4 out of 4 stars
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Apollo's Raven by Linnea Tanner
Apollo’s Raven by Linnea Tanner is an epic fantasy that tells a tale of forbidden love in a world of druids and shapeshifters, curses and prophecies.
Catrin, the daughter of a Celtic king in first century Britannia, comes of age just as the Roman Empire threatens to invade their lands and destroy her father’s kingdom. She learns the brutal truth that not only has the kingdom been haunted by the threat of a curse, but that she is destined to be the one who fulfills the prophecy to destroy her father. At the same time, Marcellus arrives with his father, the Roman senator whose greed threatens the Celtic king. The young man realizes he suffers from his own curse, one that has plagued his family since the death of his ancestor Mark Antony. The pair falls in love, but larger forces continue to tear them apart. They must learn how to love, to trust, and above all to find a way to change the fate that threatens them all.
I gave the book 4 out of 4 stars. Tanner has done an excellent job of creating a world based in history but imbued with fantastical elements. The world of first century Britain and the lives of the people who lived there have been lost to history. Tanner brings this world to life with its petty kings and deadly rivalries. She does a nice job of contrasting the brutal yet beautiful world of the barbarians with the civilized yet corrupt world of the Romans. She also builds interesting bridges between the two worlds to form unexpected alliances.
The characters are well-rounded and compelling. No one is simply black and white. This is especially true of her main character. Catrin is a mix of innocence and wisdom. A human child who can see with the eyes of a raven. Marcellus begins as a corrupt youth who finds a path to redemption. And even the archvillain, Marrock, stirs our empathy for him despite his horrific appearance, as he deals with his own curse.
The plot is very well developed. The fantasy elements are integral to the story, which allows it to take some unexpected turns. The book is, at times, somewhat repetitive and would have benefitted from some trimming. There are some scenes with graphic sexual content, though they were kept mercifully short. All in all, Tanner has done a masterful job of creating a story that we can immerse ourselves in and be transported to another place and time.
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