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, in order 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?
A Celtic warrior queen must meet her destiny, which was etched on her father’s dagger, and slay the dragon.
Queen Catrin has barely escaped an ambush from Marrock’s deadliest assassin while giving birth to her son in the midst of battle. Still, she must meet her destiny that was etched on her father’s dagger and strike vengeance against her half brother, King Marrock. An evil sorcerer, Marrock can shape-shift into a dragon and wreak havoc on the kingdoms of Britannia. Catrin’s devoted Roman husband, Marcellus, and her commanders join in the quest to slay the dragon in the darker half of the year as winter approaches.
But other enemies from Rome and Britannia stand in her way. Family loyalties are tested. Warriors fall. Betrayed and torn from those she loves, Catrin must embrace her essence as a dark druidess to face her greatest challenge yet: battling the dragon and ruling the kingdom as its rightful heir.
Blood stains her Celtic home and kingdom. The warrior Druid princess will do anything to retake her kingdom. Although Catrin is the rightful heir to the Celtic throne in Britannia, she is lucky to be alive. After witnessing the slaughter of her family at the hands of her half-brother, who was aided by the Romans, she is enslaved by a Roman commander. He disguises her as a boy in the Roman Legion with the belief that she is an oracle of Apollo and can foretell his future. The sole bright spot in her miserable new life is her forbidden lover Marcellus, the great-grandson of the famed Roman General Mark Antony. But Marcellus has been wounded and his memories of Catrin and their secret marriage were erased by a dark Druidess. Though Marcellus reunites with Catrin in Gaul and becomes her ally as she struggles to survive the brutality of her Roman master, he questions the legitimacy of their marriage and hesitates to help her escape and retake her kingdom. If their forbidden love and alliance are discovered, her dreams of returning to her Celtic home with Marcellus will be shattered.
In this scene from Amulet's Rapture, Marcellus fulfills his mandate as a military officer in the Roman Legion to put down a rebellion in Gaul (modern-day France). In the frenzy and raw emotions of battle, he leads his soldiers in the slaughter of rebels and their families. It is only after he kills a young female warrior that looks like his secret foreign wife, Catrin, that he realizes the bloodlust he unleashed in the battle. His experience in the Roman Legion profoundly impacts him and his relationship with Catrin, who killed Roman soldiers in a previous conflict in her homeland of Britannia. The graphic horror of the battlefield is in juxtapose to his passionate love for the mysterious Catrin. Throughout the Curse of Clansmen and Kings series, Marcellus is in an internal turmoil between his duty and loyalty to Rome versus his heartfelt love for a warrior princess the Romans considered an enemy. Marcellus’s mandate to show no mercy to the rebels and to oversee the safety of every man under his leadership weighs heavily on him as he grieves the death of his loyal horse and watches ravens feast on the fallen. The raven is Catrin’s spirit guide and represents the darker consequences of what their forbidden love might entail.
In this chapter, Marcellus meets with a priestess of Minerva to gain insight on why he has recurring dreams about a female warrior he is drawn to. She appears to him wearing a raven-headed helmet that conceals her face. His friend, Arius, suggests they seek divination from Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom, to interpret the dream. This makes sense to Marcellus. Minerva is depicted as athletic, as well as armored with a helmet. Minerva is equated with the Greek goddess, Athena, and the Celtic goddess Sulis, who presides over the hot springs in Bath, England. Unbeknownst to Marcellus, his memory of his Celtic wife, Catrin, has been erased by a druid. In the scene, he undergoes an ecstatic divination, or, as Socrates called it, madness (mania). Historians of religion refer to this altered state of consciousness as possession. The priestess gives Marcellus a mixture of hallucinogens that allows Minerva to enter his body to foretell his future with Catrin who has appeared in his visions. He learns afterward that he is destined to be with this warrior queen with whom he has a son. Their union will set catastrophic events into motion in which Marcellus and their son play significant roles. The prophecy presages what will unfold in the Curse of Clansmen and Kings series.
Although female gladiators fought in games, very little is known about them. They were considered exotic rarities associated with decadence and luxury. They were often displayed in aristocratic homes to entertain the guests at lavish banquets. It is unclear whether female gladiators trained in schools (ludus) like their male counterparts. Nonetheless, they inspired admiration. A relief displayed in the British Museum depicts two armed women who have received accolades for their bravery and were allowed to withdraw from the arena in honor. Emperor Septimus Severus believed fights with female gladiators were an insult to masculine military virtues and banned them about 200 AD. In this scene, Catrin, a condemned female gladiator, is paraded through Lugdunum (modern-day Lyons, France) and into the amphitheater. She has plunged into the depths of unadulterated hatred for Romans who have enslaved her. Embracing the dark essence of her raven spirit (her token animal), she struggles to reconcile her love for a Roman nobleman from whom she was forced to separate. She declares, “I am the Raven Goddess of death and vengeance.” For a brief moment during the competition, she will have the divine power to summon the forces of nature to destroy her enemies. The theme of love vs. hate is explored in "Amulet's Rapture," and the Curse of Clansmen and Kings series.
The tale of Catrin follows similar steps as a hero’s journey discussed by Joseph Campbell. In the first two books in the Curse of Clansmen series, Apollo’s Raven and Dagger’s Destiny, Catrin is called to adventure when her father asks her to help him break a curse that foretells her half-brother, Marrock, will overthrow him. However, her forbidden love for Marcellus, a Roman nobleman, diverts her from the quest (refusal of the call). Her supernatural guide, the Raven, helps her to the point when her whole world is torn apart and she fails to break the curse and to stop her half-brother from brutally slaying her family. Unbeknownst to Marrock and her surviving allies, she is swallowed as a slave into the Roman Empire and they assume she has died. In Amulet’s Rapture (Book 3), she must survive a succession of trials to hone her abilities as a warrior before she can return home to overthrow Marrock. In Chapter 1, Catrin finds a raven fledgling that serves as a conduit to the supernatural world. Her Roman master and military commander, Decimus, has inexplicably disguised as a boy. Although he treats her despicably, he nonetheless fears her supernatural powers that he believes Apollo gives her. Her interaction with the commander's soldiers also reflects her master’s contradictory perception of her.
Just as sports events are popular today, gladiator games were held to entertain the mobs throughout the Roman empire. Written accounts and archaeological artifacts provide evidence that women fought in games just as men did. Female slaves and low-born women most likely trained similarly as male gladiators, since their lethal combats required specialized training. A marble relief in the British Museums presents two female gladiators facing each other, wearing their gladiatorial attire and ready to fight. The inscription indicates that the two women, Achilla and Amazon, were released after their combat as a tribute to their skill and bravery during the combat. In this scene from Amulet’s Rapture (Book 3 Curse of Clansmen and Kings), Catrin draws the attention of an adolescent Roman wife while she is displayed as a gladiator at a lavish, aristocratic banquet. The young wife, who undoubtedly was forced to marry an older man, is inspired by Catrin’s display of physical strength and emotional boldness. Thus, she takes Catrin’s weapon to emulate her. The men in the room consider the action as a betrayal to her gender and family and as a threat that could lead to the breakdown of Roman social order. For both of the women, regardless of their social status, they are fighting for their dignity and identity in a patriarchal society.
Fulfilling destiny is a common theme in the mythological journey of a hero or heroine. In conducting research for my series, Curse of Clansmen and Kings, I was intrigued by the various rituals performed by the Greek, Roman and Celtic civilizations to foretell the future or to seek divine advice about a current situation. In ancient Rome and Greece, temples offered divinatory services through rituals. In one ritual, the worshipper meets directly with the god or goddess in a dream. After a specific ritual or drug has been prepared to help the person contact the divinity, the worshipper spends the night in the sanctuary, often called the sleeping room. In the morning, a temple priest or priestess helps the person interpret the dream. This method, called “incubation” after the Latin for “to sleep” incubare, was widely practiced. In Amulet's Rapture, Marcellus visits the Temple of Minerva so a priestess can interpret his dream.
Catrin, the primary heroine in the Curse of Clansmen and Kings series, embodies the complex archetypes of Celtic goddesses. In Amulet's Rapture, she is condemned as a gladiatrix (female gladiator) at Lugdunum (modern day Lyon, France) to fight in Roman games She struggles with her dual nature of absolute love for her Roman husband, Marcellus, and of her thirst for vengeance because of the abuse she has suffered under her Roman masters. She embodies the complex archetypes of Celtic goddesses from healing to warfare, from creation to destruction, and from nourishment to death. Only through her warlike strength can she take back and defend her kingdom in Britannia. Her ability to summon the lightning is based on Celtic mythology, in which heroes can control the forces of nature. Her newfound magical ability to summon lightning is symbolic of her uncontrollable hate. This concept was inspired by the Celtic myth of Lugh, a warrior king whose magical spear always hit its mark. His spear is a living weapon thirsting for blood. Its tip has to be kept immersed in a pot of water to keep it from igniting. When battle is near, it roars as fire flashes from it. The fiery spear rips through the ranks of the enemy, never tired of slaying. In gladiatorial games, Catrin combats with a spear.
In Amulet’s Rapture, Catrin must transform from a naïve fifteen-year-old girl into a worldly young woman who must forge her own destiny. The key as to what obstacles Catrin must overcome is highlighted in a scene from Chap 4, in which Catrin has a vision of her dead father advising her on what she must do to become a warrior queen and to take back her kingdom from her treacherous half-brother, Marrock. She must summon stamina from nature (her own inner essence) to endure hardships of slavery and rigors of training with Roman soldiers. Further, she must learn how to deal with both enemies and friends. She reluctantly embraces her corrupt and cruel Roman master like a stern father from whom she learns how to maneuver through changing political winds, transforming her weakness into strength. Most of all, she must learn that her utmost trust in those she loves is a double-edged sword that can be used against her. Though she deeply loves Marcellus, her Roman husband and ally, she must ultimately face and overcome obstacles by herself. She can only rise above unfortunate circumstances by understanding herself and by harnessing her inner darker forces to survive and to seek vengeance on those who have maltreated her.
The scandalous affair between Marcellus and his older Roman lover, Eliana, is a backstory in the first two books in the Curse of Clansmen and Kings series. In these books, he is haunted by the emotional scar that his relationship with Eliana left on him as he fell deeply in love with the Druid princess, Catrin, in Britannia. Unbeknownst to him, the Dark Druidess, Rhan, erased his memory of the abiding love he felt for Catrin on the foreign isle. Hence, Marcellus has no memory of Britannia on which to anchor as he moves forward. To gain some semblance of his life back, he reignites his tryst with Eliana and returns to his reckless ways, even though he has doubts about her. His impetuousness and the ease others can manipulate him are character flaws that could negatively impact him and his relationship with Catrin if they ever reunite,
One of the aspects I considered in Amulet's Rapture (Book 3 Curse of Clansmen and Kings) is whether a reader would need a summary of major events in Book 1 Apollo's Raven and Book 2 Dagger's Destiny. To aid the reader, I chose to insert a prologue entitled, "In Previous Books in the Series." This also gave me an opportunity to check the timelines for major events in the story. It should be noted that Apollo's Raven and Dagger's Destiny take place in 24 AD, but the inviting event, Rhan's curse, was cast in 4 AD. Another potential confusion that I needed to clarify is that Rhan's soul, at her execution, possesses a mute girl, Agrona. Both of their souls lived in Agrona's body, thus diminishing Rhan's druidic powers. In Dagger's Destiny, Rhan shape-shifts into the likeness of Catrin so she can trick Marcellus into impregnating her. In Amulet's Rapture, Agrona's soul transmigrates into the baby that Rhan delivers, so only Rhan's soul remains Agrona's body. Hopefully, the prologue will help make this switching of souls and bodies clearer.
In the rich and vibrant tale, Author Linnea Tanner continues the story of Catrin and Marcellus that began with the awarding-winning novel APOLLO’S RAVEN in the Curse of Clansmen and Kings Series. Book 2: DAGGER’S DESTINY sweeps you into an epic tale of forbidden love, mythological adventure, and political intrigue in Ancient Rome and Britannia.
In this scene from Dagger's Destiny, Lucius Antonius struggles to understand why his youngest son, Marcellus, chose to risk his life to save his Celtic lover, Catrin, from being executed by her father. Lucius bemoans that both his grandfather, Mark Antony, and father, Iullus Antonius, committed suicide by falling on their swords after catastrophic consequences from their affairs with powerful women. The Roman Senate erased the memory of the Antonii legacies by destroying monuments erected in their honor and removing their names from public records. Ultimately, Lucius suffered as a young man, humiliated and banished from Rome, due to his father's treasonous affair with Augustus Caesar's married daughter, Julia. So that Marcellus does not go down the same destructive pathway as his forefathers, Lucius Antonius barters with a druidess to erase his son's memory of Catrin. As Marcellus struggles to recover from a life-threatening wound and his lost memory of recent events, Lucius tells him, "Let me serve as your memory." Although Lucius's intent to restore his family's legacy seems honorable, Lucius's bitterness and ambition have dire ramifications on those he loves. The Curse of Clansmen and Kings explores the theme of love through various relationships—romantic, familial, and platonic—and between older and younger generations.
In this chapter, Catrin has been tricked into believing that she can break a curse that foretells her father will be destroyed. She must slay Agrona, whose body has been possessed by Rhan, a Dark Druidess and sorceress. Imprisoned in a round house, Rhan has been allowed to cook her own meals using a cauldron. In truth, Rhan is adding ingredients to the cauldron to conjure magic so she can lure Catrin to meet her. The magical cauldron is a symbol often used in Celtic Mythology. Associated with the goddess Cerridwen, the cauldron is the semblance of a womb or receptacle that holds the essence of a spirit or life. It epitomizes the heart of a Bronze Age home that had a cauldron at its center, held by chains above a fire. In an Irish tale, warriors killed in battle are immersed in a cauldron and resurrected to fight again. However, the cauldron renders the them dumb. Losing the power of speech is a common motif in Celtic mythology, perhaps to prevent the resurrected warriors from speaking of what they experienced within the depths of the magical vessel. At the end of the scene, Catrin unknowingly immerses into the boiling liquid as an initiation into the mystical mysteries of knowledge and transformation in preparation for her next challenges.
Myrddin's characterization is based on Merlin from the Arthurian Legends. The circumstances of Merlin's birth is explained in a medieval manuscript, "The History of the Kings of Britain," by Geoffrey of Monmouth. In the tale, Arthur's father, King Vortigern, orders a tower to be erected, but the earth swallows the foundation each day. A sorcerer tells the king to sprinkle the blood from a fatherless lad on the mortar and stones, so the foundation holds firm. Both Merlin and his mother are brought before the king. She explains that a young man seduced her in dreams. The sorcerer advises that king that many men are conceived this way: "Between the moon and the earth live spirits which we call incubus demons. They have partly the nature of men and partly that of angels." The incubus can assume mortal shapes and seduce women. Merlin demonstrates his supernatural abilities by informing the king that he needs to drain an underground pool before the foundation is laid. Merlin's words hold true, thus saving him from death. Myrddin has similar abilities as Merlin and can shape-shift into an owl and prophesy. In this scene, Myrddin's birth is explained which is similar to Merlin's. The Druid advises King Amren that he can break his curse by declaring Marcellus, a Roman enemy, as the new king.
In this chapter, the inaugural rite of Marcellus to be king is based on Celtic mythology and traditions. The term “sovereignty goddess” denotes a woman representing the Mother Goddess who can confer sovereignty on a man she chooses to marry. Their sacred marriage is considered the ritual union between the goddess of the land with the mortal king. The key element of the sacred marriage is the king consummates the marriage with the goddess of the territory he is to govern. The goddess only marries a mortal man if she considers him fit to rule. After their marriage, she can reject him in favor of another man she deems better suited to rule. One of the best known figures in Irish mythology is the queen of Connacht, Medb, from the Ulster Cycle. A mortal man becomes king of the Connacht by participating in a ritual drunkenness that opens him up to an ecstatic state in which he connects with the divine. There is evidence that the Celts ritually sacrificed their kings to the gods if times turned bad under his reign. In this scene, King Amren’s daughter, Catrin, represents the sovereign goddess. Marcellus senses the king plans to sacrifice him after he consummates the marriage with Catrin—the act breaking a curse that foretells Amren’s son will overthrow him.
In this chapter, the inaugural rite of Marcellus to be king is based on Celtic mythology and traditions. The term “sovereignty goddess” denotes a woman who represents the Mother Goddess and can thus confer sovereignty on a man she chooses to marry. Their sacred marriage is considered the ritual union between the goddess of the land with the mortal king. The key element of the sacred marriage is the king consummates the marriage with the goddess of the territory he is to govern. The goddess only marries a mortal man if she considers him fit to rule. After their marriage, she can reject him in favor of another man she deems better suited to rule. One of the best known figures in Irish mythology is the queen of Connacht, Medb, from the Ulster Cycle. A man became king of Connacht only by participating in a ritual drunkenness that opens him up to an ecstatic state in which he connects with the divine. There is evidence that the Celts ritually sacrificed their kings to the gods if times turned bad under his reign. In this scene, King Amren’s daughter, Catrin, represents the sovereign goddess. Marcellus senses the king plans to sacrifice him after he consummates the marriage with Catrin—the act breaking a curse that foretells Amren’s son will overthrow him.
In the scene, Lucius Antonius bitterly reflects on his family’s past. He has had to claw for every opportunity to elevate his political standing that his grandfather, Mark Anthony, lost for the love of a woman. The damning decree in Anthony’s will, which his rival, Octavian, stole and read aloud, is that he be buried with his wife, Cleopatra, in Egypt. This outraged Rome as it was forbidden for a nobleman to marry a foreigner. Most of the statues of Anthony were destroyed and his name removed from all records in the act of damnatio memoria after his defeat to Octavian, later known as Augustus. Lucius’s father, Iullus Antonius, won imperial favor until he was accused of treason for having an affair with Julia, Augustus’s only daughter. To rise out of the ashes of shame he has inherited from his ancestors, Lucius succumbs to his brutal ambition of restoring his family’s legacy. To do so, he barters with the demon (Catrin’s treacherous half-brother, Marrock) and risks the life of his son, Marcellus. As Lucius regards his grievously wounded son, he momentarily regrets his decision to ally with Marrock but ultimately accepts he has sold his soul for the glory of conquering Britannia. The theme of how power corrupts absolutely is explored in the Curse of Clansmen and Kings series.
Myrddin is a parody of Merlin from the Arthurian legends. The circumstances of Merlin's birth is explained in a medieval manuscript, "The History of the Kings of Britain," by Geoffrey of Monmouth. King Vortigern, Arthur's father, orders a tower be erected, but the earth swallows the foundation each day. The magicians tells the King to sprinkle the blood from a fatherless lad on the mortar and stones so the foundation holds firm. Messengers find Merlin quarreling with another lad who declares Merlin is fatherless. Both Merlin and his mother are brought before the king. She explains that a young man seduces her in dreams. The King is advised that many men are conceived this way as follows: "Between the moon and the earth lives spirits which we call incubus demons. These have partly the nature of men and partly that of angels." The incubus can assume mortal shapes and seduce women. Merlin demonstrates his supernatural powers by telling the King that he needs to drain an underground pool before the foundation can set. Merlin's words hold true, saving him from death. He foretells the future of the kingdom. Myrddin also has the ability to shape-shift and to prophesy. In this scene, he foretells that Amren will meet his end as predicted by the curse during a solar eclipse.
A young nobleman confronts a specter from the past that could threaten his family’s legacy. A brash young aristocrat, Lucius Antonius anticipates Emperor Augustus Caesar will support his lofty ambitions to serve as a praetor in the Roman justice system in 2 BC Rome. As the son of the distinguished politician and poet, Iullus Antonius, Lucius prays to Janus, the two-faced god of beginnings, to open the door for him to rise politically. But he is unaware of the political firestorm ready to erupt in the imperial family. Augustus must confront evidence that his daughter, Julia, has behaved scandalously in public and that Iullus is her lover. The prospect that Julia might want to marry Iullus—the only surviving son of Marcus Antonius—threatens to redirect the glory from Augustus to his most hated rival beyond the grave. Caught in the political crossfire, Lucius must demonstrate his loyalty to Augustus by meeting all of his demands or face the destruction of his family’s legacy and possibly his own life. Will Lucius ultimately choose to betray and abandon his disgraced father?
The family dynasty of the first Roman Emperor, Augustus Caesar reached a crisis point in 2 BC as various factions in the family maneuvered to shape the politics after he died. Augustus had only one biological child, Julia, with his second wife, Scribonia. He divorced her to marry Livia, who brought two stepsons (Claudian dynasty) into their marriage but never bore a child with him. Augustus used Julia as a political game piece to assure the Julian dynasty through strategic marriages. The Antonius dynasty was added to the mix through Marcus Antonius’s marriage with Augustus’s sister, Octavia. The inner turmoil finally culminated in repercussions that assured that Livia’s son, Tiberius, would become the ultimate heir to Augustus. One of the mysteries in Roman history is why Augustus Caesar overreacted when he learned Julia had adulterous affairs with influential politicians. Julia’s primary lover was Iullus Antonius, the son of Marcus Antonius (Mark Antony). Augustus forced Iullus to commit suicide for treason while he banished Julia's other lovers for their indiscretions. History is silent on how Iullus’s eighteen-year-old son, Lucius, reacted to his father's suicide and disgrace. Two Faces of Janus explores how Lucius, caught in a political crossfire, must face the consequences of his father’s and grandfather’s fall from grace.
A Celtic warrior princess is torn between her forbidden love for the enemy and duty to her people. AWARD-WINNING APOLLO’S RAVEN sweeps you into an epic Celtic tale of forbidden love, mythological adventure, and political intrigue in Ancient Rome and Britannia. In 24 AD British kings hand-picked by Rome to rule are fighting each other for power. King Amren’s former queen, a powerful Druid, has cast a curse that Blood Wolf and the Raven will rise and destroy him. The king’s daughter, Catrin, learns to her dismay that she is the Raven and her banished half-brother is Blood Wolf. Trained as a warrior, Catrin must find a way to break the curse, but she is torn between her forbidden love for her father’s enemy, Marcellus, and loyalty to her people. She must summon the magic of the Ancient Druids to alter the dark prophecy that threatens the fates of everyone in her kingdom. Will Catrin overcome and eradicate the ancient curse. Will she be able to embrace her forbidden love for Marcellus? Will she cease the war between Blood Wolf and King Amren and save her kingdom?
The scene in which Marcellus, a Roman hostage, is challenged to an axe fight is based on historical accounts of wild Celtic feasts in which ceremonial rules were observed for seating participants according to rank and prowess. Historian Poseidonius describes the arrangement as follows: “…they sit in a circle with the most influential man in the center, whether he is the greatest in warlike skill, was the nobility of family or wealth. Beside him sat the host, and on either side of them were others in order of distinction. Their shield bearers stood behind them while the spearmen were seated on the opposite end. All feasted in common with their lords.” Everyone had a piece of meat according to their status. Traditionally, the greatest warrior had the choicest cut. Another warrior could claim it and fight in single combat to the death against the champion to elevate his status. Others sought to reinforce their status through mock battle engagement that might escalate into more serious violence, possibly death. “The Celts engage in single combat at dinner. Assembling in arms, they engage in mock battle drills and mutual thrust and parry. Sometimes wounds were inflicted, and the irritation caused by this may even lead to the killing of the opponent unless they were held back by their friends.”
The animal guide, the Raven, reveals to Catrin that she has the unique ability to travel to a transitional wall between the mortal and Otherworld. Here, past, present, and future merge into one time. The Wall of Lives is a fluid tapestry in which everyone's life threads weave in and out of others from birth to death. It is here where Catrin sees, at the time of Rhan’s execution almost twenty years ago, that the former sorceress queen possessed a mute girl, Agrona. If Rhan could possess another being to escape death, she could possess Catrin and use her ability to manipulate the life threads in the fluid tapestry to alter the future. The Wall of Lives is a metaphor that Catrin has the innate ability to change the future by the decisions she makes in her lifetime. However, to make the right choices, she must understand the past to learn how to fly forward. The theme of the Wall of Lives is based on female entities who ruled the fates of gods and men in Norse and Greco-Roman mythology. They spin, measure, and cut the thread life for each person to carry out his or her preordained destiny. The age-old question as to whether humans can change fate by their decisions is explored in the series.
In this scene, we are introduced to Catrin's half-brother, Marrock, and the Celtic belief that the skull is the temple of one’s soul. The skull’s symbolic power is based upon the Celtic cult of the severed head. They believed that, if you possessed your enemy’s head, you retain the mystical powers to his soul. Based on this belief, Marrock preserves and cares for the skull of his mother (Rhan). Even though he still feels a bond with her, he can’t access her mystical powers because, at the moment of her execution, she possessed another young girl (Agrona). Archaeological findings of skulls mounted in stonework or spiked have been found at La Roquepertuse in southern France and at the Bredon Hill Fort in western Britain. In both instances, the skulls are placed at entrances. Perhaps the unfortunate warriors’ souls were used to protect their enemies’ strongholds. In Welsh and Irish myth, the head is imbued with supernatural power. One of the mortally wounded heroes in the Welsh legend, Mabinogion, orders his own men to cut off his head and bury it facing east in London to guard Britain against foreign invasion. The theme of the skull’s mystical powers continues throughout the Curse of Clansmen and Kings series and will be highlighted in the upcoming Book 4: Skull’s Vengeance.
Celtic warriors historically established their reputation by adhering to strict ceremonial rules at feasts. Seated according to rank and prowess, warriors often fought in deadly combats to establish their reputations. Ancient historian, Poseidonius, describes a scene at a wild Celtic feast as follows: “They sit in a circle with the most influential man in the center, whether he is the greatest in warlike skill or nobility of family or wealth. Beside him sat the host, and on either side of them were others in order of distinction. Their shield bearers stood behind them while the spearmen were seated on the opposite end. All feasted in common with their lords. The Celts engage in single combat at dinner. Assembling in arms, they engage in mock battle drills and mutual thrust and parry. Sometimes wounds were inflicted, and the irritation caused by this may even lead to the killing of the opponent unless they were held back by their friends.” In the excerpt from Apollo’s Raven, the son of a Roman dignitary, Marcellus, is being held as a hostage while his father and the Celtic king negotiate. He is challenged by Briton warriors at a wild feast to participate in a potentially deadly competition. Drunken, Marcellus impetuously accepts the challenge to demonstrate his prowess as a warrior.
A question we often ponder—Is our fate predetermined or do we transform our destiny by the decisions we make?— is explored throughout the Curse of Clansmen and Kings series. In the previous chapter of Apollo's Raven, King Amren has shown his daughter, Catrin, a dagger on which he inscribed the original curse that his former Queen, Rhan, cast just before he executed her for treason: "The gods demand the scales be balanced for the life you take. If you deny my soul's journey to the Otherworld by beheading me, I curse you to the same fate as mine. I prophesy your future queen will beget a daughter who will rise as a raven and join your son, Blood Wolf, and a mighty empire will overtake your kingdom and execute my curse." In this scene, Catrin has just learned from her father that she is the raven foretold in the dark prophecy. Taken aback, Catrin can’t believe that she could ever betray her father. King Amren reveals that the etching of the curse on the dagger began transforming at the time of her birth and is still rewriting itself on the blade. It gives him hope that a Druidess can teach Catrin how to summon the powers of the Ancient Druids to shape the future with her decisions.
Taken from Chapter 3 of Apollo’s Raven, the scene is told from the perspective of King’s Amren’s daughter, Catrin. Tension builds when Lucius Antonius, an envoy dispatched by Roman Emperor Tiberius, demands tribute and Amren’s recognition of his banished son, Marrock, as the rightful heir to his throne. In the heated discussion, Amren learns his rival, Cunobelin, has argued Marrock’s claims to Tiberius. Cunobelin is an actual historical figure that the Romans referred to as Britannorum Rex, the King of the Britons. He is also known as Cunobeline and Cunobelinus and is the primary character in Shakespeare’s Cymbeline. Cunobelin rose rapidly to power as a young man in his twenties or thirties in the early 1st Century. It is believed that he had lived in the imperial court of Augustus Caesar and was acculturated in Roman traditions along with other foreign princes. Cunobelin had to maintain a balance between two bitterly opposing factions for and against Rome. Druids presented a strong anti-Roman element in his royal household. During his declining years, Cunobelin had trouble over the succession. His sons shared administrative duties for various parts of his kingdom. Rome became uneasy with the political uncertainties in Britain and thus sought to safeguard their trading routes by securing or renewing treaties with the Celtic rulers.
As I've reflected on the pandemic we are living through, this scene from APOLLO'S RAVEN comes to mind. Marcellus ponders if he is reliving the curse of his ancestors' misdeeds. In the back of his mind, he fears being struck dead in his youth like his namesake, Marcus Claudius Marcellus, the nephew of the Roman Emperor Augustus. Marcellus's dynastic succession was guaranteed when he married Augustus's fourteen-year-old daughter in 25BC. The year 23BC was off to a good start when Marcellus oversaw a succession of games to make his mark with the crowds. But then, plague struck Augustus in spring and Marcellus later that fall. In an ironic twist of fate, Augustus survived while Marcellus died at the age of twenty years. His mother dedicated the following poem from the Poet Virgil: "Fate shall allow the earth one glimpse of this young man--one glimpse, no more ... Alas, poor youth! If only you could escape your harsh fate! Marcellus you shall be. Give me armful of lilies that I may scatter their shining blooms and shower these gifts at least upon the dear soul, all to no purpose though such kindness be." This poem is dedicated to young victims of the coronavirus for whom we are left with but glimpses of their lives.
Apollo's Raven is set in 24 AD southeast Britannia prior to Emperor Claudius's invasion in 43 AD. At that time, Rome interfered in the internal affairs of the British tribal kingdoms—a consequence of Julius Caesar's invasion of southeast Britannia in 55 and 54 BC. His military expedition was not a momentary diversion from his conquest of Gaul, but rather an effort to establish the dynasties of the most powerful British tribes that were loyal to Rome, similar to Cleopatra's Egypt. Young royal hostages were often taken to ensure that treaty agreements were met and to acculturate them in the Roman traditions. In this scene, Senator Lucius Antonius has been dispatched from Rome to settle political differences between two rival kings who were previously hostages raised in Roman households. Amren is the king of the Cantiaci while Cunobelin is the ruler of the Catuvellauni. Senator Antonius demands that Amren's banished son be recognized as the legitimate heir to the throne instead of his queen and daughters This inciting incident that ignites conflict among the political powers is told from the point of view of Amren's daughter, Catrin.
One of the last sections I wrote for Apollo's Raven is when Catrin notices through her raven eyes that her half-brother, Marrock, is with the Roman army off-shore. The reason that I added this scene in Chapter 1 is to introduce Catrin's fear of Marrock and of his Druid powers. Later, the reader will learn why his face is so disfigured. Marrock is one of the primary antagonists that Catrin must face and overcome. The Apollo's Raven series is an epic Celtic tale of love, betrayal, and intrigue in Ancient Rome and Pre-Authurian Britannia.
The story introduces the main character Catrin as a princess who has the mystical ability to see into the future and to meld her thoughts with the raven. The fantastical elements of the Celtic tale immediately weave into the historical backdrop of ancient Britannia. The second paragraph foreshadows that Catrin must face life-threatening situations. The image of the raven rising to the heavens is a clue of how she will overcome the danger. The inciting incident is quickly established that she must assess the danger warships pose by seeing through the raven's eyes. The theme of forbidden love is also introduced when Catrin reveals her disdain that her sister is having an affair with a common warrior.
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