The Roman conquest of Britain was a tumultuous time when fear and death reigned. Diana Paxson has chosen this era in which to set the latest prequel to Marion Zimmer Bradley's Mists of Avalon
. The story is split between two women, Lhiannon, a senior priestess, and Boudica, who would become the warrior queen who nearly threw the Romans back into the sea. The story told here is the story of the Britons fight to control their own destiny.
I am of two minds on this story, and I admit that parts I took issue with are not going to be issues for most readers. However, I've spent a lot of time studying the religious beliefs of the various Celtic tribes and I feel that Paxson twisted them completely into something that they were not. Throughout the book there are many references to the Goddess, to the four elements, etc. What little evidence that remains clearly shows these to not be at all congruous with the spiritual beliefs of the Celtic tribes. I found myself rolling my eyes through much of the spiritual content.
However, Boudica's story, the story of the warriors, and the struggle with the warriors was very well told. It was this that kept me reading the book. I have long been interested in Boudica's place in history and it was a breath of fresh air to see her story told. She seems to have been mostly forgotten, which is a shame, because she should be an example for all strong women.
I found this book to be the weakest of all the Mists prequels and while, once I got past the neo-pagan beliefs superimposed upon the actual beliefs of the Celtic tribes, I enjoyed it, it is unlikely that I will pick up any more books that may be written. Each book since The Forest House
has gotten successively weaker and less worthy bearing Marion Zimmer Bradley's name.