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The Eagle and the Raven

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Spanning three generations, this historical novel tells the tale of Boudicca, the most famous warrior of ancient Britain, and Caradoc, the son of a Celtic king, who sets out to unite the people of the Raven and lead them against Rome. Caradoc's objective is not easily accomplished as the Roman army advances into Britain, raping Celtic women and burning villages to the ground. His efforts are also met with fierce opposition from Aricia, the vain queen of a northern tribe who swears allegiance to the Romans after Caradoc slights her, and from Gladys, Caradoc’s warrior sister who falls in love with her Roman captor. Unfortunately, Caradoc’s endeavors are left unresolved when he is taken prisoner, but Boudicca, a strong-willed woman, ultimately takes up the cause that was Caradoc’s legacy.

704 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1978

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About the author

Pauline Gedge

55 books443 followers
I was born in Auckland, New Zealand, on December 11, 1945, the first of three girls. Six years later my family emigrated to England where my father, an ex-policeman, wanted to study for the Anglican ministry. We lived in an ancient and very dilapidated cottage in the heart of the English Buckinghamshire woodland, and later in a small village in Oxfordshire called Great Haseley. I grew up surrounded by countryside that I observed, played in, and grew to know and love passionately, and I wrote lyrically of its many moods.

My father had his first parish in Oxford, so in 1956, having passed the eleven-plus exam, a torture now fortunately defunct, I attended what was then the Oxford Central School for Girls. I was a very good student in everything but mathematics. Any academic discipline that is expressed and interpreted through words I could conquer, but math was bewildering and foreign, a maze of numbers and ridiculous symbols with which I had nothing in common. I liked chemistry, because I was allowed to play with pretty crystals and chemicals that behaved as if they had magic in them. I studied the violin, an instrument I struggled over and gave up after two years, and the piano, which I enjoyed and continue to play, along with the recorders. Music has always been important to me.

Then in 1959 my father accepted a parish in Virden, Manitoba, and the family left for Canada. After three months at the local high school, I was sent to a boarding school in Saskatchewan. It was the most dehumanizing, miserable experience of my life. In 1961 I began one inglorious year at the University of Manitoba’s Brandon College. I did not work very hard, and just before final exams I was told that my sister Anne was dying. I lost all interest in passing.

Anne wanted to die in the country where she was born, so we all returned to New Zealand. She died a month after our arrival, and is buried in Auckland. The rest of us moved down to the tip of the South Island where my father had taken the parish of Riverton. For a year I worked as a substitute teacher in three rural schools. In ’64 I attended the Teachers’ Training College in Dunedin, South Island, where my writing output became prolific but again my studies suffered. I did not particularly want to be a teacher. All I wanted to do was stay home and read and write. I was eighteen, bored and restless. I met my first husband there.

In 1966 I married and returned to Canada, this time to Alberta, with my husband and my family. I found work at a day care in Edmonton. My husband and I returned to England the next year, and my first son, Simon, was born there in January ’68. In 1969 we came back to Edmonton, and my second son was born there in December 1970.

By 1972 I was divorced, and I moved east of Edmonton to the village of Edgerton. I wrote my first novel and entered it in the Alberta Search-for-a-New-Novelist Competition. It took fourth place out of ninety-eight entries, and though it received no prize, the comments from the judges and my family encouraged me to try again. The next year I entered my second attempt, a bad novel that sank out of sight. Finally in 1975 I wrote and submitted Child of the Morning, the story of Hatshepsut, an 18th Dynasty Egyptian pharaoh, which won the competition. With it came a publishing deal with Macmillan of Canada and the rest, as they say, is history.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 152 reviews
Profile Image for Kate Quinn.
Author 38 books23.3k followers
March 8, 2019
I normally avoid historicals if they contain the words "sweeping" or "three generations" - but this book deserves both without irony. It tells the story of the Roman invasion of Britain, first opposed by the less well-known Caradoc whose guerilla tactics might have been successful if he'd had better luck, and followed by the revolt of the better-known Boudicca. The characters are complex and moving, the battle scenes wrenching, and the history meticulous. Caradoc is a moving hero, a man determined to burn himself inside and out if it will save his people, and Boudicca is majestic and tragic as the vengeful mother to both her own wronged children and her wronged people. Perhaps most remarkable, the Britain depicted here has magic and mystery without resorting to the 20th century mysticism of the kind that comes with New Age labels. A desperate, tragic, absorbing read. You will hate Rome with all your heart by the end, and only then realize that the Rome who wronged Caradoc and Boudicca is long gone.
Profile Image for Olethros.
2,617 reviews429 followers
August 18, 2021
-De la calidad de escenario y tonos frente a la debilidad de otros elementos.-

Género. Novela histórica.

Lo que nos cuenta. El libro Águilas y cuervos (publicación original: The Eagle and the Raven, 1978) nos presenta a Caradoc, hijo del líder de una de las tribus celtas más poderosas de Albión, los catuvelaunos. Según madura, se enfrentará a decisiones importantes sobre el amor, el deber, la religión druídica, el liderazgo de su tribu, las tensiones familiares y, sobre todo, de una expansiva Roma imperial en tiempos de Claudio que desea añadir la isla a sus posesiones y convertirla en una provincia más: Britania.

¿Quiere saber más de este libro, sin spoilers? Visite:

Profile Image for Javi Martínez Librero.
126 reviews13 followers
November 22, 2022
8'5/10 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
La pluma de Pauline Gedge ya merece las cinco estrellas. Es una prosa muy descriptiva y en ocasiones con cierta belleza poética. Perfecta para describir la magia de las tierras de Albión y el sentir de los personajes que la habitan. El sentir de una cultura que se funde con Roma, se desvanece y se apaga.
Pauline consigue meter al lector en la piel de los personajes, dando así una visión muy íntima de este trocito de historia. Personajes históricos como Caradoc, quien acapara mayor protagonismo, siendo el eje principal de esta historia. De él parten la mayoría de los personajes. Como Boudica, reina de los icenos, quien es quizás la más conocida y parte importante en la rebelión contra Roma, a pesar de las pocas páginas que se le dedican.
Pero no es un libro para todo el mundo. Sus más de 800 páginas, sumado a su estilo de escritura y su dosificada acción, puede desesperar a algunos lectores. A mí me ha encantado.

“Se apoyó contra ellas con las manos enlazadas y miró hacia abajo, hacia donde las innumerables luces de la ciudad parpadeaban en la oscuridad aterciopelada. La sentía palpitar..., un rugido apagado e interminable, el rechinar eterno de la industria, el corazón de un imperio cuya sangre estaba compuesta de sufrimiento, cuyo alimento era la opresión, cuyas manos ciegas acarreaban la muerte.”

“_Todo lo que queríamos era que nos dejaran en paz _susurró_. Libertad. Es una palabra tan pequeña, un ruego tan insignificante... Y, no obstante, esa petición ha consumido el alma de un pueblo.”
Profile Image for Poetsorcerer.
89 reviews4 followers
September 21, 2010
One of my managers at the bookstore recommended this book to me, I had no idea who Pauline Gedge was and when I did my research I just found a mediocre wikipedia entry; normally I wouldn't go for a complete unknown author but a book about Celtic Historical Fiction is sort of hard to disregard.

Well, to my delight the Eagle and the Raven turned out to be extraordinary, Pauline Gedge may not be a certified historian but she's got her facts straight. Moreover, the way she writes this book is so incredibly smooth, the story is fast-paced and her narration is very precise, which normally doesn't leave room for that poetic tone that softens tragic events, battles or dramatic situations; however, Pauline pulls it off with style and there's always that feeling that the lines just glide in front of your eyes, as if every single word was carefully chosen to add a colorful mood to the narrative.

Fun read, plus the historical value is enormous, I had somewhat of an idea about what was going on in Britain before the Romans came crashing in, but this book added a lot to it.
Profile Image for Alicja.
277 reviews81 followers
April 24, 2014
rating: 2/5

Finally finished. *sigh of relief* My take on this novel is... complicated, outweighed by the negative.

Maybe I came in with too many expectations knowing it would be about Caradoc and Boudicca. I was expecting guerilla resistance, battles, struggles of a people against a domineering, invading empire, all the stuff that usually gets my literary blood pumping. It did provide that in some form but it just didn't work for me.

Overall, it was long and over-descriptive (except when portraying battles scenes, those were short and glazed over). There were many lengthy descriptions of the scenery and landscape, over-detailed depictions of mundane everyday life, and long-winded speeches. Granted, it contained a lot of great cultural information and portrayal of Celtic life (I learned a lot); I just didn't care for her writing style.

My disappointment extended into the depictions of politics and military campaigns. Most of the effort was put forth to give us the historical events on a silver platter with each military movement and possible outcome talked out in depth... and then the actual battle would take up a short page or two of vague descriptions. I prefer my novels showing the strategy while depicting the battle so I guess this is another one of those areas where it's just stylistic choices that didn't do it for me.

I did like Caradoc, a lot. He is a great character and develops amazingly from a young man to the arviragus. He is interesting and complex; we really get to experience his mind.

But I didn't like the way she handled Boudicca. Not only did Boudicca barely get any time; she was presented almost like a child, hot headed and carried away by emotion. Even at the end when she led the army it was emotion that drove her to it (stereotypical pissed of woman goes on a violent rampage while in charge of an armed pissed off populace, ugh). I would have liked my Boudicca to have been much more complex, like Caradoc. I do realize the author is known for her feminist characters but I just didn't see it. She seems to write women characters just a bit out of their prescribed roles, like sword fighting or telling their men they want to battle, not being completely obedient, etc. but when push came to shove it is the men they follow.

The female characters who fell in love gave up themselves and their identities for their men. I guess the only one that didn't was Aracia but she was depicted and shallow and vain (and evil). So the moral of the story here is that women's strength lies in supporting their men no matter how much of themselves they lose, and those that don't do so get cast as villains.

And the horrible, horrible ending (and I'm not talking about the defeat of the Celtic revolt by the Romans).

Plus I am not a fan of that floating POV style, where the POV can switch between one paragraph and another.
Profile Image for Jane.
1,537 reviews173 followers
August 5, 2016
The theme of the book was freedom of the Britons, in the face of Roman invasion and occupation of Britain. I liked that the Roman invasion of Britain was presented from the British tribes' points of view for a change. I saw how they possibly would have interacted, got a feel for some of their culture and sympathized completely with them. After many years, Caradoc asks Plautius--the two have become friends: "How would you feel if this country [Rome] lay under the rule of the tribes who had taken everything, even your values, from you and then told you that you ought to be grateful?"

Boudicca was an important character, but the noble Caradoc was really the hero. The blurb and cover were misleading. The book did climax in her rebellion and eventual death, though, along with the devastating revenge of the Romans.
Someone mentioned the seduction scene near the beginning. Although it was jarring, I felt it served a purpose: to show at the outset the selfishness, vanity and evil in Aricia/Cartamandua and the guilelessness of the young Caradoc. She later betrays Caradoc/Caractacus into Roman hands. Much later on, she tries to seduce a Roman general, a legate. She hasn't changed; she's just as venal.

While still reading, I felt any love interest between Briton and Roman to be completely over-the-top literary license. However, subsequently I read elsewhere of a legend [or tradition] that Caradoc's sister married the Roman commander, Aulus Plautius, and Caradoc's daughter married a senator--or centurion in another version of the legend. According to the legend, the senator, Rufus Pudens, and two of Caradoc's children, the brother and sister Llyn/Linus and Gladys/Claudia became Christians and Pudens was martyred. The Pudens, Linus, and Claudia mentioned in the New Testament may refer to them. In the novel they are all non-Christians, however.

The Roman poet Martial did write of his "friend Pudens" marrying "Claudia the Foreigner" [Epigrams IV:13] or the "blue-eyed Briton" [Epigrams XI:53]. These are interesting speculations on any possible truth of the legend...
Profile Image for Emelia .
131 reviews92 followers
August 8, 2017
"Do you think that when the time comes they will let us be burned on some funeral pyre taken from the sweet Catuvellaunian forests?" she whispered. "All we wanted was to be left alone," he said quietly. "such a little word, freedom, such a small request, and yet it has consumed the soul of a people." Far away, in the swirling autumn mists of Albion, the light of freedom flickered.

If I could give this book more than 5 stars, I would do so gladly. The Eagle and the Raven is a magnificent book. Well written, and well researched. There is nothing about this book that is lacking. It starts in the Autumn of A.D. 32 with a young Caradoc, the future leader of the Celtic revolt against the tyranny of Rome and continues through Autumn A.D. 59; to the fall of Boudicca. I write this review with tears in my eyes, tears of pride at being of Celtic decent, and with tears of sadness that the freedom of the Celtic people has yet to come to fruition. Still caught up in the throws of, what I consider, to be the last remnants of Rome. Whether you are from Celtic decent or not, should you read this book, you will appreciate the struggle of a people who were far from barbaric; who were artists, poets, and craftsmen and whose only longing was to be free.

Pauline Gedge has written a book that is filled with historical accuracy, though written as historical fiction. It is a book that gives an account of the struggle of the Celtic people and their quest to retain their culture amidst Romes efforts to neutralize and control it; to break the will of the people, to conquer them, and to force absolute submission. This is the story of their resistance. The resistance of a people simply trying to be free. A story familiar to all peoples who have resisted tyranny and still do to this day. A story of the primal will to be free.... and remain free.
Profile Image for Lisa.
894 reviews81 followers
October 13, 2012
What an amazing, amazing book.

Pauline Gedge manages to recreate a pre-Roman England (Albion) that feels so alive and so real, which is a skill that few historical fiction writers have, particularly in a setting so far removed from us today. The story she creates is fast moving, keeping me glued to the pages, but she still has a way of packing an emotional punch – I was in tears by the last pages.

I was expecting the story to be more focused on Boudicca, based on the book cover, but I don't necessarily feel that's a negative – the scope is far larger and ends up giving a more complete story about the resistance to Rome. In some ways, I didn't feel like the scope was large enough – I wanted to see Aricia get her comeuppance, and to see what happened to Venutius.

One thing that I did really love is the true villain of the story is Rome – not the emperor, not his governors, not his generals, not his legions, but Rome.

An incredible book.
Profile Image for Nancy.
261 reviews1 follower
June 26, 2013
HIghly recommended to all anglophiles and those who enjoy historical novels. I couldn't put it down. First century Celtic Britain comes alive in this account of the struggle of the freedom-loving, passionate, and barbaric Celts to throw off the yoke of Rome. The Romans were pretty barbaric in their own way as well. Love them or hate them, the players on this stage are so fully realized that you feel you have known them for years. Graphic violence, love, honor, military strategy, religion and culture, it's all here - dive in and immerse yourself in this vividly portrayed world two millenia gone by.
Profile Image for Sotiris Karaiskos.
1,141 reviews81 followers
December 14, 2016
Δεν ζητάω πολλά από ένα ιστορικό μυθιστόρημα, μόνο να τηρούνται κάποιες βασικές προϋποθέσεις. Βασικό καταρχάς είναι να έχει κάποια ιστορική ακρίβεια, να ακολουθεί την ιστορία και να μην πετάγονται εδώ και εκεί ανακρίβειες και αναχρονισμοί. Το δεύτερο φυσικά είναι η ιστορία που δημιουργείται από τον συνδυασμό των ιστορικών δεδομένων και της φαντασίας του συγγραφέα να είναι ενδιαφέρουσα και συναρπαστική. Τέλος ιδιαίτερα σημαντικό είναι η γραφή του να είναι όμορφη και συγκινητική για να μπορέσει να μας μεταφέρει σε εκείνη την εποχή που διαδραματίζεται η ιστορία μας και να μας βάλει στην ψυχολογία αυτών που την έζησαν.

Αυτές τις τρεις προϋποθέσεις καλύπτει σε ικανοποιητικό βαθμό αυτό το βιβλίο, οπότε αναμένουμε να κερδίσει τη συμπάθεια μου. Αυτά βέβαια είναι προϊόντα μιας πιο λογικής κριτικής προσέγγισης που δίνει με τα κριτήρια μου μία θετική αντικειμενική κρίση, υπάρχει όμως και μία πιο υποκειμενική η συναισθηματική προσέγγιση που αναμενόμενα γίνεται από τη μεριά μου. Ακόμα και σε αυτή την προσέγγιση όμως το βιβλίο μου άρεσε ιδιαίτερα. Η συγγραφέας καταφέρνει με έναν πολύ ωραίο τρόπο να μας μεταφέρει σε αυτή τη μακρινή εποχή και να μας εμπλέξει συναισθηματικά με τους γνωστούς από την ιστορία ήρωες. Παίρνοντας τα πράγματα από την αρχή μας διηγείται την πορεία των ηρώων της αντίστασης ενάντια στη ρωμαϊκή εισβολή του 43 π.Χ. βάζοντας μας στις σκέψεις τους και δείχνοντάς μας τα ηθικά και άλλα ζητήματα που είχαν να αντιμετωπίσουν μπροστά σε αυτήν την απειλή. Ειδικά στην περίπτωση της ιστορίας της Μπούντικα η συγγραφέας αποδίδει με τέτοιο συγκλονιστικό τρόπο που φέρνει δάκρυα στα μάτια.

Εν κατακλείδι ένα εξαιρετικό δείγμα ιστορικού μυθιστορήματος που θα το εκτιμήσει κάθε πραγματικός λάτρης της ιστορίας που θέλει να διαβάζει τέτοια βιβλία και να μην του ανεβαίνει το αίμα στο κεφάλι κάθε δέκα σελίδες με αυτά που βλέπει μπροστά του.
Profile Image for Overbooked  ✎.
1,495 reviews
August 30, 2016
DNF at ~500pages.
My edition of this book has a striking profile of a fierce woman on a cover and the book blurb promises “Spanning three generations, this historical novel tells the tale of Boudicca, the most famous warrior of ancient Britain, and Caradoc, the son of a Celtic king, who sets out to unite the people of the Raven and lead them against Rome”.
Well, Caradoc is here, but where is Boudica? I have read and passed the half way mark and did the unthinkable … skimmed a few more chapters and … she is still missing! She is mentioned, very briefly, in a few chapters and one hopes she will show up later in the book, but I picked this up because I wanted a novel about Boudica and she is not the main character in the story (Caradoc and his family is), for me the book blurb is misleading.
Sadly, I’ve decided to put this book aside. It’s not a bad book, and some parts were beautifully descriptive and deserving a higher rating, but a few slipups (e.g. use of sugar) and a leaning toward historical romance convinced me that this novel is not for me. 2.5 stars
Profile Image for Iset.
665 reviews475 followers
April 17, 2018
“Vercingetorix went to Rome in chains and so will you.”

This was a very nostalgic re-read for me, as I first read this book as a child, and it was the book in fact that introduced me to the author, Pauline Gedge. Gedge more frequently writes in ancient Egypt, but her one foray into Romano-Celtic Britain is utterly enrapturing.

The book is marketed as a tale of Boudicca, but it really isn’t. Boudicca’s story comes into its own towards the end, but for much of the book it is a slow-burning second strand to the struggles of Catuvellaunian chieftain Caradoc. Caradoc is much lesser known than Boudicca, but he did exist – recorded by the Romans as ‘Caratacus’ – and his life is, if anything, far more extraordinary than hers. His is truly an astounding story, and Pauline Gedge fully captures its amazing strength, terrible tragedies, and shocking twists.

Aside from Caradoc’s stunning journey, the second thing that always stayed with me over the years about this book was Gedge’s ability to transport the reader into the world. She has an incredible linguistic vocabulary, and perfectly balances clarity of phrase, for the reader’s sake, with fresh, innovative imagery in her descriptions. Whenever I read any of her books, and this isn’t confined to The Eagle and the Raven, I marvel at the unexpected yet incredibly evocative metaphors and similes that are almost lyrical in quality. I never get bored with Gedge’s writing; it has beautiful vision and flow, and I always look forward to reading it as a real treat. It’s a rare but welcome pleasure when the majority of books I read are simply competent, or worse, pedestrian and functional in their prose.

Gedge’s understanding of the time and place she writes about is another key factor in her success. She is one those authors who undertakes impeccable historical research, and though sources for life in Britain pre-Romans are scant and often from hostile commentators, the picture she paints rings true. I have read a lot of historical novels over the years, and for me there is nothing more frustrating than when characters spout 21st century values, or when it is clear that an author doesn’t understand a particular institution, custom, or mode of thought. To me it glares out of the pages like a sore thumb. The real trick in being a top drawer historical fiction author is in creating an authentic portrait of an era’s life and times, whilst successfully evoking the reader’s empathy. They say the past is a foreign country, and I know a lot of people who think history is boring, or only want to read a novel if the characters espouse modern mindsets, and don’t see anything wrong with fudging this particular aspect of a novel. But as someone who is passionate about history and loves getting to know historical people as they really were, I adore that journey – that initial culture clash whenever I first broach a subject, the slow unravelling of alien thought processes, and the eureka moment where I get their jokes and share in their tears and joys, and see the common humanity that is so timeless. Gedge’s characters are completely grounded in their own time. They do things in this book that we might consider strange, contradictory, even outright repulsive. And yet still, I find myself burning with support for them, their universal struggles that are so poignant and stark.

Gedge doesn’t deal in heroes and villains; it just doesn’t seem to be in her repertoire. Every single character is a complex human being with complex, conflicting, and ambiguous motivations, and it is so true to life. I cared about this story when I read it as a child, and now re-reading as an adult, because the people within behave like actual people, not flat stereotypes. There is no ‘good side’ or ‘bad side’, and far too many authors do succumb to the temptation of designating entire groups with these simplistic labels. It’s a temptation that I am glad Gedge resists.

Altogether, her skills combine to create a wondrous dream. I had a conversation with my friend Crystal, who is buddy reading this one with me, where we were attempting to describe the subtle, magical sense of mystery that permeates this book as if woven through the pages, and at last I concluded this: Imagine you are walking alone, deep in the forest, when you suddenly come across a secluded glade. The sun streams into the clearing in shafts of golden light, and out of the corner of your eyes you could swear the dust motes sparkle and dance. A cool stream runs through the grove with a musical melody, and the plants shimmer and tinkle like silver bells as the wind rustles their leaves. In that moment, you could almost believe that a kind of ancient magic resides in this place, as a sensation of awed wonder settles over you. That is what The Eagle and the Raven feels like to me when I am reading it. That is the sum total of Gedge’s skills working in concert. Every element fits seamlessly into place to create a picture in my mind’s eye that sweeps me away, for a few hours, to a completely different time and place, and forget about when and where I really am.

Now that’s a great historical novel.

10 out of 10

"Had my high birth and rank been accompanied by moderation in the hour of success I should have entered this city as a friend and not as a prisoner. You would not have hesitated to accept as an ally a man of splendid ancestry, bearing rule over many tribes. My present position is degrading to me, but glorious to you. I had horses, warriors, and gold. If I was unwilling to lose them, what wonder in that?... Does it follow that because you desire universal empire, all must accept slavery? Were I now dragged here as one surrendered without fighting, no fame would have attached to my fall, or to your victory. If you punish me they will both be forgotten… Spare me, then, as an example of your mercy!"
Profile Image for Crystal Starr Light.
1,350 reviews820 followers
April 8, 2018
Bullet Review:

Those last 27 pages - can I ugly cry now??? My heart is in complete shambles.

Full Review:

How do you write a review for a book like this - that takes you to this magical world (I say "magical" even though this world 100% exists because the way Gedge writes Albion is so beautiful, so majestic, so ethereal, that words cease to accurately express the wonderment you have when you read this book and get transported here), into these incredibly crafted people and then slowly breaks your heart as you read the tragedy of the Roman Occupation of England?

Probably 95% of the book is the precursor to the more famous story of Boudicca and how she very nearly was able to oust the Romans from Albion. We start out the book with Caradoc (the real life person of Caractus), Togodumnus, Aricia (known as Cartimandua) and Eurgain in their early/late teens. The world of Albion is relatively peaceful - Caradoc's father is looking to extend the borders of Catuvellauni tribe, Aricia faces going home to Brigantia, Caradoc battles his emotions towards Aricia and Eurgain. And then...Rome attacks.

This book took me nearly 4 months to read, but it wasn't because i was bored or dragging myself through it because I hated it. Hilariously enough, I struggled with the sheer size of this book - it is bigger than your typical paperbacks, more like a hardcover size with pages full of text from top to bottom on its 694 page length. So the book was heavy and awkward - in the gym, in the bath, before bedtime, on the plane. Nonetheless, I prevailed!

One thing I discussed multiple times with my buddy, Iset, when reading this was how stunned I was at the page count. You know how there are books where you read 300 pages and you are in awe because not a whole lot of anything actually happened. Trying to remember what actually happened and what the point was is a complete mystery. This book was a different experience - I was stunned at how much happened in these pages, how much I grew to love these characters, from Caradoc and Aricia to the Romans, Plautius and Rufus, and how I was enraptured with the story. Every page, every dialogue, every chapter had a point - either driving character development (and damn, this book does NOT shy on the tough character development!!) or plot or painting a beautiful picture of this ancient world.

Honestly, I could go on and on about this book and never really write a review that does this book justice. There are so many aspects where my comments amount to - this was awesome! I love this! This was great! It feels repetitive and phoned in after awhile, and yet that's exactly my thoughts when reading this book. This book nearly literally sent me back in time. I would come out of the book and have to reorient myself. And then you have the ending that kept me up way past my bedtime and sent my heart and soul into overdrive. (The last two paragraphs may not seem like much if you hadn't invested in the whole book, but when I read those at nearly 1am this morning, I was in near tears, my heart pounding and aching as I tried to go to sleep.)

Before I end this horrible review of a wonderful book, I must talk a little about this magical, mystical world of Albion. Albion is (obviously) England, but when reading this book, it's so much more than that. Iset and I went back and forth, trying to describe in words what you felt in your soul - how achingly beautiful the forests were, how mystical and magical it was, as if it was a real life Lothlorien (no wonder Tolkien wrote Middle Earth the way he did!!!!), how REAL the setting was in every location, from Siluria to Brigantia to Camulodunum. I've had the pleasure of going to England, nearly 3 years ago, and even without reading this book, I was stunned at how old and yet magical it was - and now that I've finished "The Eagle and the Raven", I very much want to go back and soak in the Roman Baths and absorb the beauty of this amazing land - and yet also mourn the men and women who died in the name of freedom.

I've had some bad luck with books in the last few years, reading lackluster and mediocre books. This book is definitely not one of them.

Thank you, Iset, for sharing this lovely read with me!
Profile Image for Laurentiu Lazar.
66 reviews33 followers
April 12, 2014
What pique’s your interest in reading a book? I know mine is aroused by the cover picture and blurbs. Oh, and reviews, which I often avoid since they seem to always leak crucial information, so lethal that kills the mood from the get-go. Recommendations are another source. Long story short, we all have our own criteria of selecting books and more or less those are mine. Therefore, judging The Eagle and the Raven just by the cover and blurbs will mislead you to believe that this novel is about Bouddica’s rebellion, which is in fact only a subplot to the real theme. The bigger picture revolves around the Albion’s struggle to survive the Roman oppression, a fight for freedom which has at its core the legendary Arviragus, the man that defied Rome and lived to tell about it, this is the story of Caradoc, his family and brethren; or the Roman invasion of Britannia, all seen from through Celtic eyes.

Myth, history, fiction are all entwined with such finesse bringing forth the forgotten world of druids, tribes, bards and sword women. A world of wilderness, untamed “animals”, where seers and magic are still drawing breath. Misty villages hidden in the mountains, sweeping plains, fearsome forests, dark bloody rituals, transition festivals, a war of attrition and survival … everything vividly described, terrific! All those are puzzle pieces to a marvelously depicted realm, a realm of Celtic culture and history.

I did not find the freedom theme feeble, in my opinion it was not overdone and it felt quite authentic. Likewise for the descriptions; neither I felt that there were too many or too hollowed. In this book, each moment seems to count, every nook and cranny is significant to a degree, and the author just loves to play with the words, not missing her cue at all, always in search for the perfect line. Her writing is like a bard’s spellbinding song, you feel caught in the enticing web of words, dead drunk with fascination. A dense book, full of descriptive writing with great character development, constant pace and brilliant storytelling. I felt a stab of pathos for each character, all being well-built and in great detail – each with their own positive traits and flaws; a mirror image of the human condition.

My favorite scenes were those of inner turmoil, the inward battles fought to cope with the forlorn hope of reality – Caradoc’s, Eugrain’s, Aricia’s and Venutius’s. Those humane flaws… vanity, love, selfishness, guilelessness turn their insides outs to ashes. Give in or survive, the free will of choosing the right path: be reborn to live anew or be thrown even deeper into the darkness – Caradoc/Eugrain and Aricia/Venutius are the perfect example of a cured/diseased heart. Also, I particularly enjoyed Caradoc’s “initiation” ritual, the mountain journey – the metamorphosis from Caradoc to Arviragus; and the Druithin sacred place, Mona.

I have been utterly surprised to find out that names and events - like Plautius wedding to Gladys, young Gladys’s supposed adoption and marriage to Pudens, Aricia’s betrayal… all seem to have a grain of truth. To add even more depth to the story, the author time traveled the famous Martial. Also, the speech that Caradoc gave to earn his freedom follows Tacitus’s one closely, though not the original, it is a very good adaptation; different words with the same meaning.

It was impossible for me to hate someone or something in this novel. No hard feelings, no remorse. The story’s metamorphosis and complexity provided me with an unforgettable read, a history lesson and one hell of a ride. This goes straight to My Favorites shelf. Kudos, Mrs. Gedge!

Plot Summary:
Veni, vidi, vici… The Eagles have defeated the Ravens.

“Mother” I cried. “The book is at an end.”

Profile Image for Gretchen.
374 reviews120 followers
March 26, 2014
If 4.5 stars were an option, I would give this book 4.5 stars. I cannot do things that way so this book is only getting four stars. The first fifty or so pages were slow going. I am not very familiar with this particular time period or the Britannic tribes of this era. I had to focus on some of the names and places before I could continue on with the story. Once I familiarized myself with the different names and places the book moved along rather quickly. If you seek to read this novel thinking it will tell the story of Boudicca, warrior queen, you will find yourself disappointed. It could be argued that Boudicca played a fairly historically significant role in the fight against Rome but you would never conclude that after reading this book. I think Gedge spread herself a little too thin. Had she possibly focused exclusively on Caradoc or Boudicca, I think she would have a five star novel on her hand.
Profile Image for Christine.
6,618 reviews478 followers
June 4, 2016
I love my Pauline Gedge, but of her novels, this has to be my least favorite. Note that it is not a bad novel.

Part of the problem with me is the blurb, there really isn't much Boudicca in it. Additionally the characterization isn't as good as her later novels.

But mostly, I think it would be a much better novel if told from Aricia's pov. Yes, yes I know. But everyone is bad mouthing her and all, but still. I think it would more interesting. In fact, the book is most lively with Aricia and Galdys.
Profile Image for Emily.
699 reviews2,025 followers
September 20, 2020
I finished Part 1 of this book (389 pages!!), and will probably not finish or attempt Part 2. This book succeeds in atmosphere, but is lacking in character, and the historical ending of this story is so depressing that I don't think I can go any further. (What is pathos if the characters don't carry it for you?)

Things I really liked:
- The atmosphere in this book is incredible, from the mystic Mona to the lands of the different tribes. Albion feels magical and unknowable, even through Caradoc's eyes, as he journeys across the island to unite the tribes.
- The tribal society comes alive. I still don't fully understand the honor-price, but I understand enough to know that I don't have enough cattle (or swordmaiden skills) to be anything but a peasant in this world.
- The shifting perspectives work really well. I actually liked jumping from Venutius to Aricia to Plautius to Gladys in what felt like consecutive paragraphs. It opened up the world and made the views of the Romans and the tribes more accessible.

Things I did not like:
- The characters in this book are weirdly flat for the amount of time that is spent on characterization. Tog is the character who most clearly jumps off the page. There are too many words written about Caradoc's character for how flat and ultimately pointless he is. There was some interesting transformation between young Caradoc and arviragus Caradoc (particularly when the tribes revolt against him in the first battle because he and Tog have spent so much time raiding them), but he wanders in the mountains for far too long.
- There is a ton of talking that doesn't lead to much. Long-awaited battles are a few paragraphs at most. There is a sense of futility that permeates the entire book, so you end up reading these long sequences that feel ultimately useless before you're even through them.
- On one hand, I liked Gladys and Plautius (I am here for the novel about them specifically!!). On the other, it is super LOL that Gladys is like, "I am FULL of honor. I am going to

Things I did not like at all:
- Aricia (Cartimandua) as a witch/whore who stirs otherwise honest men into depravity fell really flat and felt pretty lazy. At the start of the book, Aricia "seduces" Caradoc (who barges into her house and stays there of his own accord!). There's a somewhat interesting dichotomy between Aricia and Eurgain as partners for Caradoc, and what that means for his eventual destiny, but this is dragged down by Aricia's one-note depiction as a temptress that warps the men around her. At the beginning of the story, Aricia is fourteen years old (as Caradoc remarks to himself repeatedly!) and is terrified of going "home" to a place that she doesn't remember or understand. She begs Caradoc to marry her so she doesn't have to leave. Instead, Caradoc is like, "I cannot control myself around you, so you gotta go," and she is essentially banished to Brigantia, where she continues her "evil" ways with Venutius. The entire arc of this character could have been more sympathetic, particularly in contrast to Boudicca, but Gedge instead goes for the Cathy Ames. It sucks.
Profile Image for Zena Ryder.
282 reviews3 followers
June 13, 2015
I loved this book. The characters are complex and well drawn, and ancient Britain under the Romans is very well described. Without turning the Romans into evil caricatures, Gedge does a brilliant job of motivating the urge for rebellion. Personal relationships, even of some of the relatively minor characters, are completely believable and very moving. She also handles the magical beliefs of the Britons very well. You can get into their skin and see it as they see it, without the author injecting real magic into the story.

Two things to bear in mind if you consider reading this book, so that you won’t be disappointed. One is that — despite the description on the cover of my edition — most of the book is not focused on Boudicca. It is about ancient Britain more generally, with other tribal leaders (first Caradoc and then Venutius) occupying most of the book. The second is that the book is long. (My edition has 744 pages of small type and it took me two months to read!) It isn’t too long — there are no extraneous scenes or plot lines — but I do recommend reading it when you know you’ll be able to dedicate the time to enjoy it fully. It’s also dense, with many characters and lots of detail, so it’s best read in long sections, rather than in little snippets.

I checked what is known about the history and it seems that, at least in broad strokes, the book is historically accurate.

My only criticism of the book is that I wish that my edition had had a map of ancient Britain. Obviously these can be found on the internet, but it would have been nice just to flip to a map in the book to see where the different places mentioned were in relation to one another.
Profile Image for Michal.
186 reviews
March 16, 2014
Got through 15% of this book and I am giving up. It is the worst HF book I have read in a long time. This book is very long and the 15% is like one third of a book of average length. Yet I do not feel any closer to the culture or to any of the characters. The book is about some jumble of relationship of some indistinct characters, but the actual details about the culture that I would be interested in are missing. It has a feel of some theatre play, whose plot could be set into just any era, it is not very historically specific. Also, I find the whole importance of freedom for some of the characters very anachronistic, the same way as in the Braveheart movie. I can understand it in characters that live under some oppression, threat of slavery, but in warriors and chieftons? They are always under the command of their kings, no? Mind you, the setting is before Roman invasion. It seems to me that the author wants to project some romantic modern national sentiments into the characters but I do not buy it. And that's just one of the things... Overall one star from me, but anyone who reads this review should mind that this rating is based only on the first 15% of the book. The book might improve later on but I am not interested enough to find out.
683 reviews24 followers
February 14, 2014
When I read this book I was, of course, expecting it to be about Boudicca. The blurb and the cover made me expect it to be an epic saga about the warrior queen who led the doomed rebellion against Rome. Yet out of the 892 pages of my edition of The Eagle and the Raven, I would say that less than 200 of them are actually about Boudicca. Most of the novel is about Caradoc (usually called Caratacus), the man who led a failed rebellion before she did. Boudicca’s actual rebellion doesn’t start until the last 100 pages, which requires some creative pace-changing on Pauline Gedge’s part to get through all of the rebellion in such a short amount of page space.

I truly would not recommend this novel. It’s one of Gedge’s early novels, but it does not match the quality of Child of the Morning at all. She does not do as well with ancient Britain as she does with ancient Egypt, so I can certainly see why she returned to ancient Egypt after she finished this novel. The Eagle and the Raven is long and meandering, without any hint of the tension that is present in all of her other novels. I truly had to struggle to finish this novel, something that I don’t do often, no matter how boring the novel is.

The main characters in The Eagle and the Raven are very well-developed. Caradoc is believable and grows through the novel and despite her brief appearance, Boudicca develops in an incredibly short amount of time. However, secondary characters are somewhat neglected, especially Aricia, who had the potential to be a really amazing villain but ended up coming off as your cliché evil seductress. Venutius just came across as an idiotic, brow-beaten man, but there were obvious attempts to give him depth, which failed spectacularly in my eyes.

My overall impression? I’m sticking to Pauline Gedge’s Egyptian novels.

I give this book 1.5/5 stars.
Profile Image for Sonia.
624 reviews87 followers
May 20, 2019
Pauline Gedge es, a mi juicio, junto con Colleen McCullough y Mary Renault, una de las grandes novelistas del género de ficción histórica.
Y si bien normalmente sus novelas estaban ambientadas en el Antiguo Egipto, en este novelón aborda la conquista romana de Britania y el posterior levantamiento, llegando a la revolución encabezada por Boudicca.
Y se sale.
Durante años esta novela estuvo descatalogada hasta que los de editorial Pàmies la reeditaron. Y no les puedo estar más agradecida.
Una novela muy muy recomendable.
Profile Image for Kathy.
3,348 reviews177 followers
February 15, 2019
long book that filled in my time and helped me keep the worry away with my daughter back in hospital - nothing like escaping back to the days of Roman empire building, this book focusing on the conquered populations
Profile Image for Veronica.
764 reviews110 followers
December 17, 2013
A long-out-of-print book picked up in 2004 via Abebooks. It has a lurid Celtic-style cover and the jacket copy raves on about Boudicca: "Warrior Queen ... She defied the brutal might and seductive corruption of Imperial Rome ... She was the flame-haired Boudicca, Queen of the Britons" etc. etc. Actually the book is not about Boudicca at all -- she only plays a really significant role in the last hundred pages or so. The story starts in AD 32, just before the Romans' second invasion of Britain, and ends with Boudicca's defeat in AD 60. Most of the first part tells the story of Caratacus and Cartimandua (a pity Gedge didn't include any historical notes on sources, as they are here called Caradoc and Aricia, and I got halfway through the book before I realised who they were). Presumably Americans are considerably more likely to have heard of Boudicca than Caratacus.

It's a long book, 744 pages of tiny type and narrow margins, with enough material for at least three novels. At first I found the style rather overdone, almost Victorian, and wasn't really engaged by the characters, but gradually it grew on me. Gedge builds up a compelling, atmospheric picture of a superstitious society where evil spirits really do dwell in the forests and life is brutish and short for most people. No noble savages here, many of them are dishonest, unreliable, and downright murderous when crossed. The atmosphere is choking and claustrophobic as a few Britons struggle to beat the invading Romans back from their shores. There are rather too many characters who play a major role for a while and then slip out of view, but Gedge does a good job of drawing out the contrast between the fates of Caradoc and Boudicca. Caradoc, after his fierce resistance to Roman conquest, is tamely handed over by Cartimandua, and dragged off to Rome, where the Emperor Claudius promptly pardons him and forces him to live -- rather implausibly given his previous character -- in humiliating bourgeois comfort, while Boudicca, alone in the forest, falls on her sword after her defeat by Suetonius.

American reviewers are wildly enthusiastic about it, I suspect because of the undertones of the American war of independence against British imperialism. Worth re-reading at any rate.
Profile Image for Aitziber Madinabeitia.
Author 16 books148 followers
November 25, 2015
Me ha gustado, pero con pequeñas pegas. La primera parte me parece redonda, a pesar de tener un exceso de Aricia... La historia de Caradoc esta bien construida. Pero la explicación de su vida romana sobra... a pesar de ser históricamente bastante correcta. Por mi el libro podría acabar aquí, pero claro... con esta temática todos queríamos leer sobre Boadiccea... sobre todo cuando la introducen al principio. Pero entre lo bueno de Caradoc y las últimas 100 paginas sublimes sobre ella hay un buen montón de texto bisagra que no deja de chirriar.... Si no fuera por eso, tendría una puntuación mas alta. Pero como es se queda en 3,5/5
Profile Image for Tomás Sendarrubias García.
725 reviews10 followers
September 4, 2017
La verdad es que a lo tonto me ha costado un mes terminar el libro, y no porque se haga pesado o porque no me enganchara, sino porque parece que me ha costado encontrar el pulso que me enganchara. La verdad es que lo tiene todo para molar: romanos y britanos en guerra. Y es que Águilas y Cuervos se centra en la guerra de conquista por Britania por parte de los romanos en los tiempos del emperador Claudio, en un momento en el que las Galias ya eran una posesión romana y las fronteras continentales estaban perfectamente definidas en el eje Rin-Danubio. Águilas y Cuervos comienza contándonos la historia de Caradoc y Togodumno, los hijos del rey de los catuvelaunos, Cimbelino, un rey belicoso y manipulador, amigo de los romanos con los que mantiene un comercio fluido desde su capital de Camulodunom, arrebatada a sus enemigos, los trinobantes. A ellos se une Aricia, princesa de los brigantes y pupila de Cimbelino, que supone un punto de tensión entre ambos hermanos y que demostrará ser toda una espina para ellos en el futuro. Pero tras la muerte de Cimbelino, el emperador Claudio decidirá tomar el control de Albión, de modo que las tribus pronto tendrán que enfrentarse a ellos o someterse.

Alrededor de esta decisión se estructura la trama de la novela, con los diversos personajes oponiéndose o colaborando con Roma, y tres personajes históricos convirtiéndose en la espina vertebral del libro, los tres principales opositores a Roma en los tiempos de la conquista de Britania: Caradoc, Venutio y por supuesto, la casi legendaria Boudica, que curiosamente pese a presidir la portada y la sinopsis del libro, ocupa apenas las cien últimas páginas del libro, cuyo protagonista principal es Caradoc.

La verdad es que a pesar de sus más de 800 páginas, hay puntos en los que se me ha quedado un poco corta, hay personajes importantes (Venutio, Aricia) cuyo final no queda claro, aunque lo cierto es que la novela es una crónica muy representativa de como pudieron ser los últimos días de Albión antes de convertirse en la Britania Romana.

Profile Image for Stevie.
102 reviews
October 4, 2019
I wanted to sleep on this, hoping I could be more forgiving. Nope, I might actually be more grumpy.

#1 Have you read the summary? Hate to tell you, Boudicca barely shows up until halfway through the book. Then she pops up every once and a while and doesn't do anything meaningful until literally the end. So if you're reading this for Boudicca, turn and run now.

#2 Often Gedge's writing is beautiful. Equally often Gedge's writing drags on like a Dickens novel with so much description you might think she was getting paid per word. I like a big book. I like a lot of descriptions. This surpassed even my level of patience.

#3 I wanted to put this down so many times out of shear boredom. How can battles between the Celtics and the Romans be boring, you ask? Apparently it's possible.

#4 Finally characters. There's not a lot to like. Some are so developed you know their favorite color. Other main characters are so underdeveloped they're practically a caricature. And if I hear Aricia called "rapacious" one more time, I might buy a thesaurus and send it to the author.

Maybe I've just read so many amazing books this year I'm being hard on one that's mediocre. It's entirely possible I'm grumpy because I couldn't just dnf it because I needed it for my library reading challenge. After all, everyone else seems to have really enjoyed it? But at the end of the day, I really can't recommend it.
Profile Image for Victor Bruneski.
Author 1 book10 followers
April 22, 2014
I wasn't sure if I should give this a 4 star or a 5 star. Let me start off with one problem that a lot of people have with the book, which is really unfair.

I rate the book 5 stars but the book jacket (the one I have anyway) -5 stars. The cover picture looks like you are reading a romance novel, but that's not the worse part. The blurb on the back have some vague thing about Boudicca. People going into this book think it is about her, when it's not. She is a minor character until about the last hundred pages.

The first half of the book is pretty much about Caradoc. The second half is divided into four stories, Caradoc in Rome, the western tribes, Arica and Boudicca. The story is about the events of the Roman conquest of Albion(England), not Boudicca.

With that out of the way, the other more valid complaint I have about the story is I feel that it felt unfinished. That might sound crazy considering the book is 900 pages long. The four stories in the second half of the book felt like they just stopped, with no closure really except for Boudicca's. The first half of the book felt like that could be the end, there was closure.

Besides that, it's a great read. The descriptions were fantastic, the characters fleshed out, the political situation well done. I felt like I was part of that world. Definitely worth the read.
Profile Image for Raiveran Rabbit.
71 reviews6 followers
July 17, 2010
Pauline Gedge is a wonderfully rich author. The historical details and backgrounds she provides are breathtaking. It only stands to reason, then, that when she writes of pure tragedy, it is also terribly vivid. Unfortunately, when she does tragedy, it's awful. This book started out interesting, but from the beginning has a steep and dark descent. By about 2/3 of the way through this book, you will heartily wish you had never picked it up and clapped eyes on the first line. While there are interesting tidbits about Brigantia history and Roman military tactics and politics, you will be so inured in depressing hopelessness, you won't be able to enjoy her typically rich descriptions. This is probably not a bad book, but it really makes you not wish to read another by Gedge, which would be a shame since her Egyptian-themed books are so beautiful and light in comparison.
Profile Image for Linda.
146 reviews3 followers
June 15, 2009
A great novel if you like historical fiction. The author really makes the past come alive, and the story seems to be carefully researched. This is a must-read for anyone wanting to learn about Britain in Roman times, a subject not really covered in American schools. In fact, I've read extensively on the history of the Roman Empire, and believe that it should receive much more attention in World History classes. The novel format makes the historical information "go down easy." This book has adult situations, but I would recommend it to homeschooled high schoolers who may have more choices in their curriculum than other students. Along these same lines, I would also recommend Warrier Queen by Alan Gold.
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