Although Aidan's story and the abbey of St. Nevin are fictional, their backdrop is authentic. The witchcraft is based on ancient herbal lore, and life in the monastic society is compatible with the wide range of Irish practice at the time. Laymen first became involved in illumination around this era, too. Similarly, Aidan could not think of zero when he pondered the humming of None because the concept of a numeral zero would not appear in western cultures for several hundred years, and it wouldn't catch on for much longer than that.
I have taken just a few conscious liberties with word choice or depictions, usually to remain within familiar paradigms and thus create more accurate pictures in readers' minds. Some cultural aspects of pre-Norman Christian Ireland, such as the frequent fostering of children, differed surprisingly from other western societies of the same era. To avoid tedious explanations, I did not address such customs when they seemed tangential to the story.
For readers troubled by such liberties or any unintentional errors, my apologies — with the caveat that fiction creates its own truth.
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