“…Ceridwen is a young lady warrior any reader should fall in love with. The real joy in this work, however, is the history. Forget the dates and the politics. In this book the story of the Roman occupation of Britain and the resistance by some of the many tribes of Britain, colorful characters, both good and bad, jump off the page. The author covers events in Britain and in Rome through the stories of the main characters ranging from tribal princesses to Roman Emperors, concluding with Nero and the burning of Rome. A one day or two afternoons reading time is well worth it…”
“…deeply satifying read. One of the rare books that can be really enjoyed by both men and women. Well researched, fantastic characters, fabulous ending. Brings the history of first century England and Rome to life on so many levels, I was both educated and thourily entertained. A real page turner…”
After earning the status of warrior and taking her father’s place in the Iceni ruling body, princess Ceridwen begins to realize that she should accept her prescribed future, marry Donogh and become queen of the Ordovices when he succeeds his father as king. Donogh is witty and intelligent and they’ve been friends since childhood, but the fact that he doesn’t even come close to matching the intensity of her passions causes her tremendous frustration. In spite of her attempts to convince herself that Donogh could learn to be the sexual aggressor she dreams about, she remains unsettled about it and a disturbing prophecy from Llyn the Druid further reinforces her doubts; doubts that become underscored when the Romans come to Britannia.
The Iceni establish a trading partnership with the Romans which results in Ceridwen meeting an intriguing foreigner named Marek, an Egyptian serving as an officer with the fourteenth legion. While from vastly differing cultures Marek and Ceridwen discover they share much in common and it soon becomes apparent they can also fulfill each others darkest desires. When a common enemy threatens one of the allied tribes and both Roman cavalry and Iceni warriors rush to assist, Ceridwen and Marek fight side by side and demonstrate to the Druids that the combination represents the best of both of their worlds and a promise for the future of Britannia. A perfect match, they develop plans for an idyllic life together once Marek’s time in the army is up.
Political change comes first, however. The emperor Claudius who advocated for foreigners to achieve the rights of citizens in society and rank in the Roman army is assassinated and replaced by Nero who seeks to undo all of Claudius’ advances. All things Roman begin to sour for Marek, but he is bound by his pledge and must serve out his time. His distain for the Romans intensifies to hatred as he is first ordered to destroy the Druids and then, when the Iceni queen Boudica is brutalized by Roman soldiers and organizes a rebellion, to fight against the Iceni.
Boudica’s army ambushes and annihilates the Roman ninth legion then burns the Roman city of Londinium killing all 70,000 inhabitants. Despite Marek’s appeal for her to stay out of the conflict, Ceridwen, the consummate Iceni warrior, knows she must fight alongside her people, even when called on to march against Marek and the overwhelmingly outnumbered fourteenth legion. Over 200,000 Iceni and Romans die in the ensuing battle and each believing the other did not survive; both Ceridwen and Marek are so overcome by loss that they become driven by blinding anger and the need for vengeance. Sustained for so long by their rage, what do they do when circumstances bring them face to face once again as opponents in the Roman arena? Will Ceridwen fight to reclaim her freedom as undefeated gladiatrix or will she remember Llyn’s prophecy from so long ago when faced with that crucial moment?
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