Realms of Gold by Terry Stanfill is a novel in which the author cleverly weaves two plots together. It begins in 1953 with the discovery of major archeological find at a dig in Vix, Burgundy, France. The team digging at the site discover the burial site of a queen or priestess. Among her grave goods is a large bronze cauldron called the Vix Krater.
The first plot involves Italian archeological professor, Giovani Di Serlo, and an antiquities writer for an American magazine, Bianca Caldwell, who meet in Venice as guests invited to a wedding. His cousin is marrying her cousin
The second plot begins in the mountains near the Black Sea. Volcanic eruptions force the people to move west. They are forced to move farther west as the fresh water lake becomes inundated by salt water from the Mediterranean Sea.
Giovanni does not particularly like Bianca. She is not pretty and her clothes are sloppy, her shoes worn down. However, she possesses two things that attracts him: her great-grandmother's diary and a propensity toward visions and dreams.
Bianca returns to New York to find her apartment ransacked but nothing seems to be missing. Except the painting her great-grandmother did of the Campanile in Venice. Then she finds the painting in her raincoat pocket. She had taken it to Venice with her without realizing it.
She returns to her work of writing for a magazine about antiques.
Excerpt: At 32nd and Madison, she turns east...As she nears the corner of Third Avenue, she sees a man in a long black cape standing at the stoplight. Pulled down over his face is a slouch hat like an old fashioned Borsalino.The hat hides his eyes and nose. A muffler covers his chin and mouth. He seems faceless. He reminds her of the man in the old Sandeman Sherry ads. Or of the description of the black cloaked man in Nina's diary. She shivers. And not from the cold.
As she crosses Third Avenue, she thinks she hears his tread behind her; her legs take longer strides towards Grace's. But before she pushes open the door, she turns around. He's across the street, his head bent. Then he disappears around the corner....
Is the figure in the black cape a vision, a phantom from Nina's diary lodged in her mind like a bullet in her brain? Or has she been followed by a flesh and blood man?
....Just after she's gone to bed around one in the morning, she hears the doorbell ring. She won't answer it. Officer De Vita might have been right. Maybe someone is after her--or something in her apartment. The bell rings four more times. If she had a panic button, she would push it. Without turning on the lights, she tiptoes to the door and waits the until the ringing stops. After a few long minutes she peers through the peephole. Nothing. Moving to the window, she sees the back of a man in a black cape crossing the street. Now she's convinced that her visions are crossing over into reality. She grabs the phone. Six hours difference. In Italy that means seven in the morning. She dials Giovanni's cell phone and leaves a message. She's coming.
She hastily packs her bags and books a flight. Before she leaves New York she goes to Bloomingdales for makeup lessons and new clothes. Giovonni meets her in Naples.
From Naples they travel south through Italy. He shows her a drawing on an ancient workshop wall. She recognizes as the Vix Krater. They decide to follow the route the krater would have taken from Sybaris, a destroyed but one time famous trading center, on the southern coast of Italy. Certain that the krater was cast near that city, they set out to follow the route that could have taken it to central France.
The author cleverly twists the threads of the two plots until they can be knotted together in Vix, France. Bianca reveals to Giovanni the visions she has had about the queen with whom the krater was buried. Her name was Zatoria she tells him. She insists the krater was the Grail. She declares that King Arthur was the Roman General Riothamus.
They visit a dig on the top of a hill and the leader of the archeology team tells them that he thinks he has found Camelot. He also tells her that the Avallon in Arthur's legend is at the town of Avallon, France. "There is no Avallon in England," he says.
Reviewed by Ruth Ann Hixson
Reviewer Ruth Ann Hixson: Ruth has been an avid reader since she first learned to read. When she was forty-two, she went to college to become a journalist. She started out as an assistant editor and reporter and later graduated to Lifestyles Editor. She is now retired and enjoys writing, editing and book reviewing.
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