The Angel Mountain Saga

A tale of passion, resilience & the supernatural in a harsh and forbidding world

In 1796 a pregnant, unmarried and suicidal teenager called Martha Morgan is plunged into a world of violence and corruption in the “Wild West” of Wales when she becomes Mistress of a ruinous small estate.
She has implacable enemies who are driven by ancient family feuds. She loses her baby and her husband. Somehow she survives, and with the help of the mysterious wizard Joseph Harries she comes to terms with her own supernatural powers. Assisted by assorted eccentric and disreputable "angels" she tries to protect her family and her inheritance from prowling predators. She fights endlessly for the rights of the downtrodden. Over the course of 60 years, several love affairs and many involvements in the great events of the time, she becomes an incorrigible matriarch who outlives all of her enemies. At last she goes to her grave in a manner of her own choosing. She is, of course, Mother Wales, and her Plas Ingli estate is Wales itself.


What’s it all about? The story runs from 1794 to 1855. This is the “Wild West” of Regency Wales, where all classes have to cope with corruption, poverty, murder and mayhem. So it’s rough and it’s tough. Martha, the heroine, is young, pregnant and suicidal after a shotgun marriage to David Morgan of Plas Ingli. She finds herself on a small estate on on the slopes of the sacred mountain called Carningli — the mount of angels. It’s not much consolation to her that there is rumoured to be divine protection for the place and its people.

Then, with the estate reduced to ruins after an inferno which destroys the mansion and kills five members of David’s family, Martha is plunged even more deeply into despair. Her predatory neighbours want the estate bankrupted and dismembered, and they want her dead. Then David himself is murdered. Martha swears to bring to villains responsible to justice, and she does just that, but at great personal cost. Legally, she cannot own the estate, but she runs it nonetheless, with great success. She has several lovers, and outlives all of them. Because she interferes in everything, she’s always in trouble, and over and again has to be rescued by the disreputable “angels” within her own household, aided by the mysterious wizard Joseph Harries.

The mountain is a key story character in its own right. Martha has a strong emotional bond with it, and it’s the source of her power. She has a black raven as her guardian angel. As a psychic, she sees things that others do not, and she has unconventional ways of defending herself.

But this is not “Celtic Noir” — and the mood is ultimately positive, based on humanity and the love within the Plas. This is also a universal and allegorical story of female empowerment. Martha has to settle into a new family, manage the estate, win respect, and bring up her 5 children as a widow, in a male dominated world where property has more value than human life. She refuses to conform or submit, and as predicted by the Wizard she survives all the snarling wolves who covet her estate.

The story is packed with exotic and colourful characters, and added spice comes from Martha’s encounters with drunken French soldiers (during the 1797 French Invasion), smugglers, petty criminals, and the Rebecca rioters of 1839-1844 in which gangs of men dressed in female garb destroy the hated tollgates. Many other bizarre traditions current in West Wales in the early 19thC also feature in the storyline.

The narrative has an emotional scope that is Shakespearean, a fabulous setting, a cast of eccentric characters that Dickens would have been proud of, and more humour than one might expect in a drama which revolves around a string of highly traumatic events.


In 1999, on a holiday flight to Gran Canaria, Brian was affected by aerotoxic syndrome and spent 12 hours seriously ill, in a state of delirium. Over the course of a single night he was wide awake, and the strange narrative of the life of Martha Morgan of Plas Ingli flooded into his head.  He heard her voice and picked up on everything -- the characters, the events, the places, the detailed conversations, the loves won and lost, the killings, and the laughter. Afterwards, it stayed inside his head. There was no need to invent a story -- it was revealed as a narrative told in the first person. But Brian then had to learn how to tell the tale and how to interpret it for readers and viewers. Nothing like that has happened before or since, and he still finds the whole episode very spooky. Maybe it was magic. Whatever else it was, he prefers to treat the 8-novel “On Angel Mountain” series as a gift, which has now been passed on to more than 100,000 readers.

On Angel Mountain

House of Angels

Dark Angel

Rebecca & the Angels

Flying with Angels

Guardian Angel

Sacrifice

Conspiracy of Angels

Martha Morgan is a wilful, irascible, irrepressible individual who is reputed, in her prime, to be the most beautiful woman in Wales. She’s brave, loyal, compassionate and very passionate too. She has great generosity of spirit. She has premonitions and sees visions and omens, and has to learn how to control her own psychic powers. She attracts both good men and bad — and this brings her both bliss and terror. But she outlives all of the men whom she loves, and all of her enemies. She has a tendency to interfere in things that should be of no concern, and also to sink into bouts of deep “melancholia”. One of her greatest flaws is her tendency to take delight in revenge when forgiveness might be appropriate -- and this worries her friends and family.  She’s a tragic heroine who should be defeated by the flaws in her own character, but every time she’s brought low she finds the resilience to come up smiling again. She also learns, very slowly, to trust her friends and her servants.  Though she is still incorrigible and impulsive in her old age, she almost learns how to be wise.......
About Martha

On Angel Mountain

House of Angels

Dark Angel

Rebecca and the Angels

Flying with Angels

Guardian Angel

Sacrifice

Conspiracy of Angels

Brian John was born in Carmarthen in 1940 and was brought up in Haverfordwest in Pembrokeshire. He read Geography at Jesus College Oxford, spent too much time playing rugby,  but still completed his doctorate on the Ice Age in SW Wales in 1965. As a result of leading student expeditions to Iceland and Greenland, he developed a great love for the polar regions.  After working in the Antarctic for the British Antarctic Survey he was a Lecturer in the Geography Department of Durham University (with more trips to the Arctic) before leaving to concentrate on a career as a writer and publisher.  
He has published hundreds of articles and more than 90 books, and among his publishers are Collins, Pan, Orbis, Aurum Press/HMSO, Longman, David and Charles, Wiley and Edward Arnold. His published output includes university texts, walking guides, coffee table glossies, and books of popular science. Many of his titles have been published by Greencroft Books, and have been of particular interest to readers in Wales -- for example tourist guides, books of local jokes, walkers' handbooks, and titles on local folklore and traditions.
His Angel Mountain Saga has received warm praise for its narrative skill, its strong sense of place, and its historical authenticity. The Saga, self-published and without any subsidies, has been a runaway success, and the heroine, Mistress Martha Morgan, now has a cult following of readers from all over the world.
Another recent book is "The Stonehenge Bluestones", which takes a controversial look at the various theories used to explain the transport of certain bluestones from West Wales to Stonehenge. His children’s book called “The Strange Affair of the Ethiopian Treasure Chest” won the Wishing Shelf Gold Award in 2012.
Currently the Angel Mountain books are being issued as popular audiobooks by Bolinda Audio.
Author

"A modern Welsh literary triumph...It has a page-turning plot, packed with adventure, treason, murder and passion."

Welsh Books Council

  • Greencroft Books, Trefelin, Cilgwyn, Newport, Pembrokeshire, SA42 0QN, UK
Grateful thanks to my two sons Stephen and Martin for all their hard work on the design and creation of this web site and on associated promotional and marketing activities. It's been a pleasure to work with them and to take their advice!  Thanks are also due to the staff of Site 123 for their practical help. Tez Marsden and Ruth Crofts have kindly allowed the use of some of their wonderful landscape photographs.  Other images have been created by Martin, and some of the photos are my own.  All of the book jackets designs are by Martin. The photographer for the images of Martha Morgan was Steve Mallett, and the model was Rhiannon James.  I'm grateful to Bolinda for their encouragement, and for providing the images for the 8 audiobooks of the Angel Mountain series.
Brian John
April 2021