4 out of 4 stars
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Apollo's Raven is a historical fiction novel by Linnea Tanner. It is the first book in the Apollo Raven series and is self-published. The tale is set in first century Britannia, amongst the Southeast Cantiaci and Catuvellauni kingdoms.
The Roman Empire seeks to enforce their authority to the resident client kings. A Roman senator, Lucius Antonius, has secret intentions to dominate Britannia for his paterfamilias. As the lead Roman agent, he exploits the hatred and flailing loyalties amongst the Celtic kings to install willing conspirators. He pairs the Catuvellauni King and the banished Cantiaci Prince (Marrock) against the less-cooperative King Amren of the Cantiaci. Treachery and betrayal are fair game in this no holds barred contest for supremacy. But wait, there is hope. A young Cantiaci princess named Catrin has awakened her Raven spirit powers. This allows her to foresee the impending threat and unlock an unnerving curse placed on her king by the slain Queen (Marrock's mother).
Marcellus is Lucius's son and an envoy in training. He accompanies his father during negotiations at King Amren's court. Where he meets Princess Catrin and they immediately fall for each other. In societies where loyalties make or break alliances, Marcellus and Catrin become unwilling pawns in a looming conflict. Alliances will be broken and an old enemy will awaken in Apollo's Raven.
The pace of the book was enjoyable and definably a page-turner. I was deeply engrossed in the story and could not stop reading. While reading this book you cannot help but appreciate how much research went into its development. Historical accounts of the time depict Roman incursions in the area and the pacification of Celtic tribes. Some of the characters, like Lucius and Cunobelin the Catuvellauni King were real people. I also appreciated the included site map and referenced it repeatedly during reading.
Celtic and Roman traditions are a heavy theme used throughout this book. There are various depictions of the Roman god Apollo and the Celtic gods. I do not mind some ethnic lore in a story and the various festivities in worship or merrymaking. However, this may not be for everybody and I would warn sensitive readers. The druid power of Catrin was most enjoyable to read and is quite like my favorite character in the infamous Game of Thrones series – the crippled, Brandon Stark.
Linnea Tanner is a seasoned storyteller. Her characters were well developed. The role of women in Celtic society was commendable as compared to the incessant male-dominated paterfamilias of Rome. I may not be a feminist (at least not today!) but I found the Roman senator's condescending tone towards women unbearable. I also hated and loved how he manipulated my emotions so easily by the mere mention of his name. Together with Marrock, you couldn't help but feel a sense of dread around them.
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. I would recommend this book to everyone except the most sensitive of readers. However, this book is not recommended for minors, as there are a few sexual and violent scenes.
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