When she’d first joined Team Veritas, her granddad had given Brodie a beautiful locket which used to belong to her mother. Pressed inside was a hand drawn sketch of the castle. Her mother had spent years trying to make sense of MS 408 and finding the castle was all she’d wanted...

... Now, all their searching and their puzzle solving had taught them only that the castle was in Avalon. All their research made them believe that the place from stories and legends was actually real. That people had been there. Somehow, since Tandi’s death, the belief they’d ever find the castle for themselves had drifted away on the wind like the ash from the fire.
Adam turned the page, folding it awkwardly back into place and he pointed to the encoded glyphs and patterns scrawled across the manuscript. ‘Read it,’ he said.
‘I can’t,’ Brodie said.
Adam frowned. His eyes looked paler blue. ‘Where’s Tandi’s castle?’ he said.
‘We’ll find it,’ she said.
The way Adam looked at her made Brodie think he really believed her.

(Extract from Secret Breakers Book Six ‘Circle of Fire’) Show the full extract

Avalon is an island described in the legends of King Arthur. The first person to write about it in a story was Geoffrey of Monmouth. His 1136 account Historia Regum Britanniae ("The History of the Kings of Britain") described Avalon as the place where King Arthur’s mythical sword Excalibur was forged. Stories suggest that Avalon was peopled by Ladies of the Lake who had incredible powers. After the terrible Battle of Camlann, where King Arthur was mortally wounded, he was taken to the island of Avalon on a barge. Here he was restored to health and the story suggests that he will return one day and take up his place as King.

So many stories exist about Avalon that it is hard to be sure what to believe. The story has been changed, extended and developed over time. Geoffrey’s version of the tale definitely suggests that a journey across the seas is needed to get there. It also describes the magical qualities of the strange island! Modern writers believe that Avalon might have been at Glastonbury in England…but this is a relatively new idea. Writers working further back in history, suggest that it might have been in the Mediterranean. Still others that is existed on the far side of the earth. My research led me to believe that the location of Avalon had to be on one of the Phoenix Islands. Of course, discovering that one of these islands used to be called Arthur Island, made me sure I’d found the real location.

Avalon as Utopia

Secret Breakers is a story about real codes, real mysteries and real danger and so I wanted to be sure that the idea of finding Avalon was built around the idea of a search for a real place. I began to think about why writers had created stories about a magical island where people could be restored and magical swords could be forged and I began to think that Avalon was really like a form of utopia. The word utopia is used to describe a society that tries to be perfect and so for me that is what Avalon was. A place where people were treated fairly and where everyone could have access to a magical sword and a scabbard that could protect them! Secret Breakers takes the idea of only one person ie: King Arthur, being able to draw the sword from the stone, and turns it on its head. In Secret Breakers everyone is worthy of the sword! As for the protection of the scabbard, Brodie finally learns that the love of her friends and family give her protection just like a magical scabbard.

Brodie looked round at all the friends who stood with her now. ...

... Her arm ached. Her side throbbed. She was exhausted but none of that mattered. It was as if standing with her friends she was like a sword protected by a scabbard. Like in the story of Arthur. It was the scabbard which was the most important thing. Always. The scabbard made you immortal. And Brodie wondered then, if love from friends and family could do that. Make you stronger than death. Make you live for ever.

(Extract from Secret Breakers Book Six ‘Circle of Fire’) Show the full extract

Artists and writers have come up with lots of different ideas about what Avalon looks like. When I saw the paintings in the pages of MS 408 I was sure that the paintings showed Avalon. There were lots of strange pictures of women bathing and I knew these had to be the Ladies of the Lake described in the legends of King Arthur. For me, MS 408 could only lead to Avalon!

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