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Song of the Centurion (Warrior Druid of Britain Book 2) Kindle Edition
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- ASIN : B07X7XQBQS
- Publisher : Broadsword Publishing (September 12, 2019)
- Publication date : September 12, 2019
- Language : English
- File size : 3665 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 285 pages
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #43,802 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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‘Song Of The Centurion’ is the sequel to Steven A. McKay’s ‘The Druid’. McKay is a rising star on the indie historical fiction circuit and I was keen to read ‘Song’ since I loved ‘The Druid’, an unputdownable novel which absolutely rocked. Set in Britain after the withdrawal of the Roman legions, ‘The Druid’ has a killer plot and suspense that will melt your face. It contains all three of the essential ingredients which are all too often missing from historical fiction: a powerful early hook (when a young princess is abducted), mystery (surrounding the identity of her captors as well as the reason why she’s been abducted) and horror (caused by the eventual revelation of the grim purpose for which the little girl was abducted).
‘The Druid’ also contains gritty, confident writing, an original setting and protagonist (the titular druid Bellicus who is ordered to rescue and return the princess), as well as characters who feel three dimensional and whose motivations are always satisfactorily set out. Why aren’t there more historical novels like this nowadays? It also boasts an unforeseen and jaw-dropping twist at the end when the abducted princess’ true parentage is revealed and includes a dash of familiar legend with King Arthur and Merlin making an unexpected appearance. It all sounds deceptively simple, yet I can tell that a lot of craft and thought went into plotting it. This isn’t to mention that the historical background is also solid.
So although sequels to a brilliant first instalment are always fiendishly hard to pull off, I felt confident that there was a lot of great stuff still left in the tank to give the sequel a real shot at matching if not exceeding the high standard set by ‘The Druid’. After all, the characters and setting were still as intriguing as ever and the prospective reunion of the Princess Catia with her parents was a big draw for me.
‘Song Of The Centurion’ begins where The Druid left off, with Bellicus (Bel) the charismatic and resourceful druid and his unlikely sidekick the former centurion Duro escorting the rescued princess Catia back towards Alt Clota, seat of power of her tribe the Damnonii. On the way back Duro stops by his village to discover that his wife was killed by Saxons, so he decides to return to Alt Clota with Bel and Catia. This is neatly described by McKay, who does a good job of giving Duro a legitimate reason to remain in the story while also satisfactorily addressing the former centurion's grief for his dead wife.
In the meantime Alt Clota is besieged by enemy tribes. The leader of one of these tribes is a douchebag called Loarn who insults King Coroticus of the Damnonii by openly declaring that he’d sexually abuse the Damnonii King's abducted daughter Catia. Coroticus, who has been deteriorating psychologically ever since his daughter was abducted, is driven over the edge by the insult. No sooner is the siege of Alt Clota broken than he swiftly assembles a raiding party and strikes deep into enemy lands, in an attempt to kill the insulting Loarn. Yet the raid is an abject failure and Coroticus only survives it through the intervention of his exasperated guard captain Gavo.
The King’s popularity amongst his own people hardly grows after the needless loss of so many of his men, yet Coroticus proceeds to make one bad decision after another. The eventual return of his daughter is heart-warming and well worth the wait, yet does nothing to arrest the King’s erratic slide into further alcoholism and insanity. So that I think that a good alternative title for this novel could be: ‘The Mental Deterioration Of Drunken King Coroticus’.
Eventually Coroticus also clashes with his old friend the returned druid Bel, despite the latter being princess Catia’s rescuer. For the increasing suspicions about Catia’s true parentage soon become widespread rumour, so that the King reacts aggressively to the druid being in the proximity of the Damononii tribe’s queen Narina. After Bel subsequently knocks out his King, a revived but publicly humiliated Coroticus orders Bel to undertake an impossible and fatal mission: to kill Loarn. Bel is left with no choice but to seek to achieve the impossible, joined on his new venture deep behind enemy lines by his sidekick the titular centurion Duro and his surviving loyal hound.
There are many good aspects of this novel, particularly the quality of the writing which was taken up a notch and even more confident than that used in The Druid. McKay manages to keep the plotline twisting and turning so that it is hardly ever predictable, with each of the characters’ emotional and physical journeys satisfactorily explored. A high level of intrigue is also deftly maintained between Coroticus, Bel and Narina which is reminiscent of the classic Arthur-Guinevere-Lancelot, Arwen-Aragorn-Eowyn or Jezal-Ardee-Glokta-love triangles, used for the most part to good effect.
However Bellicus’ mission in this instalment is not as intriguing as the one which underpins the main narrative in ‘The Druid’. For while the first instalment held me in a vice-like grip due to the uncertain fate of an innocent young princess, it is hard to care as much about a quest that is essentially just the whim of a detestable King in mental free fall. The fate of the Damnonii or of any beloved character does not really hinge on Bel slaying Loarn, so that my care factor while reading this novel could never match my delightful levels of tension while reading The Druid. The idea of Bel luring Loarn to his death by using a white stag’s head didn't reach the gritty, danger levels which were reached in the first book. In fact I think that a chunk of the second half of Centurion is best summed up when McKay writes of Bel and Duro - who are deep in enemy territory and attempting to kill a dangerous chieftain - that ‘they grinned at each other like naughty children’.
So in my view this book’s plot lies somewhere between a three and a four on five, with the increased quality of writing just tilting it past four on five stars. All in all it's a respectable stepping stone which sets up a grand finale in the eventual third instalment.
Meanwhile, Bellicus has returned to Alt Clota from his first adventure (see The Druid, Warrior Druid of Britain Book 1). However, Bel's homecoming is less than heroic. The King Coloticus, once revered by his people, is suffering from suspicion, jealousy and drunken paranoia which compel him to make war on a neighboring king. At a winter fest, the king, unaccountably piqued, issues two choices to Bel: assent to being exiled or commit an inconceivable act!
The Song of the Centurion follows Bel, his warrior dog Cai and the former Centurion and friend, Duro, along the war torn countrysides where death and destruction cannot overpower the lasting effects of love, friendship and kinship.
Steven McKay's quick paced prose and dialogue create an adventure filled with faith, humor, folklore, superstition and the 'healing power of music'. There's even a white stag! As Bel and Duro learn about themselves and each other, the reader comes to care about these characters and cheers them each step of the way.
The Song of the Centurion can be read as a stand alone novel. Mr. McKay refers to events from The Druid so that readers won't be lost in the action. You're in for a thrilling epic if you read The Druid first though!
This Warrior Druid of Britain series is a wonderful description of ancient times and I'm eagerly awaiting the next book!
As I stated in my review of The Druid, if you are a fan of Cornwell, Kane, Iggulden, or Scarrow, you'll love McKay as well. He's truly a joy to read!
Top reviews from other countries
You’d think the King would be happy to see the return of the Princess but in Bellicus’s absence the King has changed.. he’s not the man he was and his quick temper is slowly putting his people under strain.. they will only take so much.. can Bellicus help set the King back on the right path?
Well he tries.. he really does but in the end the King sends Bellicus away on a mission.. a mission that seems doomed to fail.
Bellicus will honour the King’s wishes but he knows the Saxon’s are the real threat so he needs to get this task done.. and fast.
Things never go to plan of course and Bellicus must use all his cunning to make it out in one piece.
When all is done it’s time to return home.. but how will the King receive him this time?
McKay has outdone himself with this one. Being a fan of the author my biggest fear was him moving away from a series I loved to something new.. would It live up to expectations.. well it smashed the ball out of the park to be honest.
While the first book in the series The Druid was very plot driven to get the readers sucked in to a new series, book two is character driven development which is what I wanted to see.. this is the kind of action I need.. the kind of connections with the characters I want.
The word to describe this book is “Development” in more than one way. Not only does the tale develop amazingly I feel it shows real author development as McKay cements is credentials as a top-notch author.. he’s no one trick pony. He himself says that at one point progress on this book was side-lined for a while as he was involved with other projects but you’d never think that from reading the book.. it flows perfectly, the direction is never forced and that ending was pure brilliance.. as a storyteller McKay is up there with the best of them..the whole white stag storyline was not only riveting but joyous to read.
Bellicus along with his loyal war dog Cai and Duro the centurion are the perfect team.. they complement each other superbly and I can’t wait to see what happens next!
Duro for me steals the show as I felt he had a larger part to play in this tale compared to the first book in the series..(for obvious reasons if you’ve read the book).. he was often the one who put a smile on my face with his humour but I also felt for him.. there's some deep wounds that will take time to heal and this side of him really makes you take a shine to him.
Overall it’s a cracking read.. but it’s more than that.. it’s the perfect 2nd book in a series.. it shows growth from the first book but leaves you in no doubt this Is a series you need to keep following.
Everyone should have a copy of this on their bookshelf.
Once again details concerning this exciting historical tale can be found at the back of the book, while at the beginning you'll find another list with place-names, which are featuring within this great story.
Story-telling has again been of a superb quality, the atmosphere of the Dark Ages in Britain is coming off the pages in an astounding fashion, while also all the characters come vividly to life within this wonderful lifelike historical adventure.
The book starts off in the Autumn and will end during the Winter of the year AD 430-431, and the Warrior Druid, Bellicus, who's in company with Centurion Duro, who will find his wife, Alatucca, murdered in Luguvalium by Horsa and his band of Saxons, and after some lethal skirmishes they will finally arrive home with Princess Catia and the war-hound, Cai, at Dun Breatann, where Duro will compose a song in remembrance to his late murdered wife, Alatucca.
Although he's finally home, the relationship between the druid, Bellicus, and his master and King, Coroticus, will retaliate even further into hostility, when King Coroticus will find a way to get Bellicus exiled, along with Duro, and so send him on a fool's errand and only to return if he succeeds in assassinating the King of the Dalriadans, Loarn mac Eirc.
Not knowing that King Loarn mac Eirc has sent a message to the Saxons for help in an attempt to overthrow and kill King Coroticus, Bellicus will enter a wasp's nest in his effort to kill this King of the Dalriadans, and succeeding or not this mission will prove very eventful.
What is to come is an eventful historical adventure where loyalty and betrayal, courage and cowardice, survival and death will be the main ingredients, until the final fall-out between two old friends, the common thread between them being, the Princess Catia and Queen Narina, followed with the inevitable confrontation.
Very much recommended, simply because this is an absolute treasure of an adventure, and one that is a terrific follow-up to The Druid, and that's why I want to call this episode: "A Magnificent Druid Sequel"!
I absolutely recommend this with 5 stars.