4 out of 4 stars
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Apollo’s Raven by Linnea Tanner is an historical fiction/fantasy novel.
The story opens with Catrin, a warrior princess of the Cantiaci tribe. Catrin has been disturbed by a strange dream and is seeking an omen from her Raven guide. Standing on top of a cliff edge, she studies the Raven's flight over the water. As she gazes into the distance, she sees dark shadows looming on the horizon. By melding her thoughts with her raven guide, she sees ships moving onto the shore, and soldiers marching inland. By the time she reaches the fort settlement to warn King Amren, the Roman envoy is standing before the royal dais.
During the ensuing discussions, Amren realizes that Cunobelin, King of Catuvellauni, has betrayed him and entered into a secret trade agreement with the Romans. King Amren persuades the Roman senator to arrange a secret meeting between himself and Cunobelin and for the senator to act as arbitrator. They agree to swap hostages to ensure each other’s safety. Amren tells Catrin to befriend Marcus, the senator’s son. He wants to find out the truth about why the Roman’s Emperor sent his envoy. Will Catrin succeed in her task while keeping Marcellus safe from harm?
Linnea Tanner has created a powerful story about the conflicts between ancient Celtic people and Romans. A story that is full of intrigue, betrayal, forbidden love, ancient rituals, animal sacrifices, and an evil curse. It is clear to see the author performed a large amount of research into the history of ancient Roman culture and the invasion into Gaul and southern Britain. The map is excellent. I looked up Camulodunum (now modern-day Colchester) and it is in the correct location. I like a map with a book such as this one as it enables the reader to formulate a better idea of the area of the world where the story revolves around.
There were several aspects of this novel that were appealing to me. In the book, the reader gets a peek into the customs and traditions of these Iron Age peoples. We also see how that contrasts with the political and military system of the ancient Romans. The Celts were believed to treat the women as equal to men. In contrast, the Roman’s gave higher authority to the male, and succession would pass to a male heir. In the story, we see that both Catrin and Marcellus are in fact pawns in the struggle for power between opposing parents. King Amren seems quite ready to use a daughter as a bargaining chip if it suits his quest for power and wealth.
Loyalty to the tribe clan was everything. We see this several times in exchanges between Mor and Catrin. Mor compels Catrin to keep the relationship between herself and Belinus a secret. Rhiannon fulfilled her duty marrying King Amren, a man twice her age, to gain a political alliance between the Regni and Cantiaci tribes.
The author pulls the various plot twists together in a superb fashion. The characters were complex and intriguing. The mystical elements that are included in the story help create suspicion and doubt in the minds of each of the main characters about one another. At one point in the story, Marcellus begins to question Catrin’s feelings and loyalty. This can certainly keep the reader hungry for more.
I did not enjoy the more violent parts of the story as represented in the sacrificial ceremonies. There was a missing word in chapter four. I believe the book has been professionally edited. My rating is 4 out of 4 stars.
I would recommend this book to those who enjoys historical fiction with a touch of the supernatural. However, I would not recommend it to those who are sensitive about graphic violence. Due to the mention of rape and some sexual content I believe it is appropriate for a mature audience.
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