4 out of 4 stars
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What does a red wolf, the Roman Empire, a Druid and a Catuvellauni King have in common? A dark prophesy looms over the Cantiaci kingdom in Linnea Tanner’s Apollo’s Raven. This is the first book in the Apollo Raven series, my copy had a total 406 pages. Relish the intrigues in this epic Celtic tale of loyalty, betrayal, love and sorcery.
Welcome to the Southeast British Isles in the year 24AD. The area is populated by a myriad of Celtic tribes and kingdoms. The Roman Empire looms large in almost every facet of their lives. This was after earlier incursions by Emperor Julius Caesar. Tribal Kings attempt to out-scheme each to gain favor with the Romans. Enter Lucius Antonius, a grandson of the great Mark Anthony and a current Roman senator. In an attempt to boost his family pride and political status, he plans to coerce the Roman Emperor to invade Britannia. His plan is to achieve this through antagonizing the client Celtic Kings against each other (classic divide and rule tactic).
Princess Catrin is the rumored child of prophesy. The Cantiaci princess is a capable warrior with an indomitable Raven spirit. She is fiercely loyal to her people. Her loyalty is tested by the arrival of an old enemy (the banished Prince) who has allied with the Romans. Marcellus Antonius is the senator’s son, a charming Roman - a true embodiment of the Roman god Apollo. He accompanies his father as an envoy during negotiations with the Cantiaci King. Marcellus and Catrin are immediately drawn to each other into a forbidden romance. Their affection is tested with King Amren's straining relations with Rome and the unraveling of a dark prophecy. Will the fledgling romance stop an impending conflict? Or will the child of prophesy rain doom on her people?
Few fictional books have ever roused my senses than Apollo’s Raven. Linnea Tanner served me a sumptuous dish of Celtic lore with a blend of the classic romantic tragedy and the typical game of thrones - I read the book twice over for good measure.
The characters were amazing and invoked deep emotions in me. I never knew I could hate fictional characters like I did with Agrona, the Cantiaci Queen, Pricius and Lucius. Though I empathized with Catrin and Marcellus, the Celtic brute Cynwrig was my favorite character. His Herculean build gave him an almost omnipresent feel, despite his minimal speech. I am not sure if it was his tattoos, his strength or his periodic grunts that drew me the most.
The author’s inclusion of non-fictional elements in the tale was most pleasing. I find native lore intriguing. From the various rituals, heathen gods to the food and lifestyle. Celtic lore is well defined in this novel. I read and researched to my heart's content. I even researched some of the Celtic traditions online (surprised to find some have been adopted in Christianity) like Easter and Christmas.
The only turn-off in this book is the cliffhanger ending. But, as a very welcomed treat, excerpts of the first 3 chapters of the sequel are included in the last pages of the book. The author left me begging for more. There were few errors if any, the book is well edited and was self published. I recommend this book to everyone. The more sensitive readers may want to avoid the gruesome rituals and a few mild sex scenes. I rated this book 4 out of 4 stars.
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