment of anger and accident, they have just killed her brother. They are swept out to sea and plunge down the the realm of the Sea-Witch and the monster Pengoggen.

With Niall imprisoned and Finnglas on the point of death, Pangur races to rescue them. He must find Arthmael. But where is he? And who is he?

A breathless, tumbling fantasy that blends traditional symbols with Celtic folklore and a wildly joyful redemption/ resurrection motif in an action-packed tale…Attractive mixture of epic poetry, colloquial realism, and a “with one bound she was free” brand of heroism and suspense; the story of magical dangers and friendship between a giant of a monk, a princess with a vengeful sword who will fight to the death, and a beautiful white cat who talks, should enchant. The Guardian.

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'Arluth Pengoggen!' she said in a small, trembling whisper. 'An offering from the mermaids!'

    Then she turned and fled as fast as she could.

    Pangur crouched, too terrified to move.

   The mud heaved. The water thickened chokingly. Out of the murk two huge red eyes rose in front of him, like dawn in hell. There was a commotion in the gloom, like a moving forest, wavering, feeling, smelling, finding Finnglas. The red eyes lowered. Above the drumming in his ears, Pangur heard a hideous sucking. Helpless with horror, he watched Finnglas slither away into the murk. The red eyes dimmed and died. even to be left alone in the darkness seemed merciful after that.

    'Finnglas,' he whispered. He turned the other way. 'Niall?' he said helplessly.

   No one answered.

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Finnglas of the Horses.  Finnglas has lost her beloved horse Melisant under the waves. She sets out to search for her, with the monk Niall and the white cat Pangur. When they find a golden ship afloat without a crew, they think it will help them. Instead, it carries them into great danger. How will they escape the cruel king, the evil Rhymester and the terrifying soldiers who turn into wolves?

Colourful, exciting stuff, probably the most compelling entry I read… fast and furious. South West Arts Literary Awards   

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His paws were slithering on the greasy angles of wet wood. Claws digging for a hold, his weight pulling at their roots. The world facing him upside-down.

   Then a shout from below. A human shout. Fear catching him off balance. A rock slammed into his shoulder, pinning him against the wall, and then cruelly released him. With a howl of pain and panic he went hurtling out into an immense grey, tumbling, stone-paved space.

   He struck the ground, and the breath spat from his body like pulp from a squashed fruit. He lay still, like a torn white rag in the gloom of the courtyard. Then there were feet running towards him. The ground beneath him shook. He tried to rise, and screamed with the pain in his shoulder. Hands seized him tightly, squeezing his agonized ribs. With a last convulsive twitch, like a sick trout, he slithered between the grasping fingers and was away across the courtyard. Pain at every step. Limping on bruised paws. Wanting to howl, but the tearing breath in his lungs leaving him no voice. Round the corner into the shadows. Where were the wolves? Across an open space. The golden gate was shut now. Under it...

   And the howling broke out behind him. The gates flew open and the baying pack were at his heels. The street was too empty to hide.

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Finnglas and the Stones of Choosing.  Finnglas's father has named her heir to his kingdom before he dies. But some of the warriors and druids do not want her for their queen. She must take the Seven Trials. If she fails even one of them, she will die. One by one, her friends help her to win these terrifying tests. Then their nerve breaks. Two of them sail on a desperate voyage to get wiser aid. Finnglas is left with only Pangur, as the most frightening trial of all approaches.

Outstanding value … compulsive story-telling ... Fay Sampson creates a believable, fascinating world which adults as well as children will delight in entering. Church of England Newspaper.

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In the dark hollow was a darker cave. Under its lowering roof a fire was smouldering. It made the twisting shadows deeper than ever. Outside the cave the faces of the waiting nobles and druids were caught in contorting colours, like ranks of demons. As they drew nearer, the air was heavy with strange, foul scents. Columns of smoke, sulphurous yellow and green, writhed around a steaming cauldron.

   In the mouth of the cave, a litter of pale piglets was snuffling. Finnglas picked her way carefully through them.

   From the far side of the fire a voice startled the echoes. Once it had been sweet as honey, long, long ago. But age had cracked it, and jealousy had made it bitter.

   'So, Finnglas Redhand, you have dared to come to the Valley of the White Sow, after all?'

   'I have not returned in my own strength. I do not seek the sceptre for myself, but for my people, and the Dolphin's honour.'

   'Then, daughter of kings, let me give you this cup of welcome.'

   A whisper ran through the watchers outside the cave. Then a deep stillness fell. Even the piglets were silent.   

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The Serpent of Senargad. Three girls are imprisoned in a cavern, guarded by the fearsome Serpent of Senargad. Pangur the cat, Finnglas the young queen, Niall the artist monk, and Erc the fisher-boy set out to rescue them. When the prisoners escape down an underground river, the race is on. Who will get to them first? The evil Rhymester and his terrifying Wolf-Guard? The rescuers? Or the Serpent?

Fay Sampson has already shown herself to be a writer of great invention and power, and this... will keep devotees content… A whole succession of wonderfully independent and strong female characters, some great scenes of action and solid fantasy. Books for Keeps.

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 Standing with her back to the door, Larsa was the last to understand. She saw the Rhymester's talon reach out from his cloak and beckon, summoning. Not to her, but to the doorway behind her. She had been terrified that he would raise the Wolf-Guard, but now she saw that they were terrified themselves. Several of the women looked about to faint, and the princess was pale and staring.

  She heard the shuffle over the stones, felt the palace creak and shake, as something squeezed between the doorposts. Sliding now over the floorboards with a soft hiss. Her father was backing away. Brave warriors were flattening themselves against the walls. The king was smiling, beckoning like the Rhymester, coaxing. A foul smell reached her nostrils.

  Something was flowing around her. Dark green, flecked with arrowheads of black that swelled and shrank as it poured its body past her. Slippery, shiny scales, sharp-edged as knives. Short stumps of legs that could not hold the dragging belly from the floor. A weaving, worm-like head with sightless eyes, scenting its way in coils around her.

  She watched in petrified horror. Erc's name was crying in her heart. But still she would not speak. The Serpent of Senargad wound itself three times about her, squeezing closer with each coil.

  The blunt, blind snout searched for the door and slithered towards it. Two hind legs scrabbnled the floor, dragging the scaly, pointed tail through the dust. It left a glistening, golden trail behind it.

  The Princess Kara stared after Larsa. Only her bare, clay-marked feet could be seen, two dangling arms, a fallen, flaxen head.

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The White Horse is Running.  Queen Finnglas's uncle challenges her for the crown. He looses the White Colt, Argadnel. If he crosses into the neighbouring country, it means war. Finnglas, Pangur and Niall race to stop him. Too late. Now they must find the colt, free the true king of this country from prison, and stop the bloodshed. When Finnglas and Niall themselves become prisoners, it looks hopeless. What can the little cat Pangur do?

Very much in the tradition of C. S. Lewis, this novel is both challenging and enriching. A host of bizarre but convincing characters, human and animal, complements a complex plot in which one thrilling episode detonates another. It is beautifully crafted and stylishly written; memorable passages linger in the mind to be savoured. At a deeper level, it is an allegory in which thoughts and ideas are projected and much wisdom proffered. Highly recommendable. School Library Association.

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The dwarves were coming at Pangur down all the corridors into the hall, like the spokes of a wheel. Women and men, even the children. They were brandishing for weapons whatever had come to hand: hairbrushes, frying pans, pokers and pincers. Their hair bristled, their eyes were snapping. Large mouths were open, baying like a pack of dogs.

  Every muscle in Pangur was straining to leap for safety. He could streak up a pillar, hide among its carved foliage, hope to leap to another shadowed hiding-place. And another. He might still get away.

  But he would have to leave the harp behind. And that was what he had come for. Leave Sailte. Leave Finnglas. Leave Banlennan and all the horses of the Summer Isle. Save his own skin.

  There was one other way. His teeth tore at the buckles of the satchel. his paws clawed and scrabbled. The Fir Darrig were into the hall, like an autumn flood, sweeping across the floor towards him.

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Shape-Shifter.  The white kitten escapes before the witches' spell over him is finished. Time and again he changes shape, but still they come after him. Two young monks, Niall and Fergus, and the nun Drusticc, race to save him. But they bring danger down on their abbey and everyone in it. Can they find the kitten and give him his true name?

Much acclaimed… intricately woven stories set in the mists of Celtic Britain. Church of Ireland. The Digest.

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 They were coming. Up the tunnel, down the passage. Shaking the floor. Scenting the air. Howling horribly. Haf Heavy-Belly and Gwangwyn Golden-Girl and that nightmare of Morfrudd the Unmentionable. What hope  had he now against all three witches? But hope he had, born of that glimpse of the distant sea and the limitless sky. He dived between Gwangwyn's legs for the tunnel. But the pain in his captured foot dragged at his body. He knew it was hopeless. The tunnel was too long, his legs too small, the witches too many and too fast.

  'If only I was the fleetest animal that lived underground!'

  He bounded through the cleft in the rock and round the corner of the tunnel. Up one step. Up three. Up six. What was this? Some magic in his legs was driving him on in great leaps and bounds. Long ears, flopping against his shoulder. No pain in his foot now but a powering strength. What had he become?

  Behind him, Haf Heavy-Belly hurled herself after him.

  'Out of my way, you two! Shape-shifting, is it? Two can play at that!'

 

     'Would the hare escape the witch?

     I shall become a greyhound bitch!'

   And as the kitten, that was now a hare, turned to look over his shoulder, he saw the grey muzzle of a snarling dog leaping up the tunnel after him.

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