This is the first book in the Apollo’s Raven series, and it promises a lot of conspiracies, romance, betrayals, politics, action, and sorcery in the next book. Celtic Princess, Catrin, is the youngest daughter of King Amren. Apart from being a skilled warrior, she is a druidess. She has many magical qualities, but she is not aware of most of them. For now, she struggles with her ability to see through the eyes of her raven. However, she is still learning to control this magical power. King Amren and Queen Rhiannon are concerned with their daughter being a druidess. King’s first wife, Rhan, had cursed the king,
…your future queen will beget a daughter who will rise as a raven and join your son, Blood Wolf, and a mighty empire to overtake your kingdom..
The Blood Wolf mentioned in the curse is Marrock, who is a son of King Amren with Queen Rhan. King had banished Marrock when he was caught in a heinous act of sorcery.
Just when the king thought that Marrock was long gone, Roman Emperor sent Senator Lucius Antonius to deliver the news that Marrock should be the next heir to King Amren’s kingdom. To resist Marrock from being declared as the heir to the Cantiaci Kingdom, King Amren decides to try and convince the emperor by meeting him. In order to ensure a smooth meeting, Senator takes Vala, the eldest daughter of King Amren, as a hostage and King holds Senator’s son, Marcellus, as a hostage. Before leaving, the king asks Catrin to gather as much information as she can from Marcellus by using the art of seduction, if required. Little does he know that Catrin is already smitten by Marcellus.
There are many layers in the plot of Apollo’s Raven. Catrin is scared and enraged by the name of her half-brother, Marrock. She remembers only a part of the events that made her hate him; however, she is oblivious to the whole truth. As a reader, I was intrigued to know the reason for this hatred. Mor, the middle daughter of the King Amren, has been promised to be married to the son of a rival king, but this does not stop her from falling in love with Belinus, who was trusted with the task of her and Catrin’s training. It seems love is in the Cantiaci kingdom because Catrin and Marcellus are hopelessly falling in love with each other. Their love is not as simple as that of Belinus and Mor because there is a question of trust between a princess and her hostage. Amidst all the love, Catrin is unable to control her magical powers. She does not know whether she should love her abilities or be terrified of them. If she does not learn to understand and control her power, she might become an accessory in executing the curse of Queen Rhan.
It is clearly evident that the author has given each character a lot of thought. Princess Catrin seemed quite naive at many places, but considering that she was portrayed as a very young girl, it was acceptable. Rhiannon, as a queen, did not impress me with her impulsive reactions. There was a pinch of immaturity in her actions which bothered me. Having said that I understand that her foolish steps were required to move the plot and bring a twist. The character of Marcellus seemed colorless to me in the beginning. Nevertheless, as the plot progressed, he proved useful to the plot.
The story is written at a constant pace — never too fast and never too slow. The emotional turmoil of the main characters is described whenever required and that proved helpful in making a connection with them. My favorite character is nobody in particular. I would have liked Catrin if she was not portrayed as a girl who is crazy in love. She is a druidess, who is capable of controlling ravens. Her romantic head could have been sent in the background for a while. The negative characters had more potential than the positive ones. Marrock with his shapeshifting ability intrigued me more than the protagonist, Princess Catrin.
Although I could not segregate fiction from the history, I admired the imagination of the author. The plot kept me interested until the end and the twists kept me excited throughout the read. Due to these reasons, I would rate the book 4 out of 4 stars.
This book was an “OnlineBookClub.org Book of the Day”. It can be found on OBC bookshelf by clicking on this link: http://forums.onlinebookclub.org/shelves/book.php?id=166289