A Realistic Take on Britain in Arthur’s Times
It’s 500 AD and Britain is divided: the southern and eastern regions of the island are under Saxon’s rule, while the northern tribes have rallied under Arthur, the Dragon Chief, in an effort to keep their customs and their lands. Among those who have sworn fealty to Arthur are Ilena, the 15 year old chieftain of Dun Alyn and Durant her betrothed who is also Arthur’s cousin.
As the novel starts Durant is leaving Ilena to serve with Arthur, and promises her he will return at the end of winter to marry her. But when spring arrives, it’s Faolan the chieftain of Dun Struan who comes to ask for her hand and not Durant. Ilena refuses Faolan’s request. Her refusal brings war between their people, and to Ilena, disgrace when she freezes in battle and falls behind the fighting line.
Exiled by Druid law until she proves herself worthy, Ilena travels the war savaged lands of northern Britain in search of her beloved Durant, and her liege King Arthur, the only one who can defeat the Saxons that, nowallied with Faolan, are pressing north once more.
I love this world Patricia Malone has created, a primitive Britain the Romans have just left, where tribes struggle to survive out of the land while fighting enemy neighbors, Saxon invaders and Irish raiders by the strength of their warriors’ swords. This is the world the legendary King Arthur would have lived in, if he ever was.
Although the ending felt a little rushed and the plot forced at times, that didn’t stopped me from reading late into the night, unable to put the book down.
I hope Malone is working in a sequel, as I, for one, am looking forward to learn more about Ilena and her warrior ways.