Tag Archive | druids

Skin

Skin by Ilka Tamke is the first in a fantasy trilogy set in Britain in the early 1st century AD. Ailia is a child without skin, which means she doesn’t know her place in the world. Rome is poised to invade and the Britons are divided between those who would fight and those who would make peace. They are waiting for a spiritual leader. Ailia undergoes several trials and may be the one they are waiting for.

There’s quite a bit I liked about this book. The cover is beautiful and is a good representation of what the book is like. It’s in first person and set entirely in Ailia’s head, which means it’s not always clear what is going on because Ailia is young and doesn’t know who can be trusted. The worldbuilding is really great and the setting is brought to life with a mystical touch.

But, I wasn’t hugely engaged with the characters and the story. The ending sort of fizzled out. It is the first in a series, but even so, the ending felt as though the story just stopped, rather than coming to any resolution, and unfortunately didn’t set up any desire for me to find the next book.

The cover says it would suit fans of Game of Thrones which I think is a bit misleading. If you’re looking for hard-bitten political, dynastic fantasy, this is not it. Skin is an emotional, mystical story. It’s worth a read if that’s your cup of tea.

 

Boudica: Dreaming the Bull

boudica bullDreaming the Bull is the second of Manda Scott’s Boudica series and covers the period AD 47-54. Breaca and Caradoc, war leaders of the Britons, are in Wales preparing to meet the Roman invasion. Breaca’s brother Ban has become a Roman and is part of the army that Breaca must fight. Inevitably, they lose and Caradoc is captured. He and his children are taken to be part of a triumph in Rome and live there for a few years until a change of Emperor gives them an opportunity to escape. Caradoc recognises Ban, who has become the Roman soldier most feared in Briton, as Breaca’s brother and sends him home to meet her.

The book is structured around historical events and so some of the story arc is lost. It’s a very long book and sometimes feels like a bit of a slog. I found that it was best when I had a couple of hours to read and I could really get into it. There’s moments of beautiful writing and the pace is quite fast, but, for me, there is a sense of doom pervading the whole book. Breaca and her people, the way of life and communing with the gods so wonderfully imagined, don’t survive. Rome will destroy the dreamers and I find that very sad.

I didn’t enjoy Dreaming the Bull as much as Dreaming the Eagle. There was a lot I liked about it but reading it was an effort.