THE CROWS OF WAR by Steven Rayson


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Set in Britain during the Roman invasion, this skips back and forth between centurion Lucius and his Celtic opponents, but mostly it is about the maiden Airmid, a chieftain's daughter who is brought along to battle because of her strange power to sense impending danger. But Airmid is unable to save her people from defeat and in the aftermath she herself is blinded--in one eye by a young Roman soldier drunk with victory and later in the other by an even more sadistic one who resents his boyfriend's execution for the first offense. Airmid is conscientiously cared for by model officer Lucius and later volunteers as peacemaker between her village and his army, even deciding, when the Celts are obstinate, that ""to save her people she must betray them."" Then there is the noble renunciation of her prewar true love, just after their joyful reunion. But what has most disturbed Airmid is the battle that two rival goddesses are waging within her soul, and in the end she finds her peace at the shrine of one of them, a fair and virtuous deity who at last explains the cosmic implications of it all in a conversation fraught with exclamation points. It's dense with character and episode but thinly motivated, hevy and overwritten, and sometimes seems as ""endless and interminable"" as the line of men sent struggling up the cliff path early on.

Pub Date: March 12th, 1975
Publisher: Atheneum