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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Review by Historical Novel Review

Posted by Mirella Sichirollo Patzer

In 5th century Britain, High King Uther Pendragon is old, frail, and sick. He has no known heir and must name one before he dies. Lesser king, Cadwallon, waits impatiently to take his place. But Uther Pendragon does indeed have an heir, his whereabouts a secret even to him. A son named Arthur who has been hidden away since birth under the guidance of an old, wise wizard. Almost no one knows of his existence. Soon, Arthur will be acknowledged as Uther Pendragon’s sole heir and high king. But until then, doubts swirl about his existence.

Marcus is a fallen confidant of Uther Pendragon. Over the years, he served as the high king’s spy. But now, he knows too much and he is no longer favoured or trusted by the king. He struggles to keep the peace between Cadwallon and the Christian Church, both desirous of increasing their power.

Marcus’ beloved wife, Claerwen is gifted with “fire in the head” (the ability to see the future). She was also a trusted servant of the king, having protected Uther’s daughter by taking her to Avalon. When her sister, Drysi, and a strange monk, Gwion, seek shelter with Marcus at their fortress, trouble mysteriously ensues. A Land Beyond Ravens is the 4th and final book of the Macsen’s Treasure Series. Even though I had not read the preceding novels, I was easily able to follow the plot and relevant backstory through clever, brief snippets throughout the story. The reader follows the numerous twists and turns of the story through the point of view of the two main characters, Marcus and Claerwan, created completely from the imagination of author Kathleen Cunningham Guler. As such, this keeps the story fresh and unique from the actual Arthurian Legend. Guler writes with a strong voice and vibrant prose. Her use of Welsh and Celtic names and words adds realism to the skilfully woven tale. She is a master at creating unique, unusual characters which draw the reader deeper into the story in anxious desire to unlock their secrets.

I highly recommend this book to afficionado’s of the Arthurian legend. The previous books in the series are Into the Path of Gods, In the Shadow of Dragons, and The Anvil Stone.

Historical Novel Review Blog

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