4 out of 4 stars
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Linnea Tanner’s Apollo’s Raven weaves a mystical tale of love, loyalty, and struggle with family expectation from the moment the novel begins. In 24 AD in a land ruled by the Roman Empire, a young Celtic Princess Catrin is just learning of her connection with the Raven, her animal guide, and the powers she has been gifted from the Ancient Druids. As a princess, she has been forbidden to use the powers, but the connection is too strong for her to deny so she must secretly explore the powers. She knows her father King Amren does not approve of her use of her powers, but she cannot help but feel the draw of the Raven. She has to choose between loyalty to her father’s wishes of not using the powers and using the powers to protect her kingdom. As the story unravels, her loyalty and ability to control and understand the powers are constantly challenged.
Catrin’s exiled half-brother Marrock has come back for revenge against her family bringing with him the Romans to back his claim as the rightful heir to the throne. The King and the Roman Senator must go meet with other leaders in the land. In attempts to negotiate a peaceful agreement, King Amren takes the Roman Senator’s son Marcellus as a hostage to ensure his own protection while away from the kingdom. Catrin is tasked with the objective of uncovering the Romans’ true purpose of arriving at their kingdom while the King is away negotiating with the Roman Senator Lucius. For years, Marrock has been seeking refuge in one of the neighboring lands while concocting a plan to retake the kingdom he feels is his for the taking. Trying to do her father’s bidding to uncover the Romans’ true objective, Catrin develops a strong connection with Marcellus from the very beginning, a love that is forbidden, but she cannot deny.
Linnea Tanner’s ability to express and portray her characters draws the reader into the story and back to 24 AD right alongside Princess Catrin as she encounters each and every challenge. From one page to the next, the reader feels Catrin’s pain, her joy, and her sorrow. Not only does the reader learn the ways of her kingdom, but the reader also feels the undeniable sense of duty Catrin has for her family and the people of her kingdom. The reader becomes a part of the plot alongside the characters Linnea Tanner has created. You want to cheer for and encourage Catrin to make the choices she wants, knowing you can’t influence Catrin as the reader.
Her style of writing not only gives each character personality, but she writes in a way that almost makes the story seem as if it is a part of history, a part of Celtic history that influenced the Roman Empire at the time. Though fictional characters, Catrin and her family could have had the same experiences as any family the Roman rule reached, having their own choices changed against their will and having to fight for what they believe in. History textbooks do not tell of the individual impact the Roman Empire had to tribes and families within its reach, but Linnea Tanner’s Apollo’s Raven gives us a glimpse of that impact. The struggle between honor and loyalty to family against the individual desire for love and true happiness is a constant battle that Rome was against.
I recommend this novel to young adults and adults alike. A sign of a good novel is one that you can visualize as you read, and Linnea Tanner is an expert at that. As a reader, you are drawn into the story with the characters, making it one of those books that can’t be put down until completed. I rate the novel an undeniable 4 out of 4 stars. Linnea Tanner’s Apollo’s Raven will be on many must-read lists, especially for anyone that enjoys historical fiction. The author further tantalizes us with a preview of the next novel in the series, which also proves to be just as enticing as the Apollo’s Raven.
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