3 out of 4 stars
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I rate Apollo’s Raven by Linnea Tanner as 3 out of 4 stars. I was excited to read this book as I anticipated it might bring together my interests in both historical Romans and Vikings. Right from the beginning the reader is dipped into adventure, magic, and secrets.
The story centers around Caitlin and her magic of seeing through her raven, but also the dynamics of her family and her people. Even by chapter 10, we are still learning the tangled web of relationships as we learn of Caitlin’s mother’s past lover, just as in Chapter 9 we learned of her father’s first wife. Not to mention we are being teased at this point with the possibility of Caitlin’s own political or romantic relationship. Soon we see Caitlin being pulled in different directions as she is finding her womanhood and role in society, trying to balance her growing desire for their Roman hostage/guest, her father’s expectations, her mother’s expectations, what is best for her tribe, and her growing sorcery. Any one of these becomes more complicated the further she delves into it. Just learning the sorcery is complicated, for example, sometimes she knows what to expect and sometimes after having control wrested from her, she is left weak and dizzy. Meanwhile, she has learned that there is a prophecy about her and the engraving of this prophecy into a special blade, keeps changing. The reader is carried along a wave of Caitlin finding her place in the world as her place is constantly changing.
The story centers around Caitlyn so we learn supporting information about her family, her people’s customs, their magic, and there is very little information about the Romans. Specifically, we could delve deeper into Marcellus, but we don’t need it. We do feel his anguish as he is trying to determine loyalties and blending love, honor, and safety. I would like a little more development of this history, as I chose this book believing it to be historical fiction. As far as I know, the history of the Roman characters and the campaign to Gaul is accurate. Likewise, the negotiations and the probable invasion sound legitimate, but it would be nice to read more of this and more about how the Britons viewed these interactions.
I did enjoy reading about the mythology. I enjoyed finding similarities between the Norse and the Celtic mythology and reading about the Wall of Lives. The concept of a Life Thread is so universal. A litte Roman mythology is sprinkled in as well.
This book is for a mature audience. I would be comfortable allowing most high schoolers to read this, but I would not place it in a middle school library. There are explicit sex scenes scattered through the book. Rape is spoken of a few times, although depicted in only one scene that is not overly graphic. Human sacrifice is not a normal occurrence but it is accepted, in this story. There are also fight scenes and hallucinations, which could make some readers uncomfortable.
Overall, I recommend this book as a fun, mythology-based, historical fiction.
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