This is an epic tale, taking place before the time of King Arthur, but at a time when his coming was prophesied. It's an enchanting tale of Celtic and Roman Britain, full of intrigue and suspense, adventure and romance, treachery and betrayal.
The book revolves around Marcus ap Iorwerth and his wife Claerwen, who suffers from visions of the future, and Myrmidon Emrys (Merlin of the tales). Myrddin was the illegitimate son of the high king and when he suspects that there will be an assassination attempt on the king's life, he calls in Marcus to help root out the conspirators. Marcus is a spy and master of disguise.
Claerwen insists that she must go with her husband on his quest, due to visions she's been having, Marcus agrees reluctantly. He doesn't want to put his wife in danger. The original plot is discovered, but there are betrayals within betrayals. Claerwen and Marcus are falsely accused of treachery and must go on the run.
They suffer sacrifice and profound personal loss on the quest to prove their innocence, but will their sacrifice have been worth it?
The author hasn't just written a story here, she's weaved a tapestry of words that enchant you even as you read. The plot is infused with a wealth of historical detail, but so subtle that you hardly know it is there. The characters come alive, dancing off the page and into life.
I've read quite a few Arthurian re-tellings, but this one is different, concentrating more on the time before Arthur united the Britons, where danger and treachery were ever present and maybe the prophesied future king was the only thing that kept people going.
It's a great read, the second in a trilogy, but is a good stand alone novel as well. It's the sort of book you could read again and find something new every time.
Reviewed by Annette Gisby, author of Silent Screams
This report prepared by Annette Gisby