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The Eagle And The Raven (2007)

The Eagle and the Raven (2007)

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4.15 of 5 Votes: 4
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155652708X (ISBN13: 9781556527081)
chicago review press

About book The Eagle And The Raven (2007)

What pique’s your interest in reading a book? I know mine is aroused by the cover picture and blurbs. Oh, and reviews, which I often avoid since they seem to always leak crucial information, so lethal that kills the mood from the get-go. Recommendations are another source. Long story short, we all have our own criteria of selecting books and more or less those are mine. Therefore, judging The Eagle and the Raven just by the cover and blurbs will mislead you to believe that this novel is about Bouddica’s rebellion, which is in fact only a subplot to the real theme. The bigger picture revolves around the Albion’s struggle to survive the Roman oppression, a fight for freedom which has at its core the legendary Arviragus, the man that defied Rome and lived to tell about it, this is the story of Caradoc, his family and brethren; or the Roman invasion of Britannia, all seen from through Celtic eyes.Myth, history, fiction are all entwined with such finesse bringing forth the forgotten world of druids, tribes, bards and sword women. A world of wilderness, untamed “animals”, where seers and magic are still drawing breath. Misty villages hidden in the mountains, sweeping plains, fearsome forests, dark bloody rituals, transition festivals, a war of attrition and survival … everything vividly described, terrific! All those are puzzle pieces to a marvelously depicted realm, a realm of Celtic culture and history. I did not find the freedom theme feeble, in my opinion it was not overdone and it felt quite authentic. Likewise for the descriptions; neither I felt that there were too many or too hollowed. In this book, each moment seems to count, every nook and cranny is significant to a degree, and the author just loves to play with the words, not missing her cue at all, always in search for the perfect line. Her writing is like a bard’s spellbinding song, you feel caught in the enticing web of words, dead drunk with fascination. A dense book, full of descriptive writing with great character development, constant pace and brilliant storytelling. I felt a stab of pathos for each character, all being well-built and in great detail – each with their own positive traits and flaws; a mirror image of the human condition. My favorite scenes were those of inner turmoil, the inward battles fought to cope with the forlorn hope of reality – Caradoc’s, Eugrain’s, Aricia’s and Venutius’s. Those humane flaws… vanity, love, selfishness, guilelessness turn their insides outs to ashes. Give in or survive, the free will of choosing the right path: be reborn to live anew or be thrown even deeper into the darkness – Caradoc/Eugrain and Aricia/Venutius are the perfect example of a cured/diseased heart. Also, I particularly enjoyed Caradoc’s “initiation” ritual, the mountain journey – the metamorphosis from Caradoc to Arviragus; and the Druithin sacred place, Mona.I have been utterly surprised to find out that names and events - like Plautius wedding to Gladys, young Gladys’s supposed adoption and marriage to Pudens, Aricia’s betrayal… all seem to have a grain of truth. To add even more depth to the story, the author time traveled the famous Martial. Also, the speech that Caradoc gave to earn his freedom follows Tacitus’s one closely, though not the original, it is a very good adaptation; different words with the same meaning.It was impossible for me to hate someone or something in this novel. No hard feelings, no remorse. The story’s metamorphosis and complexity provided me with an unforgettable read, a history lesson and one hell of a ride. This goes straight to My Favorites shelf. Kudos, Mrs. Gedge!Plot Summary:Veni, vidi, vici… (view spoiler)[Rome came first with traders, slowly taming the minds of many. Cunobelin was chief of the Catuvellauni, the mightiest of the low-land tribes. Cattle raiding, hunting and preserving the already owned land were his goals – the strengthening of borders after years of war. Caradoc, Tog, Aricia, Gladys, Eugrain, Adminius the childhood band, raised together each with an unscrupulous fate. Aricia is called back to Brigantia to take over the throne – she marries Venutius, a powerful Brigantian chief, out of interest; Eugraine marries Caradoc; Adminius betrays them for Rome’s ideals; Gladys preserves her wildness; Tog and Caradoc share the burden and become ricons. New expansion plans, fighting for new conquests – expanding the Catuvellauni’s hold upon the Albion. Finally, Rome decides its course of action, invasion. The legions invade and give battle to the low-lands of Britannia, defeating the gathering of tribes led by Tog and Caradoc. Defeat. Tog’s death, followed by Gladys’s capture and flight into the West for the rest of the family. The druids give the western chieftains food for thought, presenting Caradoc as the chosen one, the defender of the Albion. The charismatic, shrewd, witty, silver-tongued hero of ours convinces the Silurians, Ordovices and the rest of the pristine tribes to proclaim him as Arvigarius. Meanwhile, Gladys embarks for Rome, happily married with the former invasion general Plautius. Years of subterfuge tactics end up with the sudden defeat in a face to face battle against the legions – the naïve blindness of the barbarian warrior. Caradoc escapes to Brigantia, the land of Aricia, the Roman puppet, who captures and expedites him to Colchester, and from there along with his family toward the capital. Fate smiles upon them, escaping death, being exiled for life in Rome. There, the process of Romanization meets its course, despite the fact that their souls forever run homeward and struggle to be free. In the meantime, Bouddica and the tribes had their own battles to fight. A sudden death of the governor, and a flight of shame for Venutius from the enticing charms of his wife Aricia, leads to his junction with the free tribes, followed by the total annihilation of a legion. Venutius is proclaimed Arvigarus, but unfortunately his mind and heart are still diseased, both betray him by making ruinous decisions one after another – the attack of Brigantia and the engage in open battle of Rome’s “fighting machine” ends direfully. Bouddica’s love for Prasutagus, kept her on short leash so far, while years of prosperity passed by and made the Iceni tribe the most prosperous and trustful ally of Rome. Fate struck, her beloved dies and a corrupt procurer avenges his thirst and hate of barbarians against the Iceni folk, rapping the two princesses and flogging Bouddica in the process. What followed was the famous rebellion, where the 9th legion was almost whipped out, several Roman settlements being razed to the ground and almost brought them the freedom so much desired. (hide spoiler)]

Okay, what did I just read? I normally have a high tolerance for books, but I’m seriously not sure what that was. This is billed as a fictional account of Boudicca, though she doesn’t play any major part in the story until way past the 3/4 mark; which, with the book being close to the 700-page mark, is quite an accomplishment. Instead, we chill out with the family of Caradoc, a prince and later chieftain of one of the southern Celtic tribes. This is fine; Caradoc’s story is fun and engaging, though it abruptly ends at about halfway through the book. You spend the next 1/4 bouncing between viewpoints of what used to be pretty minor characters as time progresses before suddenly landing on Boudicca. And when I say you land on her, I mean you land on her like a Sumo Wrestler. She’s in the middle of her own conflicts, which we’ve cared nothing about until this point, as her people have been somewhat of an antagonist to Caradoc until this point. The abrupt changes in viewpoint character also lead to an abrupt change in tone, location, and pace, all leaving you feeling like you were walking up a slope and someone suddenly yanked the rug from beneath you. As you bounce down, various people will rear their ugly heads, not unlike that neighbor that stares awkwardly at you while watering her plants as you pass by her every morning. (Sup, Judy?)All of this builds to the climactic battle, where Boudicca suddenly realizes that she can’t win a war against Rome and suddenly kills herself on the battlefield. Then we suddenly cut back to Caradoc, where upon hearing that Boudicca is dead, we’re treated with this closing sentence of the book: “The light of freedom flickered and went out.”Yeah, you read that right. So you might pick up a few repeated words in the past few paragraphs: abrupt, downer, suddenly. That’s the overall impression I have of this book: giant cuts and gaps in just about every factor, from character longevity and importance to pacing and style. It’s like someone attacked the manuscript with a weed-whacker and instead of fixing it, they just threw it onto the press as is. It was good, and I recommend it to any Celtic or Roman buffs, as the author put a lot of research into the details. Really, though, this is a lesson in that the words “sweeping” and “epic” in a blurb are not always positive points.Sidenote: I read this on my Kindle, and where were a lot of formatting issues, mainly with what I’m guessing was an automatic conversion from image to text. Character names would sometimes be garbled, and the word “and” would sometimes be thrown in where it shouldn’t, leaving you re-reading the sentence a few times to figure out what exactly it said.

Do You like book The Eagle And The Raven (2007)?

rating: 2/5Finally finished. *sigh of relief* My take on this novel is... complicated, outweighed by the negative.Maybe I came in with too many expectations knowing it would be about Caradoc and Boudicca. I was expecting guerilla resistance, battles, struggles of a people against a domineering, invading empire, all the stuff that usually gets my literary blood pumping. It did provide that in some form but it just didn't work for me.Overall, it was long and over-descriptive (except when portraying battles scenes, those were short and glazed over). There were many lengthy descriptions of the scenery and landscape, over-detailed depictions of mundane everyday life, and long-winded speeches. Granted, it contained a lot of great cultural information and portrayal of Celtic life (I learned a lot); I just didn't care for her writing style. My disappointment extended into the depictions of politics and military campaigns. Most of the effort was put forth to give us the historical events on a silver platter with each military movement and possible outcome talked out in depth... and then the actual battle would take up a short page or two of vague descriptions. I prefer my novels showing the strategy while depicting the battle so I guess this is another one of those areas where it's just stylistic choices that didn't do it for me. I did like Caradoc, a lot. He is a great character and develops amazingly from a young man to the arviragus. He is interesting and complex; we really get to experience his mind. But I didn't like the way she handled Boudicca. Not only did Boudicca barely get any time; she was presented almost like a child, hot headed and carried away by emotion. Even at the end when she led the army it was emotion that drove her to it (stereotypical pissed of woman goes on a violent rampage while in charge of an armed pissed off populace, ugh). I would have liked my Boudicca to have been much more complex, like Caradoc. I do realize the author is known for her feminist characters but I just didn't see it. She seems to write women characters just a bit out of their prescribed roles, like sword fighting or telling their men they want to battle, not being completely obedient, etc. but when push came to shove it is the men they follow. The female characters who fell in love gave up themselves and their identities for their men. (view spoiler)[ Gladys stood alone at Camulodunum leading the peasants in battle after Caradoc and all other chiefs fled but when she fell in love with her Roman captor, she put down her sword and was whisked away to Rome to live a comfortable life. As much as Eugrain demanded to be heard, in the end she seemed to default to Caradoc's wants and needs. And Boudicca submitted to her husband. She knew he wasn't making the right choice for her people but she stayed by his side throwing tantrums like a child at him and the Romans instead of leading the resistance. (hide spoiler)]

The Eagle and the Raven by Pauline Gedgec is an excellent story about the primitive people of Britain and how they struggled against the disciplined legions of Rome. The leaders change from the charismatic and intelligent Caradoc and his beautiful wife, Eurgain; to Venutius, the spurned husband of Aricia; to Boudicca, the fiery red-haired queen of the Iceni. Battles rage throughout the saga and the sorrow of the defeated implants on one's heart the meaning of freedom that is sometimes lost in spite of all efforts to retain and regain it. I found this book a most heart-rending and stirring read. If you haven't read Gedge's Eagle and Raven I urge you to put it on your TBR list. For me, this book rates among the best I've read in 2010.

I normally avoid historicals if they contain the words "sweeping" or "three generations" - but this book deserves both without irony. It tells the story of the Roman invasion of Britain, first opposed by the less well-known Caradoc whose guerilla tactics might have been successful if he'd had better luck, and followed by the revolt of the better-known Boudicca. The characters are complex and moving, the battle scenes wrenching, and the history meticulous. Caradoc is a moving hero, a man determined to burn himself inside and out if it will save his people, and Boudicca is majestic and tragic as the vengeful mother to both her own wronged children and her wronged people. Perhaps most remarkable, the Britain depicted here has magic and mystery without resorting to the cheap Mother Goddess mysticism of feminist authors who prefer their history to come with New Age labels. A desperate, tragic, absorbing read. You will hate Rome with all your heart by the end, and only then realize that the Rome who wronged Caradoc and Boudicca is long gone.
—Kate Quinn

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