4 out of 4 stars
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King Amren of the Cantiacci Celtic warriors warns his youngest daughter: “Water and earth can only meet at the shore.” Catrin remembers his words when she realizes her impossible love story with Marcellus, son of the Roman Senator Lucius Antonius, has devastating consequences for both her family and kingdom. Torn apart between duty and love, the Celtic princess is the only one who can change Rhan’s curse on the lapin-crested dagger. If the curse fulfils, her father faces a most horrific death and she will be at the mercy of her cruel half-brother Marrock. Accused of treason and sent into exile, the young princess needs to make a choice between her heart and her responsibility to her people.
Catrin’s story is much more than a sweeping romance; it is a journey of self-discovery. Set in 24 AD in Southeast Britannia, Dagger’s Destiny is book two in the Curse of Clansmen and Kings series. Without hesitation, I rate Linnea Tanner’s novel 4 out of 4 stars. Since I have also read and enjoyed Apollo’s Raven, the first book in this amazing historical fantasy series, I had genuinely high expectations. Not only did the novel meet my expectations, it also by far exceeded them. Although it could be read as a standalone book, my recommendation would be to read the entire series. It is definitely worth it and I cannot wait to read the next book, Amulet’s Rapture.
There are many things I love about this novel. I am delighted with both the author’s professionalism and writing talent. Dagger’s Destiny is very well researched, thoroughly organized and exquisitely edited. Linnea Tanner is the kind of writer who pays attention to the tiniest details, helping the readers with a map of Britannia, a list of characters in alphabetical order or an explanatory author’s note.
Imbued with both Roman and Celtic traditions, myths and legends, the story draws a contrastive parallel between the two cultures and civilizations. There are memorable scenes such as the brilliant description of the fertility rite meant to validate Marcellus’s claim to kinship and to symbolize his union with the Earth Goddess who bestows rich crops and large livestock. If the realism of the story is ensured by the constantly changing network of political alliances and backstabbing, its beauty springs from the wonderfully interwoven mythological references and enlightening mystical experiences.
It is not an easy job to master the multiple narrative threads, but Linnea Tanner succeeds in keeping everything in control and adding unexpected twists and turns of the plot. The shifting perspective shapes complex characters and gives more credibility to the story. Secondary characters such as Myrddin, the Wandering Druid or Ferrex, the lion-hearted Celtic warrior are equally well-portrayed. Catrin’s power to prophesy, shape-shift or change people’s destinies give rise to magical scenes where readers can revel in the Depths of Possibilities. The symbolism of the raven is rich in meanings and gracefully ties all the sub-plots together. Messenger of the Roman god Apollo, the Raven becomes Catrin’s spiritual guide throughout her allegorical quest. Apart from the Celtic Princess, other female characters like Queen Rhiannon or Rhan, king Amren’s former wife, have strong personalities and represent a Celtic society still based on principles of equality and shared responsibility. Cultural differences as well as personal ambitions and the Romans’ expansionist policy will ultimately lead to military confrontation. The epic battle scenes once again reveal the true extent of the author’s writing skills.
Linnea Tanner’s series covers a large variety of topics from love, the value of loyalty and friendship and the importance of duty and honor to betrayal, political intrigue and cultural and military clash. Historical fantasy at its best, both Apollo’s Raven and Dagger’s Destiny have the potential to satisfy different reading tastes, therefore I wholeheartedly recommend them to all those who long for a complex and exciting series.
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