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Katherine L. Holmes
on Dec. 18, 2011 :
Draegnstoen settles at once into the bones. After so much Arthurian tragedy, this book glimmers of a triumphant end, that of the Britain tribes ousting the Romans. I was entranced with the royalty that led to Coel, Old King Cole in British legend, his brother's marriage to his sister and the dragon hunts, depicted so that I wondered if dragons might have become an extinct species in Britain.
The momentum along with the details made me confident of the author's research into the fifth century A.D. And the intermarriage with the Pict tribes from Scotland was charming, in dialogue and in the uncertainty of the alliance. The Pict princess entered battle tattooed and she had a crow at command.
This whole book is elegantly constructed with intrigue and the spying that finally gathers the tribes to Coel. They fight the Romans, one thane revenging a crucifixion, and as the Goths dominate Rome. But it is the focus on individuals that keeps one reading. In the end, I felt a chill in my spine because I believed this book had comprehended early Britain and a war it had won.
(review of free book)