Life after Rome is, to say the least, barbaric, especially for those Romano-Celts still trying to make a go of it in fifth-century Albion.
Llywelyn focuses on two cousins, Dinas and Cadogan, who develop different survival strategies in the arduous time after the fall of the Roman Empire. Dinas is a schemer with dreams of political power who, it seems, will always land on his feet, while Cadogan is more of a drifter and dreamer who eventually begins to stake out a new community to escape the chaos swirling about. Dinas is also something of a ladies’ man, quick to drop women when they no longer suit him. One woman whom for obvious reasons Dinas quickly tires of (she affects an aristocratic demeanor even though she’s common-born—and she’s something of a shrew) is Quartilla, so he “gives” her to Cadogan, who doesn’t quite know what to do with her. Much more important to Dinas—and to the dismay and contempt of Quartilla—is his stallion, largely wild and untamed except to Meradoc, a Celtic horse-whisperer. Cadogan wends his way through the bleak landscape of abandoned cities and back home to Cymru (Wales) to see his irascible father, Vintrex, but the Saxons arrive and put it to the torch. The stories of the two cousins tend to run parallel rather than to intersect each other, so the novel feels as though it doesn't have a center.
Llywelyn spins a tale that is interesting rather than riveting, though it is full of the rich “stuff” of this historical period.