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A True Arthurian Style Tale of Celtic Lore and Magic - an Editorial Review of "Skull's Vengeance"

Book Blurb:

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?

Author Bio:

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). She has also released the historical fiction short story, "Two Faces of Janus."

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.

You can follow her on her website:

Editorial Review:

A prickling sensation noosed around his neck as he recalled the original curse cast by his mother just before his father had executed her. The gods demand that 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.

For fans of the ancient Roman-ruled Britain history, this is the book for you. The beautiful Catrin, a Celtic warrior queen is faced with her destiny as she seeks to displace and defeat her half-brother, Marrock, and claim her rightful place on the throne. Yet, Catrin has secrets, as does Marcellus Antonius, a Roman citizen involved in the political wranglings in Julio-Claudian Rome – the secret being that they are husband and wife which is against the law in Rome. After Catrin is matured and hardened enduring in the Roman legion and as a gladiator, she seeks military aid from her Roman husband and returns to Britannia to set in motion her destiny. In true “Arthurian-style”, Ms Tanner weaves the ancient Celtic beliefs and traditions, as well as Druidical legends and customs, into this enthralling story. From page one, the reader is sucked in, entranced by this time period which weaves Roman, Druid, Celtic, and Arthurian lore.

The situation had not changed. Roman law did not recognize marriage vows between a Roman citizen and a foreigner. Marcellus had conceded to his father's demand to marry a twelve-year-old girl from one of the most powerful families in Rome to forge a political alliance. Almost six weeks had passed since Catrin had forsaken him and refused to go to Rome with him so he could attend the banquet to announce his betrothal to the young Roman noblewoman. She refused to be considered his barbarian mistress from the isle of Britannia. In the eyes of Rome, she was nothing more than a whore whom Marcellus could use and dispose of. I am the rightful queen of the Cantiaci people.

But as the story develops, it takes more than military strength to defeat her half-brother, and Catrin learns the Druid ways of extracting dark forces from skulls in order to exact her vengeance upon Marrock from an old Druid named Myrddin (again, reminiscent of Arthur's Merlin).

The consequences of Catrin's actions bubbled to the surface. Any hope of them staying together in Rome had vanished in the blink of an eye. He had to help Catrin escape, of course. He was her husband, her soul mate. Yet, in the eyes of Rome, he was a criminal – a truth that cut his heart like broken glass. They no longer controlled their fates. The heat of irrational anger directed at Catrin pulsated in his face. His blazing eyes pierced her.

While highly entertaining and gripping, aligned more with historical fantasy (per the magical aspect akin to Morgaine le Fay-like history), the overall storyline reads easily with captivating dialogue and believable characters and backstory; however, trigger warnings are a must since the graphic-ness of violence, sex, and language, which does play into a sort of “Game of Thrones” type story. There is a deep emotional core to this novel, as well as the intrigue which plays out not only between brother and sister, but the loyalty issues between a husband and wife in relation to each other and to their birth country. Political issues, love, and power is at play on a very high level on every page, and would translate well into a historical fantasy movie all replete with heart-pounding action, passion, and a dash of believable magic all fired in this crucible of a story. While this is a series of books, this book definitely stands on its own merits and can be read as a stand-alone; however, to get the fullest sense of the novel, the background and history of the characters, full immersion in the rest of the series is a must. Also, Ms Tanner reveals the immense historical research by weaving details into the storyline, which also reveals her own passion for the setting and the time period, translating into a satisfying read albeit a few melodramatic instances peppered throughout the narrative. All in all, this is a very worthy page-turning and heart-stopping read.

Though Brutius suspected there were other reasons Decimus had not carried out the death sentence, his ultimate goal was to burn Catrin at the stake and strike at Marcellus's heart. “Tell me more about this sorceress,” he said. “What does she look like?”

A striking woman, a few years younger than Marcellus. She has golden hair and turquoise eyes that can bewitch you. Don't let her innocent looks fool you. She is both a seer and a fierce warrior. She can shift into other life forms and has fought as a gladiator. That is why her half brother, Marrock, wants her dead.”


Skull's Vengeance” by Linnea Tanner receives 4.5 stars from The Historical Fiction Company


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