Though it is true I was able to pick up the book and get the gist of Marcus ap Iorwerth and Claerwen's story, I think I would have preferred to read the series from the beginning. This would have allowed me to get to know the characters much better and truly understand what they were going through.
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With that being said, I found this to be a thoroughly researched and intriguing book about the rise of King Arthur told by the people around him. May 24, - Published on Amazon. This book was neither here nor there for me. It took me a while to get into the story; the first pages or so seemed to really drag on.
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But once I got a feel for the author's writing style, the characters' personalities and their back stories, I started enjoying it more than I had in the beginning and started looking forward to learning what twist Guler next had in store. I certainly learned a lot reading this book.
My field of historical fiction "expertise" lies with more modern history--I've read a myriad of novels set between the 15thth centuries--so it was refreshing to read an historical novel so deeply steeped in earlier historic myth and legend. The book takes place in the 5th century AD, just as Roman Christianity is beginning to truly take hold over Britain, and while many still practice Celtic Paganism and Druidism. Such is the religion of the book's protagonists, Marcus ap Iorwerth, spymaster, and his doting wife Claerwen, who is afflicted with premonitions, or "fire in the head".
The two are charged with a dangerous secret: the fact that the high king Uther Pendragon has a living son, Arthur, who was prophesied by Merlin the Enchanter to one day rule over a kingdom of greatness. Until the road to kingship can be made clear for Arthur's safe ascension, Marcus must carefully navigate the treacherous path of war, political ambiguities, and constantly changing loyalties, all while under the vengeful eye of Uther, who is dying and grows more suspicious of Marcus every day, although Marcus has proved himself to be nothing but Uther's faithful servant for years.
I've read that A Land Beyond Ravens is one of the most historically accurate of all the novels set in Arthurian Britain, and though I don't have much knowledge of this historical period to verify or refute this claim, I can appreciate the author's obvious passion for Celtic and Welsh historic culture, as evident by her bits of insight into the religious mysticism and her incorporation of many Welsh wording and terminology. I also like that the author included an Author's Note at the end, separating the fact from the fiction of the book.
The mystical elements of this novel did not bother me, as there wasn't rampant spell casting taking place throughout the book or anything, and the author only mentioned magic as it related to a character's religious beliefs. For example, Claerwen's fire in the head was something that many historic 5th century Celtic pagans truly believed they actually possessed, that it was a message from the gods.remontrvd.com/libraries/17-barata-cloroquina.php
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The religious facet of the book was actually the most interesting aspect of the story. My favorite scene in the book took place between Marcus and a Christian priest, who are debating religion and its usage by the government to manipulate the masses. The conversation inadvertently gives the reader a brief history of religion throughout the Dark Ages, which I found very entertaining, especially as being discussed between two such opposing points of view. Something that bothered me throughout the entire book was the author's constant use of questions, either mixed into the characters' thought process or directly from the narrative point of view.
Example: "With little time to aid the Decangli, he had thought it worthwhile to try to pound some decent reasoning into Cadwallon. Now he needed to find another way. But doing what? And where?
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Some people may like this style of eliciting suspense, but for me, it was distracting, and I found myself mentally counting the number of questions crammed into each page. Also, there were some elements of the book that just seemed pointless and forced. Certain characters seemed to be there just to pass the time, creating a sense of unnatural drama.
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For those who have read this book or plan on reading this book, I am referring particularly the character Drysi. I don't think her inclusion in the story was at all necessary; but Guler clearly wanted someone to play the snooping, catty female archetype whose presence was a constant thorn in Claerwen's side.
I found the end of this book to be very much anti-climactic. With all the build up that preceded it, I was expecting fireworks! Each time I thought the story was picking up, I felt let down by a predictably mellow result. I know there are many people who thoroughly enjoyed this award-winning series, but A Land Beyond Ravens, while well-written and informative, was simply not my favorite cup of tea.
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But what happened in the time before his reign? In the fifth century, A. Britain was made up of many factions, all vying for control, fighting among themselves and each other. The rightful High King has been assassinated and his sons driven into exile.
Vortigren is on the throne and he is importing Saxon warriors to help him hold power. Drakar, a Celt supposedly loyal to the King of Strathclyde, Ceredig, controls the Saxons and is destroying the few allies Britain has to keep Vortigern on the throne. But a master spy, Marcus ap Iowerth, discredits Drakar and marries the woman to whom Drakar was betrothed, Claerwen. Claerwen and Marcus then find themselves in Drakar's way as he searches for the golden torque, the spearhead, the sword, the grail and the crown that give the bearer the right to rule all of Britain.
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