4 out of 4 stars
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Written by Linnea Tanner, Apollo's Raven is an epic fantasy and historical fiction novel and the first installment of the Apollo's Raven Series. The Celtic Princess Catrin develops magical and mystical abilities. King Amren, her father, prohibited the members of the royal family "to use the power of the Ancient Druids." Catrin, however, connects with her raven behind the royal family's back. She can see the present and the future through the eyes of her raven. With this ability, she is able to see Roman warships approaching the Cantiaci kingdom. Marrock, her banished half-brother, is with the Romans. When Catrin reaches Durovernum, the Cantiaci capital, to alert the king, he is already having a discussion with Roman agents. The Romans' demands put the Cantiaci kingdom at odds with the neighboring kingdom of Catuvellauni. A prisoner exchange takes place to prevent a conflict between the Celtic kingdoms and the Romans while the issues are settled. Marcellus Antonius, the son of Senator Lucius Antonius, has to stay with the Cantiaci while Vala, King Amren's oldest daughter, has to go with the Romans.
Before leaving to settle the disputes, King Amren leaves Catrin in charge of Marcellus. He orders her to get as much information as possible from the Roman hostage. What is more important, the king tells her about a prophetic curse his former queen, Rhan, put on him before she was beheaded for treason. He believes Catrin is destined to save the kingdom from the political intrigues because of her powers. Catrin intends to do as her father told her, but she finds herself in a huge conundrum. Marcellus and Catrin engage in forbidden love and discover they have a powerful bond. Not only that, Catrin's powers continue to grow and she uncovers enemies and their plans. The warrior Celtic princess has to find a way to save her kingdom while she loves a Roman.
I literally could not stop reading Apollo's Raven. When I finished reading this story, I did not know what to do with myself. It is that good. Linnea Tanner masters the epic fantasy and historical fiction genres from start to end. No wonder this book was the Bronze Medal Winner in the 2017 Global Ebook Awards in the category Fantasy/Historical.
What I loved the most about Apollo's Raven was how the author wrote the forbidden love storyline between Catrin and Marcellus. It was magical, passionate, and heartbreaking. These characters love each other and have a deep and meaningful connection. Problem is their families are opposites in many ways. Catrin is a Celtic warrior princess with mystical powers. Women in her kingdom are equal to men. Marcellus comes from Rome, where the paterfamilias determines the lives of the family members. He is the great-grandson of Mark Antony, which means his father, Senator Lucius, would never allow him to marry a foreigner. On top of all that, the Romans think Catrin's people are inferior barbarians.
I also loved the themes of political intrigue and betrayal in the book. The story is full of secrets that keep the reader absorbed in what is going to happen next. The reader needs to pay attention to the characters' intentions and plans. The villains are portrayed so well that the reader is going to end up dreading them. For example, I really dreaded reading about Marrock. Some of his scenes disgusted me to the bone. Another example is that I could not stand Senator Lucius' contempt for the Celtic people and the role of women in their society. Nevertheless, these examples are evidence of Tanner's exceptional writing ability.
The only thing I did not like about the book was that the author used the word "shenanigans" one time. This word seemed out of place in the period of history discussed in the story. I think she could have used a word more appropriate for the ancient period.
Without a doubt, I rate Apollo's Raven 4 out of 4 stars because it is the best book I have read so far, this year. It is a remarkable epic fantasy and historical fiction novel, reminiscent of The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon. I would recommend this book to those who love epic fantasy and historical fiction. This story is a must read for them. The title of the second installment of the Apollo's Raven Series is Empire's Anvil, and I cannot wait to read it.
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