4 out of 4 stars
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Few things seem to propel a plot more than the combination of politics, familial duty, and love. Linnea Tanner takes these topics and adds a strong dose of druid magic to create a story that sweeps you away. Apollo’s Raven is set in 24 AD in the southeast Coast of Britannia and is written as if the Celtic beliefs of magic are real. In this world, curses are real, and the gods’ blessings are sought before pivotal meetings.
There are many major and minor characters who come together in this painting of political intrigue and backstabbing. Lucius is a Roman delegate who was once held in disregard. He is highly motivated to ensure his family remains in the good graces of the Roman Empire. He brings his son, Marcellus, and several other Romans to Britannia in hopes of seeing whether there are opportunities to further the Empire. Little seems to go as planned, and the Romans fear that Apollo is not looking favorably on their meetings.
During the diplomatic mission, Lucius’ son Marcellus is carrying on a relationship with Catrin, King Amren’s youngest daughter and a powerful druidess. Catrin is afraid of another powerful magic user, her half-brother, Marrock, who was disowned years ago. Marrock is trying to take over his father’s kingdom and is colluding with a neighboring kingdom run by King Cunobelin. There are many other characters which bring additional depth to the plots and themes.
What I liked best about the story were the nuanced characters and their believable motivations. Catrin is very young and she is quick to fall in love. Catrin feels compelled to support her family and clan, but that devotion does not extend to her heart which she freely gives to Marcellus. Agrona is cast as the story’s antagonist, but she is not a one-dimensional bad character. She has legitimate reasons to be upset with the ruling clan and a fierce motivation to improve her powers as a druid priestess.
There were no aspects of the book I did not enjoy, but some readers may be put off by the sexual situations. They were well written and not excessive, but it may not be expected in a historical fiction novel. Additionally, the synopsis does not explicitly say that there is magic in the book. Readers looking for a more realistic portrayal of the period may be disappointed with the occult aspects.
This was one of the easier books for me to rate. I enjoyed reading Apollo’s Raven and rate it 4 out of 4 stars. It easily kept my interest and the character motivations were believable. I would recommend it to lovers of historical fiction and fantasy.
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