4 out of 4 stars
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Linnea Tanner’s Apollo’s Raven is the first book in her historical fantasy series by the same name that will leave readers eagerly anticipating the next book in the installment. Based on ancient Roman and Celtic history and mythology, this tale takes the reader on a magical and mystical adventure and romance. The novel, set in 24 AD, follows a Celtic tribe in Britain that is part of an independent kingdom being threatened by Roman influences. Apollo’s Raven weaves an intriguing tale that intertwines Roman culture and mythology with that of the Celtic tribe.
Apollo’s Raven is the story of Cantiaci Princess Catrin, daughter of King Amren, and Marcellus, son of Lucius Antonius of Rome. With their fathers at odds in the struggle between the Cantiaci and Rome, Catrin and Marcellus find themselves in a star-crossed romance that both know to be dangerous if it is discovered. Catrin, however, is not just a beautiful and fierce princess of the Celtic kingdom, but also a Druidess with powers that allow her to shape-shift and connect with her raven. With these abilities, Catrin sees her half-brother, Marrock, is working with the Romans to overthrow King Amren. Marrock holds a grudge against King Amren, Catrin, and Catrin’s mother, Rhiannon, after he was banished for unforgivable crimes. Furthermore, King Amren ordered the death of Marrock’s mother, Rhan, for treason. Before she died, Rhan cursed King Amren that he would have a daughter who allied with Marrock to destroy him. After his banishment, Marrock allied with rival Celtic king Cunobelin and married his daughter, hoping to take advantage of this relationship to carry out his mother’s curse.
King Amren attempts to resolve the impending threat of Roman influence in his kingdom by traveling to negotiate with King Cunobelin and Marcellus’ father, Lucius. During the negotiations, both King Amren and Lucius agree to a hostage exchange to guarantee their safety. As a result, Marcellus is left in Cantiaci and King Amren’s oldest daughter, Vala, leaves with the Romans. Lucius orders Marcellus to try to coax Catrin into revealing information that could be useful to the Romans, while Catrin is encouraged to do the same by her father. While both attempt to complete the missions given to them by their fathers, Catrin and Marcellus find themselves falling for each other and struggling against their destinies.
This story of empowered women, Celtic and Roman mythology, and young love is full of adventure, mystique, and political intrigue. The main characters are well-developed and it was easy to connect to each as the story shifted to different perspectives. Though the dialogues sometimes felt forced, it was overall a story that realistically portrayed the relationships and beliefs of each character.
Catrin and Marcellus’ story leaves off at an action-packed cliffhanger that left me eagerly anticipating the sequel, Empire’s Anvil. Fortunately, Lennea Tanner provided a preview of the next book that only builds upon my desire to continue this story. Without reservation, I am giving Apollo’s Raven 4 out of 4 stars. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fictions or mythological fictions as it could easily be enjoyed by young readers and adults alike.
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