In the third book of the Boudica quartet, the Romans increasingly oppress the Eceni and other tribes, which serves to explain Boudica's preparation for rebellion. The story opens with Breaca hunting down and killing Romans on her own. Meanwhile, Valerius/Bán lives - if not alone - in exile in Hibernia.
As with the first two books, the stories of sister and brother run parallel. But as the end approaches, the two begin to merge.
Valerius gradually deals with his past. Breaca flounders at first, a stranger even to her children. But once she decides to step forward and lead, she looks to the future. Interwoven throughout, is the development of previously lesser known characters - Cunomar (son of Breaca and Caradoc), Graine (daughter of Breaca and Caradoc), Cygfa (daughter of Caradoc), and Bellos (rescued slave now living with Valerius).
While readers who enjoy character development may like this, others who want to read about the rebellion, which doesn't occur until the final book, may grow impatient.
Some may also find the detail with which the author describes certain rites of passage as well as Roman abuse and oppression disturbing. There is more violence in this book than in the preceding stories.
There are several things I like about Manda Scott's style. First, her characters are flawed but immensely likeable. As Valerius says toward the end, "So much of what I have done is unforgivable and there is no going back." Yet you want Breaca to forgive him. You want for them to move forward together in the struggle against Rome. (I found Valerius' story as compelling, if not more so, than Breaca's.)
Even some of the Roman characters - certainly Corvus and Longinus - are likeable. While you might hate what they stand for, you will find it difficult to dislike them.
Second, as with the previous book, Dreaming the Bull, this story opens with a recapping of earlier events. Moreover, it isn't just a narrative summary. It fits well into the story.
Third, I like that each book ends with its own statement about the actual history. You learn more with each reading. The author is candid about what is known and how solid the evidence is.
I'm definitely looking forward to reading the final book, Dreaming the Serpent Spear. A qualified recommendation for those who enjoy epic fiction and character development, and who do not cringe at graphic descriptions of violence. If you enjoy an element of mysticism, all the better.
- Paperback: 720 pages
- Publisher: Transworld Publishers Ltd; 1 edition (1 February 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0553816365
- ISBN-13: 978-0553816365
- Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 4.4 x 17.8 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 381 g
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 71,617 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)