October 19, 2014

Ravens of Avalon by Diana Paxson

Despite being a part of the "Mists of Avalon" series, this book was not actually written by Marion Zimmer Bradley.  However, it was written by a woman who did co-author several books with her, and the similarity of their voices make it seem as if they are one and the same.

Ravens of Avalon tells the story of Boudica.  Boudica was actually a real life queen who waged war against the Romans.  This fictional telling of her story has her start life as a young royal who is sent to train with the druids and priestesses of Briton.  Instead of choosing a destiny as a Priestess, she decides to return home and serve her family and people best by marrying.  During this time the Romans have forced a truce with the different tribes of Briton and become increasingly antagonistic, which spurns a war that Boudica must lead.

Boudica is an interesting woman in history.  Because you don't hear of very many warrior queens (although there are a notable few).  I liked how I got quite a bit of her backstory in this book and what her life could have possibly been like before she was Queen.  But I don't think I got to see enough of her warrior side, and I was slightly disappointed in that.  Lhiannon was also somewhat of a disappointment.  I didn't really like her character in The Forest House (same series) but thought maybe her younger self would be more interesting.  I still saw her lead around by the will of others and of a certain Priest and although she thought she was free, she never really truly seemed to be free.

This book had a slow pace.  But not quite as slow as some of the other books in the series.  Both Bradley and Paxson enjoy detail and spend a lot of time building up history and people in the books.  This one in particular covered a lot of people in their younger days and the quarrels, loves, and aspirations that they held.  I did think that the war scenes were well done, although a tad brutal.  Since this was the story of Boudica you'd expect their to be some battles, but more time was given to history and character building than to gory descriptions and bloody scenes.  There was also some magic as well, which, depending on your stance of myth and legend, is what really made this a work of fiction.

I don't think it was the best of the series, but it's not a bad prequel.  Just one you'd probably not want to read until after having read all of the others.

Ravens of Avalon
Copyright 2007
394 pages

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