4 out of 4 stars
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Apollo’s Raven is the first installment in the Curse of Clansmen and Kings series written by Linnea Tanner. The novel mainly follows Catrin, a Celtic princess, and Marcellus, a Roman nobleman. Set in 24 A.D. in Britannica, the threat of Roman conquest looms over the various Celtic tribes. Adding to this fear is a prophecy that pertains to Catrin; she is destined to aid her half-brother, Marrock, in overthrowing their father, King Amren, and help the Romans in conquering the island. However, there is still hope for Catrin: the prophecy is malleable, and her druidess powers may be the key to her saving her homeland. To make matters more complicated, Catrin begins to fall in love with Marcellus after she is tasked when overseeing him. Will the pair be able to balance their budding relationship with their familial duties?
Tanner has done an excellent job of blending fantasy with historical fiction. I did not know much about Celtic or Roman culture, so it was fascinating to read about the differences and similarities between the two. I appreciated that the Celtics viewed women as equals and allowed for them to follow whatever lifepath they desired. This contrasted sharply with the highly patriarchal Roman society. Tanner took this one step forward and allowed for these differences to help color the dynamics between Catrin and Marcellus. I enjoyed that the pair did not automatically click and suffered from their own petty squabbles. For instance, Marcellus underestimates Catrin’s physical prowess on multiple occasions, giving Catrin the chance to best him and show him the truth worth of women. Additionally, the fantasy elements included in the novel had me engrossed and curious to learn more about the world Tanner crafted. For instance, the logistics of Catrin melding minds with the raven, the animal that her druidess powers allow her to connect with, were fascinating.
In terms of faults, there were a few minor issues that I had with the novel. One involved the off-handed mention of Catrin having a twin sister that died when she was a young girl. This popped up around the halfway point of the book and came up during one of Queen Rhiannon’s, Catrin’s mother, musings. The fact that Catrin had a twin sister was never discussed again. I’m not sure if this was just foreshadowing for future books in the series, but the off-handed mention left me confused as to the importance of this tidbit. Additionally, there were some instances where the characters seemed to act unreasonably just to advance the plot. Without giving away spoilers, I feel that Queen Rhiannon acted completely unreasonably and impulsively in a tense diplomatic situation, something that a woman of her stature and experience would never do.
Apollo’s Raven only contained a handful of errors. Most errors dealt with incorrect word or homonym usage. One example involved the use of “discretely” instead of “discreetly”.
I rate Apollo’s Raven 4 out of 4 stars. The novel was action-packed and expertly blended historical and fantasy elements. The errors I noted were minor and did not detract from my enjoyment of the novel. I would recommend the book to readers who enjoy Roman and Celtic culture. Additionally, romance fans will enjoy the love between Marcellus and Catrin. More sensitive readers may be put off by the mentions of sexual assault and gore.
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