4 out of 4 stars
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Linnea Tanner’s historical fantasy novel, Apollo’s Raven (Book One of the Apollo’s Raven series), is an adventurous tale that centers around an ancient curse and a forbidden love against the backdrop of an epic battle between the Celts and the Romans in Ancient Britannia.
An evil curse has befallen the Celtic King Amren at the hands of his treasonous former Druid queen. It has been prophesized that the Blood Wolf and the Raven will be the end of him and he warns his daughter, Princess Catrin, of this ghastly foretelling. When Catrin discovers it is she that bears the kinship to the Raven, she guards her secret, knowing the danger of the power she yields and the harm it could bring to her people.
While Catrin fights to control her ever-strengthening mystical abilities, another fight is brewing between her Celtic kingdom and the Roman Empire. Marcellus Antonius, a Roman warrior, is determined to get behind enemy lines. After arriving in Catrin’s village, he offers to remain as a hostage as part of his scheme to obtain intel. King Amren is also aware of the opportunity Marcellus’s captivity affords him and, thus, he orders Catrin to attempt to gather insight into the Roman Empire’s intentions. An illicit romance soon develops, despite the lack of trust Catrin and Marcellus share and the knowledge that their love could pose a dangerous threat to both their kingdoms.
Catrin must fight through the power of the Raven to defeat the ancient druids and conquer the evil curse that has been bestowed upon her people. If she succeeds, she will save her kingdom and possibly her true love. But, if she fails, the world as she knows it will be gone forever.
Apollo’s Raven is an epic fantasy novel that draws its strength from the historical roots that author Linnea Tanner has so expertly designed. Tanner’s attention to detail in the history of Ancient Britannia and the Roman Empire is extraordinary. It is obvious that she did extensive research into this time period and strived to bring it to life accurately on the written page.
The characters and plot are both very well-developed. Princess Catrin’s journey is the focal point of the story, and rightfully so, but the supporting characters have their own motivations and plight that add substance to an already impressive tale. It is obvious that each character has a stake in the game, and all make the moves necessary to reach their personal end goals.
Though I would not bill this as a romance novel, the love affair between Catrin and Marcellus does not disappoint and adds another element to this adventurous story. Their relationship holds the forbidden aura of Romeo and Juliet, which makes it all the more intriguing as they attempt to hide their love during the bitter war that rages between their respective kingdoms.
My one minor grievance about the novel is the see-saw of emotions that transfers between Catrin and Marcellus as they try to find stability in their romance. Understandably, there are trust issues between the two, considering their initial plans had been to use each other to further their own side in the battle. However, the lack of confidence in their relationship borders a bit on the ridiculous side as they continuously profess their love for each other, only to succumb to paranoid distrust moments later.
I rate Apollo’s Raven 4 out of 4 stars. This was a fascinating and thoroughly enjoyable read and I strongly recommend it to fans of historical fiction or fantasy genres. There are some sexual scenes, references to rape, and the typical blood and gore affiliated with war, so I would not suggest this book to younger readers.
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