4 out of 4 stars
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Apollo’s Raven by Linnea Tanner takes the reader back to ancient Rome and Britannia. Powerful men devise plans to gain territory by deceiving other leaders and by arranging marriages for their children.
The two main characters are Catrin, daughter of King Amren of Britannia, and Marcellus, grandson of the Roman, Mark Antony. Used by their families to gain political power, they are given instructions to try to gain information, one from the other, about the plans being made by their enemies. Instead, they fall in love. This was not part of the plan. Where will the two lovers place their loyalties?
While the kings make their plans and strategic deceptions, other forces within the kingdom are in play to depose the king and acquire power and land for themselves. Catrin fights against these evil forces to protect her father and his kingdom. Along the way, she discovers her own powers and her part in a curse. Will her powers be enough to break the curse and save her father and her country?
The story presents various themes including love, family, good vs. evil, among others. But the main theme is the thirst for power. This presents itself in various levels. One is the thirst for power from the historical perspective. Here we read about the facts of the political clashes between Britannia and Rome. The reader finds another power struggle between Catrin and Marcellus. Their love is fated and frustrated by family, country and magic. The power struggle surfaces again in the secondary characters who are motivated to use magic, potions and spells to obtain power. This is the power of fantasy and witchcraft. These magical powers permit people to travel to other dimensions. They also can assume animal forms and change the future.
The author does an excellent job of weaving the story between the various themes. The story moves forward between these different themes, using dialogue in a masterful way to present facts. Using the third person omniscient to relate the story, the reader enters the mind of kings, princess, sorceress, ravens and others. The romance theme is strong as is the fantasy aspect. This story also has a dark side that describes some of the magic and supernatural beliefs popular during this time period.
I rate this story 4 out of 4 stars. I love authors that are able to present history without the readers even realizing that they are learning history. Tanner brings this little studied era to life. The book shows what living conditions of the era were like. The descriptions of the clothing, food, medical care and weapons were very interesting. We also learn what spiritual and supernatural beliefs were popular and how firmly the populace believed in magic and superstitions.
This book is for readers who enjoy history, fantasy and romance. It would appeal to a wide audience considering the different themes used by the author. The story is superbly written and prepares the ground for the next book in this series. There are some explicit sexual sections and also some fairly detailed magic and witchcraft descriptions.
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