Review of the Druid by Steven A. McKay

Blurb:

Northern Britain, AD430

A land in turmoil. A village ablaze. A king’s daughter abducted.

In the aftermath of a surprise attack Dun Buic lies in smoking ruins and many innocent villagers are dead. As the survivors try to make sense of the night’s events the giant warrior-druid, Bellicus, is tasked with hunting down the raiders and thwarting their dark purpose.

With years of training in the old ways, two war-dogs at his side, and unsurpassed skill with a longsword, Bellicus’s quest will take him on a perilous journey through lands still struggling to cope with the departure of the Roman legions.

Meanwhile, amongst her brutal captors the little princess Catia finds an unlikely ally, but even he may not be able to avert the terrible fate King Hengist has in store for her.

This, the first volume in a stunning new series from the bestselling author of Wolf’s Head, explores the rich folklore and culture of post-Roman Britain, where blood-sacrifice, superstition and warfare were as much a part of everyday life as love, laughter and song.

As Saxon invaders and the new Christian religion seek to mould the country for their own ends one man will change the course of Britain’s history forever. . .

. . . THE DRUID.

My review:

First of all, thank you to the great Steven A.Mc Kay for sending me this book. I now want to read on and find out what happens in the sequel.

The writing of this book is an excellent attention to detial. You are immersed into a rapidly changing world where Roman rule has become ineffective and the power of Christ is set to arise on Britian’s shores, culminating will become part of English culture for many decades to come.

It’s also fascinating for me. In many ways, the polytheist religions that we know were being destroyed. There’s one story of a Christian Bishop damaging Thor’s Tree in Germania and that Thor did not strike. I think there’s a deeper story to that. In many ways, this novel is about religion more than anything else. Rome’s infighting did not help in many ways for the Gods, and to the ancient worshippers of Jupiter, it seems that they held a viewpoint that after abandoning the ways of the Old Gods, the Empire fell.

This is however no longer relevant in today’s time and circumstances. Back in those days, it was. In many ways, I felt Bellicus was a man with his feet on the ground, but at times I felt he was too naive. In many ways I would have wanted Aldred, who is a great man, to have formed a friendship with Bellicus as the two had a lot in common. They despised Horsa equally, and Aldred did not deserve to die at all. At least he will drink his fill of ale and fight in Valhalla.

I also felt this novel could have had a couple of hundred pages more added into it. I understand that this was the first in a series, and thus there were many spots of worldbuilding that could have been used in other areas. It wasn’t nessecary to describe every single part of the geographic’s mystical elements, but I understand that writing about Dark Age Britian is tough due to the lack of resources that is needed to understand about it.

What really interests me is, what if the Polytheist religions of Europe had surivived and Christanity was never adopted? This would make for a cool alternate history and I’d love to see more authors pick this up in the future. Many of the characters were fresh, many of the new concepts were great, including the concept of a brotherhood of druids, and I cannot help but feel Steven got his inspiration from Asterix and Obelix in some funny way. I cannot wait to see what is in store for Catia’s fate in the sequel, and more importantly how will Bellicus fight against Christanity when it soon will dwarf his lands? I also want to see what his life was like under Roman rule before they left. My rating a solid 4.5/5

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