4 out of 4 stars
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Apollo’s Raven is the first book in the self-titled series by Linnea Tanner. This epic is a historical fantasy featuring an ancient curse. Apollo’s Raven packs a powerful punch with healthy doses of romance, political intrigue, sorcery, mythology, betrayal, sacrifice and cathos, which means detestation or hatred in ancient Celtic. The story is mostly told from the viewpoint of the two main characters, Catrin and Marcellus. The author gives both characters full backgrounds that make them extremely relatable.
Tanner expertly handles the switching viewpoints, so they do not detract from the reader’s enjoyment of the story. Marcellus and Catrin find themselves in an intimate relationship, even though they are not able to fully trust each other. Their romance is a major component of the story, but the conflict between the Celts and the Romans is also explored. I found both aspects to be compelling.
There is an extensive cast of supporting characters. Catrin’s father, King Amren of the Celtic Cantiaci tribe, and Marcellus’ father, Roman Senator Lucius Antonius, are both major players in the story. Also central to the story are King Cunobelin of the Celtic Catuvellauni tribe, Marrock, Catrin’s half-brother through King Amren and Agrona, Druid priestess of the Cantiaci tribe. The multitude of characters could have been overwhelming, but Ms. Tanner manages to present the characters in a memorable way.
Catrin and Marcellus both face difficulties. Each is challenged by their father to extract information from the other by any means necessary. Meanwhile, the fathers are engaged in a political battle that could result in war. King Amren reveals to Catrin the curse placed on him by his first wife, Rhan. He believes that Catrin and her raven spirit animal have enough mystical power to supplant the curse. Catrin’s half-brother, Marrock, has aligned himself with enemies in a bid to gain leadership of the Cantiaci. King Cunobelin and Senator Lucius both plot against the Cantiaci. Druid priestess, Agrona, uses sorcery in her attempt to gain control of both Catrin and Marrock. Catrin and Marcellus, ultimately, have to decide where their loyalty really lies. They are challenged to choose between love and family. Tanner resolves the conflict satisfactorily.
I found this novel worthy of the designation of epic, and would recommend it to readers who are looking for a sweeping fantasy. Those interested in Celtic and Roman history may also find it enjoyable, though much of Celtic history was lost because they left almost no written records. Ms. Tanner noted that Celtic history was mostly left in the hands of Greek and Roman historians, who injected Celtic mythology into their Christian beliefs. Apollo’s Raven was compelling and well-edited, and I give it 4 out of 4 stars.
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