Britannia: land of mist and magic clinging to the western edge of the Roman Empire. A red-haired queen named Boudica led her people in a desperate rebellion against the might of Rome, an epic struggle destined to consume heroes and cowards, young and old, Roman and Celt . . . and these are their stories.
A calculating queen sees the sparks of revolt in a king’s death.
A neglected slave girl seizes her own courage as Boudica calls for war.
An idealistic tribune finds manhood in a brutal baptism of blood and slaughter.
A conflicted warrior hovers between loyalty to tribe and loyalty to Rome.
A death-haunted Druid challenges the gods themselves to ensure victory for his people.
An old champion struggles for everlasting glory in the final battle against the legions.
A fiery princess fights to salvage the pieces of her mother’s dream as the ravens circle.
A novel in seven parts, overlapping stories of warriors and peacemakers, queens and slaves, Romans and Celts who cross paths during Boudica’s epic rebellion. But who will survive to see the dawn of a new Britannia, and who will fall to feed the ravens?
Ruth is the author of nine mysteries* featuring Roman Army medic Gaius Petreius Ruso and his British partner Tilla. The latest is a novella, PRIMA FACIE. She lives in Devon, England. A combination of nosiness and a childish fascination with mud means she is never happier than when wielding an archaeological trowel.
She is sometimes called R.S. Downie, but she isn't the person with the same name who writes medical textbooks, and recommends that readers should never, ever take health advice from a two thousand year old man who prescribes mouse droppings.
*The first four books have all had two titles. Ruth is still wondering how this ever seemed like a good idea. Since she is unable to wind back time, British readers may find it useful to know that:
Medicus was Ruso and the Disappearing Dancing Girls, Terra Incognita was Ruso and the Demented Doctor, Persona Non Grata was Ruso and the Root of All Evils, Caveat Emptor was Ruso and the River of Darkness - but SEMPER FIDELIS, TABULA RASA, VITA BREVIS, MEMENTO MORI and PRIMA FACIE only have one title each - hooray!
3.5 stars. "We made Rome tremble," ... "We shook an empire to its core."
The story of Boudica 's rebellion against the Romans told from multiple points of view written by several authors. This was an interesting book. As always with a compilation piece, some stories had an edge on the others but actually they were all good. We hear from a slave girl of the Iceni tribe, an Iceni son grown up as hostage with the Romans, Duro, the war chief for the Iceni, the Roman tax collector who instigated the whole rebellion, a young Druid, a Roman tribune and the daughters of Boudica.
The stories were all linked in some way and together I felt like I gleaned the 'whole story'. Until I read this book, I was aware of the humiliation and whipping of Boudica and the brutal gang rapes of her daughters, but I had not known about the context for this event. The tension between the British tribes who collaborated with the Roman invaders and those that did not was made simple to understand and appreciate. This is exactly why I love historical fiction: I don't enjoy non fiction history on the whole- I get bogged down in dates and facts. And luckily for me, I don't have to! These wonderful authors have done all the hard work for me! A legendary part of British history, told well. Perfect!
Historically speaking, anthologies haven’t worked well for me, but books like Grand Central and A Day of Fire have slowly changed my opinion of the format. I wouldn’t consider myself a true fan just yet, but I’m not outright opposed that’s saying something considering past experiences.
Though a novel in an of itself, the book is structured with the reader in mind. Should any section fail to interest, the audience is free to move ahead without losing the primary story line. I personally wouldn't recommend it as each section has certain merits, but I appreciate the effort put into the construction of the novel just the same.
Much like A Day of Fire, A Year of Ravens centers on a particular noteworthy event. The stories featured in the anthology are set against Boudica’s Rebellion and while I’ve seen the drama fictionalized before, I couldn’t help appreciating how these seven authors captured it from so many uniquely diverse points of view.
Each contribution is characterized by the author's individual style, but each is linked by both characters and contents. The end result is as multifaceted and varied as the writers themselves. Violent and striking, this is not a story for those opposed to brutality and bloodshed, but that said, I found it exceptionally well-drawn and historically satisfying.
The Queen by Stephanie Dray: I had trouble with Dray’s contribution, but please, hear me out before you jump to any conclusions. The short features Queen Cartimandua and illustrates rising tensions between the tribes and the Romans. It’s informative, emotional and engaging. Problem is, Dray’s interpretation of Cartimandua is a force in and of herself, she’s worthy of more than the few pages she receives here and I was genuine frustrated at not being able it indulge in more of her story as written by this particular writer.
The Slave by Ruth Downie: Ruthie Downie was a new author for me, but one I greatly enjoyed getting to know through her contribution to this anthology. Her style and tone drew me immediately into Ria’s story and I was quickly lost in the experiences of the all but invisible slave girl. Ria circumstances give her a unique perspective of the royal family and I liked the contrast it created in the fabric of the novel. Ria’s emotional journey is also worth mentioning as it’s probably one of the most complex of the entire book.
The Tribune by Russell Whitfield: Russell Whitfield is an author I’ve wanted to read for quite some time, but his contribution to A Year of Ravens marks my first experience with his work and it was definitely worth the wait. Agricola proved an interesting narrator for a number of reasons and his journey to the island of Mona marked one of the high points of the collection. His story felt more drawn out than the other contributions, but I ultimately enjoyed where Whitfield took his contribution and the themes he highlighted in it.
The Druid by Vicky Alvear Shecter: Nothing I say about Vicky Alvear Shecter’s The Druid will do it justice. I’ve read the author before, but the drama she created for Yorath and Felix literally sent chills down my spine. I enjoyed each of the preceding stories for different reasons, but this selection jumped from the page and took hold in way the others hadn’t. I hate sounding like a gushing fan girl, but I loved everything about this short and am not shy to admit it my favorite of the anthology.
The Son by S.J.A. Turney: S.J.A. Turney was another new author for me which is funny as his story features Andecarus, a character who first caught my eye in Ruth Downie’s The Slave. I went into both pieces not knowing what to expect, but found both satisfying in their way. Turney’s interpretation of Andecarus is both compelling and thought-provoking and I enjoyed the perspective he captured in someone who felt divided loyalties during the conflict.
The Warrior by Kate Quinn: I’m almost afraid to comment on Kate Quinn’s contribution. I’ve never made any secret of my appreciation for her work and while I try to remain objective in my analysis, I’d like to point out that it isn’t my fault that she keeps hitting the ball out of the park. Her illustrations of both Duro and Valeria had me hooked from page one, but it was the way the story drew the others together that stands out in my mind. The other stories linked here or there, but I felt this particular effort was the most comprehensive of the book.
The Daughters by E. Knight: I love E. Knight’s work and looked forward to it when I first picked up the book, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit my enthusiasm for The Daughters grew over the course of the book. Keena and Sorcha dance in and out of the other stories. They tease the reader and of all the characters, I felt it apropos that theirs be the last installment of the anthology. Knight’s interpretation is powerfully drawn and stands as a commanding and poignant footnote to the epic battle that inspired all seven authors to put pen to paper.
Year of Ravens is a unique look at Boudica's rebellion against Rome. Seven different authors have told the story through seven different lenses, so you get the grit of battle from the perspective of a Roman warrior, the magic of the isle of Mona as told by a young druid, and the aftermath of the rebellion as seen through the eyes of Boudica's young daughters. What I really loved about the story was how the authors played with preconceived notions of several of the characters. Decianus, the Roman who essentially lit the match for Boudica's rebellion comes across as sympathetic (I too would want nothing more than to return to my villa in Gaul if I was him) and Boudica's right hand man is a gnarled old warrior who made me want to cry. My favorite character was Roman matron Valeria with her rapier wit and imperious eyebrows that spoke volumes. If she'd been on the battlefield, any enemy would have run screaming to get out of her way!
As in any novel about an ancient war, there's plenty of authentic historical violence, including a severed head. I do so like a severed head in a novel!
I’ve wanted to learn more about Boudica but haven’t actually read any books about her so this was really fascinating read. I’ve never been fan of the Romans and this didn’t make me like then any more… Although the Britons nor the Iceni were any better really…
The book consist works by seven writers and I loved how well they worked together. Some characters feature on multiple stories and while written by different authors you still feel that it’s the same character. I’ve never read a collaboration like this and I was surprised how well it worked and how much I liked it.
It was a brutal war and it surely isn’t sugar coated here, which I appreciated. We don’t have Boudica’s point of view but we see her through different people; Romans, slaves, druids, friends and daughters. I thought both sides were well presented. I felt like all of the stories could have been a whole book because I wanted to read more!
This anthology boasts some of my favorite historical fiction writers and ones who collaborated so well with their Pompeii-centric anthology A Day of Fire. There were some new voices (SJA Turney, Ruth Downie, etc.) added to the mix this time around and though new to me, they were fitting additions to the known talents of Knight, Quinn, Dray, and Shecter. Spanning just the year-ish long rebellion of the infamous Iceni Queen and told through seven disparate but relevant voices from both sides of the conflict, A Year of Ravens boasts some complex themes, fully dimensional characters, and remarkable storytelling.
There's a lot to admire about A Year of Ravens but there were three notable standouts as I made my way through the the early 450 page collection. Stephanie Dray's authorial talents bookend the anthology with two stories about a forgotten contemporary of Boudica's -- Cartimandua, Queen of the Brigantes. Cartimandua is a fascinating character (and was a real life client Queen of Rome.) Dray is of such talent that while reading her stories, I have to google all the fascinating details she peppers her narrative with. (Seriously - who would have thought Roman client-kingship so interesting?)
Dray makes the point that while you have heard of Boudica, you can't fully understand her or put her life in context without comparing the life of her contemporary queen Cartimandua. Dray fully proves her point with her powerhouse introductory addition. She skillfully brings the reader up to speed on what Roman-held Britain was like; how the various tribes rebelled, fought amongst each other, and then finally united after an unforgivable series of events. Boudica's legend has lasted a thousand years while Cartimandua's has not. With Dray's talent, this real-life woman provides an excellent foil for her more famous counterpart.
The four stories that followed Dray's The Queen (The Slave, The Tribune, The Druid, The Son) were good. A few were very good - The Slave by Ruth Downie and The Son by SJA Turney were four stars each. The other two (authored by Russell Whitfield and Vicky Alvear Shecter, respectively) were three-stars and just lacked the spark I felt for the other stories. Those two were also quite intertwined with another - both in terms of plot and with characters that inhabited both. I was interested in Agricola because of his role but found his narration somewhat stilted and overlong. I liked The Slave because it showed a different, unique view of Boudica -- from even amongst her own tribe. Her legend has lead people to remember and revere her but she was not perfect. She made mistakes and wasn't always what she is remembered to be, as shown in her treatment of Ria, the slave.
A Year of Ravens takes pains to show the horrors and complexities of rebellion and war. In trying to rid their shores of the hated Romans, the Iceni and their allies often resort to the same butchery and torture as the Romans did before them. And in return, the Roman reprisals are equally damning. Both sides have valid points of contention; both sides have wounds that demand redress. Duro, Boudica's premier warrior and Valeria, a captured Roman matron, especially show the differing views but vivid commonalities between the two cultures. In Kate Quinn's contribution The Warrior these points are made easily with the banter of the oddly complimentary and combative pair. Kate Quinn is a master of characterization, even with less than 70 pages to work with.
I first read E. Knight last year, with her excellent contribution to A Day of Fire, a short story titled The Mother. Her choice here was to give voice to Boudica's two wildly different but beloved daughters and it was impressively handled. Historically remembered as just "Boudica's daughters" Knight gives them names, voices, personalities, motivations and more. They come alive as Boudica does, but from their own point of view and in their own distinct voices as we never see or hear from their warrior mother. They are two vastly different kind of women and their POVs flash between the past and the present, but it's a streamlined narrative. Knight easily picks up the plot lines laid down by the six authors before her and weaves them into an expected but still original ending.
This was a fantastic anthology. The authors' various styles meld well together and foster a remarkably coherent tale for one told from so many varying techniques and perspectives. A Year of Ravens uses Boudica and her rebellion to propel the main plot but it's the little seen narratives and views used that make the anthology creative and memorable. A Year of Ravens is the kind of historical fiction that leaves you even more interested in the time, place, and people depicted than you were before. Boudica has long been a historical favorite of mine and I can definitely say that this anthology did her legend more than justice.
"A Year of Ravens" is the story of Boudica, the warrior queen of Brittania who fought Rome. It's broken up into mini stories all surrounding Boudica's rebellion. Each story is written by a different author! This is the second historical fiction release by The H Team, a collection of some of my favorite HF writers. Their first book was "A Day of Fire." This time around, some of the previous writers are not there and have been replaced by other great HF writers.
A continuity is such a great way to tell the story of Boudica. By having linked stories, the authors were able to cover so many different aspects of all of the players in the rebellion. The book is also able to capture a wide swath of time from just prior to the rebellion until the aftermath. We meet other queens, Romans, and druids among others. We get a front row seat to Boudica and her family, including her two daughters. I have not read a lot about this era and I loved visiting it in fiction! The detail in each of the sections of the book is richly detailed and made for a fairly easy time picturing what was going on!
The writing of the book was good! By having so many different authors write the stories, each character felt so different. This rebellion had so many different sides and I loved reading so many different perspectives. The authors also did a good job of continuing the overall story from section to section (a huge task to be sure) so the book really flowed. Will there be more from the H Team? This reader certainly hopes so!
I’ll be honest with you, collaborative works of fiction aren’t something I’m particularly experienced with. If anything I tend to have a prerequisite for them being a weak link in the literary canon. Why, you may ask? Well, prior to reading A Year of Ravens, I was of the mind that a novel constructed of numerous different stories each written by a different author was a recipe for a bit of a floppy narrative. I just couldn’t see how the works of different writers, each with different styles, would gel together well enough to make a coherent and enjoyable story. This book however has proved me wrong and I tip my hat to each of the authors involved in this collaborative work, because A Year of Ravens is an awesome read.
The story as a whole centres on Boudica’s rebellion against the Roman Empire and is told from various different viewpoints; from tribal warriors and slaves to Roman legionaries and queens. It’s pretty noteworthy event in history and it sparked a little glimmer of nostalgia for my primary school history lessons all those many years ago. Plus, it’s an interesting little pocket of history which personally, I believe, has been neglected for too long. This, however, works to the advantage of the book and gives it a fresh new feel in addition to providing the reader with an experience that is vibrant and exciting.
Sure, it’s violent and brutal as hell but its focus is one of the most infamous rebellions to ever occur on British soil, so there’s bound to be more than a fair share of bloodshed. Maybe it’s a bit sadistic to say I really liked the scenes where everyone was getting their guts ripped out and their heads hacked clean off, but I did. I’ve seen way too much Game of Thrones and Vikings for me to not enjoy a good battle sequence, and the ones in A Year of Ravens were just as awesome. Example:
“I was on my knees. When had I fallen? I was on my knees, rocking back and forth in the mud, sword clutched loose in my hand as I watched my people die.This was not battle. It was slaughter. Every blink of my lashes saw another fifty fall as the Roman swarm advanced into the chaos and left red death in their wake. I saw a small boy fall from the wagons and disappear under the trampling feet of the warriors below. I saw a scarred woman trying to beat her way free of the crush with a broken shield, going down with a sword through her spine. I saw a warrior with lime-washed hair sag, head flopping half severed - My vision skipped. I was still on my knees, limbs stone-heavy, mouth working soundlessly.”
If you love raw, emotional, and vivid narratives filled with blood curdling action then this is for you. If not, then there are plenty more mild mannered books out there, but this is gritty and brutal and filled with enough foul-mouthed characters to turn the air blue, and it’s brilliant.
Collectively the novel has a cohesive feel and I was impressed by how seamlessly each story flowed together. It follows a more or less linear structure with the odd flash back here and there, so when one story ends and another begins you know where you are and where everything is up too. Each author has his or her own hero/heroine who they focus on, but they all pop up throughout which helps to tie everything together. I loved how there were viewpoints of both the Britons and the Romans; it helped to create a panoramic and collective narrative of what the rebellion meant and felt like for both sides.
As for the authors, I was familiar with one from experience and two others in name; Kate Quinn, who is a personal favourite of mine thanks to her amazing Rome series, and Stephanie Dray and Eliza Knight who are celebrated historical fictions writers in their own right. The fellow contributors were all new to me, but I have to add particular praise to Ruth Downie for her short story entitled The Slave whose perception of events is told through the eyes of the young slave girl, Ria. Downie’s character became a favourite and I loved to see how her story continued throughout the other narratives.
I’ll admit, I was worried the individual style of each author would come across too strong, but as it turns out, they all complement each other really well. Granted, there were some stories I preferred to others but I think the novel was written with this is mind. If you don’t like one story, they’ll be another one further on that might take your fancy more. Yet I wouldn’t advice skipping chapters, because the content and the focus of each story are invaluable to the plot and it works brilliantly as a whole.
Some of the authors who worked this novel are actually contributors to another collaborative work entitled A Day of Fire: A Novel of Pompeii which centres on the infamous eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Admittedly, this has been on my to-read list for the last year or so since I’ve somehow never gotten around to reading it. Well, I’ll be rectifying this ASAP because the H Team did such a good job with A Year of Ravens that it’s made me eager to read more of what these authors have to offer.
I think that is the key to being successful writer; to possess the ability to make their readers crave more of their writing and this novel not only made me appreciate more the authors I was already familiar with, but want to explore those that are new to me. In that respect, A Year of Ravens is a job well done.
it's a good one, boys and girls - full review coming
A collaborative effort of seven authors, A Year of Ravens tells the tale of the Iceni Queen, Boudica and her rebellion against Rome. While the cause and effects of the war are admirably presented, it is the characters that drive this emotion packed, soul searching, heartstring tugging story(or rather stories). From the beginning the readers are treated to a seamless transition from author to author and the way each of them puts their own marks on the growth of each character. Time and time again I was drawn into a character's mindset and felt the pain, the remorse, the confusion, and even the occasional joy being experienced. One, of the many examples I could choose, of a character's journey through the book is the fictional wife of the Roman Procurator. Valeria as introduced in the first chapter is a cold as ice Roman matron whose only ambition is to promote her rather timid husband's career. What she experiences in subsequent events is so beautifully written as to elicit some tearing up even to this old curmudgeon. Also on display are the realities of war and the cruelties inflicted by men(and women) madly entrenched in the rightness of their cause. Whether it's shield wall action or the rampant, wanton destruction of a town or village, the battle scenes are bloodlust filled events punctuated with the sounds of sword on sword and the screams of the dying.
By way of summation, let me say, from the very beginning with the Intro by Ben Kane to the very, very end with an afterword from each author, this book is a testament to the creative genius of seven wordsmiths. 5 stars
I really loved this book. I was worried about the format- anthology of POVs around Boudica, but nothing from the woman herself, but I shouldn't have worried. Boudica's silence means we're forced to understand her through her actions and influence on others. It's uncomfortable; she isn't the hero or the myth, she's a woman with a goal.
Besides Boudica, the characters telling their stories are grounded and funny and heartbreaking. Whether it's the story of a slave girl, or a Druid priest or highborn Roman woman, the characters are dynamic on the page, until the very end.
I haven't read a lot of historical fiction these last few years, but this book definitely lit the spark anew.
This is an epic novel based before, during and after the time period of Boudica’s uprising against the Romans. It is an incredibly imaginative and moving tale and we are introduced to many vivid characters. What makes this novel even more impressive is that it is separated into multiple parts, each one written by a different author. These are separate stories and yet they weave together to create one vast perspective of Boudica’s rebellion. It is truly amazing what these talented authors have been able to achieve. For a full review, where I have addressed each section separately, I invite you to visit my blog: https://pagestothepast.wordpress.com/... I have written a condensed version here.
In the very first chapter of the novel I expected to be introduced to Boudica herself but instead we meet Cartimandua, Queen of the Brigantes. In a short period of time Stephanie Dray is able to bring Cartimandua to living, breathing, fire-spouting life. She is portrayed as a strong woman who is fiercely loyal to her people and who would sacrifice anything for them--including her own reputation. Next we are introduced to Ria, the bastard daughter of Boudica's recently deceased husband, the King of the Iceni tribe. It is through Ria's eyes that we see the early stirrings of the Iceni rebellion and witness first hand how Boudica suffered at the hands of the Romans. The next chapter is told from the perspective of a Roman officer with a legion of eighty men. The story of Agricola and the bloody battles that he and his men fought stayed in the back of my mind throughout the remainder of the novel. It truly brought to life the savagery of the Roman occupation of Britain. We meet Yorath next, a young Druid-in-training who survives the butchery of his people on the holy Isle of Mona (modern day Anglesey). The author portrays the Druids as the wise men of the realm that do not hold allegiance to any one tribe. The Druids are respected by all and thus they are a threat to the Romans. The next character, Andecarus, was my favourite of the novel. Son of an Iceni warrior and yet raised by Romans he is able to see both sides of the rebellion. He is a man with a foot in each world and therefore I found his perspective to be the most interesting. I found myself pitying him and the situation in which he finds himself: caught between loyalty to his tribe and the knowledge that the Romans will eventually defeat Boudica. Eventually Andecarus must decide whether to stand and fight with his tribe or flee to the Romans. Next comes Kate Quinn's section of the novel. She writes of Andecarus' father, Duro, a man I had come to dislike after his appearance in two of the previous chapters. However after reading Kate Quinn's portrayal of him I came to understand him. A revered warrior of the Iceni tribe and Boudica's right-hand man, I came to respect him and the decisions that he made. This part of the novel tells the epic battle finale between Boudica's army and the Romans. It is vivid, brutal and shocking in it's descriptions but not at all distasteful--nobody can write quite like this author. I will admit that it was Kate Quinn's name that attracted my attention to this novel and as always I wasn't disappointed. The final chapter of this book was incredibly moving. E. Knight does a wonderful job with her characters and through the eyes of Boudica’s daughters she gives Boudica the warrior’s end that she deserves. To see it through their perspective instead of her own was even more heart-wrenching and I understand why the author chose to do this, even though it meant that Boudica’s inner voice is never heard throughout the pages of this novel. This final chapter is dedicated to three very unique and yet equally strong women and I loved them all. The epilogue is written by Stephanie Dray. I was relieved by this, as I felt I needed to see Cartimandua one last time before the end of the novel. The story came full circle by leaving the reader in the same place that we began. That’s exactly how I felt after finishing this novel: the same, and yet inexplicably changed somehow. I knew the bare bones of Boudica’s rebellion and I am grateful to these authors for using their incredible talent to flesh this story out for me and for everybody else who embarks on this novel. Please do, you won’t regret it. In true historical fiction there is always an author’s note at the end and this novel was no exception. Each author has written one, which means the decisions behind each character are explained. I really appreciated this and it brought home just how much collaboration went into this work. This is the second novel written by multiple authors that I have read, the first being “A Day of Fire: A Novel of Pompeii” which has five of the same authors. I really hope there is another one coming!
So, the introduction was fantastic. I was so pleased that Cartimandua was chosen to lead the way into this intensely gripping collection of stories. Anyway - I suppose I am a little too excited, and a little too sleep deprived, to precisely inform anyone that reads this poor review what exactly made everything so fantastic.
Beyond Stephanie's strong introduction, we were led to an intriguing cast of characters; each section of the compiled stories focused on a different person, or set of people, and had completely different points of view. All of the tales were threaded together wonderfully, and I am just pleased as punch to be able to express, with intense and profound certainty, that this novel is worth the time you take to read it.
Another point of interest and intrigue before I crawl into bed, bleary eyed and full to bursting of contentedness, is that NO ONE wrote a story from Boudica's point of view. I was actually *incredibly* pleased about this because I thought it would be unusual, and a sort of... faux pas, to try to portray Boudica from Boudica's perspective. Rather, we see her in different lights, from a varied cast.
Anyway - I enjoyed these authors, I always enjoy Stephanie Dray and Kate Quinn. After reading, I'm going to investigate Russell Whitfield a bit more, because aside from the two aforementioned authors (and maybe only because I am familiar with them, comfortable with them, and have already been thoroughly impressed with them), his story was my favorite. As an aside, I feel like it's sacrilege to say that one story was better than the others because they were all absolutely magical in their own rights. Maybe it was Mr. Whitfield's copious use of curse words that endeared me so.
Anyway, 5/5. I'd read it again but I bought it on the wrong Amazon account and had to hurry to read it, even during finals week and while writing 5 damned research papers, before the ebook loan "expired".
When asked to review a book about this utterly fascinating woman I couldn’t say yes fast enough. To be honest I didn’t even notice the fact that the book was written by seven different people until it arrived. I just find Boudica so intriguing. So little is really known about her yet she exerts her pull on history with her remarkable story.
If you don’t know anything about the Queen of the Iceni at the time of the Roman occupation of what we now call Great Britain. The Romans wanted and wanted and wanted and finally they didn’t get what they wanted and there was a rebellion. The beauty of this book is the telling through the imaginations of seven very different, very talented writers each writing a different story. Each story advances the overall tale in time and while there is really no continuity in style there is one fantastic overall book.
This is not a romance novel. It is not a simple retelling of historical events. It is a down and dirty exploration of a war between the might of Rome and peoples determined to regain their land and way of life. Horrible, despicable things happen – on both sides – and they are not glossed over. It was a violent time and yet, despite that the book was nigh on impossible to put down.
Not much of this amazing woman was left to history – the events take place in 60 AD. And most of the written record on Boudica is what the Romans have left. We all know that history is written by the victors so we can only imagine the truth of her exploits. She really must have been one hell of a woman! The seven authors of A Year of Ravens bring her and the rest of the players to vivid life in a format that allows for reading one chapter at a time if you so desire. I found that I just wanted to read and read and read. And when it was all over I wanted to start again. All hail Boudica.
A brutal and gruesome story of war. Boudica vs the might of the Empire of Rome. This is not a romanticized story of a frail queen who revolts against big, bad Rome, but of an indominable warrior queen who rises up and dares to challenge the empire. (think Star Wars with a different ending).
For those who are unfamiliar with the history, Boudica is an Iceni (celtic) queen, wife of King Prastagus. He is a client king of Rome, meaning, he is allowed to remain in power as king as long as he bends to Roman will. He dies without a male heir, not a problem to the Iceni people, but a great problem to male dominated Rome. Boudica argues that she, as wife to the king, is the new ruler and will not bow down to Rome. The result? She is flogged, her two daughters raped. This sets the scene for a violent, brutal war.
We watch this war progress through the eyes and writings of seven very talented authors. This is not a one sided book. We, the readers, as witness to the foibles, fears, and desires of both the Romans and the Iceni. In fact, my favorite character, Andecarus, son of Duro, is an Iceni male taken as a 'hostage' to Rome. He is raised in a roman household as a foster son. He returns to the Iceni as an adult and is compelled to fight alongside the Iceni. He, having been raised a roman, is not trusted by his countrymen. Caught between two worlds, he exemplified courage, strength and honor.
This is a tale told in multiple views, by very talented authors. Don't skip any of the stories, read them in order, as the expand upon the story with each passing page. 5/5
The book is a unique collaborative project by seven authors with seven separate yet connected stories of the events leading up to the final battle and aftermath. It addresses the issues that I touched on in the pre-history discussion including reasons for a Client Ruler's acceptance and alliance of Roman governance. It also gives us an understanding of various Roman perspectives. Not every Roman was stereotypical bad nor did they all agree with what was taking place. In that same line, not every Briton was good or a true believer in the rebellion.
This overall story is balanced with more than enough historical research to enrich the fiction that is woven around the often limited facts. I found myself completely swept up in the individual stories and not wanting them to end. I was left with an overwhelming appreciation of the writing and the history, an almost obsessive need to know more about all of the people whether real or fictional and the events that were taking place during this time. While it began as an effort by the various authors to tell Boudicca's story, what it did was tell the story of so many others involved in the history taking place during her life time.
This novel tells the story of the Boudica rebellion in 60 A.D. against the power of Rome. Told by seven authors and from the point of view of different characters, this story was a hard, raw look at war in all it's glory.
Even though the book was penned by seven of my favorite historical fiction authors, it was amazingly cohesive and well thought out. Each character brought a unique perspective of the rebellion, either from a Briton or Roman point of view. I loved all of the characters, except for Helva- he was a real pig, which made it hard to empathize with one side more so than the other.
A most emotional and compelling read which I give 5 stars and easily a favorite of the year.
I did not know what to expect from this book. A novel coming from the combined works of multiple authors - surely an exercise much like herding cats bringing so many creative types together. On the plus side I recognised and am an ardent fan of at least 3 of the names, so I gave it a go.
One word summary: - Superb. So many different takes on the same events, each author bringing their own style and slant on the story, each part giving us a tale from a different character's perspective, as a whole it was excellent, perhaps greater than the sum of its parts.
Re-enforced my already high opinion of those I read and has given me a few names to add to my to read list. Thanks folks!
"For the Romans are wrong; it does not all begin and end with them. It all begins and ends with ravens. Ravens, who have seen all the great tragedies of the world unfold, and whose cry is eternal."
I enjoyed this novel in seven parts every bit as much as I enjoyed A Day of Fire: A Novel of Pompeii (another collaborative work produced by some members of this talented group of authors). I knew only the most basic facts of Boudica's rebellion against the Romans, and I haven't read much historical fiction on the subject either. So, I was very excited to properly delve into her story with this book.
I won't describe each part--that can be seen in the book description--but I will say that each part was written from a different perspective, both British and Roman, and that the story built upon itself incredibly well. The details and characters of all seven parts connected flawlessly, and the book really flowed. Content-wise, it was quite intense. Lots of graphic battle scenes, etc. However, this was the reality of the rebellion, and it just made the story that much more riveting for me to read.
While reading the historical notes by the authors at the end, I found out that the only real historical perspective on Boudica's rebellion was that of the Romans. One of the things I love most about historical fiction is how authors use it to revive and enrich modern perspectives on events with little surviving evidence such as Boudica's rebellion. I like how, through this book, a variety of characters involved in the rebellion were finally allowed their voices--fictional voices, yes, but it's interesting to think of those voices also possibly belonging to real historical people who would have been there.
I started reading A Year of Ravens with a little trepidation, only because I have never read one book written by 7 different authors. Plus I make it a rule never to read reviews of what I am reading, but when I see 4 and (mostly) 5 stars ratings flying around that does something to the old expectation levels. That being said, being familiar with 4 of the writers I knew a real treat was in order and I was not disappointed.
Historical fiction is a favorite of mine, especially lesser know figures, which Boudica is - at least to me she is. Told from the POV of 7 different characters one would think it might be disjointed and lack the smooth flow and transition needed to make a compilation work. Here it worked nicely, everything meshed together and the different writing styles actually enhanced this story.
Taking place in 60 AD the era was realistic and vivid, bringing this time period to life. Getting into the heads of various individuals and the vastly different roles they played was interesting and further fueled my desire to know more about the times. As the different characters roles are played out they are not forgotten in subsequent chapters which again makes this book flow together. Though I am not a big fan of blood, guts and gore, but when its done in the right context it enhances the story, so suffice to say there were times that I was 'squint reading', it was a brutal time period after all.
This book was written with feeling and emotion, the attention to details and the depth of character actually made me feel sorry for the Romans (as well as outrage) at the same time as compassion for Boudica's people. The author notes at the end just finished this book off nicely and I enjoyed reading them as much as this book. Definitely one I highly recommend.
The dream team are back! Okay, it's not exactly the same team of authors that produced A Day of Fire: a novel of Pompeii, but some of the same authors are involved and it's the same concept. They are calling themselves The H Team on Facebook.
Just like A Day of Fire, each author tells an individual story with different yet overlapping characters which are woven together to tell a greater story, that of a monumentally tragic event in history. In this case, A Year of Ravens is about the Celtic rebellion against the Romans, lead by Queen of the Iceni, Boudica.
Told from all different view points on both the Celtic and Roman sides, it gives the reader a rounded perspective of the series of events and the people involved in, from the lowliest of slaves to the highest of leaders. The characters are so well fleshed out despite there being so many of them, and despite each chapter focusing on new points of view.
I have to say though, if you're looking for a book about Boudica herself, this is not it. As the title suggests, it is really about the rebellion, and not necessarily Boudica herself. She is featured in several chapters to varying degrees, but in others, she is barely even mentioned. It is an excellent novel, regardless, and will pull you in from the very beginning.
Stephanie Dray and Ruth Downie's chapters were my favorite. I think that Russell Whitfield's chapter was the weakest of the bunch, because I felt it took too long to get going and show just how it would move the story forward (this is the chapter were Boudica is hardly even mentioned), but once it did it was clear how it fit into the novel.
I don't know how so many established authors are able to work together to form such a cohesive novel for a second time, in addition to their individual work, but I hope they continue to do so.
This is a very good book. I have never read a book written in this format with several different authors each telling a story with all of the stories weaving together into one larger story. I would definitely recommend this book. Some stories were more interesting than others. For instance, I am just personally not a fan of reading about battle scenes and one of the stories seemed to have a lot of that going on... But, other than that I really did like this book a lot! :)
Ever since I read A Day of Fire: A Novel of Pompeii last year, I have been waiting to see what subject my favorite historical fiction writers would tackle next. This time it is Boudica, Queen of the Iceni, who raised an army against the mighty Roman Empire. A woman that I first heard about when I was studying Scottish history in university. Like its predecessor, A Year of Ravens: A Novel of Boudica's Rebellion, is more like a novel, the characters of each individual story, run parallel and criss-cross into other chapters. So, there is a real satisfaction that the reader understands the beginning, middle, and end.
THE QUEEN BY STEPHANIE DRAY You've heard her name. Of course you have. Everyone has. And when you've heard it spoken, you've heard the hushed awe of her admirers or the grudging respect of her enemies. You've heard her legend. And you may think you know the story of the proud rebel queen who humbled the Romans, burning and slashing her way to eternal glory. But you cannot know her story without knowing mine
In the novel's prologue, Stephanie Dray takes on the story of Cartimandua, Queen of the Brigantes, who has recently learned of the death of King Prasutagus, King of the Iceni, a good friend and lover, that Cartimandua greatly admired. Cartimandua, also dubbed the "Cleopatra of the Celts" has made peace with the Romans, but stands to lose much as her husband continually rises in rebellion against her. Furthermore, Cartimandua is warned by the Roman procurator, Catus Decianus, accompanied by his strong minded wife, Valeria, to not attend the Iceni king's funeral. But Cartimandua will not break a promise to an old friend, even if it means, not being welcomed with open arms.
I absolutely loved Dray's portrayal of Cartimandua and felt it was an excellent choice for beginning the Boudica story. I've been a fan of Dray's work since reading Lily of the Nile and I felt that both her writing and Cartimandua took on a larger than life presence that I continued to feel for the next few chapters. This is no disrespect of any of the authors, it's just a fact that I was in really deep to the "voice" of that character. Stephanie Dray states later in her author's note that she wasn't going to write about the Queen of the Brigantes, until Cartimandua appeared to her. I don't doubt that for one moment! I just have to share two more lovely lines from the chapter before moving on.
Men and women are so different in life. We are locked in battle from birth but cannot create life without each other. So we must forge a treaty and join together for one ecstatic moment in which we become one.
Women are not always what we seem to be. What our reputations would tell you. Nor do we only exist in reference to our fathers, husbands, and sons.
The Slave by Ruth Downie
Picking up where Stephanie Dray's prologue left off, Downie has us following Ria, the slave girl and illegitimate daughter of King Prasutagus, reeling with the chaos surrounding the Iceni after the Roman's latest attack that left both Boudica and her daughters, Sorcha and Keena,grievously harmed. This only fuels the tensions between the people and the Romans and Boudica swears her vengeance. There is no love between Ria and her father's wife, and Ria longs for her freedom from Boudica and her oldest daughter Sorcha.
While I cannot lie that Ria as a character failed to connect with me, I do feel that she becomes an important bridge to the story in terms of us meeting other characters.
The Tribune by Russell Whitfield In part three, readers are introduced to Agricola, a brash womanizing member of the Roman army. Agricola is also a historical personage of the time period. There are plenty of descriptive action scenes and it is our first insight into the "other side" viewpoint. As an aside, I will say that while I can understand that derogatory words are certainly a norm for army men of any time period, I felt that Whitfield uses them a tad excessive in the beginning of the chapter. I know, I know, I shouldn't quibble over such trivial matters. Especially when the latter part gives us such great insights into Agricola, such as,
It was real war- and real war was fueled by hatred and cruelty. The histories spoke of hard-fought victories,great battles, and valor. It was easy, he thought, to write "and there was great slaughter." Not so easy to see it up close, to have a man begging for mercy as you put him to the sword.
The Druid by Vicky Alvear Shecter I felt that this was one of the most fascinating and climactic chapters of the book. We have Yorath, a Druid, lone survivor of a recent Roman raid, and Felix, a young Roman soldier, that is taken prisoner by Yorath. The two sided narrative really played with my head because I could feel that something was going to happen and I approached each page turning with a lot of trepidation. The only scene in my mind that I can compare this chapter is the opening scene of Quentin Taratino's "Inglorious Bastards."( If Vicky Alvear Schecter ever reads this review, I really mean this comparison as a compliment- both of you, are masters at keeping the reader/viewer on the edge of the couch/seat). Admittedly, I had to take a short break after reading the chapter to get my heart rate back to normal. It was that good!
The Son S.J. A. Turney And Boudica and her advisors continually chose to ignore signs from the gods and lessons from history,and to march on into oblivion perhaps guided by the queen's own divined omens. Perhaps misguided. The queen had cast the die for the tribe, and Andecarus didn't have to look at them to guess the score.
The first time that I've been exposed to this author and what a "powerhouse" of a chapter. Action, father-son drama,brother against brother, ethical dilemmas- it's all there! The main focus is Andecarus( first mentioned in The Slave), son of Boudica's right hand man, Duro. Andecarus was taken captive by the Romans and raised in the home of Catus Decianus and his wife Valeria ( mentioned in The Queen). Andecarus serves as a moral compass of the novel as he battles his Roman upbringing while also being part of the Iceni camp. Of course, this makes many Iceni feel that Andecarus is nothing, but a coward and a traitor. Will Andecarus stay and fight? Or will he run and throw himself at the feet of the oncoming Roman army?
The Warrior by Kate Quinn I was the man who slew six Coritani warriors one by one, armed with noting but a hand-axe
Well, I cannot be objective because I really do think that Kate Quinn can never write anything terrible. She's tackled Pompeii, survived the Borgias, and Ancient Rome is easily her neighborhood. With Boudica's rebellion, Quinn is absolutely fantastic and manages to make me cry "buckets of tears." The warrior in this chapter, is none other than Duro, father of Andecarus and he provides us with another side of the Queen of the Iceni. I absolutely loved the development of the character which I felt I disliked before, but am now a number one fan. I was also glad to see that there was resolution to Duro and Andecarus's relationship.
The Daughters by E. Knight A fitting last part of the book and it focuses on Boudica's daughters, Sorcha and Keena. This was also heart pounding and contained some teary bits too. There had been so much talk in the book about Boudica, the warrior, but Boudica, the mother was equally pleasing to read about. I came to love all three women so much that I almost regretted the fact that we were only shown them at the end. A warrior is never full of fear when their great reward is at hand.
I know that I've probably filled this review with TOO many quotes. A fact that would cause many of my English teachers to cringe and tsk-tsk me, but I cannot resist ONE more.
For the Romans are wrong; it does not all begin and end with them. It all begins and ends with ravens. Ravens, who have seen all the great tragedies of the world unfold, and whose cry is eternal.
Last year I read the two historical fiction collections that were released in this new style of anthology where each story interconnects with each other: Grand Central and A Day of Fire. I loved both of these collections for how each short story stood on its own and then how they tied together to comprise a greater novel as a whole. So when I heard that some of the authors from A Day of Fire were getting together to write a novel of Boudica’s rebellion, I knew I was definitely reading this one – and I am so glad that I did.
So I want to take a few minutes to say a couple things about each story before I cover the collection as a whole.
The Queen by Stephanie Dray
This first chapter starts off with some backstory provided by Queen Cartimandua. She is the queen of a rival tribe in Briton and she supports that Romans in their quest to bring Briton under control. Hers is also the first perspective that we see Boudica from and that is from a sort of inside/sort of outside view. Her style of rule serves as a foil for Boudica and serves to set up the perspective of the Romans toward the Britons and vice versa. I found myself really liking Cartimandua and wanting to know more about her life.
The Slave by Ruth Downie
Ria is a slave within Boudica’s tribe and she again stands to serve as a sort of inside/sort of outside perspective. Unlike Cartimandua she is a part of the Iceni tribe, but is just a slave.
The Tribune by Russell Whitfield
The first thing I can say of this chapter is, oh the language! It is quite foul language, however it serves to set you right within the mindset of a soldier’s life quickly. This is a chapter that serves to establish a view of idealism vs. reality within the Roman ranks. There were some well written battle scenes here that ease the reader into the battles to come.
The Druid by Vicky Alvear Shecter
This was a powerful chapter – very powerful. The chapter features as druid, Yorath, and a Roman soldier and the interplay between them is some of the more powerful of the book. I was sad throughout most of this chapter, for both parties involved.
The Son by S.J.A Turney
I think that Andecarus was my favorite character from the entire novel. He is similar to Cartimandua because he straddles the line between Roman and Briton, but his conscience is more torn. Cartimandua is doing what she believes is right for her people; but Andecarus is an Iceni who spent a significant portion of his life among the Romans and his loyalties will certainly come into question here.
The Warrior by Kate Quinn
Kate had the climactic scene in A Day of Fire and she has it again here too, and handles is magnificently might I add. Duro, right hand man to Queen Boudica leads the warriors into the battle against the Romans. But the best part of this chapter is that of the interplay between Duro and his newly acquired Roman slave. I found the reaction of his Roman slave toward her captor to be interesting because they are very human. The sides don’t exactly matter; it was refreshing to see the humanity here despite the circumstances.
The Daughters by E. Knight
This chapter serves to bring the story full circle and we see the results and aftermath of the rebellion. It is a gut-wrencher for sure. However as much as I felt for them, I didn’t love the chapter. While it was an appropriate choice of closing narrators – the daughters of Boudica, I think I would have liked their perspective a little bit earlier in the novel. I think that the choices of narration characters were spot on. There were those that represented the Roman legions, supporters of Queen Boudica, Britons who are outside the rebellion, and then those who straddle the line of humanity. The chapters alternated almost every chapter between a Roman and Briton perspective which served to keep a balanced view of the rebellion. It was both a frustration and an excellent writing choice to not have Boudica narrate a chapter herself. It would have been easy to have her narrate the great battle scene – the pinnacle of her rebellion, but at the same time, it is more powerful to see the information from the outside because no matter how close to the queen they are, they will always be an outsider in some form. I loved the structure of this novel and the tale told of the little guy going up against the behemoth of Rome.
This review was previously posted at The Maiden's Court blog and was received from the authors in exchange for an honest review.
This review originally appeared on my blog, Leeanna.me.
I’m not a huge fan of short stories. I’d rather read a whole book about the same characters and their stories. But last year, I read A DAY OF FIRE, which showed the last days of Pompeii through six different characters in six different stories. All of the characters interacted in some way, and there were several plotlines that carried through the whole book. I really enjoyed A DAY OF FIRE, and so when I saw several of the same authors (and some new ones) were coming together to write about Boudica, I couldn’t wait to start it.
The beauty of a book like A YEAR OF RAVENS is that if one character’s point of view doesn’t interest you, you can easily skip to the next chapter and see events through someone else’s eyes. I personally enjoyed every section, but the book is written in such a way that you won’t be lost if you don’t like a certain section.
Boudica is someone I’ve always been interested in, but somehow I’ve never read much about her. A YEAR OF RAVENS doesn’t have any sections from her viewpoint, but by seeing her through the eyes of those around her, as well as her enemies, I feel like I got a great idea of the woman she might have been. Because there are so many viewpoints and the book doesn’t focus just on Boudica as a character but the overall rebellion, I also got a great picture of all the events leading up to and during the year of battle.
The viewpoints in the book include:
Queen Cartimandua, a client queen who did not revolt against Rome
Slave girl Ria, the illegitimate daughter of King Prasutagus of the Iceni
Roman Tribune Gnaeus Julius Agricola
Andecarus, an Iceni tribesman hostaged to Rome at a young age
Druid Yorath, the only druid to survive a Roman massacre; Felix, a Roman soldier captured by Yorath
Duro, Boudica’s war chief; Valeria, wife of Britannia’s procurator
Sorcha and Keena, Boudica’s daughters
As you can see, there’s something for everyone, and both sides of the story are also represented. I couldn’t pick a favorite character, which is unusual for me. I liked everyone! And I felt for everyone as their circumstances changed, which says something for me, since it usually takes me a lot of page time to get attached. The sections flow almost seamlessly -- except for a few areas of expertise, like Russell Whitfield’s knowledge of Roman armies -- it’s difficult to tell each section is written by a different author. The smooth continuity of the plotlines and character interactions in A YEAR OF RAVENS make it a very unique, very cool book.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I also participated in the blog tour for this book.
What made this collaboration not as good (to me) as A Day of Fire: A Novel of Pompeii is hard to define. I think that after reading Manda Scott's Dreaming the Eagle series it was always going to be a hard act to follow (if you love that series like I love that series). It was points of issue that made it a bit less, somehow. Also, I have re-read The Eagle and the Raven at least a gazillion times. So, it is very hard to retell such an......archetypal story. I was a bit wary of some of the history also but will check those bits out before I make any real complaint.
There are 7 contributing authors with Ben Kane writing the introduction. Of these the outstanding sections for me were from Ruth Downie, Russell Whitfield, SJA Turney, Kate Quinn (but I didn't cry) and Vicky Alvear Shecter, to whom I vote thanks for not pointing the bleeding obvious out to the reader - not many writers would have been able to restrain themselves there (it shows respect to the reader so Salve! Vicky) and, what's more, none of those following did so either. Which was either masterful restraint or a serendipitous oversight.
The other sections were good, very good, the weaknesses being (in my view only and I hate to sound critical, truly) the opening story and the closing one. I am happy to buy Decianus in his rather a decent but boring chap having a hellish bad hair day guise but I can't see what Cartimandua was even doing in the story. I'm sorry, her name is so mud to me that I am not buying the whitewash. And to make it worse, having her mixing it with Prasutagas. Tut! I usually love Stephanie Dray entirely but I don't like that Cartimandua bit. As for the ending, it just didn't do it for me.
Apparently, Kate Quinn did the editing - you go, girl! Absolutely excellent editing, not an easy feat with 7 people ducking and diving through the story!
I feel I am being mean to not give 5 stars but my reservations are honest. I had never read Russell Whitfield before and am now very eager to do so! So, I also get a new author to consume for my pains.
When you take seven authors...and put them together, would you expect a cohesive, wonderfully written novel? Would you think that seven seemingly individual stories would come together to blend as one astonishing novel? I imagine that your answers are varied but my own answer is "yes". And I was not disappointed. I held no illusion that these delightful talents would enthrall me. I wanted to read this long before I knew the subject matter....a feat that is rare, that is for certain.
If some of these names sound familiar, it is because they took part in writing "A Day of Fire ", which was about Pompeii. These historical fiction authors are called The H Team and they come together to bring life into moments and people of time periods that we may not think of. Or if we do, it is with a passing thought, not a complex one. History is such a fascinating thing and yet so many ignore it or dismiss it. Amongst my friends, I would say maybe five of them know of Boudica. This isn't to discredit them or call them out but I think there ought to be more focus on such figures. Particularly women figures.
I myself knew of her. I knew she had two daughters and I knew she led a rebellion. I didn't know mu h more than that. I didn't know anything about Cartimandua...and as it says in the novel, you cannot know Boudica's story without knowing hers. The two women are inexorably tied to one another, which I don't quite know how they would feel about that but that is a story for another time.
I was blown away by each author and their dedication to bringing this time period to life. From the rich descriptions of people, places and things to the gritty moments of war, which also were richly described; to the emotionally charged moments and those moments of foreboding ...I cannot praise each author enough. I love details, I love when just a simple action can be made to feel alive and vivid for me. Ms. Dray, Ms. Quinn and Ms. Knight particularly excel in this.
The authors have my utmost apologies for my lateness, but with a book such as this, I owe it to each of them to pay attention to detail and respect the time and energy each of them put into this stunning piece of literature. If you expect the detail to battle to be light, you'll be reading the wrong book. The descriptions arr vivid and I found myself cringing, gasping and wanting more. (I think I must have been a man in a previous life, one who enjoyed battle because I found that sort of thing to be exhilarating. )
If you have never read a collaborative novel...you are missing out.
copy received from Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for an honest review Love seems like a weak word compared to how much I enjoyed this absolutely fantastic story. I should have known when I saw the writers involved that it would be a fantastic, exciting, informative and thrilling story. Honestly, I have never ever heard of Boudica (personally we should all be grateful for historical fiction because it really enlightens us to people or stories that either not heard about or pushed back because others are more popular. I've read very few collaborative stories like this and I would have been doubtful of it's effectiveness but the collaboration absolutely worked with "A Year of Ravens" each story was relevant in one way or another to the previous story yet seemed individual and essential for the body. This story was so passion filled and climatic that I often had to put the story down and take a breather. Anyone who thinks reading is boring obviously never picked up this book. Needless to say that I highly enjoyed everything about this book. The authors are fantastic. Their individual voices stood out but harmonized with their partners to make this story feel like one story of many different parts. I also felt very enlightened because ancient history is not one of my strengths. This is definitely a re-read for me and I feel confident saying that I would read anything that this team decides to produce in the future. Also, you really can't go wrong with this story from high intensity fights to passionate characters, everything just works. Finally, one of my favorite aspect, one of many, is that the authors really gave a very holistic perspective and challenged the reader to think of history as dimensional instead of one sided.
Wow. If all anthologies were written in such a gripping and cohesive manner, please give me more!
A Year of Ravens brings to life the tale of Boudica's doomed rebellion against the Romans in AD60/61. Piece by piece, each contributor spins a tale, slowly uncovering different facets of the rebellion, and the result is a glorious, multi-layered story.
Comprised of 7 standalone stories told chronologically, each held their own but really shined when read together as a whole, complete story. The Son by S.J.A Turney and The Warrior by Kate Quinn really stood out for me - Kate Quinn might have had the major climax and the final battle, but I loved how Turney captured the conflicting emotions of the Roman fostered Iceni, Andecarus.
In a war, no one really wins, and this was reflected in the conversations between Druid and legionary, the Queen's right hand man and his captured Roman slave, the Tribune and his governor; their stories and the horrors they experienced laid bare, their lives forever changed.
Each contributor had their own style, yet their voices didn't drown out one another's. Instead, they complemented each other and built each other up. Each story focused on different characters and on a different part of the timeline, but referenced previous stories in a way such that seamlessly linked all the parts together.
In short, if you like reading about gladiators, blood, sweat and tears but with an emotional pull, this is the perfect book for you. Think Game of Thrones without the dragons, just the pure iron of one woman's will.
I'm not surprised this anthology is anything less than excellent. The seven authors featured are all outstanding writers, their collective talent unfolds in this exceptional collection.
Boudica's rebellion is bloody and vicious lending merit to its historical facts matched with fiction. Queen Boudica is one fierce warrior heroine set to conquer the Romans sans romanticism. Stellar research shown as seven individual stories tightly knit together flawlessly. This collection is not for the faint of heart, the carnage and violence is all too real.
Each authors unique and distinct writing style as well as their keen interpretations through varying points of view join together wonderfully. Characters overlapping, new characters, characters reappearing whatever the scenario, it works quite well. Each story is distinguishable, however there is absolutely no awkwardness, truly beautiful, every contribution highlighting the next.
I suggest you read each story in order, otherwise much will be lost. I was absorbed in every tale, actually I was disappointed when they ended, elaboration could have continued. The prologue is halting all the way through to the magnificent ending. An anthology not to be missed, impressive undertaking. Rarely do I run across a collection where every story is amazing, usually one or two standout, only adding to the fact this should not be missing from your bookshelf.
4.5* Although this engaging, inspiring, story of the rebellion of Boudica was written by 7 authors (both male and female), the story flowed seamlessly. I could see the different styles of writing as one chapter led into another, but they complemented one another. I never felt a break in the narrative. Really admirable, and quite enjoyable.
Boudica was the queen of a native tribe (the Iceni), in the year AD 60, controlled by Romans, who ruled over them with cruelty and arrogance for many years. Each rebellion by other tribes was easily squashed by Roman troops....until Queen Boudica raised an army of her own.
I found much to admire in the character of Boudica, her family, and her people. Her leadership was strong, charismatic and inspirational. Their battles against the Romans were nearly successful in driving the oppressors out for good. It was a gory read at times, but realistic.