4 out of 4 stars
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Linnea Tanner’s Apollo’s Raven has designated its special place in the genre historical fantasy. Book one of her series, Apollo’s Raven, is an intricately woven piece of literary art. Set in 24 A.D., Tanner takes us to the Southeast region of Britain to the Cantiaci kingdom before the invasion of the Romans by Emperor Claudius. She sends us on a journey filled with forbidden love, mystical events, and warriors vowing to protect their kingdoms.
At the center of Apollo’s Raven are the characters Princess Catrin, daughter of King Amren, and Marcellus, son of the Roman Senator Lucius Antonius. These two characters meet when the Romans travel ashore to investigate an opportunity to seize the territory of the Cantiaci. The Romans have come to the Cantiaci shores because of a plan to make King Amren’s son Marrock king. Through alliances and treaties, promises have been made to the Romans by Marrock to allow them access to water and lands for trade. The problem with this plan is that Marrock had been banished and stripped of his claim to the throne years earlier.
Once the Romans and King Amren meet, it is decided that Marcellus will become a hostage. He is taken into King Amren’s control while the King’s eldest daughter, Vala, becomes the guarantee for the Cantiaci. Once the exchange has been made, King Amren begins the talks and negotiations with Romans and King Cunobelin, the rival Celtic king of Catuvellauni. Princess Catrin is put in charge of guarding Marcellus and gleaning all the information she can about the Roman’s plan of attack. The same orders are given to Marcellus by his father. Through any means necessary he is to learn all he can about the Cantiaci people from Princess Catrin.
These plans lead to an impossible love affair between Catrin and Marcellus. Both are beautiful, intelligent, and loyal to their families. Catrin uses her mystical powers to prophesy, shape-shift, and call on the forces of nature to unravel the truth about her family and the destiny of Marcellus. Through a series of events and revelations both realize the danger of their affections for one another.
The aspect I enjoyed most in this book was the weaving of a fictional story with tidbits of historical truth. Tanner’s use of historical figures such as the Cantiaci tribe, King Cunobelinus, and Lucius Antonius is incredible. The Cantiaci tribe lived in Britain, what is modern day Kent, during the Iron Age. King Cunobelinus rivaled their kingdom and eventually took them under his control. Lucius Antonius was the younger brother of Mark Antony and eventually killed by the Roman Emperor Gauis. Tanner became like a puppeteer in this book. Pulling all the right strings to make this a remarkable story. The plot is enticing, breath taking, and will keep you turning the pages.
With the many characters in this book, Tanner has done an amazing job writing from different viewpoints. She takes the reader into the minds of each character so well. As you read you will feel the love, joy, pain, and bitterness of all her characters. She portrays the value of women, which was true of the Cantiaci tribe, in detail. The reader learns how women of this time and tribe could become queen, hold possessions, or choose the life of a druidess. The Romans held to a view of men being dominant and the primary decision makers. Tanner details this by including the paterfamilias aspect of Romans in her story. It is apparent the author has a great appreciation for history and has done her research.
Personally, there wasn’t anything I did not enjoy about this book. The plot was exquisitely written. She kept me on the edge of my seat awaiting the next vision, attack, or tender moment. It must be mentioned that this book was well edited. I did appreciate reading her note of thanks at the end of this book. She has taken her art seriously and gone to great efforts to present a work of literary art that is flawless.
I would give Apollo’s Raven 4 out of 4 stars. Enough cannot be said for the beautiful way Tanner has weaved this story together. Her accuracy in the historical events and characters is remarkable. The lack of grammatical errors makes this book a joy to read. I would recommend Apollo’s Raven to readers of all ages.
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