Monday, March 28

Barbara Erskine: Daughters of Fire

From the back of the book
The Romans are landing in Britannia... Cartimandua, the young woman destined to rule the great tribe of the Brigantes, watches the invaders come ever closer. From the start her world is a maelstrom of love and conflict, revenge and retribution. Cartimandua's life becomes more turbulent and complicated as her power grows, and her political skills are threatened by her personal choices. She has formidable enemies on all sides as she faces a decision which will change the future of all around her.
In the present day, historian Viv Lloyd Rees has immersed herself in the legends surrounding the Celtic queen. Viv struggle to hide her visions of Cartimandua and her conviction that they are real. But her obsession becomes ever more persistent as she takes possession of an ancient brooch that carries a curse. Bitter rivalries and overwhelming passions are reawakened as past envelops present and Viv finds herself in the greatest danger of her life.
I have long been a fan of Barbara Erskine. I particularly like her intertwined past/present story lines. But to be honest, this isn't one of her best.
The historical aspect is brilliant: well researched and rich with detail, she brings Celtic Britain to life. The past characters are vibrant, complex and wonderfully drawn. The past story line is gripping and intense.
Sadly, the present day portions of the story are not a shadow of their past counterparts and let the whole down. The present day characters are flat and so inconsistent in behaviour as to be completely unbelievable (even for people possessed). I simply didn't care what became of any of them. The modern story line felt forced and contrived. The pacing was painfully slow and the delightfully eerie mood that Erskine usually does so well was completely missing.
This is a great historical novel ruined by an overlay of deathly dull present day patina. A hard slog even for a long time fan.-Lynn

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