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Apollo's Raven Paperback – April 10, 2017
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"The requisite fantasy elements of magic and mystery abound. Tanner also does an admirable job weaving in the politics and mythology of a bygone people. A complex and promising start to a new fantasy series." --Kirkus Reviews
"APOLLO'S RAVEN is a soaring epic that carries its audience on an adventure full of ancient magic, passionate romance, and political intrigue." --IndieReader (IR Approved)
"Apollo's Raven is a historical fantasy with strong elements of romance, political intrigue, and magic. Many surprising twists enrich the historically-drawn plot. Points of view shift between different characters effectively, heightening the tension from one moment to the next. I love the scenes contrasting the cultures of Celtic Britannia and Rome, during which Tanner's research really shines." --Historical Novel Society
"If you're looking for something entertaining with a fast, action-paced rhythm, Apollo's Raven by Linnea Tanner is a definite must. For a woman who is trying to figure out where she belongs in her world, this tale is relatable to other young women in our timeline who are also trying to figure out where they belong." --Literary Titan (Gold Book Award)
"Apollo's Raven is a rapturous read that mixes Celtic mythology into a good historical romance."--Forward Review
"Fans of romantic historical fiction will appreciate the author's obvious love of ancient history and attention to period detail in this promising start to a new series." --BlueInk Review
From the Author
In preparation for writing Apollo's Raven, I extensively researched and traveled to sites in the United Kingdom which are described in my book.
Book 1: Apollo's Raven is an epic Celtic tale of love, magic, adventure, intrigue and betrayal in the backdrop of Ancient Rome and Britannia. The story follows two star-crossed lovers from vastly different cultures: Catrin, a Celtic warrior princess, and Marcellus, the great-grandson of Mark Antony.
The heroine, Catrin, is inspired by historical and legendary accounts of Celtic warrior queens in Britannia where women were held in higher esteem and could serve as warriors and rulers. The Celtic noble warrior society was heavily influenced by Druids and rival rulers fought each other for power.
- Publisher : Apollo Raven Publisher, LLC; 1st Edition (April 10, 2017)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 400 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0998230006
- ISBN-13 : 978-0998230009
- Item Weight : 1.26 pounds
- Dimensions : 5.98 x 0.87 x 9.02 inches
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
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Top reviews from the United States
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I’ve always enjoyed fantasy romances set in ancient or medieval settings, and if I had to pick one genre to read forever, it would be this. And with promises of desire, intrigue, danger, and forbidden love, “Apollo’s Raven” seemed as if it would fit my tastes perfectly. In the end, there were definitely some things to be desired about the execution of the premise, but it was a decent story and it’s clear Ms. Tanner has a passion for the period and cutltures.
What I enjoyed most about “Apollo’s Raven” was the layers. There was a lot going on here, and the journeys, both individual and as a collective, were exciting. There were elements to the story I wasn’t expecting and it held a few pleasant surprises. But between Lucius’ bid for political power in Rome, the budding romances/illicit affairs, the changing curse, power struggles between Celtic kings, Catrin’s awakening magical gifts, and Marrock’s machinations, the different threads were a bit hard to keep straight at times. I think perhaps Ms. Tanner got lost in the grand scale of her own story, as numerous (though usually small) events and details were dropped without explanation or treated as if they’d been previously introduced when they hadn’t. Thankfully, the big things eventually came together and the outcome was satisfying.
The cast of characters was varied, but often melodramatic in the way of soap operas. Don’t get me wrong, I liked them well enough, though it was in the way one likes people on TV, but I didn’t really relate to them. Everyone felt strongly about everything all the time and emotions vacillated wildly and rapidly from one extreme to another without warning or reason. (Example: Marcellus and Catrin share a moment of passion, then he accuses her of not being a virgin, but they’re perfectly fine and normal in the next paragraph. This devotion-to-mistrust and back happened over and over.) There was also a lack of action to reasonable consequences. The first example of this was Catrin’s fear of telling her father about her Raven powers; he apparently forbade her to use them, but then when he found out she had, he wasn’t angry, upset, or even all that surprised. The ‘confrontation’ Amren and Rhiannon have regarding Trystan was another situation that struck me as odd and had characters behaving unrealistically. I can suspend my disbelief only so far and the lack of realistic or promised consequences robbed the story of any real emotional risk, impact, or gravity.
Herein lies the second of my major complaints about “Apollo’s Raven” and anyone who has read my reviews before knows what’s coming. While I was pleased to find no spelling or punctuation mistakes, I wish as much care had been paid to the grammar, word choice, and sentence structure. This book suffered from Thesaurusitis (“hubris” is a noun, not an adjective so “hubris senator” is just nonsense and “prurient” doesn’t mean what the author seemed to intend). The word choice was often poor or incorrect (remiss vs amiss, languished vs anguished, etc). The sentence structure was often odd as well (“Out of what seemed a chaotic contest was how a warrior acquired and maintained his status.”, “shot a piercing stare”, and using “blasted” as a dialogue tag). Top it off with stilted, wooden dialogue and the editor in me just couldn’t look past the technical issues
Bottom line: A mediocre historical fantasy romance where desire, intrigue, danger, and fierce loyalty ruled the day and wove a tale that pitted several factions against one another. I adored the premise, but I wish it had been better executed.
The story begins with Princess Catrin, her horse and her raven spirit guide observing ships, possible war ships in the distance. Advice from her father “know your enemies better than your friends” along with her spirit guide and ancient powers will help Catrin through the perils that await.
I invite you into this epic tale where “Alone in Mor’s candlelit bedchamber, Catrin shifted restlessly under her blankets. Not having to share the bed with her sister, because Mor was gone most of the night with Belinus, she thought slumber would come easy. Yet an ominous fire lingered inside her and foreboding thoughts crackled through her mind about what her father had said at the family meeting during the festivities. When he announced that Mor must be prepared to wed Cunobelin’s son after he renegotiated a matrimonial agreement, she wilted like a flower denied water. The burden of keeping Mor’s secret about Belinus weighed heavily on Catrin’s conscience. If Cunobelin found out, it could unravel the tenuous negotiations for peace between the powerful tribal kingdoms.
More troubling, her father instructed her on ways she could beguile Marcellus into revealing Roman’s schemes for their kingdom. Her stomach tossed with conflicting emotions about the striking Roman. How could she carry out her father’s directive when this young man made her heart race every time he gazed at her?”
Apollo’s Raven is a fast-paced, intriguing story with characters, situations and mystical threads sparked my interest and kept me turning the page of this award-winning book. I pre-ordered Dagger's Destiny (Curse of Clansmen and Kings-Book 2) so I will not miss a thing as the story continues.
Aside from that, "Apollo's Raven" failed to take flight for me when it came to juggling the many interwoven plots apart from the main thread of Catrin and Marcellus. Tanner switches narrators from chapter to chapter, and on many occasions, this seemed to be so that the character, such as the sorceress Agrona or Queen Rhiannon, could tell rather than show the reader things in order to move the plot forward rather than building three-dimensional players in the story. Thus, I wasn't really invested in the other characters' fates and didn't really understand why they were making many of the decisions they did aside from "because the plot needed them to."
Top reviews from other countries
I bought this book because the premise sounded interesting and because I am drawn to historical fiction and fantasy, and especially novels involving ancient Britons and Celts. As an author of fantasy novels myself, I also like to help and support other authors when I can.
I will try to make this review as constructive as possible, but I have to admit from the outset to being rather disappointed in the structure and execution of the story, the depth and development of the characters, and also certain aspects of the writing. On the positive side, the author clearly knows her history regarding the Celts and Romans in a time of upheaval and danger, and the world within which she places her characters comes across well. However, for me, she did not keep control of the various plot layers, resulting in a story structure that felt disjointed, at times rushed, and often bogged down in non-essential scenes. I found the early pace of the novel to be too slow, and only towards the end did it pick up to anything like a good pace.
I also found the various characters to be one-dimensional in that their natures lacked nuance. I have no issue with multiple points of view and each POV character change was well defined. However, some of the changes felt contrived rather than necessary, and I thought the novel would have been stronger for restricting the narrative’s viewpoint. The novel’s “magical” aspect could also have been better handled, with clearer explanations. This is one area where the author could have inserted some much-needed extra tension.
As a freelance editor, I also have to say this novel would have benefitted from a good proof read. The sentence structure, phrasing and syntax were often awkward and stilted, leading me to wonder whether English was actually the author’s mother tongue. There were also some poor word and grammar choices, and I found the majority of the dialogue to be repetitive, wooden, awkward and uninspiring. One word choice that I found irritating was the use of the word “cathos”. It appears several times and I made some effort to find out its meaning – trying both Merriam-Webster and the OED, and also other internet sites. All to no avail, and I was forced to conclude that it was a typo. When I finished the novel, however, I found that the author had included an explanation of this right word at the end of the Author’s Note – right at the end of the book! It ought to have been explained at the front.
I do not enjoy writing such negative reviews, but I have at least tried to be honest. I gave the book a rating of 3 stars because it certainly contains potential and there’s nothing lacking in the author’s imagination. The need for a knowledgeable and sympathetic editor, however, meant I could not give it more than 3 stars. I shall not be reading the sequel to this novel.
Apollo’s Ravens] by Linnea Tanner is set back in the times when Romans contested the Anglo Saxons and Celts for Britain. We quickly learn that the heroine, a young Anglo princess named Catrin has two sisters and a brother, as well as the King (Amren) and the Queen as her parents. As the tale unfolds, each of these characters is embellished with secret pasts and ambitions. Even Catrin herself is unusual as we are informed she is something of a trainee mystic with an affinity for ravens.
Early on we also encounter the Romans, Marcellus and his scheming father Senator Lucius Antonius, who is poised to alter the balance of power in Britannia. However, things don’t go to plan. Unpredictable, inexperienced Marcellus places himself in harm’s way to avoid a fatal confrontation during hostile negotiations.
Catrin and Marcellus are thrown together and a deep relationship develops, although neither is sure whether the other is really a spy, trying to gain an advantage for their family and country.
Along with Amren and Lucius, there is a third, secret wicked party that also features, attempting to manipulate everyone involved, hoping to gain ultimate glory. The deceptive individuals concerned also have mystical powers that are likely to prove more decisive than any band of Celtic warriors or Roman legion.
Hostages are exchanged between the Anglo Saxons and Romans to ensure temporary security until peaceful negotiations can be undertaken. The safety of the hostages, one of whom is Marcellus, is jeopardized as both sides scheme and plan to double-cross each other.
As the story continues, Catrin with her mystic abilities has visions that can be interpreted as dire for the outcome of Marcellus and herself, but perhaps she can no longer trust these visions as the evil mystic is also at work. An arrow of death is predicted to kill young Marcellus unless the future can be changed. The outcome is uncertain and we are kept in suspense until the final pages.
I enjoyed reading this work and have awarded five stars, the top rating, as I can see no serious flaws nor detect a reason to do otherwise. It remains to list the aspects of the book which impressed me the most.
At the top of the list must be the historical detail making the story seem very realistic. The research behind this work to achieve this effect subtly surfaces in many aspects. Light touches referring to the squalid dirt and grime, the smells, the physical appearance and much more, are sufficient to paint a vivid picture without hindering the pace of the tale.
The intertwining of Celtic and Roman mythologies into the storyline is also deftly handled so that the reader begins to appreciate how and why some of the characters are aligned. In those dark ages, the trust in the ancient Gods, reincarnation and symbolism would be paramount. These themes are firmly communicated in the book.
The mystical attributes of young Catrin are introduced in chapter one and continue to emerge and grow throughout the book. I found the author’s handling of this topic very believable and of course, crucial to the storyline.
Apart from Catrin and Marcellus, there are many other characters to be discovered. Each individual is sufficiently portrayed to allow the tension and web of intrigue to develop as hostages are taken and the climax arrives. There is love, infidelity, treachery, loyalty, jealousy, defiance, arrogance and more, interwoven within the characters.
Finally, it must also be said that this is the beginning of a love story. The emotions of Catrin and Marcellus along with their spiritual needs, the love scenes, their doubts and fears, are all well handled by the author. The outcome of their encounters is uncertain until the last pages. So even the more romantic amongst us are hooked until the end.
Perhaps I would point to one small flaw that I found as an annoyance, but by no means detracting from the five-star rating. I purchased the kindle version and checked the following observation on both the kindle and the cloud kindle app ( read.amazon.co.uk ). There is no table of contents or list of chapters! Other books do have this! The front cover looks great on the PC, but the lack of an index or table of contents makes it difficult for the reader to drop back to a previous chapter if they want to refer to something. This is only a format issue but in my view worth mentioning. Otherwise, a great book and I am looking forward to reading the next in the series.
Apollo’s Raven is a complex story, told from multiple points of view. Was that a good choice? I have my doubts. The storyline becomes ungainly and loses tension, which is a pity. The characters show various believable traits. Still, some of them are inflated with egomania to a degree that makes them appear less than real. There were some beautiful descriptions of the landscape — Ms Tanner has a deft hand in world-building.
Overall, a unique narrative with a lot of potential for a series.