A Celtic warrior princess saves her kingdom and loses her heart in Tanner’s debut fantasy novel.
Princess Catrin, the youngest daughter of King Amren, possesses the power of a Druidess. She can psychically connect to her raven and can see through its eyes, taking in the present and the future and even journeying to the spiritual realm. According to a curse levied by Amren’s former queen, Rhan, on the date of her own beheading, Catrin and her raven will bring about the downfall of Amren’s kingdom. When Romans, led by Sen. Lucius Antonius, land on Britannia’s shores, the curse is set in motion. Lucius brings troubling news of a marriage between Amren’s banished son, Marrock, and rival king Cunobelin’s daughter. Amren must travel to meet with Cunobelin and settle their political differences so as to maintain peace, ideally avoiding Rome’s interference. In the meantime, Lucius’ son, Marcellus, will stay with Amren’s family as a hostage. Catrin is assigned to Marcellus as a guide and companion, though her true role is far more complicated: she’s tasked with uncovering Rome’s true interest and cajoling Marcellus into revealing their deeper intentions for Amren’s kingdom and Britannia. However, Catrin’s growing feelings for Marcellus threaten her success. Tanner’s fantasy novel focuses on a challenging historical period from which few written records exist. Her version of Britannia is full of warring tribes, yet Rome’s influence is effectively portrayed as inescapable—a complicated situation that provides the perfect backdrop for political and romantic turmoil. The requisite fantasy elements of magic and mystery abound, found in the presence of druids, curses, dark magic, and shape-shifting. Readers will find these elements are engaging enough, but Tanner also does an admirable job weaving in the politics and mythology of a bygone people. Though Catrin, Amren, Marcellus, and other key players are fictitious, Tanner’s devotion to research is evident in her well-drawn and historically plausible cast.
A complex and promising start to a new fantasy series.