Today is the official launch day for Skull’s Vengeance by Linnea Tanner. Congratulations, Linnea! I am a long-time fan of her historical fiction books, and she kindly offered me an advance copy of the newest one. Skull’s Vengeance, the fourth book in the Curse of Clansmen and Kings series, is now available on Amazon.
To celebrate the big day, Linnea is guest posting today on the druids. After the guest post is an overview of Skull’s Vengeance and then my review of the book.
Guest post from Linnea Tanner: Who were the druids?
The druids, who could be either male or female, were the intelligentsia of the Celtic tribe who often had more power than kings in making decisions. Druids officiated at the worship of the gods, regulated public and private sacrifices, and gave rulings on all religious questions. Roman historian Pomponius Mela writes, “The Druids profess to know the will of the gods.”
Background on the druids
Druids ruled under one head with whom they held the highest respect. They served as judges in most disputes, whether between tribes or between individuals, and adjudicated any compensation to be paid. Their decisions were final in all public and private matters. Anyone failing to accept their decision was banned from taking part in any sacrifice—the heaviest punishment that could be inflicted.
The druids believed their religion forbade them to commit their teachings to writings as these could be made public. Students had to memorize volumes of verse—many of them spending twenty years at their studies.
They believed that the soul does not perish, but it passes from one body to another after death. The immortal soul dwells in the human head. The human head was venerated above all else because it was considered to be the temple of the soul. It was the center of emotions as well as of life itself and a symbol of divinity and the powers of the world of the spirits. To possess the enemy’s head was to possess his soul.
The importance and extent of the cult of the severed head among the Celts is demonstrated by their display in shrines. The heads were set up at the entrances. Perhaps the souls of these unfortunate warriors were being used for symbolic protection of their enemies’ strongholds.
Despite Roman efforts to destroy the influence of the druids, Celtic spiritual beliefs thrived in oral traditions that were later written down by monks in the form of mythical tales of chivalry, magic, and a pantheon of gods and goddesses which showed their connection to nature.
Druids as the Magi
The Roman historian, Pliny the Elder (23 AD – 79 AD), referred to druids as the magi. “Even today Britain is still spellbound by magic, and performs its rites with so much ritual that it might almost seem to be a source of Persian customs.”
In Celtic literature and tradition, druids have also been popularly referred to as magicians—wizards possessing supernatural powers. By the advent of Christianity in both Ireland and Britain, druids were identified by the word magi —a name for priests of ancient Persia who reputedly had power over supernatural entities. Early Celtic Christian writers gave these supernatural powers to saints in their church.
About Author Linnea Tanner
Award-winning author, Linnea Tanner, weaves Celtic tales of love, magical adventure, and political intrigue in Ancient Rome and Britannia. Since childhood, she has passionately read about ancient civilizations and mythology.
Of particular interest are the enigmatic Celts, who were reputed as fierce warriors and mystical druids.Linnea has extensively researched ancient and medieval history, mythology, and archaeology and has traveled to sites described within each of her books in the Curse of Clansmen and Kings series. Books released in her series include Apollo’s Raven (Book 1), Dagger’s Destiny (Book 2), Amulet’s Rapture (Book 3), and Skull’s Vengeance (Book 4).
A Colorado native, Linnea attended the University of Colorado and earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemistry. She lives in Fort Collins with her husband and has two children and six grandchildren.
Overview of Skull’s Vengeance by Linnea Tanner
A Celtic warrior queen must do the impossible—defeat her sorcerer half-brother and claim the throne. But to do so, she must learn how to strike vengeance from her father’s skull.
AS FORETOLD BY HER FATHER in a vision, Catrin has become a battle-hardened warrior after her trials in the Roman legion and gladiatorial games. She must return to Britannia and pull the cursed dagger out of the serpent’s stone to fulfill her destiny. Only then can she unleash the vengeance from the ancient druids to destroy her evil half-brother, the powerful sorcerer, King Marrock. Always two steps ahead and seemingly unstoppable, Marrock can summon destructive natural forces to crush any rival trying to stop him and has charged his deadliest assassin to bring back Catrin’s head.
To have the slightest chance of beating Marrock, Catrin must forge alliances with former enemies, but she needs someone she can trust. Her only option is to seek military aid from Marcellus—her secret Roman husband. They rekindle their burning passion, but he is playing a deadly game in the political firestorm of the Julio-Claudian dynasty to support Catrin’s cause.
Ultimately, to defeat Marrock, Catrin must align herself with a dark druidess and learn how to summon forces from skulls to exact vengeance. But can she and Marcellus outmaneuver political enemies from Rome and Britannia in their quest to vanquish Marrock?
My review of Skull’s Vengeance
Skull’s Vengeance by Linnea Tanner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is the fourth book in the Curse of Clansmen and Kings series by author Linnea Tanner. Already familiar with the main characters of Catrin and Marcellus, I was eager to read the latest installment. And it did not disappoint!
I think what I love the most about this book (and the series) is how it weaves fictional characters into historical Britannia and Rome, with fantasy elements and Celtic mythology. The plot unravels at a good pace as Catrin learns of the hidden meaning behind the skull of her late father.
Marrock is evil as ever in this book, and I was, of course, rooting for Catrin the whole novel. A strong woman, she has many facets to her, showing that being emotional is not a weakness but actually quite the opposite. She is a woman on a mission – You will have to read to find out what happens and if the “vengeance” in the title plays out.
The love story between Catrin and Marcellus is heart-wrenching and also has beautiful moments. I like that there are not in-depth love scenes but instead written passages about how they think fondly about one another.
While there are a lot of characters in the book, author Tanner explains their relationships well at the start of the book. So, if you have not read the rest of the series, you can still understand well the plot. Plus, there is a list of the characters and their relationships to one another at the end of this book, in case you want a refresher during the read.
I recommend this book, giving it 5 out of 5 stars. I was gifted an ARC of this book.
Want your own copy of the new book?
Get the newest book from Linnea Tanner to read for yourself. Skull’s Vengeance is now on Amazon. I hope you like the read as much as I did!
Top photo: Linnea Tanner, author of Skull’s Vengeance. Photo by Rebekah West.